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Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/31/22)



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 30. 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.

Kyle Glaser answered questions regarding this week's Hot Sheet from 2-3 p.m. ET today. You can read the transcript here.


1. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Royals
Team: Triple-A Omaha (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .478/.500/1.174 (11-for-23), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: With each passing week, it gets harder and harder to deny Pasquantino is for real. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound slugger continued his demolition of Triple-A pitchers with a blistering showing against Louisville last week. His series included a game in which he went 5-for-7 with two doubles and two home runs, a game in which he tripled, homered and drove in four runs and another game in which he homered. He is now batting .303/.396/.667 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs in 46 games at the minors’ highest level. The question now is merely when, not if, he gets his first major league callup. (KG)

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The only thing left for the top pitching prospect in baseball to do was show he could hold his outstanding stuff deep into games. Rodriguez did just that last week, completing seven innings for the first time this season in a dominant performance against Gwinnett. Rodriguez needed only 88 pitches to slice through the Stripers lineup and, importantly, stayed strong until the end. He retired nine of his final 10 batters, six via strikeout, and allowed a pair of singles as his only hits. It was the first time Rodriguez had pitched seven innings since 2019, and a sign the Orioles are finally taking the reins off of their potential future ace. (KG)

3. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .346/.393/.769 (9-for-26), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Alvarez entered the season as both the Mets’ top prospect and tied with the Blue Jays’ Orelvis Martinez as the youngest player in the Double-A Eastern League. After entering the week with just one home run in May, Alvarez exploded for three longballs in a series against the Reading Fightin’ Phils. The outburst, plus one more in a rare Monday game in the minor leagues, brings him to eight for the season, a third of the way toward the 24 home runs he launched in 2021. (JN)

4. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .471/.524/1.294 (8-for-17), 8 R, 1 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO, 1 SF.

The Scoop: The pandemic-shortened 2020 season meant that Manzardo seemed to come out of nowhere in 2021. He’d hit .435/.500/.694 in the abbreviated 2020 season, but that wasn’t a long enough sample to convince everyone his .365/.437/.640 season in 2021 was the sign of a newfound trend. Well, it’s becoming quite clear that Manzardo’s 2020/2021 college breakout was real.

This year, Manzardo skipped over Low-A and is hitting .354/.430/.677. He has as many walks (11) as strikeouts (11). Manzardo doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard consistently yet, but as a 21-year-old, there’s still time for him to drive the ball more consistently. And you’d rather ask a hitter to add power than the other way around. (JC)

5. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Red Sox
Team: Triple-A Worcester (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .591/.625/1.000 (13-for-22), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: It’s been a roller coaster few years for Hernandez, once a Top 10 prospect in the Rays system and a Top 100 prospect entering 2019. After a difficult opening month to the season, Hernandez caught fire last week. He collected multiple hits in all five games he played, including a 4-for-5 effort to open the series at Lehigh Valley. Known for his plus raw power, Hernandez had an extra-base hit in four of the five games he played, including home runs in the opening and closing games of the series. (GP)

6. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Team: Triple-A Sugar Land (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After struggling with his control the first six weeks of the season, Brown appears to have turned a corner. The hard-throwing but enigmatic righthander pitched four perfect innings in a relief appearance against Oklahoma City on May 20 and celebrated his return to the rotation in style on May 26, tossing seven scoreless innings with five hits allowed, 10 strikeouts and, most importantly, no walks against El Paso. Brown has long possessed elite stuff but struggled to harness it. If the control gains over his last two outings hold, it won’t be long before he’s in Houston. (KG)

7. Bryce Bonnin, RHP, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 SO.

The Scoop: It was a rough week to be a West Michigan hitter. On May 24, Joe Boyle held the Whitecaps hitless for six innings in a 10-1 win. The Whitecaps ended up getting one hit, a Josh Crouch home run. The next night, they did get a hit against starter Spencer Stockton, but rain forced a suspension of the game with two outs in the bottom of the second.

The next night, they got to face Bonnin. Like Boyle, Bonnin has a plus-plus fastball. Bonnin also has a plus slider. And just like it did against Boyle, West Michigan didn’t seem to have a chance. Bonnin held West Michigan hitless for 5.1 innings. After Bonnin left, West Michigan did pick up a second single in a 5-0 shutout loss. Three days, two games. Three hits for West Michigan. Two outings of dominance for Dayton. (JC)

8. Joe Boyle, RHP, Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 SO.

The Scoop: Boyle has made seven starts this year. He’s allowed six hits.

I could try to make it appear that Boyle’s holding West Michigan hitless this week was a special feat, but it’s something he’s done in four of his six starts. Opponents are hitting .058 against him this year. Jhonkensy Noel is the only batter to have an extra-base hit against him (a double).

Hitters don’t square Boyle up. They either strike out (40% of the time) or walk (18.8% of the time). But they don’t make solid contact. Boyle’s control remains shaky, but pitchers who don’t give up hits have a tendency to get plenty of chances to figure that out. Even with his control struggles, opposing hitters are hitting .058/.242/.068 against him this year. (JC)

9. Kerry Carpenter, OF, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .400/.444/1.080 (10-for-25), 8 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: A 19th-round pick in 2019 out of Virginia Tech, Carpenter made adjustments to his swing and approach entering the season and has unlocked another gear of game power. Last week, the outfielder continued to reap the rewards of his newfound approach, launching five home runs during the SeaWolves' series at Bowie. Three of Carpenter’s five home runs last week were hit at a reported 100-plus mph, a testament to Carpenter’s improved game power. He has traded some contact for power, but Carpenter still makes contact at an average rate (72%), while displaying above-average swing decisions. (GP)

10. Landon Stephens, OF, Braves
Team: High-A Rome (South Atlantic) 
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .455/.538/1.091 (10-for-22), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: A 2020 nondrafted free agent out of Miami (Ohio), Stephens is a first baseman with above-average game power and on-base skills. Last week, Stephens feasted on Hudson Valley pitching, collecting six extra-base hits and getting on base 14 times. On Thursday, he had the third multi-home run game of his professional career, and the first this season with Rome. Stephens reportedly hit seven balls this week that were clocked at 100-plus mph, including all four of his home runs against Hudson Valley pitching. (GP)

11. Will Dion, LHP, Guardians
Team: Low-A Lynchburg (Carolina)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 16 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: By now, it’s not much of a surprise when the Guardians produce another stealthy pitching prospect. This time, it’s Dion, a lefthander whom they selected out of McNeese State in the ninth round of the 2021 draft. Assigned to Low-A, Dion has carved. He boasts a four-pitch mix with an 87-90 mph fastball at the front and a delivery scouts note is a near-perfect Xerox of Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw. His nine punchouts in five no-hit innings on May 24 established a career-best for strikeouts. His 51 strikeouts overall are just six behind rotation-mate Rodney Boone. (JN)

12. Jackson Wolf, LHP, Padres
Team: High-A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 2.92, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 19 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: A low-slot lefty with four pitches in his bag of tricks, Wolf has a fastball that sits 88-90 mph, but it plays up due to his unusual slot and its horizontal movement profile. He made two starts for Fort Wayne against Quad Cities last week, striking out eight River Bandits in the opening game of the series and 11 in Sunday’s finale. He generated 31 swinging strikes on the week and another 41 called, good enough for a 38.5% called and swinging-strike rate on the week. In addition to Wolf’s fastball, he mixes in two breaking balls in a mid-70s slider and a sweepy low-70s curveball, but his low-80s changeup is his standout secondary, showing tumble and fade. (GP)

13. Jonah Bride, C, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)/Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 26

Why He’s Here: .600/.636/1.050 (12-for-20), 7 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HBP

The Scoop: Well this is unexpected. Bride got a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas last week. That’s not shocking. He had reached Double-A in 2019, so a bump to Triple-A in 2022 isn’t surprising at all. What’s hard to explain is where this newfound power came from.

Bride has always been able to hit, and he’s taking to catching quicker than may have been expected. But he’s now slugging .670 this year with 17 extra-base hits in 23 games. His career high for extra-base hits in a season is 32 (set in 117 games in 2019). He’s never slugged over .425 in a season before. In 2021, he slugged .424 with 22 extra-base hits in 78 games.

Bride’s power will likely fall back to a more normal level over the remainder of the season, but if he can turn some of those singles he used to hit into doubles and home runs, he has a good shot to be a useful multi-position sub for the A's, especially now that he can catch. (JC)

NL Central Prospect Notebook

National League Central Prospect Notebook For July

A Pirates pitcher improving his future outlook by learning to trust a third pitch headlines our July organization reports by our National League Central correspondents.

14. Vaun Brown, OF, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (California)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .579/.667/1.105 (11-for-19), 6 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 4-for-4 SB

The Scoop: A 10th-round pick out of Division II Florida Southern last year, Brown has emerged as one of the more intriguing players in the California League this season. The 23-year-old continued to showcase his all-fields power, plus speed and knack for the barrel last week against Modesto by reeling off four consecutive multi-hit games, including three games with multiple extra-base hits. He added to that by going 4-for-4 on stolen bases, giving him 23 extra-base hits and 17 steals in only 41 games this year. Brown is old for Low-A and physically overmatches his opponents, but his tools are real. He just needs the chance to show he can do the same against age-appropriate competition in High-A to solidify himself as a potential sleeper. (KG)

15. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .417/.533/.792 (10-for-24), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 SO, 4-for-5 SB

The Scoop: The beat goes on for one of the most improved prospects in the game. Tovar entered the year with a reputation as one of the best defenders at shortstop but a little light in the batter’s box. No longer. Now, Tovar has upped his offensive game and transformed into one of the sport’s best all-around prospects. All three of his triple-slash numbers (.327/.411/.601) rank among the top five in the Eastern League, and his 23 extra-base hits are just one behind fellow Hot Sheeter (and Tigers prospect) Kerry Carpenter. (JN).

16. Carlos Rodriguez, OF, Brewers
Team: High-A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .435/.435/.913 (10-for-23), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: The Brewers have done quite well in Venezuela in recent years. In addition to the vast collection of Venezuelans the team has piled at its Low-A affiliate, the team also has Rodriguez, who was part of a star-studded 2017 international class. In a return to High-A (after skipping Low-A entirely), Rodriguez has been excellent as the weather has warmed in Wisconsin. In the season’s second month, Rodriguez is hitting .305/.396/.500. The slash line represents a boost of nearly 300 points of OPS from his April production. (JN)

17. Elijah Dunham, OF, Yankees
Team: Double-A Somerset (Eastern)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .417/.462/.833 (10-for-24), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Dunham sure knows how to throw himself a birthday … bash. The undrafted free agent from 2020 turned 24 on May 29 and celebrated with a big day. Facing Portland, Dunham went 4-for-4 with a double, a home run and a stolen base. The four-hit outburst was his largest of the season and matched his career high set exactly 53 weeks prior, on May 22, 2021. The week completes a strong month for Dunham, who was hitting .281/.340/.539 heading into the final day of May. (JN)

18. Gabriel Martinez, OF, Blue Jays
Team: Low-A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .435/.480/.870 (10-for-23), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: A helium prospect from a few weeks back, Martinez has enjoyed one of the best months of May in the minor leagues. He capped off his big month with a huge effort last week, collecting 10 hits and three home runs. Martinez also celebrated a personal milestone as he enjoyed his first multi-home run game of his professional career on Thursday. He had a hit in every game last week and had multi-hit efforts in four out of six games. Martinez has really rebounded after a difficult opening month as he's hitting .301/.363/.532 with nine home runs as a 19-year-old in Low-A. (GP)

19. Royber Salinas, RHP, Braves
Team: High-A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: With a second (!) 13-strikeout performance, Salinas is 11 Ks ahead of Orioles uber prospect Grayson Rodriguez for the overall minor league lead. He boasts an absolutely absurd 18.5 K/9 ratio and his 21% swinging-strike rate ranks behind only Blue Jays breakout arm Ricky Tiedemann for the best in the minor leagues. His overall strikeout rate of 48.9% is far and away the best in MiLB. Of the 127 outs Salinas has recorded, 87 have been via strikes. That is, to use a technical term, coo-coo bananas. (JN)

20. Robinson Pina, RHP, Angels
Team: High-A Tri-City (Northwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: Pina struggled with his control last year but has rebounded at Tri-City to re-establish himself as one of the Angels top pitching prospects. With a fastball sitting at 92 mph and touching 95-96, Pina mowed down Eugene in a dominant start last week. He struck out the first five batters of the game en route to a career-high 14 strikeouts and had Emeralds' hitters swinging helplessly all game. Thirteen of his 14 strikeouts were swinging, a testament to how potent his stuff is when he’s in the strike zone. (KG) 

HELIUM

Blake Beers, RHP, Athletics
Age: 23

Beers primarily pitched in relief at Michigan and finished his career with a 6.56 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 40 walks in 71.1 innings for the Wolverines. Despite his poor performance, the A’s drafted him in the 19th round last year because of his arm strength and made him a starter. So far, it’s a decision that looks prescient. Beers has locked in his control as a pro and recorded 51 strikeouts against only seven walks over seven appearances (six starts) for Low-A Stockton. He received a promotion to High-A Lansing last week and made a dominant debut for the Lugnuts, pitching six scoreless innings with three hits allowed, one walk and 11 strikeouts against Beloit. With the A’s desperate for pitching in their farm system, Beers’ breakout showing has been an extremely welcome development. (KG)

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