Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/24/21)

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 23. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser and Ben Badler.

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. Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (West)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .333/.379/.926 (9-for-27), 6 R, 1 2B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: The Angels have been cycling Taylor Ward and Jose Rojas through right field recently. While both have had their moments at the plate, neither should ever be confused for an everyday player on a first-division team. The Angels have gone with them in right field rather than call up Adell because they want to make sure that when he arrives in Anaheim, he is fully ready for the major leagues. Adell led the minors with five home runs last week to show the parent club that he is getting there and is slowly but surely rounding into the form that made him one of the top prospects in the game. He has a hit in each of his last five games, including a pair of two-homer games, and has raised his average from .191 to .261 and his OPS from .780 to .890. Adell’s strikeout rate still remains higher than ideal at 34.2%, but he struck out only seven times in 29 plate appearances last week (24.1%). If he can continue that trend, it won’t be long before he is back in the majors patrolling right field for the Angels. (KG)

2. Dermis Garcia, 1B, Yankees
Double-A Somerset (Northeast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .385/.429/.885 (10-for-26), 6 R, 1 2B, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: Garcia’s always had exceptional power. His exit velocities in 2019 stood at the top of the minor leagues, but he sat unpicked in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft because, while power is great, hitting for average and getting on base is also important. Garcia is once again crushing home runs that sail far into the night. But he’s still got to show that he can also do other things. His .234/.324/.547 stat line is right in line with his previous performances. (JC)

3. Nick Lodolo, LHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (South)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 1 HBP

The Scoop: After the Reds drafted Lodolo with their first-round pick in 2019, he had a sparkling debut that summer split between the Rookie-level Pioneer League and Low-A Midwest League, posting a 30-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18.1 innings. Jumped to Double-A this year, Lodolo continues to shine, holding his ERA down to 0.57 with a 25-to-4 strikeout-to-walk rate through 15.2 innings. (BB)

4. Cornelius Randolph, OF, Phillies
Team: Triple-A Lehigh Valley (East)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .591/.609/1.182 (13-for-22), 8 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: For another month or so Randolph is still 23 (he turns 24 on July 2). It’s a reminder that high school draftees are often younger than you think, even if they are now veteran minor leaguers. Randolph is in his seventh year as a pro, and he’s never hit with any impact. He’s proven to lack the power to produce what teams expect from a corner outfielder. In five previous seasons, Randolph has only slugged .500 or better in one month out of his lengthy minor league career (and that was a .500 slugging percentage in just five games in his first month in the Gulf Coast League). Well it’s May 24, and for Randolph to not slug over .500 this month will take an epic collapse. He’s hitting .377/.421/.698 this month with a week to go. This current performance is far beyond any stretch of Randolph’s pro career, but remember, he’s only 23. (JC)

5. Jordan Diaz, 3B, Athletics
Team: High-A Lansing (Central)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .400/.478/1.000 (8-for-20), 6 R, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: The A’s jumped Diaz straight to High-A this year, a somewhat aggressive assignment for a 20-year-old who had yet to play full-season ball and was not invited to the alternate training site last year. Diaz struggled with the jump for the first two weeks of the season, but he turned it on last week. The native Colombian homered in three straight games to start the week and added another home run on Saturday, helping the Lugnuts split a six-game road series at Fort Wayne. Diaz’s natural contact ability and penchant for hard contact have long made him an interesting prospect in the lower levels of the A’s system. If he can turn in quality at-bats on a more consistent basis as he did last week, it won’t be long until he becomes one of the organization’s top prospects.  (KG)

6. Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals
Team: Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Central)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .412/.560/1.118 (7-for-17), 5 R, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Pratto made substantial swing changes at the alternate training site last year and showed off the new-and-improved product in spring training, where he earned plaudits from evaluators as one of the most impressive players in the Cactus League. Lest anyone think it was simply a spring training fluke, Pratto has continued to rake in the regular season. The 22-year-old went 4-for-5 with three home runs and six RBIs in a game against Springfield last week and followed up with a home run the following day. He is now batting .286/.440/.679 with six home runs, 12 RBIs and as many walks (15) as strikeouts this season. While it’s still early, Pratto’s changes appear real and have him placed firmly in the Royals’ plans as their first baseman of the future. (KG)

7. Peyton Burdick, OF, Marlins
Team: Double-A Pensacola (South)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .320/.346/.880 (8-for-25), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Overall, it hasn’t been a strong start to the season for Burdick, who is hitting .172/.293/.469 through 18 games. But the 2019 third-round pick has big power to all fields, something he showed over the past week with three home runs among his seven extra-base hits. (BB)


8. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals
Team: High-A Wilmington (East)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 3.75, 12 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 19 SO

The Scoop: The Nationals top prospect has continued to perform as such. In a two-start week, Cavalli led the minors in strikeouts, besting Eugene’s Kai-Wei Teng (who can be found later in this Hot Sheet) by one. The excellent week helped push him into the overall minor league lead in strikeouts as well. His 34 whiffs are ahead of Reds fireballer Hunter Greene by one. (JN)

9. Gage Workman, SS, Tigers
Team: Low-A Lakeland (Southeast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .385/.515/.808 (10-for-26), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 7 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: With a long, lanky 6-foot-4 frame, Workman’s offensive game comes with some swing and miss, but he’s also a productive hitter with power from both sides of the plate. A fourth-round pick who signed for a $1 million bonus that was well above slot last year out of Arizona State, Workman is hitting .288/.376/.534 with 11 walks and 20 strikeouts through 17 games. (BB)

10. Jordan Westburg, SS/3B, Orioles
Team: Low-A Delmarva (East)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .526/.625/.789 (10-for-19), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Westburg is off to one of the best starts of any 2020 draft pick, hitting .400/.521/.636 through his first 15 games. The 30th overall pick last year, Westburg has shown promising speed, power and athleticism in his pro debut. (BB)

11. Glenn Otto, RHP, Yankees
Team: Double-A Somerset (Northeast)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 SO.

The Scoop: Watching Otto’s outing against Hartford was an example of how a successful pitcher doesn’t always have to mix things up. Otto’s approach was very simple, straightforward and obvious: locate 93-96 mph fastballs up at the top of the zone (and occasionally on the edges), and then when he got to two strikes, throw his low-80s breaking ball that morphs in shape but generally was getting good tilt and depth, leading to frustrated Hartford hitters checking their swings too late. And when a hitter started fishing for his breaking ball, Otto could also sneak in his fastball for a called strike three. If Otto can sustain his massive improvement in his control and command, he can help the Yankees big league club. (JC)

No. 12 Riley Greene, OF, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Northeast)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .333/.429/.750 (8-for-24), 4 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 8 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: C.J. Abrams and Bobby Witt have gotten significantly more attention, but some high-level evaluators felt Greene was the best of the three heading into the 2019 draft. With all three in Double-A for their first full seasons, Greene is taking advantage of his first extended chance to compete with the shortstop duo. Greene put together a five-game hit streak last week, which included a three-hit game on May 18 followed by a two-home run game on May 19, and is now batting .274/.365/.479 on the year. That .844 OPS is nearly 150 points higher than Witt’s so far this season, and only 12 points behind Abrams’. (KG)  

13. Jake Burger, 3B, White Sox
Team: Triple-A Charlotte (East)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .333/.364/.905 (7-for-21), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: It’s been a long road back for Burger, who was the White Sox’s first-round pick out of Missouri State back in 2017, when he last appeared in an affiliated game. Since then, he’s torn his Achilles heel twice, among a host of injuries, and spent part of the lost 2020 season playing in an indy league. His bat was a consistently loud bright spot in Charlotte’s series against Durham, and he didn’t look bad at third base, either. (JN)

14. Kai-Wei Teng, RHP, Giants
Team: High-A Eugene (West)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 10 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: Teng was one-half of the Giants’ return from the Twins for reliever Sam Dyson, and he’s impressed so far in the High-A West. The righthander, who had a faction of Taiwanese fans on hand at Tri-City’s Gesa Stadium, opened the season with a pair of rough starts (seven earned runs in 7.2 innings) but bounced back nicely in the last two, with just a pair of earned runs over his two starts this week. 

15. Luken Baker, 1B, Cardinals
Team: Double-A Springfield (Central)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .500/.591/.667 (9-for-18) 2 R, 3 2B, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: Luken Baker’s next season with a .500 slugging percentage will be his first. That’s hard to explain when you consider his massive raw power. But in games, Baker has proven to be a better hitter and less of a slugger than everyone expected. This week was a good week for Baker’s batting average, as he strung together four straight two-hit games. Now he just needs to clear the fence a little more often. (JC)


16. M.J. Melendez, C, Royals
Team: Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Central)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .474/.600/1.000 (9-for-19), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Melendez, like most of his teammates at High-A Wilmington in 2019, struggled mightily at the plate. He produced an OPS of just .571 that season. After a year without a minor league season, Melendez, the Royals second-rounder in 2017, has come out of the gates looking refreshed. He started the season slowly, with two hits in his first 21 at-bats. He’s hit in each of his last seven games, however, raising his average from .095 to .271. His six homers this week are just three fewer than he hit in all of 2019. (JN)

17. Packy Naughton, LHP, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (West)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.19, 2 GS, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO.

The Scoop: Las Vegas has a great stadium, but like much of Triple-A West, it’s not particularly inviting to pitchers. Las Vegas has a 6.89 ERA this year. Its opponents have a 5.81 ERA. In 10 games at Las Vegas this year, one of the two teams involved has reached double-digit runs six times. So Naughton’s 7.2 scoreless innings on Sunday was pretty remarkable. Naughton is funky and locates well. There’s not a ton of overwhelming stuff in his arm, but he’s the kind of lefty who can craft a path to the majors. (JC)

18. Edward Olivares, OF, Royals
Team: Triple-A Omaha (West)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .524/.583/.857 (11-for-21), 7 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Olivares might end up a 4-A player, but he’s doing everything in his power to push himself back to the big leagues. Through 17 games, Olivares is batting .406/.488/.696, and while his plate discipline has gotten him into trouble at times earlier in his career, he has done a good job controlling the strike zone this year with 10 walks and 10 strikeouts. (BB)

19. Ryan Weiss, RHP, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Central)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.84, 10.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Weiss was Arizona’s fourth-rounder in 2018 out of Wright State. He struggled in 2019 between both levels of Class A. He’s started hot in 2021, however, which is especially impressive considering the hitter-friendly environment at Amarillo’s home park. Stretching back to his second start of the year, Weiss has allowed just four hits over his last 16.2 innings and has struck out 19 against four walks. (JN)

No. 20 Nelson Velazquez, OF, Cubs
Team: High-A South Bend (Central)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .600/.619/.650 (12-for-20), 2 R, 1 2B, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Velazquez struggled to turn his tools into production his first two seasons but appeared to break through in 2019. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020 season and prevented him from building on that campaign, but he appears to have picked up where he left off in 2021. Velazquez has multiple hits in five of the seven games he has started this season, including a 4-for-4 night against Dayton on May 18 last week. Though he hasn’t tapped into his plus raw power yet, his 14-to-28 start to the year is remarkable regardless of anything else. (KG)


Leonel Valera, SS, Dodgers

For the first four years of his career, Valera was one of the many defensively gifted but light-hitting shortstops that are a dime a dozen in the low minors. But he arrived at instructional league last fall significantly stronger and caught evaluators’ attention with his newfound ability to impact the ball, markedly enhancing his future outlook. Valera has carried that over into the 2021 season and already has four home runs in 17 games for High-A Great Lakes. His previous career high was five home runs, which he accomplished over 122 games in 2019. Valera still has some swing-and-miss issues he needs to conquer as evidenced by his 29 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances, but his ability to now do damage on contact, combined with his impressive shortstop defense and athleticism to play all over the field, at least now gives him a chance at a major league future. (KG)

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