Prospect Hot Sheet (Aug. 19): Rodgers Catches Fire

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from Aug. 12-18. 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. Brendan Rodgers, ss, Rockies
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Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .458/.500/.917 (11-for-24), 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The top two picks in last year’s draft — Dansby Swanson (Braves) and Alex Bregman (Astros) — are in the major leagues already, with the fast-track rise for the two former college stars coming as little surprise. Rodgers, the No. 3 overall pick last year, is going to take a little more time to develop, but the payoff when he gets there could be huge. With a compact swing and premium bat speed, Rodgers has shown a knack for the barrel, the ability to use the middle of the field and plus power in his first full season out of high school. His offensive skill set and ability to stick at shortstop give him the makings of a future star. (BB)


2. Willie Calhoun, 2b, Dodgers
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Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .462/.500/.962 (12-for-26), 4 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 0 SO

The Scoop: Calhoun doesn’t hit moon-shot home runs, but he has the power to consistently drive the ball to or over the wall. His pull-heavy approach may limit his ability to hit for average, but if he keeps hitting home runs like this (26 so far this year) it won’t matter much. Where he will play is a more serious concern. At second base, Calhoun is below-average, and there are questions about how solid he will be if he moves back to left field, a position he played in the past. (JJC)


3. Michael Kopech, rhp, Red Sox
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Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.46, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 22 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: It’s been an up-and-down year for Kopech. He missed the final 50 games of 2015 because of a drug suspension, then missed the first half of this year when he broke his hand punching a teammate, returned for one game then missed more time with a calf injury. Since then, however, Kopech has been dominant on the mound. He has elite fastball velocity, but the incorporation of a hard slider has been the separator. He has 71 strikeouts in just 44 innings. (VLC)


4. Taylor Ward, c, Angels
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Team: high Class A Inland Empire (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .375/.516/.625 (9-for-24), 7 R, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 7 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: The Angels 2015 first-round pick has tinkered with his stance, swing and approach multiple times in search of answers at the plate. He moved a few inches off the plate after the all-star break to be able to turn on inside fastballs better and generate more power. The move has paid off, with Ward hitting five of his six home runs this season after the break, including his first multi-home run game on Thursday. (KG)


5. Fernando Romero, rhp, Twins
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Team: high Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 19 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: The 21-year-old Dominican returned to the mound on May 20 after missing most of the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Romero breezed through five starts at low Class A Cedar Rapids and has maintained strong ratios — 9.1 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine innings — through his first 10 starts at Fort Myers. A three-pitch righty with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, he fanned a season-high 11 batters in his start last Friday against Charlotte. (ME)


6. Clint Coulter, of, Brewers
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Team: Double-A Biloxi (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .471/.550/.941 (8-for-17), 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 0 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Coulter had a modest 2015 season in the high Class A Florida State League in 2015. He repeated the league this year, and his performance dropped even further. He hit .220/.285/.333 in 87 games. Two weeks ago, the Brewers challenged Coulter with a promotion to Double-A Biloxi, where he has had the best stretch of the season, hitting .471/.550/.706 in 12 games. An assignment to the Arizona Fall League to continue trying to turn around an otherwise disappointing season would not be a surprise. (BB)


7. Stephen Gonsalves, lhp, Twins
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Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Gonsalves appeared on the Hot Sheet a week ago, and he’s here again after throwing six no-hit innings. While he is not overpowering, he combines an 88-92 mph fastball and a good changeup. But Gonsalves gets results. He has gone 6-1, 1.81 through 10 starts at Chattanooga, though his rate of 4.2 walks per nine innings at Double-A is a concern. (VLC)


8. Jeff Hoffman, rhp, Rockies
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Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: Albuquerque is one of the toughest places in the minors to pitch, but Hoffman continues to handle it and the rest of the PCL brilliantly. Hoffman’s latest shutdown outing came in the 6,000-foot elevation and thin air of Colorado Springs, which followed four scoreless innings in his previous start at home. Overall, Hoffman has not allowed an earned run in three of his last four outings, an almost unheard of occurrence in the Southern Division of the Pacific Conference, with its four ballparks at elevation. (KG)


9. Jorge Mateo, ss/2b, Yankees
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Team: high Class A Tampa (Florida State)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .406/.424/.625 (13-for-32), 4 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Much was made of the Yankees’ trade for Gleyber Torres and what that might mean for Mateo’s future. But since the deal, Mateo has slashed .328/.357/.522 and has split time with Torres at second base and shortstop at Tampa. If nothing else, Mateo has risen to the occasion. He combines elite speed and at at least average raw power. (VLC)


10. Jairo Beras, of, Rangers
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Team: high Class A High Desert (California)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .429/.435/1.048 (9-for-21), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The 6-foot-6 Beras has two loud tools with his raw power and arm strength from right field. The power is evident in BP and when he syncs up his swing on time against live pitching, with 21 home runs in 92 games, but Beras largely remains a raw project, both at the plate and in the field. He finally got his on-base percentage over .300 this week, with a lack of pitch recognition and a free-swinging approach holding him back. (BB)


11. Dinelson Lamet, rhp, Padres
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Team: Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: Lamet tossed his second consecutive start of six scoreless innings this week, following a two-hit, zero-walk, seven-strikeout performance in his previous effort. The Dominican righthander has sharpened his already advanced fastball command and quality slider, and the addition of an effective hard changeup has neutralized lefthanded batters. With his development, Lamet has become the Padres’ top starting pitching prospect above low Class A by a wide margin. (KG)


12. Jaime Schultz, rhp, Rays
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Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.0, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 11 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: The 5-foot-10 High Point product continues to pitch above his size and push for a September callup. Schultz’s latest dominant effort moved him into the minor league strikeout lead with 149, just ahead of Durham teammate Jacob Faria. Schultz pounds the lower half of the zone with a 94-95 mph fastball that keeps its velocity into the later innings, and he complements it primarily with a biting slider. He has struggled with his control at times, but he’s dominant when it’s on, as he showed this week. (KG)


13. Anthony Alford, of, Blue Jays

3ds_bluejays81Team: high Class A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .391/.517/.396 (9-for-23), 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: The entire season counts, but in Alford’s case, its worth focusing on what he has done in the second half (.276/.395/.511) and forgetting his awful first half (.200/.277/.256). The reason: He battled through a knee injury and a concussion he suffered in an outfield collision. The second half production is much more what can be expected from Alford, who is still one of the better outfield prospects in the game. (JJC)


14. Alberto Tirado, rhp, Phillies
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Team: low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 9 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Tirado began the season as a reliever, but after he ran up an 11.91 ERA and walked 17 batters in 11 innings, the Phillies moved him to the rotation. At that point, the 21-year-old Dominican redeemed his season by going 4-1, 2.89 through eight starts while striking out 12.8 per nine innings with a high-octane fastball and sharp slider. (ME)


15. Taylor Hearn, lhp, Pirates
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Team: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 11 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: Hearn was acquired in the deal that sent closer Mark Melancon to D.C. He worked as a reliever in the Nationals organization, but the Pirates see a starter with his 6-foot-5 frame and good downhill angle on his 93-97 mph fastball. He has a power slider, and the Pirates will work on developing a necessary change-of-pace to achieve long-term success in the rotation. (VLC)


16. Aristides Aquino, of, Reds
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Team: high Class A Daytona (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .250/.323/.929 (7-for-28), 6 R, 1 2B, 6 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Because the Tigers promoted slugger Christin Stewart to Double-A, Aquino stands a very good chance of taking over the Florida State League lead for home runs. Hitting six this week pushed his season total to 22, one behind Stewart for the league lead. Aquino has huge righthanded power, as evidenced by his FSL-leading .534 slugging percentage and 55 extra-base hits. (ME)


17.Jose De Leon, rhp, Dodgers
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Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.57, 2 GS, 14 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop: For all the pitching injuries the Dodgers have endured this year, it’s been a good year for the system’s pitching prospects. For example, Julio Urias has reached the big leagues and Brock Stewart has had a breakout year. And after an injury-delayed start, De Leon has been generating massive numbers of swings and misses in the Pacific Coast League. His 10 strikeouts in his most recent start were his third double-digit punchout game in his past seven starts. Over that stretch he has 44 strikeouts and nine walks in 42 innings. (JJC)


18. Jeimer Candelario, 3b, Cubs
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Team: Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .355/.394/.645 (11-for-31), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Candelario has been outstanding for the Cubs in Triple-A, showing good bat control, sharp plate discipline and promising power. He’s also blocked as can be — by both Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. Candelario is tapping on the big league door, but he might have to follow the Dan Vogelbach path of needing a trade to get his opportunity to show that he can be an everyday player. (BB)


19. Ozzie Albies, 2b, Braves
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Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 19
Why Hes Here: .429/.455/.619 (9-for-21), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 5-for-5 SB

The Scoop: Albies slid to second base in deference to shortstop Dansby Swanson when they teamed up at Double-A, and he remained at the keystone even after the Braves called up Swanson this week. It will be surprising if Albies doesn’t get some big league time this year, as Atlanta gets its middle infield of the future ready for the opening of the new ballpark next April. (JJC)


20. Mitch Hansen, of, Dodgers
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Team: Rookie-level Ogden (Pioneer)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .370/.400/.630 (10-for-27), 6 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: A Plano, Texas, prep star and 2015 second-round pick, Hansen generates big power from a strong lefthanded swing that generates serious loft. He ranks third in the Pioneer League with 10 home runs. (ME)


HELIUM WATCH
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Eguy Rosario, 2b/3b, Padres: Before the Padres dropped a gazillion dollars on international prospects this year, they spent $300,000 last year to sign Rosario out of the Dominican Republic on Aug. 25, his 16th birthday. Still 16, Rosario is one of the youngest players in the Dominican Summer League (had he been born a week later, he wouldn’t have even been eligible to sign until July 2 this year), but he’s also been one of the best hitters in the league, batting .337/.421/.467 in 53 games. Rosario, whose teammates call him Eggy, has strong wrists, good bat speed and a short stroke, with a sound plan at the plate for his age and good bat-to-ball skills, projecting more as a doubles hitter than a big home-run threat. While he might make an interesting candidate to move behind the plate, Rosario has split time between second and third base this season, with second base a good fit for him. (BB)

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