Prospect Hot Sheet (Aug. 12): Chapman On Fire

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from Aug. 5-11. Remember, this feature simply recognizes what the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Kyle Glaser and Vince Lara-Cinisomo.


1. Matt Chapman, 3b, Athletics
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Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .391/.481/1.130 (9-for-23), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 1 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: The 2016 season continues to be a tale of two halves for the Athletics’ No. 2 prospect at midseason, whose latest big week is a continuation of a scorching second half. The 2014 first-round pick is hitting .270/.358/.622 since the Texas League all-star break, with 13 doubles, 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 40 games. That’s after the powerfully built Cal State Fullerton product hit .226 with a .758 OPS in his first 70 games.

The biggest change for Chapman has been a reduction in his strikeout rate, which has always been the main concern. After whiffing nearly 33 percent of the time in those first 70 games, he has cut it down to 22.5 percent in his past 40. (KG)


2. Erick Fedde, rhp, Nationals

3ds_nationals81Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.64, 2 GS, 14 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: The Nationals have one of the best rotations in the big leagues, fronted by ace Max Scherzer and No. 2 Stephen Strasburg. On top of that, Washington also has one of the most impressive groups of pitching prospects in the game with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and the development of Fedde. Fedde sits 92-96 mph and commands the pitch. It was too much for Carolina League batters and should be too much for the Eastern League as well after his promotion last week. (JJC)


3. Jharel Cotton, rhp, Athletics

3ds_athletics79Team: Triple-A Nashville (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Scouts have been nudging Cotton toward the bullpen for years, but outings like this are a reminder that there’s no real reason for the Athletics to not give him a chance to see if his fastball-changeup combination will play as a starter. He came within an out of a perfect game on Aug. 9 (game score: 97) and has allowed only one run in 15 innings since being traded from the Dodgers to the A’s at the deadline as part of the return for Josh Reddick. Cotton has a plus changeup to go with his 92-96 mph fastball. (JJC)


4. Johan Mieses, of, Dodgers
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Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .458/.480/1.083 (11-for-24), 4 R, 3 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBIs, 0 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: The muscle-bound Dominican has a lot of swing-and-miss to his game, but when he gets a hold of one, the ball is a safe bet to clear 400 feet with ease. He has done that plenty recently, homering in four of six games this week to continue a torrid streak. Mieses now has 11 home runs in his past 17 games—he’s hitting .403/.440/.985 in that span—to move into second place in the Cal League with 24. Of course, that follows a stretch in which Mieses hit .152 with two home runs in 29 games while striking out 36 percent of the time. (KG)


5. Matt Thaiss, 1b, Angels
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Team: low Class A Burlington (Midwest)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .429/.467/.821 (12-for-28), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: The Angels drafted Thaiss 16th overall in June almost solely on their belief in his bat, and the Virginia product is making that decision look good. Promoted to Burlington after just 15 games in Rookie ball, Thaiss is hitting .331/.397/.521 with the Bees and riding a current seven-game hit streak, punctuated by multi-hit nights in each of his past three. A catcher in college, Thaiss moved to first base immediately after turning pro. (KG)


6. Alec Hansen, rhp, White Sox
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Team: Rookie-level Great Falls (Pioneer)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 12 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 21 SO, 4 BB

The Scoop: Considered a possible top-10 draft pick coming into the year, Hansen lost his spot in the Oklahoma rotation because of his extreme wildness. As a pro, the second-round pick has had no such issues. Hansen walked 6.8 batters per nine innings as a junior, but is walking 2.8 per nine as a pro. He will gear down his 91-96 mph when he gets behind in counts to try to guide it into the zone, but his fastball, slider and curveball are all legit offerings. His command is still scattershot even with improved control, however. (JJC)


7. Rafael Devers, 3b, Red Sox
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Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .357/.419/.750 (10-for-28), 9 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: In the first half, Devers struggled to a .635 OPS. Since the all-star break, he has recorded a .992 OPS, with seven of his 11 homers, including a two-homer game on Thursday. Devers’ problems began when he got pull-happy, but his second-half success can be tied to going back to his all-fields approach. (VLC)


8. Rowdy Tellez, 1b, Blue Jays
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Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .333/.481/.857 (7-for-21), 4 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: The burly Northern California product combines power with a feel to hit, and this year he’s added a discerning batting eye. He ranks among the Eastern League leaders in on-base percentage (.389), walks (52) and slugging (.507). He’ll need to continue to hit that way since he’s a below-average defender at first base. (VLC)


9. Tom Eshelman, rhp, Phillies
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Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 11 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: The control specialist has rebounded from a brutal July (9.78 ERA, 11 walks in 19 innings) with a strong first two starts this month, including 11 strikeouts on Aug. 9, a career best as a pro. Eshelman lacks any plus pitches, but he locates them all well, and his 87-91 mph fastball has decent late life. (VLC)


10. Joey Gallo, 3b/1b, Rangers
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Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .421/.542/1.000 (8-for-19), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: A few years ago, laundry detergent companies figured out that they could save on packaging if they took a lot of water out of their soap and make everything more concentrated. This year, we’re seeing a concentrated version of Gallo at the minor league level. His two home runs this week bumped his isolated slugging percentage to .335, best in the full-season minors. He bumped his walk rate to an exceptional 18.5 percent, which also is the best in the full-season minors. He still strikes out a lot, but the potential three-true outcomes star is nearing his time in Texas. (JJC)


11. Franklyn Kilome, rhp, Phillies

3ds_phillies83Team: low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 11 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Forget Zach Eflin or Jake Thompson. Kilome is the most significant pitching-prospect breakthrough in the Phillies system this season. The 6-foot-6 Dominican leads the South Atlantic League in strikeout rate with 10.1 per nine innings, and he appears to be getting stronger in the second half despite never playing in full-season ball before. In six starts since July 1, Kilome is 3-1, 2.10 with 48 strikeouts, nine walks and no home runs allowed in 34 innings. (ME)


12. Dixon Machado, ss, Tigers
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Team: Triple-A Toledo (International)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .417/.516/.667 (10-for-24), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: While Machado mostly generates attention for his glove work, he continues to make slow, incremental progress as a hitter. He’s making more contact and drawing more walks than he did last year in Triple-A, with nearly as many walks (56) as strikeouts (65) this season. With minimal power, Machado has hit .262/.354/.347 in 116 games, so he faces a potential ceiling of utility infielder in the majors. (BB)


13. Alex Young, lhp, Diamondbacks
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Team: high Class A Visalia (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.00, 15 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 9 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: The 2015 second-rounder out of Texas Christian was hampered by a forearm sprain that put him on the disabled list for six weeks earlier in the year, but he has been dominant when healthy in his first full season. Young recorded his first career complete game last week, allowing just four hits and an unearned run while needing just 83 pitches to go the distance against Inland Empire. He followed up by not allowing an earned run in six innings in his next start. Young doesn’t strike out many batters, but mixes his pitches well to keep hitters off balance, as evidenced by his 2.73 ERA and .234 opponent average this season. (KG)


14. Erik Gonzalez, ss, Indians
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Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .423/.444/.962 (11-for-26), 8 R, 5 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Gonzalez had an ugly introduction to Triple-A last year, batting .223 n 65 games. He has shown progress this year as he repeats the level with a .306/.337/.458 line through 86 games—though he’s obviously blocked by franchise player Francisco Lindor in Cleveland. There’s still plenty for Gonzalez to work on in Triple-A, though, primarily his pitch recognition and toning down his free-swinging approach. (BB)


15. Oscar de la Cruz, rhp, Cubs
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Team: low Class A South Bend (Midwest)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.90, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 HBP, 2 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Forearm soreness delayed de la Cruz from seeing his first official game this year until July. While he has made just three starts at South Bend, all three have been excellent, with the Cubs’ No. 6 prospect recording an 0.61 ERA, 22 strikeouts and three walks 15 innings. (BB)


16. Magneuris Sierra, of, Cardinals
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Team: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .435/.552/.522 (10-for-23), 6 R, 2 2B, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO, 4-for-4 SB

The Scoop: Already a skilled defender, Sierra’s bat has become more consistent this season, especially against lefthanders. Sierra profiles as a hitter who will bat near the top of the order, but the center fielder has at least gap power and could develop average power as he matures. (VLC)


17. Ty Blach, lhp, Giants
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Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.80, 15 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 HR, 9 SO, 5 BB

The Scoop: The Giants traded for Matt Moore at the deadline—just as they had acquired starters Mike Leake and Jake Peavy the previous two summers—but that doesn’t rule out a September call-up for Blach. The 6-foot-2 lefty with a plus changeup has reeled off an impressive eight-start stretch in the Pacific Coast League, going 7-1, 1.40 with 43 strikeouts, seven walks and a .188 opponent average in 58 innings. Blach punctuated his performance this week with a two-hit shutout on Wednesday, and he was a top performer for the month of July. (ME)


18. Justus Sheffield, lhp, Yankees
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Team: high Class A Tampa (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.59, 2 GS, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 14 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: The Yankees acquired both Sheffield, a 2014 first-rounder, and Clint Frazier, the fifth overall pick in 2013, when they traded Andrew Miller to the Indians. Frazier smacked four extra-base hits in his first nine games in the New York system, while Sheffield debuted in the Florida State League with his finest start of the season, according to game score (74), when he allowed one run on two hits in six innings and struck out 11. (ME)


19. Richard Urena, ss, Blue Jays
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Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .375/.423/.792 (9-for-24), 5 R, 2 2B, 4 3B, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Urena has a hit in each of his eight games since being promoted to Double-A, where he’s one of the youngest players at the level. The highlight of his week came Wednesday, when he went 3-for-5 with three triples. Urena likely returns to New Hampshire next year and should finish 2017 in Triple-A, with a chance to force his way into the majors by 2018, though for now he’s blocked in Toronto with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed through 2020 and second baseman Devon Travis under team control through 2020. (BB)


20. Ryan Borucki, lhp, Blue Jays
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Team: low Class A Lansing (Midwest)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 10 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 4 BB

The Scoop: Borucki ran up a 14.85 ERA in six starts at high Class A Dunedin to begin the season, but he righted the ship following a demotion to the Midwest League. The changeup artist continues to look like one of the system’s better pitching prospects, especially in the second half. In 10 starts since June 15, Borucki has gone 6-0, 1.57 with 58 strikeouts, nine walks and no home runs allowed in 63 innings. (ME)


HELIUM WATCH

3ds_rangers83Dylan Moore, 1b/ss, Rangers. Moore ranked as one of the top baserunners in the 2015 draft class, and the Rangers snagged him in the seventh round as a senior sign out of Central Florida. The Rangers thought he could grow to be a speedy middle infielder who gets on base, without a huge offensive profile. Thus far in his pro career, Moore is swiping bags and getting on base as expected, but he’s also showing an ability to hit for power. He hit 21 doubles with seven home runs in 69 games at short-season Spokane last year, and this year he has 21 doubles and 13 home runs in a season spent mostly at low Class A Hickory.

After playing second base and shortstop primarily in college, Moore has seen time at both middle infield spots, third base and all three outfield positions. While his projection remains that of a utility player, he is hitting better and being even more versatile than expected.

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