Image credit: (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Baseball America’s weekly Hot Sheet continues for the Arizona Fall League. Josh Norris ranks the 10 hottest prospects from the third week of Fall League action. You can see the first two installments below.
1. JT Schwartz, 1B, Mets
Why He’s Here: .444/.421/1.056 (8-for-18), 4 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Schwartz was excellent in the regular season despite being limited by injuries. He didn’t show much in the way of power, though, clubbing just four home runs in 66 games with High-A Brooklyn. The UCLA alum has found his power stroke in a big way in the Arizona Fall League. Schwartz hit his two home runs of the fall this past week, and his .628 slugging percentage is sixth-best on the circuit.
2. Caleb Durbin, 2B, Yankees
Why He’s Here: .474/.583/.947 (9-for-19), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 BB, 1 SO, 3-for-3 SB
The Scoop: Durbin moved from the Braves to the Yankees in the offseason trade that sent reliever Lucas Luetge to Atlanta. The infielder split an injury-filled season between High-A and Double-A, producing an .801 OPS. In the fall, he’s been one of the most consistent offensive producers. The 14th-rounder from 2021 slugged two home runs this past week and now has a 1.183 OPS through the league’s first half.
3. James Triantos, 2B, Cubs
Why He’s Here: .458/.480/.708 (11-for-24), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 4-for-4 SB
The Scoop: Triantos is one of the best prospects in the Cubs’ system but had his season limited by injuries. He’s reinforcing his reputation as a pure hitter in the Fall League. His outstanding third week leaves his name speckled across the AFL leaderboard. Triantos is first in slugging percentage (.765) and OPS (1.290). He also ranks second in batting average (.431) and on-base percentage (.525).
4. Dylan Smith, RHP, Tigers
Team: Salt River
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 3.38, 8 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO, 2 HR
The Scoop: The Alabama alum was limited to just 32.2 innings in a 2023 season spent mostly at High-A West Michigan, where he struck out 23 and walked five in 27 innings before moving to Double-A Erie for three games. In his most recent start, he mixed a four-seam fastball with a cutter, changeup and curveball to strike out nine over four one-run innings. The four-seamer averaged 95 mph while the other three offerings sat between 82-86 mph. He got 15 swings and misses in 78 pitches.
5. Kala’i Rosario, OF, Twins
Why He’s Here: .333/.429/.833 (6-for-18), 6 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: Last week, Baseball America tabbed Rosario as one of the more underrated hitting prospects in the sport. He has backed up that hype so far in Arizona. His three home runs for the Desert Dogs vaulted him into a tie for third place in the league, just two behind AFL leader Kyle Manzardo (Guardians). After starting the fall 2-for-32, the big week could give Rosario some momentum heading into the AFL’s second half.
6. Jase Bowen, OF, Pirates
Team: Salt River
Why He’s Here: .333/.391/.667 (7-for-21), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-3 SB
The Scoop: Quietly, Bowen has been one of the AFL’s better performers this year. The Ohio high school product slammed a double and two more home runs this past week, putting him in a tie with Rangers prospect Liam Hicks for the most hits (23) on the circuit and alone in the top spot for total bases (40). His nine extra-base hits are second only to Kyle Manzardo.
7. DJ Herz, LHP, Nationals
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.25, 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Herz was dealt to the Nationals along with shortstop Kevin Made in the deal that brought infielder Jeimer Candelario to the Cubs. The southpaw does not overpower hitters with his fastball but he gets plenty of swings and misses by using a nasty changeup with drop and tail. He struck out nine in his most recent turn, which is half the total he’s racked up in three AFL starts.
8. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Guardians
Why He’s Here: .278/.316/.778 (5-for-18), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: After splitting his regular season between Triple-A Durham and Columbus in the International League, Manzardo is using the Fall League to make up for lost time following a midseason shoulder injury. The Washington State product, who was dealt from the Rays to Cleveland in the Aaron Civale deal, hit two more home runs in the AFL’s third week, giving him five for the fall and putting him in sole possession of the league’s top spot.
9. Benny Montgomery, OF, Rockies
Team: Salt River
Why He’s Here: .368/.429/.737 (7-for-19), 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Montgomery, the Rockies’ first-round pick in the 2021 draft, had a middling season at High-A Spokane but has been one of the better performers in the Fall League. With seven more hits (including a longball), Montgomery now places third in the league in batting average at .373, seventh in on-base percentage (.468) and tied for fifth in hits (19).
10. Darius Vines, RHP, Braves
Team: Salt River
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.59, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Vines was one of the most improved prospects in Atlanta’s system this year, and the Braves rewarded that uptick by giving him his first MLB callup. The righthander made his big league debut on Aug. 30. In his AFL debut, Vines struck out nine over four one-run innings. He should vie to be a part of the big league staff in 2024.