Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (4/26/22)
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 25. Contributing this week were Geoff Pontes, Kyle Glaser and J.J. Cooper.
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. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
Team: Low-A Clearwater (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 0-0 , 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Since debuting in the Florida Complex League last summer, Painter is yet to allow an earned run across seven professional appearances. His start on Saturday was by far his best day as a professional as he struck out 14 Tampa batters while allowing just a single hit across five innings. Ten of Painter’s 14 strikeouts were swinging and eight of those swinging third strikes came against Painter’s fastball. He sat 96-98 mph on his four-seam fastball during the start with a peak velocity of 99.1 mph. (GP)
2. Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians
Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.60 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 14 SO.
The Scoop: The praise for Espino coming out of spring training was almost deafening. He was consistently cited as the most impressive pitching prospect of spring training, and nothing he’s done so far for Double-A Akron has cooled that ardor. On Saturday, Espino struck out the side in the first on 10 pitches (all strikes), thanks to his changeup. In the second inning, he struck out the side on 12 pitches (10 of which were strikes), relying heavily on his 99-100 mph fastball. He ended up striking out the first 11 batters he faced. He gave up a solo home run to Gunnar Henderson before striking out the next batter he faced. His 14 K’s tied Painter and Tanner Gordon for the most in pro baseball in an outing this season. (JC)
3. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
Team: Low-A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .417/.533/.833 (10-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO, 3 SB, 1 CS.
The Scoop: Now 17 games into his pro career, Crow-Armstrong is sitting on a .500 career on-base percentage. Only once in his career has he failed to reach base at least one time in a game. He has gone hitless four times—but he usually figures out some way to reach base, and in one game he went 0-for-1 with four walks and a hit-by-pitch. Coming out of high school, there was plenty of confidence in his ability to play plus or better defense in center field. So far, he’s looking like an excellent table-setting lead-off hitter as well. (JC)
4. Marco Raya, RHP, Twins
Team: Low-A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Making just his second professional start, Raya dominated the Dunedin lineup for six innings, allowing just a single base hit in the first. Raya faced the minimum after his only baserunner of the day was caught attempting to steal second base. He struck out 10 on just 68 pitches, including 17 swinging strikes and 14 called strikes. Raya relied on a potent three-pitch mix of his high-ride fastball sitting 94-95 mph, a sweeper slider in the mid 80s and a low-80s, downer curveball. He was added to the injured list following the start due to wisdom teeth surgery but should be ready to start for Fort Myers later this week. (GP)
5. Joe Boyle, RHP, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00 1 GS, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO.
The Scoop: The most important stat for Boyle is not the velocity on his high-90s fastball or the whiffs he gets with his power breaking ball. It’s strike rate. When Boyle throws strikes, he can dominate, but throughout his college and pro career, his control has always been lacking. This week his strike rate was 64% and in return, he faced the minimum over four innings, striking out 10 of the 12 batters he faced. (JC)
6. Michael Busch, 2B, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .391/.533/1.087 (9-for-23), 10 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 6 BB, 10 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: After an up and down 2021, Busch is off to a scorching start as he’s up to seven home runs already on the season. Five of those came last week as he connected for two home runs on Thursday, his second multi-homer game of the season. Busch has gotten on base in 14 of 15 games in 2022, including every game last week as he totaled 15 hits and walks combined. Busch’s power is really showing in the early going as he now has 12 batted balls this season at an exit velocity of 100-plus mph and only one of those dozen batted ball events was via a ground ball. (GP)
7. Jose Torres, SS/2B, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .533/.588/1.333 (8-for-15), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB.
The Scoop: Torres was the fifth college shortstop off the board during the 2021 draft. With a .326/.379/.604 slash line, he’s out-hitting almost everyone drafted ahead of him with the possible exception of fellow Reds pick Matt McLain, the first college shortstop drafted in 2021. Torres is playing a good bit of second base for Dayton in deference to Elly De La Cruz, but he’s a solid shortstop defensively himself. (JC)
8. Nelson Velazquez, OF, Cubs
Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .455/.520/1.227 (10-for-22), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: After a whiff-filled opening week where Velazquez struck out 18 times he rebounded in a big way in week two. The outfielder connected for eight extra-base hits, including four home runs while only striking out four times across 25 plate appearances. A standout in the Arizona Fall League in 2021, Velasquez has the bat speed and raw strength to hit for power at the highest levels. He has now hit 13 balls 100-plus mph in 2022 including two home runs on Wednesday that were a reported 108 and 112 mph off the bat. (GP)
9. Joshua Mears, OF, Padres
Team: High-A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .368/.455/1.263 (7-for-19), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: One of the best power hitters in the minors, Mears' raw juice was on display in week two as he connected for seven extra-base hits including five home runs. He had two multi-home run games on the week, and hit three balls 112 mph or above, including a 115.8 mph home run against Lansing on Saturday. Mears left the game on Sunday after being hit by a pitch in his first at-bat. (GP)
10. Henry Davis, C, Pirates
Team: High-A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .529/.619/.765 (9-for-17) 6 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: The No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft has gotten off to a very hot start at the plate. He’s wearing out left and center fielders with line drive singles and doubles. He’s also proving to be a target for pitchers—his seven hit-by-pitches are second most in the minors. Defensively, Davis has a little more work to do. Aberdeen ran wild on Davis and the Greensboro pitching staff, swiping eight bags in nine tries over Davis’ four games at catcher. (JC)
11. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, 1HR
The Scoop: The Reds 2021 second-round pick out of Virginia, Abbott stifled the West Michigan lineup for six innings allowing just a single run via a home run off the bat of Wenceel Perez. The lefthander came on in relief in the fourth inning and struck out 11 of the 23 batters he faced. Eight of his 11 strikeouts were swinging with six of those swinging third strikes coming against his fastball. (GP)
12. Drey Jameson, RHP, D-Backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Six innings of one-run ball in his start Wednesday lands Jameson on the Hot Sheet after an up and down first two starts. Jameson faced the minimum across six strong innings, striking out eight while not walking a single batter across 74 pitches to record his second win of the season. (GP)
13. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: The moon rises in the east, the sun sets in the west, and Grayson Rodriguez dominates minor league hitters. The top pitching prospect in baseball was at it again on Wednesday, going 5.1 scoreless innings against Triple-A Durham. He mixed all five of his pitches, landing all of them for strikes while sitting in the mid 90s on his fastball. Despite his fastball velocity being down a few ticks on a cold night in Norfolk, Grayson had little trouble handling the Bulls lineup as he registered 13 swinging strikes to go along with 16 called strikes on the way to eight strikeouts. There’s little left for Rodriguez to prove in the minors at this point. (GP)
14. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-Backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .429/.538/.857 (9-for-21) 6 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: The D-backs sent Carroll to Double-A to start this season even though he had just seven games of experience in full-season ball thanks to a shoulder injury that wiped out almost all of his 2021 season. Carroll has quickly rewarded the D-backs’ faith in his bat. He wore out the right-center field gap this week and ranks among Texas League leaders in almost every category. (JC).
15. Carson Williams, SS, Rays
Team: Low-A Charleston (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .500/.500/.900 (10-for-20), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO.
The Scoop: It’s easy to get overlooked among last year’s incredibly deep first round prep shortstop class. Williams was the last of eight off the board in part because there were concerns about his bat. So far, so good. Williams has an eight-game hitting streak, but more impressively, he has at least two hits in each of his past seven games. (JC)
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16. Jacob Amaya, SS, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .455/.478/1.091 (10-for-22), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: The Dodgers No. 14 prospect was rated as the best infield defender in the system coming into 2022, but made waves with the bat in week two. A standout weekend for Amaya where he reached base 10 times between Friday and Sunday landed the infielder on the Hot Sheet. His 5-for-5 performance on Saturday where he connected for four extra-base hits including a pair of home runs and six RBIs is arguably one of the best offensive performances in the minor leagues this season. (GP)
17. Ethan Small, LHP, Brewers
Team: Triple-A Nashville (International)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO.
The Scoop: The argument could be made that Small’s outing this week isn’t flashy enough to earn a spot on the Hot Sheet. He did walk five batters after all. But we wanted to acknowledge it because it just continues an amazing stretch of almost monotonous dominance. Small’s 2022 ERA was lowered to 0.49 with yet another scoreless outing. His ERA for his career? 1.54. Small’s pro ERA has never been above 3.00 at any point in his now four-year career. Small also had a 1.93 ERA in his final year at Mississippi State. Small has allowed four runs only twice since 2019 (a span of 47 starts). His last time giving up five runs in a start was way back in June 2018 at Mississippi State. He’s been very good, but even more than that, Small has been incredibly consistent. (JC)
18. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays
Team: Low-A Dunedin (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: The Blue Jays 2021 third-rounder out of Golden West JC has been strong across his first three professional starts this season, but was unhittable last Friday for Dunedin. He sat 94-96 mph on his fastball, running it up to 97 mph while mixing in his nasty changeup with tumble and late tail as well as a low-80s slider with heavy sweep. He generated 16 swinging strikes on the day including nine against his fastball. (GP)
19. Matt Canterino, RHP, Twins
Team: Double-A Wichita (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00 2 GS, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO.
The Scoop: Canterino only walked four batters last year in 23 innings of work, so his early-season control struggles (six walks in 3.2 innings) were quite uncharacteristic. But after that slow start, Canterino has gotten back on track. Canterino was held to three innings of work in each of his two starts this week, but he made those innings count. He relied heavily on both his slower curve and harder slider to torment Midland hitters. (JC)
20. Moises Gomez, OF, Cardinals
Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .522/.538/1.000 (12-for-23) 10 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO.
The Scoop: If you recognize Gomez’s name, it’s probably because you remember when he was an interesting power prospect in the Rays system. But Gomez’s career hit a bump in 2019 at High-A Charlotte and effectively flat-lined with an even worse performance at Double-A Montgomery in 2021 which led the Rays to release him. The Cardinals signed him as a minor league free agent last offseason and sent him to the Texas League. And there he’s showing signs of a career rebirth. Gomez leads the minors with nine home runs, having homered in eight of his first 12 games. It’s too early to declare Gomez back on track—his last stretch of success like this was four years ago, so it takes more than two weeks to erase the memory of multiple years of struggles, but the early signs are promising. He already has as many multi-hit games this year (eight) as he had in all of 2021. (JC)
Stone Garrett, OF, D-backs
Team: Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .364/.391/.546 (8-for-22), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: Garrett was working as a realtor and had signed with an independent league team in 2020 when former Cleveland assistant pro scouting director Dan Budreika, who had worked as a Marlins video coordinator when Garrett was in Miami’s system, reached out to him via LinkedIn. Cleveland didn’t have a spot for him, but Budreika tapped his connections to help Garrett land with the D-backs. Garrett has taken advantage of the fortuitous turn of events. After setting career-highs with a .277 batting average, 25 home runs, 81 RBIs and 17 stolen bases at Double-A Amarillo last year, Garrett is hitting .377/.415/.672 with 11 extra-base hits in 17 games for Reno this year. With every D-backs outfielder except for Pavin Smith scuffling, Garrett has put himself on the precipice of his big league debut two years after being out of affiliated baseball entirely. (KG)