Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/17/21)
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 16. Contributing this week were J.J. Cooper, Josh Norris 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.
1. Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (South)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.64, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 17 SO.
The Scoop: A pretty strong case could be made that Greene may end up being the hardest throwing pitcher of the radar gun era. Yes, Aroldis Chapman and Jordan Hicks can get to 102-103 mph at times, and Chapman has touched 105. But Greene is going out this year and reaching back for 100, 101, 102 and even 103 mph as a starting pitcher for multiple innings.
In a little more than six years of the Statcast era (2015-2021), there are six pitches registered by starting pitchers at 102 mph—three from Nathan Eovaldi, two from Jacob deGrom and one from Noah Syndergaard. Greene topped that on Sunday. In one at-bat to Seaver Whalen according to the stadium gun, Greene threw three straight pitches at 102 mph (for two swinging strikes and a foul ball), followed by one at 101. But the reason Greene sits at the top of this week’s Hot Sheet has less to do with his 101-103 mph fastball and more to do with the slider he’s now pairing with it. Greene’s ability to throw a hard, sharp slider in the low 90s for strikes seemingly whenever he wants to has changed the equation in hitters’ heads. They can sit fastball, and yes, even at 100-plus mph there are hitters who square up Greene. But now that he can drop an early count slider for a strike, or throw it off the plate later in the count, hitters who simply sit fastball may find themselves swinging at pitches they can’t hit. Greene’s improved slider, which rates as at least a plus pitch and potentially plus-plus, has given hitters something else to worry about, which makes his fastball more worrisome than before. (JC)
2. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners
Team: High-A Everett (West)
Why He’s Here: .423/.515/1.116 (11-for-26), 13 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: For someone who aims to one day play his home games in Seattle, Rodriguez is certainly doing his best to hit his way out of the Pacific Northwest. The 20-year-old, who entered the year as the youngest player in the High-A West, has been on fire to begin the season. He’s homered in four straight games and five of his last six contests. His 17 runs and 11 extra-base hits lead the minor leagues. (JN)
3. Taylor Trammell, OF, Mariners
Team: Triple-A Tacoma (West)
Why He’s Here: .611/.650/1.111 (11-for-18), 5 R, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: This is how you handle a demotion. As Seattle celebrated the arrival of Jarred Kelenic, the outfielder Kelenic replaced responded by putting together one of the best weeks of his career. Trammell was optioned on May 13. He arrived in Tacoma in time to play that night, so he went out and went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. The next day brought two more hits and a walk. He homered again on Saturday (as part of a three-hit day) and homered on Sunday. Trammell currently leads all Tacoma hitters in home runs, RBIs and hits even though he just arrived on Thursday. (JC)
4. Luis Matos, OF, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (West)
Why He’s Here: .462/.464/.808 (12-for-26), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: After his performance at instructional league, Matos entered the year with a ton of helium and ranked behind only Marco Luciano among Giants position player prospects. Over two weeks, Matos, the sixth-youngest player in the Low-A West, has adjusted quite nicely. His average (.383) and slugging percentage (.692) each rank among the top 10 in the league. (JN)
5. Roansy Contreras, RHP, Pirates
Team: Double-A Altoona (Northeast)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: Since coming over from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, Contreras has been absolutely dominant. His 22 strikeouts on the season are tied for second in the league behind only Bowie’s D.L. Hall (against whom Contreras matched up on Opening Day) and New Hampshire’s Simeon Woods Richardson. Contreras is the fourth-youngest pitcher in the league and his stuff has shown a massive uptick since he last pitched in 2019. (JN)
6. Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox
Team: Double-A Portland (Northeast)
Why He’s Here: .462/.481/.846 (12-for-26), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: To say the Red Sox’s No. 1 prospect is handling the jump to Double-A would be an understatement. Casas had a hit in all six games last week, including four multi-hit games, and had one of the best individual games of the young minor league season. Facing Hartford on May 12, Casas went 4-for-6 with a double, two home runs, six RBIs and three runs scored to lead a 14-3 rout by the Sea Dogs. (KG)
7. Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees
Team: High-A Hudson Valley (East)
Why He’s Here: .429/.500/1.143 (9-for-21), 5 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: What a week for Peraza, who entered the season with a reputation as a potentially plus hitter with some burgeoning power. In 622 at-bats coming into the year, Peraza had five home runs. In 21 at-bats this week, he hit … five home runs. The Yankees’ system is marked by high-upside prospects, and Peraza is quickly capitalizing on his potential and making a bid to rise further up the organizational and national ranks. (JN)
8. Nick Allen, SS, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Central)
Why He’s Here: .636/.690/.773 (14-for-22), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, 2 CS.
The Scoop: Allen has long been known as an excellent defender, but one whose light bat could hinder his path to a big league role. This week, he put together four different three-hit games and added a two-hit game as well. Allen had six three-hit games in all of 2019. Most of those hits this week were singles, but that’s fine, as Allen just needs to be productive enough offensively to let his glove shine. If he can focus on making solid contact, he may just manage to do that. (JC)
9. Cole Henry, RHP, Nationals
Team: High-A Wilmington (East)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: There hasn’t been a lot for Nats fans to celebrate so far this year—there’s not a Nationals team at any level that went to bed on Sunday night with a winning record. Low-A Fredericksburg is the only winless team left in the minors. Into that chasm stepped Henry. After a rough first start against Aberdeen, Henry was in complete command for six innings against Jersey Shore. The Nats’ 2020 second-round pick out of Louisiana State threw strikes on 70% of his pitches. (JC)
10. Alek Manoah, RHP, Blue Jays
Team: Triple-A Buffalo (East)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: Manoah showed off in spring training and has continued to bring the heat in the regular season. He jumped from short-season to conclude 2019 all the way to Triple-A this year, and his 17 strikeouts place him sixth in the Triple-A East. His 16.6% swinging-strike rate places him fifth in the league. (JN)
11. Ken Waldichuk, LHP, Yankees
Team: High-A Hudson Valley (East)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 17 SO
The Scoop: In a system filled with high-end righthanders, Waldichuk is leading the way from the left side. The Yankees’ fifth-rounder from 2019 has made two starts the season and has already racked up 19 strikeouts, which places him in a tie for fifth place in the High-A East and second on the team behind Luis Medina. (JN)
12. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Northeast)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.90, 10 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 15 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: It's safe to say Somerset doesn’t want to see Woods Richardson again for same time. Woods Richardson opened the Fisher Cats’ series against the Patriots with five innings, one hit and one run allowed, two walks and eight strikeouts on May 11 and finished the six-game set with five scoreless innings and seven strikeouts on Sunday. It’s still early, but the 20-year-old has impressively held opponents to a .176 average despite being the youngest pitcher in the Double-A Northeast. (KG)
13. Wander Franco, SS/2B/3B, Rays
Team: Triple-A Durham (East)
Why He’s Here: .391/.423/.609 (9-for-23), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO
The Scoop: The youngest player in the Triple-A East has shown no problem beating up on his much older competition. Despite a decorated career, Franco notched a first during this Hot Sheet period when he swatted his first career grand slam on Saturday against Jacksonville. A night later, he went 4-for-5 to close the series on a high note. (JN)
14. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Team: High-A Aberdeen (East)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 11 SO, 1 HBP.
The Scoop: Other than a lead-off home run to Oswald Peraza (who ranks ahead of him on this week’s Hot Sheet), Rodriguez shut down Hudson Valley’s lineup on Saturday night. When Rodriguez is on, like he was this week, he gets swings and misses with his fastball up. Often it will end up out of the zone, but hitters just can’t seem to lay off of it. After he raises their eye level, he buries his 12-to-6 curve at the bottom of the zone for either a called strike or a swing and miss. Rodriguez picked up 24 swinging strikes and another 11 called strikes in his win. (JC)
Five MLB Breakout Pitchers For The 2023 Season
The following pitchers fall into the grouping of younger starters with varying degrees of major league experience who look primed for a breakout season.
15. Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox
Team: Triple-A Worcester (East)
Why He’s Here: .304/.429/.826 (7-for-23), 5 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO, 3-for-4 SB
The Scoop: It’s only been two weeks, but the early returns on Duran’s swing adjustments to lift the ball more have been encouraging. The speedster showed off his increased power with six extra-base hits in as many games last week, including a two-homer night against Syracuse in the opener of a six-game series. The best part is he hasn’t lost the speed part of his game as he’s added power. He also stole three bases last week, providing a glimpse of the tantalizing power-speed combo he now offers. (KG)
16. Ethan Elliott, LHP, Padres
Team: High-A Fort Wayne (Central)
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 0.82, 11 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 19 SO,
The Scoop: A 10th-rounder senior sign out of Division II Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) in 2019, Elliott began to attract attention at instructional league last fall and has carried it over to this season. He began the week with five innings and one run allowed against Lake County on May 11 and finished it with a masterpiece, throwing six scoreless innings with only one hit allowed and 13 strikeouts against the Captains on Sunday. The lanky lefty sits in the low 90s, but the unique characteristics on his fastball help it play up and his changeup is a finishing pitch. (KG)
17. Zach McCambley, RHP, Marlins
Team: High-A Beloit (Central)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO.
The Scoop: The best performance of the week was turned in by McCambley. When he left after the seventh inning on May 11, he handed the Beloit bullpen the keys to a perfect game. A Jacob Olson double an inning later ruined the perfect outing, but McCambley and two relievers did combine on a one-hit shutout. For his part, McCambley dominated South Bend’s lineup with his mid-90s fastball, spotting it well. Coastal Carolina’s Friday night starter last year and the Marlins No. 24 prospect coming into the season, McCambley has a quick arm and if he can keep consistently finding the zone like he did this week, he could prove a nice find as a third-round pick. (JC)
18. Brian Rey, 2B/OF, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Central)
Why He’s Here: .579/.571/1.053 (11-for-19) 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS.
The Scoop: Anyone who’s watched a decent bit of minor league baseball so far this year can attest that there is a lot of rust on display. But then there’s Rey, who seemed in mid-season form from the first day of the season. He homered as part of a two-hit day on Opening Day, and he’s gotten a hit in every game since. Rey has long had excellent bat-to-ball skills, and those are apparent as always—he’s struck out twice in 43 plate appearances. But encouragingly for him, he’s also showing never-before-seen power. He has six home runs already this year—his career high in 2019 was nine. We’ve written at Baseball America about how teams seem to currently undervalue junior college hitters. Rey, a 13th-round pick out of Miami-Dade JC in 2018, may add to that list. (JC)
19. Luis Frias, RHP, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (South)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO
The Scoop: After two dominating starts with High-A Hillsboro (including one this week), Frias got the bump to Double-A Amarillo, which plays in an offensive oasis. His first start came on the road at Wichita, and he picked up right where he left off in High-A. He opened his upper-level tenure with six shutout innings of three-hit ball with three strikeouts. (JN)
20. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Team: Low-A Modesto (West)
Why He’s Here: .458/.500/.792 (11-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 8 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: While many Low-A players are understandably off to slow starts at the plate, Marte has been a prominent exception. The 19-year-old Dominican has a hit in 11 of 12 games this year and was particularly locked in last week, delivering four straight multi-hit games to finish out the Nuts’ road series at Rancho Cucamonga. That included a multi-home run game on May 13 and, to top it off, he showed off impressive speed on the bases with a pair of steals and smart, aggressive baserunning throughout the week. (KG)
Miles Mastrobuoni, INF/OF, Double-A Montgomery (Rays)
Very few Montgomery Biscuits batters put together good at-bats against Hunter Greene this week. Mastrobuoni doubled against him in their first meeting on Tuesday, and then did so again in their rematch on Sunday. In between he had a three hit day with a double, a two double day and extended an eight-game hitting streak. Mastrobuoni just strings together consistently solid at-bats with a simple swing that generates line drive contact. He’s also showing his defensive versatility by playing a little bit of everywhere. He may be a little overmatched at shortstop, but he’s played there, third base and all three outfield spots already. He’s the kind of well-rounded player the Rays seem to produce in bushels. The 25-year-old Nevada product is hitting .378/.451/.578 so far this year.