Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (4/11/23)

The Hot Sheet is back! Baseball America’s staff ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did through April 10. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, Geoff Pontes, Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper and Kyle Glaser.

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.

Josh Norris hosted a chat to discuss today’s Hot Sheet. You can read the transcript here.

1. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (International)
Age: 23 

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The Cardinals No. 4 prospect reminded everyone over his first few starts why he was so highly touted coming out of the draft in 2018. After consecutive underwhelming seasons in 2021 and 2022, Liberatore started his third season at Triple-A with two impressive outings—he went five scoreless while striking out seven in each start. He was up to 97 mph with his fastball and upped his curveball usage, leading to 13 swinging strikes against the pitch across his two starts. Liberatore could be in line for a promotion shortly. (GP) 

2. Nolan Jones, OF/3B, Rockies
Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .353/.476/.941 (12-for-34) 11 R, 2 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBIs, 7 BB, 9 SO.

The Scoop: Picking up Jones last offseason when the Guardians needed to clear 40-man roster space is exactly the kind of move the Rockies should be making. Jones has been a Top 100 prospect in the past, and at his best he’s shown he can hit for average and hit 15-20 home runs as well. He’s currently second in the minors with six home runs, and overall he still looks like a solid hitter with decent pop. Jones is unlikely to turn into a star, but the Rockies could use a hitter who can play four spots (left and right field, first and third base) and has a plus-plus arm. (JC)

3. Chase Silseth, RHP, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After dominating at Double-A Rocket City last year and making his major league debut, Silseth is picking up right where he left off with Triple-A Salt Lake. Silseth tossed five scoreless innings in his first start with the Bees and followed up with six scoreless innings, one hit allowed, two walks and seven strikeouts in hitter’s paradise Albuquerque last week. Amazingly, Silseth is undefeated at Double-and Triple-A, going 9-0, 2.01 in 17 career starts at the minors’ two highest levels. (KG)

4. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After striking out 159 batters in his first full season last year, Abbott got the 2023 season started off with a bang. The 2021 second-round pick struck out the first nine batters he faced in his season-opening start against Rocket City and allowed only one baserunner in 4.2 hitless innings. He struck out 11 of the 15 batters he faced overall—including eight swinging. (KG)

5. Connor Norby, 2B, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .343/.385/.543 (12-for-35), 12 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Orioles began the year atop BA’s Organizational Talent Rankings, and the Tides were particularly stacked. In fact, they were the team with the most loaded roster to begin the season, even with righthander Grayson Rodriguez in the big leagues. Norby is one of the gems of the group. He’s a talented hitter with plenty of power (especially when he plays against Durham, against whom he has five home runs in nine games). (JN)

6. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .294/.324/.618 (10-for-34), 6 R, 5 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Take a premium young hitter, put him in one of the minors’ most hitter-friendly environments, and this is what you get. Soderstrom opened the season with seven extra-base hits in eight games for Triple-A Las Vegas, headlined by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run at Reno on April 2. The precocious lefthanded hitter has three multi-hit games already and, impressively, is doing it while primarily playing catcher. Expected to transition to first base primarily this year, Soderstrom has instead done his damage while being behind the plate in five of his first eight games this season. (KG)

7. Lenyn Sosa, SS, White Sox
Team: Triple-A Charlotte (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .448/.556/.828 (13-for-29), 5 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 7 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Sosa hit .315/.369/.511 in 119 games last year between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. There isn’t one standout carrying tool that would grade out as a 70 or even a 60 on the 20-80 scale, but he has shown that he can hit upper-level pitching. It’s the type of skill set that often gets pegged as a future utility player, but with the way Sosa continues to hit, there’s a chance he ends up becoming more than that in an everyday role. (BB)

8. Brayan Rocchio, SS, Guardians
Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .314/.400/.457 (11-for-35), 5 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Rocchio is a Top 100 prospect who reached Triple-A last year as a 21-year-old, though he hit just .234/.298/.387 in 33 games there. That’s not a big concern—he was the age equivalent of a 2022 college draft pick—and he’s showing this year why he’s such a highly regarded prospect with his mix of barrel control from both sides of the plate, glove work and outstanding instincts for the game. With Amed Rosario at shortstop, Andres Gimenez at second base and Jose Ramirez at third, the Guardians aren’t in any rush to bring Rocchio up at the moment, so he could be in for a lengthy stint with Triple-A Columbus. (BB)

9. Peyton Burdick, OF, Marlins
Team: Triple-A Jacksonville (International)
Age: 26

Why He’s Here: .286/.306/.714 (10-for-35), 8 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 15 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The early portion of the 2023 season is the perfect encapsulation of Burdick. He has big-time power (his four home runs leave him tied for first place in the International League) but also big-time swing-and-miss. His 15 strikeouts are tied with former Marlins teammate Kam Misner for second in the International League. Until and unless he can make more contact, he’s likely an up-and-down outfielder. (JN)

10. Ty Madden, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO.

The Scoop: When Madden gets an offseason to work, you can expect him to return for the next season an improved pitcher. After the 2021 season, he reworked his release point to get better movement on his fastball and improved deception. This year, he’s throwing even harder, with a mid-90s fastball that touched 98-99 in his first start, according to the Erie broadcast. Madden struck out 10 of the 13 batters he faced, and didn’t pick up an out on anything other than a strikeout until the third out in the third, when Petey Halpin popped out. His lone blemish was a Raynel Delgado walk. (JC)

11. Osleivis Basabe, SS/2B, Rays
Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .355/.355/.548 (11-for-31), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Basabe came over from the Rangers in the deal that sent Nate Lowe to the Rangers. He’s a player who hits the ball hard and often and showed both traits early in the season. The way his swing works leads evaluators to believe he won’t have a ton of power but can still pepper the ball around the outfield while providing value on defense as well, even if it’s not necessarily at shortstop. (JN)

12. Luis Ortiz, RHP, Pirates
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.08, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After a strong late-season debut with the Pirates in 2022, Ortiz returned to Triple-A to begin the 2023 season. While his starts we’re limited to 3.2 innings in his first start and 4.2 in his second start, Ortiz impressed with his high-octane stuff. His fastball sat 96 mph between the two starts, and he worked in a slider in the high 80s. He generated 18 swings and misses across the two appearances while allowing just a single run. While relief risk lingers with Ortiz, he has the type of powerful stuff that can flourish in a variety of roles. (GP) 

13. Samad Taylor, 2B, Royals
Team: Triple-A Omaha (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .341/.378/.537 (14-for-41), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 10 SO, 3-for-4 SB

The Scoop: The Royals acquired Taylor alongside Max Castillo from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent Whit Merrifield to Toronto. While Taylor was unable to crack the Royals’ Opening Day lineup, he provides an exciting blend of power and speed. Over his first nine games Taylor tallied six multi-hit games, while collecting an extra-base hit and a stolen base in three different games. An undersized spark plug, Taylor makes things happen whether at the plate or on the bases. Taylor is one of the more exciting players in the upper minors when he’s locked in, and last week he certainly was locked in. (GP)

14. Michael Toglia, 1B, Rockies
Team: Triple-A Albuquerque 
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .200/.333/.629 (7-for-35), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBIs, 6 BB, 10 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After a standout spring training performance many anticipated that Toglia would make the Rockies’ Opening Day roster. That didn’t happen, but it certainly hasn’t cooled off Toglia’s powerful bat. He reached base in seven of his first nine games and slugged four home runs. The switch-hitting Toglia possesses plus power and above-average on-base ability, making him a three true outcomes threat. If opportunity arises in the Rockies’ everyday lineup, Toglia could cement his place in the starting nine. (GP)

15. Sam Bachman, RHP, Angels
Team: Double-A Rocket City (Southern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Bachman was hampered by back spasms and biceps inflammation last year and averaged less than four innings per start at Double-A Rocket City. He returned to Double-A this year and looked like a different pitcher in his opening start against Chattanooga, tossing five scoreless innings with a career-high nine strikeouts. Bachman also notably didn’t walk anyone, a noticeable improvement after he averaged 5.2 walks per nine innings a year ago. (KG)

16. Nick Zwack, LHP, Giants
Team: Double-A Richmond (Eastern)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Zwack was one of the prospects the Giants received from the Mets in the deal that sent Darin Ruf to New York. The Xavier alum looked sharp this spring and carried it over to the regular season, when he whiffed nine against Reading. The outing was just the second time Zwack has recorded nine or more strikeouts in a game, and the second time he’s K’d nine in four innings. The first instance came on April 27, 2022 against Low-A Daytona. (JN)

17. Bo Naylor, C, Guardians
Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .276/.488/.586 (9-for-29), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 11 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Naylor has picked up where he left off offensively in 2022, as he’s drawn a ton of walks while demonstrating his power. But more importantly, Naylor also has shown improvement defensively. Naylor’s throwing has been more consistent so far, something that was an issue at times last year. His pop times to second base have ranged from 1.88 to 2.05 seconds, but it’s his accuracy that has significantly improved. His lone throwing error came when his throw was on-line to third base, but hit the runner as he slid into the bag. (JC)

18. Mark Vientos, 3B/1B, Mets
Team: Triple-A Syracuse (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .357/.455/.607 (10-for-28), 5 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 8 SO.

The Scoop: The Mets sent Vientos back to Triple-A along with Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty to start the 2023 season. But like Alvarez (who has already been recalled to New York) and Baty, there’s a pretty clear path for Vientos to get back to New York this season even if his likely role is smaller than that of Alvarez or Baty. Vientos is off to a strong start with Syracuse, and his prodigious power has been apparent. Both of his home runs have had exit velocities of 110 mph or better, and he’s been stinging singles and doubles as well. (JC) 

19. Chandler Champlain, RHP, Royals
Team: High-A Quad Cities (Midwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 3.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: Champlain came to the Royals as part of the deal that brought Andrew Benintendi to New York. He’s got the makings of four pitches and a body that can handle a starter’s role. He opened his 2023 season with six innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts. One of the issues scouts noticed with Champlain this spring was a drop in fastball velocity when pitching out of the stretch. From the windup, he was into the mid 90s. With runners on, that range dipped to around 92-94 mph. (JN)

20. Cody Bradford, LHP, Rangers
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 G, 2 GS, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: With a low-90s fastball, Bradford’s game relies on throwing strikes and using his plus changeup to keep hitters off balance. Last year, Bradford threw a lot of strikes, but hitters didn’t seem to have much issue being on time, as he allowed a 5.01 ERA in 118.2 innings in Double-A Frisco, though he was better after a rough first two months. It’s only a couple of starts, but Bradford has yet to allow a run, an encouraging sign after his early struggles last year. There’s a chance for him to get innings this year in the big leagues and develop into a back-end starter.  (BB)


Didier Fuentes, RHP, Braves

Two 17-year-olds landed on full-season rosters for Opening Day: Angels outfielder Nelson Rada and Fuentes, a righthander who signed out of Colombia for $75,000. Fuentes works mostly with two pitches: A fastball in the low 90s that peaked around 95 and a slurvier breaking ball in the 70s that he’s working to throw harder. The Braves’ decision to move Fuentes directly to Low-A is less about his stuff than it is about the maturity he’s shown since he turned pro. They believe he can handle a jump to a level where he will pitch under the lights and in front of bigger crowds than can be found at the complex. (JN) 

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