Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/10/22)
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 May 9. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, 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.
Geoff Pontes answered questions regarding the Hot Sheet from 1-2 p.m. ET. You can read the transcript here.
1. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Team: Low-A Carolina (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .480/.519/1.319 (12-for-25), 7 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Chourio signed with Milwaukee in January 2021 and was impressive in the Dominican Summer League. He continued his hot-hitting ways in extended spring training, which convinced the Brewers to jump him directly to Low-A, where he became the youngest player in the full-season minor leagues. His opening salvo was outstanding. In six games—which featured howling wind, temperatures in the 40s, spitting rain and delays for weather, a power outage and a fire alarm—Chourio collected 12 hits, including six for extra bases. In normal conditions, he might have had five home runs. His at-bats were astoundingly mature, and his ability to find the barrel on the ball in all parts of the strike zone was uncanny. In a way, ranking prospects is like trying to see the future. Players like Jackson Chourio make it extraordinarily fun, because it's as if the future walked up to you, popped its collar, looked you in the eye and said "I'm here." (JN)
2. JJ Bleday, OF, Marlins
Team: Triple-A Jacksonville (International)
Why He’s Here: .429/.556/.952 (9-for-21), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO.
The Scoop: After underwhelming in his first two seasons after the Marlins made him the fourth overall pick in 2019, Bleday began to turn the corner in the Arizona Fall League last year and continued to show well in spring training. He got off to a slow start this year but is beginning to heat up. Bleday homered in three consecutive games against Memphis last week and extended his hitting streak to nine games before it was snapped on Sunday. He’s batting .333/.444/.733 in his last two series and is showing off his extra-base power with three doubles and five homers in his last 12 games. (KG)
3. Brayan Bello, RHP, Red Sox
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: On Thursday Bello spun a seven-inning complete game no-hitter in the back half of a doubleheader. He generated 11 groundball outs, while inducing 10 swinging strikes and 16 called strikes. One run did cross the plate but it was unearned as there were a pair of fielding errors in the inning. Bello’s pitch mix consists of two fastball shapes that sit in the high 90s, a mid-80s slider and a plus changeup that generates whiffs at a high rate. Bello’s ability to induce whiffs on his slider and changeup and a high rate of groundball contact against all of his pitches provide the righthander with a variety of ways to get outs. (GP)
4. Gordon Graceffo, RHP, Cardinals
Team: High-A Peoria (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.50, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Making two starts for Peoria last week, Graceffo went six innings, striking out eight in each turn against South Bend. He tossed six scoreless on Tuesday, followed by six innings of two-run ball on Sunday. While he didn't get the win in either game he allowed only eight baserunners to reach over a dozen innings pitched. Graceffo, drafted out of the fifth round from Villanova in 2021, has been one of the breakout stars of the spring, hitting 100 mph on the backfields in spring training before impressing at High-A. Graceffo mixes four pitches in his mid-to-high-90s four-seam fastball, a mid-to-high-80s slider, a low-to-mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball. (GP)
5. Alex Ramirez, OF, Mets
Team: Low-A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .536/.552/.893 (15-for-28), 4 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Ramirez impressively held his own as an 18-year-old in Low-A last season. Back at the level this year, he’s outright dominating. Ramirez had multiple hits in five of six games last week, including three three-hit games and a four-hit game. He is now batting .385/.423/.606 in a league known for stifling offense, and it’s not just singles, either. Ramirez has 15 extra-base hits in 24 games and is showing the Mets have yet another premium prospect in their pipeline. (KG)
6. Ken Waldichuk, LHP, Yankees
Team: Double-A Somerset (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO, 3 HR
The Scoop: After a dynamite start to his 2021 season, Waldichuk hit the skids a bit after a promotion to Double-A. The Yankees worked with him on subtle delivery changes, and the results have been stark. Waldichuk’s stuff has ticked up, his slider has become one of the organization’s best and his command and control have improved. His start this week represented the apex of his career, a 12-strikeout, no-hit performance over five innings against New Hampshire. He’s punching out more than 15 hitters per nine innings and has further cemented himself as one of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects. Along with Waldichuk, New York’s 2019 draft class also included top prospect Anthony Volpe and dynamic righthander Hayden Wesneski, all of whom rank among the system’s Top 10 Prospects. (JN)
7. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .529/.600/.765 (9-for-17), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 4-for-4 SB
The Scoop: Good things come in three for Henderson, as he opened the week with consecutive three-hit games on Tuesday and Wednesday, then capped off the week with three stolen bases in the first leg of Sunday’s doubleheader with Harrisburg. With numerous rainouts in the Mid-Atlantic, Bowie and Henderson only played five games last week, but that certainly didn’t stop the 20-year-old shortstop from continuing to do damage. He’s hitting .309/.459/.506 as one of the youngest players in the upper minors with rate stats like chase percentage and miss percentage that back the step forward in production. (GP)
8. Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.90, 10 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Few pitchers in the minors draw as universally glowing reviews as Bradley, and he keeps justifying even the loftiest praise. The tantalizing righthander delivered back-to-back starts of five innings pitched and only one hit allowed against Biloxi last week. He served up a solo home run to Brewers top prospect Joey Wiemer and nothing else while striking out seven in his first outing. He was even better in his second outing, tossing five scoreless to help set the stage for a Biscuits win. (KG)
9. Antoine Kelly, LHP, Brewers
Team: High-A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Kelly, the Brewers’ second-round pick in 2019, has come back nicely after thoracic outlet surgery, a procedure with a wide range of outcomes. The lefthander needs to greatly improve his control and command (42 walks in 72.2 pro innings), but his pitch package of fastball-slider-changeup is filthy when it’s around the strike zone. He has 33 punchouts in 21.2 innings this season, meaning 50.7% of his outs this season have come on strikes. Even if he never finds the command necessary to be a starter, Kelly could be a game-changing reliever. (JN)
10. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .261/.452/.957 (6-for-23), 8 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 7 BB, 8 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Before the season, Baseball America selected Carroll as one of a handful of players who could begin the 2023 season as the No. 1 overall prospect in the game. This, despite having played just seven games at a full-season affiliate and just 18 games outside of the Arizona Complex League. So far, the arrows are pointing in the right direction. The 21-year-old Carroll, who missed the vast majority of last season with a shoulder injury, concluded his week with consecutive two-homer games, giving him nine for the season. His home run power has come mostly at hitter-friendly Amarillo, but his other two triple-slash categories are impressive both at home and on the road. His on-base percentage, in fact, is an identical .458 both home and on the road. Fellow D-backs prospect Alek Thomas just got the call to the big leagues. Carroll might not be far behind. (JN)
11. Sam Huff C, Rangers
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .333/.500/1.133 (5-for-15), 6 R, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO.
The Scoop: After a brief layover with the big league team, Huff returned to Triple-A last week and went back to doing what he does best. Huff’s approach leads to plenty of strikeouts and plenty of home runs—majestic, Gallo-ian home runs. Huff’s longest home run last week was estimated at 473 feet as he cleared the tall wall in Reno's left-center field with ease. When he’s drawing walks as well, like he did last week, it’s a pretty well-rounded offensive approach. Before he was promoted, Huff walked three times in his first 15 games. Last week he walked five times in four games. (JC)
12. Dominic Fletcher, OF, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .444/.474/1.278 (8-for-18), 6 R, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: The younger brother of Angels infielder David Fletcher went off last week, hitting five home runs in four games against Midland to continue his recent hot streak. Fletcher homered twice on May 3, homered again on May 6 and saved his best for last, going 4-for-6 with two home runs, including a grand slam, in the series finale on Sunday. He is now riding an 11-game hitting streak and is already more than a third of the way to as many home runs as he hit last year. (KG)
13. Mason Montgomery, LHP, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO.
The Scoop: A sixth-round pick out of Texas Tech last year, Montgomery has allowed two earned runs only once in his 10 minor league appearances (his career minor league ERA is 0.87). But last week was not just more of the same, as Montgomery threw five innings for the first time in his pro career. Montgomery has plenty of life on his fastball and a deceptive changeup. So far, that’s ensured complete domination of Class A. (JC)
14. Jordan Diaz, 1B, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .348/.400/.913 (8-for-23), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: The month of May has been very good to Diaz thus far, as he’s raised his average by nearly 100 points and his slugging percentage by over 400 points. This is due in large part to the tremendous week Diaz had at the plate. Half of Diaz’s eight hits on the week cleared the fence as he drove in nine runs. Only 21 years old at Double-A, Diaz is showing good contact and chase rates while getting to his plus raw power in games. Diaz had a dozen balls in play clocked at 95-plus mph, including a home run on Wednesday he smoked 104 mph. (GP)
BA Roundtable: Who Is The No. 1 Prospect In Baseball?
As we work to update our Top 100 list next month, we had a roundtable conversation to walk through each of our thought processes on who we consider the best prospect in baseball.
15. Jacob Amaya, SS, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .533/.632/1.067 (8-for-15), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: The slick-fielding Amaya got out of his approach last year and lost his elite strike-zone discipline as he started chasing power. He began to rectify the issue in the Arizona Fall League last year and has carried it over to this season. Amaya delivered a hit in all five games he played last week, including going 3-for-5 with three doubles on May 7, going 2-for-3 with a triple in the first game of a doubleheader on May 8 and hitting a home run in game two of the twinbill. It’s all a product of Amaya again waiting for a pitch to drive rather than expanding the zone to find one. He has 17 walks against only 12 strikeouts this year after having nearly twice as many punchouts as walks last year. (KG)
16. Matt Wallner, OF, Twins
Team: Double-A Wichita (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .500/.579/1.063 (8-for-16), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: When the Twins drafted Wallner, the hope was that he could end up as a right fielder who would draw walks and hit for power. In return, there was going to have to be an acceptance that he would also swing and miss a lot. All of that has been true so far. His contact issues lead to a low batting average, but he does draw walks and when he connects, his pull-heavy approach gives him plus power. (JC)
17. Logan T. Allen, LHP, Guardians
Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.64, 2 GS, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HBP, 4 BB, 13 SO.
The Scoop: This is the week that Allen became the Guardians’ lefthander named Logan Allen, instead of being one of the Guardians lefties named Logan Allen. Guardians lefty Logan Shane Allen was designated for assignment by Cleveland and was claimed on waivers by the Orioles. But in the same week, Logan Taylor Allen, the Guardians lefty prospect in Akron, had two dominating starts. Allen’s weakness last year was a minor proclivity to give up home runs—he gave up nine in 60 innings after he was promoted to Double-A. So far this year, he’s allowed only one homer in 32.1 innings. (JC)
18. Edwin Arroyo, SS, Mariners
Team: Low-A Modesto (California)
Why He’s Here: .381/.391/.905 (8-for-23), 6 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO.
The Scoop: Coming into the week, Low-A Fresno hadn’t allowed a triple all year. Arroyo had two of them last week. He also yanked a pair of home runs, showing more power than he’d displayed in his pro debut last year in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Arroyo is showing the kind of speed, athleticism and solid understanding at the plate that made him the Mariners’ second-round pick last year. In a draft filled with excellent high school shortstops, Arroyo is another name to remember. (JC)
19. Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: The Rangers’ top prospect began his pro career at Double-A, which is not only an advanced assignment, but also placed him directly into one of the more hitter-friendly leagues in the sport. So far, so good. The Vanderbilt alum’s numbers haven’t jumped off the page like they did in college, but he’s produced a 1.93 ERA over his first five starts and has surrendered just one home run in 18.2 innings. His latest outing was the first time he’d pitched into the fifth, let alone the sixth, and he finished with just two hits allowed over six frames. In two starts against Arkansas, Leiter has gone a combined nine innings with one run on three hits and two walks while striking out a dozen. (JN)
20. Bubba Thompson, OF, Rangers
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .435/.480/.565 (10-for-23), 5 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 7-for-7 SB
The Scoop: A first-round pick by Texas in the 2017 draft, Thompson has been off to a hot start over the first month of the season, hitting .356/.371/.495 with three home runs and 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts. Last week Thompson ran wild, stealing seven bases on seven attempts while collecting 10 hits. He had a pair of three-stolen base games on Tuesday and Saturday, collecting a trio of hits in each. Thompson’s approach is still aggressive but he’s shown an increase in power and quality of contact so far in 2022. (GP)
Helium: Gabriel Martinez, OF, Blue Jays
Team: Low-A Dunedin (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .450/.476/.900 (9-for-20), 8 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: Martinez started the week off with four consecutive multi-hit games before connecting for his second home run of the week on Friday. Despite so-so results over the first month of the season Martinez was a player that impressed opposing scouts, who lauded his bat speed, ability to make contact, and projectable power. All of those skills were on display last week as he reached base 10 times, connecting for four extra-base hits and crossing the plate eight times. On Saturday he reached base twice against highly touted righthander Andrew Painter, collecting a hit in the first inning before working a seven-pitch walk in the third. (GP)