The Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet is here! Geoff Pontes ranks the 10 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did through Nov. 4.
This 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.
1. Tyler Hardman, 1B, Yankees
Why He’s Here: .429/.429/1.143 (6-for-14), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: The Yankees slugger took flight last week as he recorded an extra-base hit in all three games. Hardman’s signature game came in Friday afternoon’s contest in Peroia. The first baseman connected for a pair of home runs in route to a 2-for-5 day, driving in three runs. Earlier in the week, Hardman went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs in a 7-6 loss to Scottsdale. Dating back to his collegiate days at Oklahoma, Hardman has always had standout power.
2. Will Wagner, 3B, Astros
Why He’s Here: .417/.500/1.000 (5-for-12), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: Few players have announced their presence quite like Wagner has over the Fall League season. Wagner was snubbed for a Fall Stars nod but is among the leaders in several categories as he’s hitting .340/.436/.681 over 13 games. Last week Wagner homered in consecutive days to start the week, including a game winner in the bottom of the eighth on Wednesday to give Surprise the win over Glendale. Wagner is the son of former all-star reliever Billy Wagner, and he possesses one of the better combinations of feel to hit and strike-zone discipline in the Astros system.
3. Carlos De La Cruz, OF, Phillies
Why He’s Here: .667/.667/1.222 (6-for-9), 3 R, 0 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: The 6-foot-8 outfielder stands out on a baseball field as much as any player in the game, and he looks more like a power forward than a baseball player. Last week De La Cruz showed off his plus raw power, connecting for a home run and a double during the Saguaros matinee in Glendale on Thursday. De La Cruz is a raw but intriguing talent with the ability to handle an outfield corner and the raw power that hints at 30-home run potential. At present De La Cruz swings and misses and chases too much to fully tap into his raw power.
4. Mike Antico, OF, Cardinals
Team: Salt River
Why He’s Here: .500/.625/1.167 (3-for-6), 2 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 4-for-4 SB
The Scoop: While several other Salt River and Cardinals teammates get more attention, none of them had a better week last week than the former St. John’s and Texas star. Antico has been among the best basestealers in the Fall League this season and he possesses average game power. His combination of power and speed makes him an exciting talent as he provides instant offense. Antico went 2-for-4 on Monday, hitting a double and stealing a trio of bases. On Thursday evening Antico reached base three times, homered and stole a base on his way to his second standout game of the week. A well-rounded player who can serve a variety of roles, Antico looks like a quintessential bench outfielder.
5. Mason Miller, RHP, Athletics
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: The Athletics righthander has been terrorizing Fall League batters all season long and on Tuesday night Miller had his best performance to date. Miller hit 101 mph during the start, with his fastball sitting 98-100 mph, and he mixed in a nasty high-80s sweeper. Miller hurled three perfect innings on his way to a scoreless five-strikeout performance. With top-of-the-scale power on his pitches Miller has stuff that would play in the back of a major league bullpen now.
6. Emmet Sheehan, RHP, Dodgers
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: It’s been an up-and-down Fall League season for Sheehan, who reached Double-A in his first full professional season. On Tuesday afternoon, Sheehan was locked in as he tossed five scoreless innings against Peoria. Sheehan sat 92-94 mph early before his velocity jumped to 94-96 mph over his final few innings. He kept hitters off balance with his low-launch four-seam fastball, plus changeup and low-80s slider. There’s some debate around Sheehan’s viability as a starter due to his strike-throwing and mechanics, but he has unique traits that portend future success.
7. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles
Why He’s Here: .500/.500/.857 (7-for-14), 1 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: It’s hard not to get caught up in Kjerstad’s comeback story, as the former No. 2 overall pick has hit his stride during the Fall League season. Kjerstad capped off his strong week with a second-place finish in the AFL Home Run Derby and a starting role in the league’s Fall Stars Game. During the week Kjerstad was no slouch, as he recorded a hit in half of his 14 at-bats. Kjerstad’s week was buoyed by a pair of three-hit games coming on Tuesday and Friday night. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder has easy power, feel for the zone and at least average bat-to-ball skills. With a fully healthy offseason and a headwind of momentum Kjerstad is poised to break out in 2023.
8. Niko Kavadas, 1B, Red Sox
Why He’s Here: .300/.364/1.000 (3-for-10), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: A tough finish to the season has led to some skepticism around Kavadas and his ability to hit major league pitching. While last week was a small sample, Kavadas did what he does best—hit for power. All three of Kavadas’ hits on the week went for extra bases, including a home run and a double in Thursday’s matinee in Peoria. There’s plenty of swing and miss in Kavadas’ profile, it’s just a matter of if he gets on base and hits for enough power to offset it. Kavadas is a three true outcomes hitter with 30-home run power, but whether he gets to it at the highest level is still up for debate.
9. Nick Yorke, 2B, Red Sox
Why He’s Here: .400/.375/.667 (6-for-15), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: It’s been a comeback fall for Yorke after a difficult 2022. Yorke had another strong week, as he recorded two hits on Thursday afternoon and followed it up with a three-hit game in the Friday night contest in Scottsdale. Yorke is now hitting .342/.424/.526 during Fall League play and is starting to look like the plus hit-over-power second baseman that vaulted up prospect lists in 2021.
10. Colton Gordon, LHP, Astros
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.60, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Gordon is a pitchability lefthander who worked his magic against Glendale on Thursday afternoon. Gordon struck out eight over five innings of work, allowing just three hits. He allowed a home run to Edouard Julien to lead off the game, but it was heavily aided by high storm winds pushing the lined shot out to left. Gordon sits 89-91 mph with a flatter plane, pairing his fastball with a trio of secondaries. His slider sits low 80s with slight ride and, on average, a foot of horizontal break. His curveball is a mid-70s sweeper with more depth and he flashes feel for a mid-80s changeup. It’s a back-end starter ceiling with some utility as an up-and-down spot starter.