Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (5/31/23)

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 29. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, Geoff Pontes, J.J. Cooper 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.

Geoff Pontes hosted a chat to discuss today’s Hot Sheet. You can read the transcript here.

1. Emmet Sheehan, RHP, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.90, 10 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 18 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: It’s been a dominant first two months of the season for Sheehan as he’s struck out 44.2% of batters he’s faced in 2023. Last week Sheehan made two turns for Tulsa, going four scoreless, hitless innings on Tuesday while striking out nine. He then came on in relief on Sunday, appearing in the fourth for starter Nick Frasso. Sheehan proceeded to fire six strong innings, allowing a single run on a ninth inning home run. He struck out nine over six innings while allowing two hits and two walks. Sheehan’s piggybacked outing on Sunday was his longest of the season. Sheehan possesses one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues, and has seen steady improvement to his slider to go along with his bread-and-butter secondary: his changeup. (GP) 

2. Tyler Locklear, 1B, Mariners
Team: High-A Everett (Northwest)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .448/.543/.759 (13-for-29), 7 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 9 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Locklear is known primarily for his huge power, but he’s showing he’s much more than just a one-dimensional slugger. The 2022 second-round pick recorded multiple hits in five of eight games last week to continue his exceptional start to his first full season. He is batting .322/.423/.592 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 46 games for the AquaSox. While Locklear is certainly benefitting from playing his home games at hitter-friendly Funko Field, he also has an .893 OPS on the road playing primarily in pitcher-friendly parks. (KG).

3. Adael Amador, SS, Rockies
Team: High-A Spokane (Northwest) 
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .428/.500/.538 (11-for-26), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: High-A Spokane played doubleheaders on both Tuesday and Sunday of last week, which means Amador played eight total games. Over that stretch the Rockies infield prospect had three multi-hit games, including two three-hit games. Amador got on base in each game of the series as well, reaching in 50% of his plate appearances. While Amador didn’t show much power last week, he continues to impress with his advanced plate skills. On the season Amador is making contact nearly 90% of the time, while rarely expanding the zone. (GP)

4. Jonny DeLuca, OF, Dodgers
Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .393/.414/.821 (11-for-28), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: In a very loaded system, DeLuca has quietly made a name for himself. The Oregon alum has raked all season long, earning himself a promotion to Triple-A on May 16. So far, the level hasn’t provided much resistance. In two series with Oklahoma City, DeLuca already has seven extra-base hits in 13 games. This comes after he collected 18 extra-base hits in 32 games in the Texas League. If he keeps hitting like this, he’ll push for his big league debut in short order. (JN)

5. Yanquiel Fernandez, OF, Rockies
Team: High-A Spokane (Northwest)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .379/.419/.724 (11-for-26), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Spokane club is as loaded as they come, especially offensively, and Fernandez is one of its higher-upside players. He’s been molten in May. After a scorching Hot Sheet period, the corner outfielder currently sits at .387/.403/.748 for the month, with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. He could stand to clean up his approach a bit, but he hits the ball extremely hard, with a 90th percentile exit velocity of 107.8 mph, and has been mighty impressive as one of the youngest players in the High-A Northwest League. (JN)

6. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.42, 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: When Abbott was dominating Double-A, there were questions about how much the pre-tacked baseballs in the Southern League might have been amplifying his stuff. He moved to Triple-A on April 25 and has kept on cruising. The lefthander from Virginia punched out nine in his most recent turn, marking his fifth start of the season with nine or more strikeouts. In 10 starts this year through May 29, Abbott has only once failed to record more strikeouts than innings pitched. That outing came on May 13, when he fanned five hitters in as many frames. His 90 strikeouts lead the minor leagues. (JN)

7. Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .429/.500/.952 (9-for-21), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: What more can you say about De La Cruz? The man is a living, breathing superlative. He’s a home run-hitting, base-stealing son of a gun with a piece of heavy artillery dangling from his right shoulder. He’s the definition of appointment viewing. He’s where the camera should be trained at all times, because you never know what kind of magic he’s going to perform next. De La Cruz crushed three more home runs this past week, then opened Tuesday’s series in style, slamming a walkoff blast to cap Louisville’s win at Worcester. (JN)

8. James Wood, OF, Nationals
Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern) 
Age: 20 

Why He’s Here: .435/.519/.957 (10-for-23), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Wood earned the unusual Sunday callup to Double-A after laying waste to Hudson Valley pitching over the early part of the week. To open the week Wood had three multi-hit games before seeing the promotion at the end of the week. He reached base in all six games he played in, and scattered three home runs over the course of the week. Wood has some of the best raw power in the minors leagues with a 109.5 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. Wood will be tested against Eastern League competition, as older, more experienced pitchers will look to exploit some of the swing-and-miss in his game. (GP) 

9. Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After a rocky start, Harrison seems to have gotten a handle on the competition at Triple-A. The hitter-friendly environment in the PCL can do a number on pitchers in normal circumstances, but this year’s added wrinkle is the automatic ball-strike system (ABS) which has been in play all year, meaning a tighter strike zone than might normally be called by human umpires. In the first month of the season, Harrison walked 21 in 15.2 innings. In May, he’s issued 10 free passes in 18.2 innings while striking out 34. He’s rung up 61 hitters despite not pitching past the fourth inning in any of his 11 starts. (JN)

10. Dustin Saenz, LHP, Nationals
Team: High-A Wilmington (South Atlantic)
Age: 23 

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.82, 11 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 15 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: During Wilmington’s series with the Yankees’ High-A affiliate (Hudson Valley), Saenz spun a pair of gems on each end of the series. He went six innings, allowing one run on five hits with no walks and eight punchouts on May 23. Saenz then followed that up with five scoreless on Sunday where he struck out seven and allowed just two batters to reach base. Saenz is an undersized lefty the Nationals drafted out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. His pitch mix is comprised of a low-90s fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a slider. None of his pitches stand out, but he does a good job of changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. (GP) 

11. Alberto Rodriguez, OF, Mariners
Team: High-A Everett (Northwest)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .424/.472/1.152 (14-for-33), 11 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 15 RBIs, 2 BB, 9 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: After ballooning out of shape last year and being outrighted off the 40-man roster, Rodriguez has come back with a vengeance in 2023. The Dominican right fielder hit six home runs in eight games last week, including homering in four straight games, to push into the top five in the Northwest League in longballs. Overall, Rodriguez is batting .327/.414/.646 this season and ranks second in the league with a 1.060 OPS. (KG)

12. Alan Roden, OF, Blue Jays
Team: High-A Vancouver (Northwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .440/.563/.760 (11-for-25), 8 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 BB, 2 SO, 1 CS.

The Scoop: Roden was viewed as an analytics pick when the Blue Jays snagged him in the third round of the 2022 draft. He had an incredibly low strikeout rate at Creighton, but he also didn’t produce a lot of impact. So far in the Northwest League he’s continuing to show he can be a pest to pitchers. He has drawn 22 walks this year and been hit seven times while striking out only 17 times in 162 plate appearances (10.5%). Roden has only one home run so far this year, and is more of a gap hitter with excellent on-base percentages than your typical first base masher, but he does get on base a lot. (JC)

13. Bryan Woo, RHP, Mariners 
Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 2.70, 10 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The Mariners righthander was one of the standout arms of last season’s Arizona Fall League and has carried that momentum through into the early part of this season. Woo this season has struck out 34.7% of Double-A batters he’s faced. Last week Woo had a two-step against Frisco and turned in two quality outings. Woo’s success is predicated on his outlier release height which allows him to generate a flat vertical approach angle on his fastball. Woo pairs a mid-to-high-90s fastball with a slider and a rarely used curveball. (GP)

14. Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers
Team: Low-A Carolina (Carolina)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Misiorowski is the owner of some of the best pure stuff in the minor leagues, and his outing last week was the best of his young career. Armed with a four-pitch mix headed by a fastball that sat in the upper 90s and peaked at 101, Misiorowski held Down East hitless over five innings. The only blemish on his card was a hit batter who just barely checked his swing on a breaking ball that got him in the foot. The start set career bests for innings pitched and strikeouts and brought his season total to 41 Ks in 22.2 innings. (JN)

15. Ben Peoples, RHP, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 SO.

The Scoop: A late-round, high-dollar signing in 2019 out of high school, Peoples has been brought along slowly by the Rays, as they often do with young pitchers. Control issues sometimes still cause trouble for Peoples, but on days like the one he had last week, there’s a lot to dream on. Peoples has a mid-90s fastball with enough riding life at the top of the zone to generate plenty of swings and misses and a hard slider to go with it. Peoples’ 11 strikeouts were a career high. (JC)

16. Chris Newell, OF, Dodgers
Team: Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .417/.517/.833 (10-for-24), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 10 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: An unheralded 13th-round pick out of Virginia last year, Newell has forced people to pay attention thanks to his hot start. The lefthanded-hitting center fielder moved into the California League lead with 14 home runs after hitting two more last week. He finished Rancho Cucamonga’s series against Lake Elsinore by recording nine hits in his final 14 at-bats and was promoted to High-A Great Lakes on Tuesday (KG).

17. Trey Dombroski, LHP, Astros
Team: Low-A Fayetteville (Carolina)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.00, 2 G, 1 GS, 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO.

The Scoop: It’s going to be a hard road for Dombrowski to make it to the majors, as he’s the epitome of a soft-tossing lefthander. In an era where 100 mph fastballs are no longer rare and 95 mph seems to be normal, Dombrowski lives in the 70s and 80s. But he uses a slider, curve and quality changeup, which has been enough to baffle Low-A hitters. He’ll just have to show he can keep doing the same every step up the ladder. (JC)

18. Maddux Bruns, LHP, Dodgers
Team: High-A Great Lakes (Midwest)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Bruns struggled badly with both his control and his composure in his full-season debut last year, but he’s made great strides with both this year. Bruns delivered back-to-back outings of four scoreless innings against Peoria last week, and most notable was his strike-throwing. Bruns threw 41 of 59 pitches for strikes in his first outing and 38 of 57 pitches for strikes in his second while walking only one batter in each start. With explosive pure stuff in hand, the 2021 first-rounder has a chance to skyrocket if he can maintain his recent control gains. (KG)

19. Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP, Red Sox
Team: High-A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 12 SO.

The Scoop: Those 12 strikeouts Gonzalez picked up last week are impressive, but the zero walks are a much more important sign for the Venezuelan righthander. Gonzalez had not thrown strikes on 60% of his pitches in any of his first seven starts this year, and often hovered right around 50%. The last two starts, he’s upped that to 63% and then 69% last week. Now that he’s ahead on more counts, Gonzalez has been able to let his mid-90s fastball eat. (JC)

20. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Reds
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .286/.375/.714 (8-for-28), 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 8 SO.

The Scoop: Encarnacion-Strand is hitting .341 this year. He hits .300 or better everywhere he goes, so that’s not really a surprise. He’s a career .322/.378/.612 hitter. We all keep thinking his hyper-aggressive approach will come back to bite him at some point, but so far, Triple-A has proven no more challenging than any other level. In fact, his .710 slugging percentage this year and his home run rate (one every 11.5 plate appearances) are career highs. (JC)


Zach Dezenzo, 3B, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas) 
Age: 23 

Why He’s Here: .389/.500/.667 (7-for-18), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: After tearing up High-A, Dezenzo saw a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi last weekend. Over 31 games with Asheville Dezenzo hit .407/.474/.628 with four home runs and a 12% walk rate. While Asheville certainly inflates a hitter’s statistical output, under the hood Dezenzo’s numbers have been strong with good exit velocity numbers, approach and solid contact. A 12th-round pick last July, Dezenzo has proven to be a savvy selection by the Astros, as he’s shown some of the highest upside at the plate among Astros positional prospects. There are some questions around his future defensive home but the bat is real. (GP) 

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