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Prospect Hot Sheet

Juan Soto (Getty Images)
Updated on: 4/16/2018
  1. 1

    Juan Soto

    Nationals OF

    Team: low Class A Hagerstown (South Atlantic)
    Age: 19
    Why He’s Here: .361/.489/.861 (13-for-36), 7 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBIs, 10 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

    The Scoop: Soto has everything scouts look for in a hitter. He has a calm, balanced approach with a quick, compact swing and a knack for barreling balls in every quadrant of the strike zone. Whether it’s a fastball or an offspeed pitch, Soto can hit it, and he’s a smart, disciplined hitter who doesn’t chase much off the plate. Soto is a pure hitter first, but now the power is coming too, as evidenced by his eight extra-base hits in his first 10 games. Injuries were the only thing that slowed Soto last year, but his preternatural hitting polish should have him moving quickly up the ladder as long as he can stay on the field. (BB)

  2. 2

    Team: Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
    Age: 20
    Why He’s Here: .472/.545/1.000 (17-for-36), 10 R, 1 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBIs, 7 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-2 SB

    The Scoop: Naylor’s explosive hands and lightning bat speed have long kept evaluators interested despite his husky frame and mechanical issues in his swing, and he is showing he may finally be tapping into the enormous raw power his hands and bat speed afford him. Naylor has two-multi home run games already, has a hit in nine of 10 games, and has reached base in all 10. (KG)

  3. 3

    Team: low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: 0-0, 3.60, 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR
    Why He’s Here: .438/.667/.500 (7-for-16), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBIs, 11 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

    The Scoop: Baseball’s second most famous two-way player has gotten off to a strong start in his first full season as a pro. At the plate, his 11 walks have reinforced his college reputation as an extremely patient hitter. His innings have been limited in his first two starts, but he’s nonetheless been effective there too, with eight strikeouts and just two hits allowed over five his first five innings with Bowling Green. (JN)

  4. 4

    Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
    Age: 19
    Why He’s Here: .361/.419/.639 (13-for-36), 7 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO

    The Scoop: Guerrero looks more like a major league veteran on a rehab assignment than he does a 19-year-old in Double-A. A teenager among men, Guerrero hits the ball like a man among boys, showing 70 raw power in batting practice by hitting the ball out of the stadium to his pull side and drilling line drives that carry all the way to the right field fence. The frightening part is that Guerrero’s power might end up being his second-best tool. He combines ferocious bat speed with great bat control, excellent strike-zone discipline and hitting acumen far beyond his years, making him one of the game’s brightest young hitters. (BB)

  5. 5

    Parker Dunshee

    Athletics RHP

    Team: high Class A Stockton (California)
    Age: 23
    Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 10 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 Ks.

    The Scoop: Dunshee pitched 38.1 scoreless innings at short-season Vermont in 2017 and has continued to his scoreless streak into 2018, delivering 10 shutout innings over two starts this year to raise his streak to 48.1 innings. Dunshee is only a couple of starts away from challenging Cardinals RHP Brad Thompson’s modern-day minor league record of 57.2 consecutive scoreless innings, set in 2003-2004. The all-time minor league record is Irv Wilhelm’s 72 consecutive scoreless innings with Birmingham in 1907 and 1911 (Wilhlelm was in the majors in between). Dunshee was a $25,000 senior sign out of Wake Forest as a seventh-round pick last year. He doesn’t have a true plus pitch, but his sinker, slider and changeup all come out of his hand looking similar before heading off in three separate directions. (JJ)

  6. 6

    Shane Bieber

    Indians RHP

    Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 13 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 17 SO, 0 BB, 0 HR

    The Scoop: After a successful turn in Double-A toward the end of last season, Bieber returned to Akron this year and picked right up where he left off. He’s earned a reputation as an extreme control artist and has lived up to that billing in his first two starts, during which did not surrender a walk. He and fellow Indians prospect Aaron Civale should compete all year long for the title of best control in the minors. (JN)

  7. 7

    Team: High Class A Inland Empire (California)
    Age: 21
    Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 8.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 12 SO, 3 BB

    The Scoop: Canning had to wait until 2018 to make his pro debut, and the layoff doesn’t appear to have hurt him in any way. The polished righthander has seen an uptick in his velocity from 90-94 mph to 93-97, his slider and curveball have both been exceptional, and as a result he’s making pro ball look easy. He pitched four scoreless innings with six strikeouts in his first start, and followed with 4.2 scoreless innings and six strikeouts in his next start. Once Canning gets stretched out and starts pitching deeper into games, a promotion to Double-A will come sooner rather than later. (KG)

  8. 8

    Colin Poche

    Diamondbacks LHP

    Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
    Age: 24
    Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 G, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 SO.

    The Scoop: Poche’s start is unfathomable, because 15 strikeouts in six relief innings is on the edge of reality. But even more baffling is how Poche does it with a fastball/slider combo that scouts universally say are average pitches. As one scout put it, "I don’t know what it is about his fastball, but no one hits it." Poche’s worst outing is one where he struck out three of the four batters he faced, because the other batter was the only hit he’s allowe). The former Dallas Baptist ace has taken very well to a move to the bullpen as a pro, as it’s allowed his fringe-average fastball to play up to 91-93 mph. Neither that nor his slider is a devastating weapon, but Poche locates both precisely–he’s throwing strikes with roughly 80 percent of his pitches. (JJ)

  9. 9

    Team: low Class A Delmarva (South Atlantic)
    Age: 21
    Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 SO.

    The Scoop: Sometimes when watching Lowther pitch, it’s fair to ask how he does it. His fastball is fringe-average at best, as it sits 88-92 mph most nights. His changeup and slurvy slider are also potentially average offerings, but nothing explains how he keeps putting together outings like his first of this year, where he left Hickory completely baffled for six innings. That’s nothing new for Lowther, as he allowed only 43 hits while striking out 123 in 83.1 innings for Xavier last year. Lowther’s delivery seems to make it hard for hitters to pick the ball up, which helps everything play up. (JJ)

  10. 10

    Team: Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)
    Age: 21
    Why He’s Here: 3-0, 1.13, 16 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 20 SO, 5 BB, 0 HR

    The Scoop: Peralta continues to check every box of a pitcher who can succeed without elite velocity. Nothing he throws is straight, he expertly commands the baseball with a clean arm action and repeatable delivery, and he is fearless on the mound. Peralta made the move to Colorado Springs and has dominated in hostile conditions, winning his first two starts in the altitude and keeping the ball in the ballpark, a Herculean task at Security Service Field and its 6,531-foot elevation. (KG)

  11. 11

    Michael Baumann

    Orioles RHP

    Team: low Class A Delmarva (South Atlantic)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.82, 2 GS, 11 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 19 SO.

    The Scoop: After taking high school lefthander DL Hall in the first round of the 2017 draft, the Orioles hedged their bet a little by following up with a pair of very productive college pitchers with their competitive balance and third-round picks. Right now all three of them (plus 26th round pick Cameron Bishop whose stuff is just as good) are in the Delmarva rotation and excelling. Baumann has better pure stuff than Zac Lowther, but with a little less deception. While Lowther leaves hitters shaking their head, Baumann is more likely to beat them with power thanks to a 91-96 mph fastball and a hard slider. (JJ)

  12. 12

    Tyler O’Neill

    Cardinals OF

    Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: .410/.405/.821 (16-for-39), 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 14 RBIs, 1 BB, 10 SO

    The Scoop: O’Neill posted a .987 OPS over his final 61 games last year and has carried that scorching finish into 2018. He is currently riding a nine-game hit streak, which includes five multi-hit games, and hit four homers in a three-day stretch at one point. With Marco Gonzales continuing to get lit up in Seattle (12 IP, 19 H, 11 ER) the way he has been throughout his major league career, last summer’s head-scratching trade continues to look better and better for the Cardinals. (KG)

  13. 13

    Justin Dunn

    Mets RHP

    Team: high Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 14 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

    The Scoop: After a rough turn with high Class A last year, Dunn returned to St. Lucie to begin 2018. And this time, he appears to have found his groove. The former college closer at Boston College opened his year with 14 punchouts in 10 innings, or nearly 20 percent of the strikeouts he achieved over 95.1 innings in the Florida State League in 2017. (JN)

  14. 14

    Team: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic).
    Age: 20
    Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.00, 2 GS, 10 IP,

    The Scoop: Good news Braves fans, there’s still a few young international prospects left in the system that weren’t declared free agents during last offseason’s punishment. De la Cruz is one of the best, as the righthander has a plus 91-96 mph fastball and a promising hard slider that already flashes plus. In the early going this year, de la Cruz has shown improved control. If he can get ahead in the count, his slider is a putaway pitch, as Hagerstown found out when de la Cruz struck out eight in five innings in his full-season debut. (JJ)

  15. 15

    Team: high Class A Daytona (Florida State)
    Age: 21
    Why He’s Here: .455/.561/.727 (15-for-33), 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO.

    The Scoop: Stephenson’s young career has so far been overwhelmed by injuries. The Reds’ 2015 first-round pick saw his 2016 season ruined by a concussion and a wrist injury and last year was derailed by a thumb injury. Healthy to start this season, Stephenson has responded with the best stretch of his still young career. He’s second in the Florida State League in on-base percentage and leads the league in slugging percentage. Stephenson was seen as one of the best hitting/power prospects in the 2015 high school draft class, and catchers often take longer to develop. (JJ)

  16. 16

    Seuly Matias

    Royals OF

    Team: low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)
    Age: 19
    Why He’s Here: .286/.342/.686 (10-for-35), 7 R, 10 H, 1 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 17 SO, 2-for-2 SB

    The Scoop: When Matias hits it on the sweet spot, the ball screams off his bat at high-end exit velocities. There’s no doubting Matias’ raw power, and when everything is in sync and on time, he looks like a monster. The key for Matias will be his pitch recognition and plate discipline. He’s still a free-swinger who’s vulnerable to chasing both fastballs and breaking pitches off the plate. His .686 sluggling percentage but also 17 strikeouts in 35 at-bats to start the season belie that current state. Becoming a more selective hitter will be critical for him as he faces better pitching. (BB)

  17. 17

    Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
    Age: 24
    Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.87, 10.1 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 16 SO, 0 BB, 1 HR

    The Scoop: With a new slider in tow and one of the most explosive fastballs in the minor leagues, Banda made a quick impression with his new organization. He showed an impressive ability over those two starts to use his fastball, which sat between 93-95 mph, to get swings and misses on pitches in the strike zone. After the Rays tore down last offseason, Banda is increasingly looking like the gem of their prospect returns. (JN)

  18. 18

    Team: high Class A Wilmington (Carolina)
    Age: 19
    Why He’s Here: .387/.513/.742 (12-for-31), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 8 BB, 13 SO, 3-for-3 on SBs.

    The Scoop: As the Royals begin what will likely be a lengthy rebuild, the position player in the system with the highest ceiling isn’t 2017 first-round pick Nick Pratto or powerful young outfielder Seuly Matias. It’s Lee, who has the combination of speed and power to be a well-rounded big leaguer if he can make enough contact to hit for average. The start of the season is a very positive sign, as Lee is drawing more walks. He still strikes out a lot, and a .625 BABIP isn’t exactly sustainable, but Lee is hitting for power as one of the younger hitters in the Carolina League. (JJ)

  19. 19

    Team: High Class A Inland Empire (California)
    Age: 20
    Why He’s Here: 0-1, 2.00, 9 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 18 SO, 1 BB

    The Scoop: Suarez has been known for his advanced feel for pitching since he signed for $300,000 as a 16-year-old. Now his stuff is ticking up, making him even more impressive. Suarez’s fastball has jumped from 88-92 mph to 90-94, and his changeup has evolved from a potential above-average pitch to a devastating, swing-and-miss offering that draws easy plus grades. His curveball has tightened as well, giving him three quality pitches he can throw for strikes. The result has been a dominant start in the Cal League, with outings of eight and 10 strikeouts so far. (KG)

  20. 20

    Colton Welker

    Rockies 3B

    Team: high Class A Lancaster (California)
    Why He’s Here: .455/.578/.848 (15-for-33), 13 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 11 BB, 7 SO

    The Scoop: Welker doesn’t swing and miss much, and when you put the ball in play in Lancaster, good things happen. The early-season plate patience has also been a welcome sign for Welker, who walked 18 times in 67 games last year in low Class A Asheville and is already more than halfway there this season with 11 walks in 10 games. (BB)


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