Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/24/22)
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 23. 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.
Josh Norris answered questions regarding today's Hot Sheet from 1-2 p.m. ET. You can read the transcript here.
1. Matt Gorski, OF, Pirates
Team: High-A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .435/.458/1.522 (10-for-23), 9 R, 1 2B, 8 HR, 11 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO.
The Scoop: We’ve been producing prospect Hot Sheets for more than two decades. Week in, and week out, I’ve been personally involved in producing them for much of the past 15 or so years. And over those years, you get used to the stats that are Hot Sheet worthy. Five home runs in a week will generally get you on the Hot Sheet. A six-home run week makes you a near lock for a spot in the top 10. Seven home runs in a week is rare territory. I remember Joey Gallo having a seven-home run week in 2013.
Eight? Eight is almost unheard of. Darin Ruf hit 20 home runs in one month in Reading in 2012. He never had an eight-home run week during that stretch.
My memory fails me on whether we’ve ever before seen an eight-home run week on the Hot Sheet, but I am confident in saying that if we have, it’s been exceedingly rare.
But here is an eight home run week. Gorski homered on Tuesday. He hit two more on Wednesday and two more on Thursday. After going homerless for two days, he then hit three on Sunday. Those three Sunday homers were especially important because they accounted for all four of Greensboro’s runs. His first two blasts were a two-run shot and a solo blast, and his third was a walk-off solo bomb that won the game and pushed Gorski into a tie with the Cardinals’ Moises Gomez for the overall minor league lead. Only seven other minor leaguers have hit eight home runs this month. Gorski did it in six days. (JC)
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.59, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 20 SO, 4 HR
The Scoop: In the words of King Julien the lemur, “How long is this going to take!?” By “this” of course, we mean the Orioles setting up a camera in manager Buck Britton’s office to film Grayson Rodriguez’s call to the big leagues. Rodriguez whiffed an astonishing 20 hitters this week, but that wasn’t the most impressive part of his two outings. No, that was the fact that he managed to make it through 11.1 innings in Charlotte without allowing a home run. The two starts also vaulted Rodriguez into second place in strikeouts in the minor leagues, just behind Braves prospect Royber Salinas. Adley Rutschman had his (first) moment in the sun. Rodriguez is up next. (JN)
3. Kyle Stowers, OF, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Why He’s Here: .480/.567/1.200 (12-for-30), 11 R, 3 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Stowers is beginning to heat up after a slow start to the season. The Orioles No. 9 prospect is on an eight-game hitting streak after a dominant series at Charlotte, including three straight multi-hit games to close out the series. He saved his best for last, hitting three home runs in the series finale on Sunday. Importantly, Stowers had nearly as many walks (five) as strikeouts (six), continuing a season-long trend of cutting down on his punchouts. After striking out in 32% of his plate appearances last year, he is now down to a 23% strikeout rate this year. (KG)
4. Logan O’Hoppe, C, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .550/.640/1.350 (11-for-20), 8 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: You know you’re doing something right when your opponent publicly pleads for you to be promoted. That was the case for O’Hoppe, who so terrorized the Somerset Patriots that the team’s social media department whipped up a faux shipping label for O’Hoppe to head out of town on the first thing with wheels. The hot series bulked up the numbers for O’Hoppe, who is one of the Phillies’ most enticing prospects not just in the upper levels but throughout the system. He’s also the rare hitter who’s done most of his damage away from Reading’s cozy home park—six of his homers have come on the road, where his OPS is nearly 300 points better. (JN)
5. Alec Burleson, OF, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (International)
Why He’s Here: .539/.539/1.039 (14-for-26), 6 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: The Cardinals have already gotten an offensive boost this season from recent callups Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman. Burleson is ready and waiting next in line. The burly outfielder continued his excellent season with five multi-hit efforts in six games for Memphis last week, including three consecutive three-hit games to close out the series at Gwinnett. He hit three homers in the first five games and capped the series by going 3-for-5 with three doubles in the finale. With the ability to hit for contact and power, surprising athleticism for his frame and strong defense in the corner outfield, Burleson is merely waiting for the opportunity to show he belongs in the majors. (KG)
6. Jorbit Vivas, 2B, Dodgers
Team: High-A Great Lakes (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .560/.607/.920 (14-for-25), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 0 SO, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: The Dodgers No. 23 prospect set Lansing pitching ablaze this week at Dow Diamond. Vivas capped off his landmark week with a 3-for-5 effort on Sunday, his second three-hit game in the series, and his sixth multi-hit game of the week. Vivas now has multiple hits in eight of his last nine games and has raised his batting average by 79 points since May 10, as he's hitting .342/.412/.500 for the month of May. Vivas is a bat-first lefthanded-hitting second baseman, a profile that will need the bat to carry it long term. (GP)
7. Antoine Kelly, LHP, Brewers
Team: High-A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 3.00, 12 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 18 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Making two starts this week for the Timber Rattlers against the South Bend Cubs, Kelly was very good in both turns and electric over the first five innings of each. On Tuesday, Kelly went 6.1 innings and didn’t allow a hit until the sixth. On Sunday, he struck out the first six batters he faced and 11 over the first five innings. In each of his starts he ran into trouble in his final inning as three inherited runners scored in the sixth inning of Sunday’s contest. One other note, on Sunday, Kelly induced 30 swings and misses, the most whiffs in a minor league game this season and the sixth most since 2017. (GP)
8. Trevor Hauver, OF, Rangers
Team:High-A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .500/.609/1.278 (9-for-23), 6 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 1 SO.
The Scoop: At this time last year, Hauver was one of the early-season standouts of the 2021 season. He hit six home runs in the first five games of the 2021 campaign, A lot has happened since then. He’s stopped playing second base (he’s been a full-time left fielder this year). He’s been traded (from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo deal) and the power he flashed early last season has largely dissipated. Hauver hit nine home runs over his final 94 games of last year. He came into this week hitting .173/.356/.227. But Hauver’s bat perked up this week—he’s raised his slash line to a much healthier .237/.402/.430. (JC)
9. Matthew Lugo, SS, Red Sox
Team: High-A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .500/.524/1.100 (10-for-20), 5 R, 3 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Just a few weeks following his 21st birthday Lugo is enjoying the best season of his career for High-A Greenville. He had four multi-hit games last week, as he ran his season line to .324/.380/.588. Lugo’s added power showed up last week as he had a pair of games with multiple extra-base hits. Always an above-average bat-to-ball hitter, Lugo has added loft to his swing and gotten more aggressive on pitches in the zone without sacrificing contact. Lugo is a toolsy player still coming into his own in his second full professional season. (GP)
10. Ceddanne Rafaela, OF, Red Sox
Team: High-A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .423/.464/.923 (11-for-26), 9 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: Rafaela has been a picture of consistency this year. His batting average for the year has yet to dip below .282 for a day this season. For most of the year, it’s been well above .300. There’s yet to be a day this year where Rafaela has ended it slugging under .500. Rafaela is still uber-aggressive at the plate, but his bat speed and defense in center make him a prospect worth watching. (JC)
11. Lenyn Sosa, 2B, White Sox
Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .444/.444/.815 (12-for-27), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: Sosa has been one of the best hitters in the White Sox’s system this year. The 22-year-old was always intriguing, but he’d never performed anywhere near the levels he’s showing during a breakout year. Now, his .368 average leads the Southern League and his on-base and slugging percentages are in the top five on the circuit. His nine home runs are just two shy of his career best, which was set last season between High-A and Double-A. After a few years with a mostly fallow system, some players like Sosa are starting to bubble to the top. (JN)
12. Seth Johnson, RHP, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.60, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO, 2 HR
The Scoop: When the Rays selected Johnson, there was an element of rawness that needed to be deliberately and patiently polished as he moved through the minor leagues. Coincidentally, deliberately and patiently polishing prospects is what the Rays do best. In his most recent start, Johnson looked electric, blowing high-octane fastballs and crispy sliders past the bats of hapless Greensboro hitters. His 11 strikeouts were a new career best, and he achieved the mark while walking nobody. His only blemishes were two solo home runs—one more a product of the hitter-friendly Greensboro park than a true mistake—over five scoreless frames. He had the look of a prospect ready to move to the next level, and one on the precipice of a breakout as well. (JN)
13. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates
Team: Double-A Altoona (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .417/.483/.792 (10-for-24), 8 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: After a difficult first month with Double-A Altoona, Gonzales has picked up his production in May, and in particular last week. Gonzales recorded multi-hit games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and got on base three times on Friday. He had home runs on both Tuesday and Thursday, with a double in each contest. The return of Gonzales’ power and contact is likely directly correlated to his ability to limit his in-zone whiffs this week. It's been a strong bounceback for a player who’s struggled with whiffs early this season and has seen his production crater. If Gonzales can put his whiff-heavy ways in the rear-view mirror this summer, he still has the ceiling of an above-average offensive second baseman. (GP)
14. Michael Harris II, OF, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .409/.480/.773 (9-for-22), 8 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Harris is not only the Braves’ top prospect, he’s one of the best prospects in the game, period. After an excellent 2021 season spent wholly at High-A Rome, Harris entered the year with a ton of upside but work to do regarding his selectivity and overall swing decisions. Mission accomplished. The 21-year-old has drawn rave reviews, which is especially impressive considering he opened the season as the league’s second-youngest player. Harris oozes with potentially plus tools, and he’s begun converting enough of those tools into the skills that could make him a perennial all-star in a few years. (JN)
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15. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
Team: Low-A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .407/.484/.741 (11-for-27), 9 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Another week, another dominant showing by Crow-Armstrong. The Cubs No. 3 prospect extended his hitting streak to seven games with an excellent series at Columbia, including a pair of three-hit games and two homers in the final three games of the series. Crow-Armstrong now has at least one hit in 28 of his 33 games this season and is batting .372, third-highest in the minors behind only Pirates infielder Jacob Gonzalez (.408) and Guardians infielder Milan Tolentino (.379). (KG)
16. George Valera, OF, Guardians
Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .379/.419/.759 (11-for-29), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: Valera is one of those players who is sneaky young. He’s been a prominent name for years, so it’s easy to forget that as a 21-year-old, he’s younger than some of the hitters who will be taken in the first round of this year’s draft. For example, Valera was born a month after Texas Tech’s Jace Jung. Valera hasn’t wowed at Double-A Akron yet this year, but he’s controlling the strike zone and getting to some power. And he’s doing it while being quite young for the level. (JC)
17. Brayan Bello, RHP, Red Sox
Team: Triple-A Worcester (International)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.00, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: The day after he celebrated his 23rd birthday, Bello made his Triple-A debut at home for Worcester against the Yankees Triple-A affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He struck out 10 over six innings, scattering six hits against a lineup full of former major leaguers. His fastball sat 96-97 mph, touching 98 mph multiple times with sink and heavy run. He paired that with a mid-80s slider he manipulated shape on and a high-80s changeup that kept lefthanded hitters chasing on the outer half of the plate. It was a strong performance for a prospect who could help the big league club this summer as he’s already on the 40-man roster. (GP)
18. Connor Phillips, RHP, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO,
The Scoop: Phillips appears to be figuring out how to harness his electric stuff after being traded by the Mariners to the Reds as part of the trade for Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez. The hard-throwing but erratic righthander tied his career high with 13 strikeouts in the second game of a doubleheader against Quad Cities last week. He struck out the side to open the game in the bottom of the first inning and stayed strong through the end, striking out five of his final eight batters. After beginning the year with a 5.14 ERA, 21 strikeouts and 12 walks in his first 14 innings, Phillips has a 1.62 ERA with 39 strikeouts and just four walks in his last 22 innings. (KG)
19. Mike Vasil, RHP, Mets
Team: Low-A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO.
The Scoop: Seen as a potential first-round pick coming into his senior year of high school, Vasil’s draft stock plummeted during his time at Virginia, mainly because he struggled to show the same velocity and fastball quality he’d shown in high school. Good news, Mets fans. Vasil seems to have rediscovered his fastball. After sitting at 89-91 mph in 2021 at Virginia, Vasil is sitting at 94 mph this spring. That’s led to a stretch where he’s allowed just two runs (one earned) this month with 23 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings. After his abbreviated one-inning start on Sunday, the Mets promoted Vasil to High-A Brooklyn. (JC)
20. Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
Team: High-A Eugene (Northwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Harrison’s season has been impeccable. The lefthander has taken the outrageous stuff he showed in his pro debut in 2021 and amplified it through better command and control at High-A. He’s been exceptionally effective in May. Through three starts he’s spun 14 shutout frames while allowing just eight hits, five walks and striking out 27. In other words, of the 42 outs he’s recorded in May, 64.2% have come via strikes. The jump he’s taken has been big enough to vault him up not only the Giants’ Top 30, but also into the realm of one of the game’s best overall prospects. (JN).
Grant McCray, OF, Giants
The Giants selected McCray in the third round of the 2019 draft out of high school in Florida. He’s loaded with tools, including blazing speed, huge bat speed and outstanding defense in center field. It’s just taken until now to fully put them together. The reviews on McCray coming out of the California League have been consistently loud from evaluators both inside and out of the organization. McCray is among the California League’s top 10 in slugging percentage, OPS, triples, extra-base hits and total bases. He’s always had the tools, and now the output is beginning to look as tantalizing. (JN)