Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (6/14/21)

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 June 13. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, 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.

1. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals
Team: High-A Wilmington (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Cavalli has been overpowering this season, but his latest turn was his best. The Nats’ 2020 first-rounder pitched the first seven innings of a one-hitter, striking out 15. He got 28 swings and misses on 97 pitches, which works out to a 28.9% swinging-strike rate for the evening. His latest turn helped him take a commanding lead in the minor league strikeout race. He’s whiffed 71 in just 40.2 innings so far with High-A. A promotion to Double-A can’t be far off. (JN)

2. Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals
Team: Double-A Springfield (Central)
Age: 21 

Why He’s Here: .346/.393/.1.154 (9-for-26), 8 R, 7 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO 

The Scoop: Gorman has some of the best power in the minors and showed it off last week. The chiseled slugger hit seven home runs, most of any player in the minors, and capped it with a three-homer game against Arkansas on June 12. Gorman is now batting .316/.388/.566 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in 34 games for Springfield, showing the type of middle-of-the-order power and run production that has evaluators projecting an all-star future for him. (KG) 

3. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Tigers
Team: High-A West Michigan (Central)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .550/.577/1.050 (11-for-20), 6 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: After catching fire over the last few weeks, Torkelson, the reigning No. 1 overall pick, hit his way out of West Michigan. Torkelson scuffled to begin the season and dealt with a minor injury, but has been absolutely molten of late. In June, he has hit .439/.537/.854 with nine doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs. For his efforts, the Tigers promoted him and Dillon Dingler to Double-A Erie, where they will form an impressive core with fellow top prospect Riley Greene. (JN)

4. Ken Waldichuk, LHP, Yankees
Team: High-A Hudson Valley (East)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Waldichuk has pitched 30.2 innings this season and has allowed exactly zero runs. He’s also allowed just 12 hits, including no more than three in any outing and only one in four of his six starts. Scouts who have seen him this year say Waldichuk has found success less because of an overwhelming arsenal and more because of the angles and deception created in his delivery. His fastball plays extremely well and gets plenty of swings and misses, too, creating an “invisiball” effect. No matter how he’s come by it, he’s the last qualified pitcher in the minors yet to allow a run. (JN)

5. Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (South)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: In his final turn at Double-A, as part of an epic matchup with 2020 No. 3 overall pick Max Meyer, Greene was overpowering. He hit triple-digits with his fastball with frightening regularity and mixed in a dastardly slider in six solid innings against Pensacola. He also mixed in a cutter to give hitters something to think about. The command and control could stand to be tightened just a touch, but his arsenal is explosive enough that Double-A proved little match for the 21-year-old. Even more impressive, Greene held his velocity through the duration of his outing, including a 101 mph fastball with one of his final pitches. (JN)




6. Joey Bart, C, Giants
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (West)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .391/.417/.826 (9-for-23), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Bart, who got his feet wet in the big leagues last year, is doing his best to make his way back to San Francisco. Even after cooling off slightly from a white-hot first month, the former No. 2 overall pick has put together a tremendous season. He’s hit in 15 of 21 games this season, including eight multi-hit efforts. He opened this Hot Sheet period with a 4-for-5 game against Reno with a home run. With Bart and Patrick Bailey in the system, the Giants have options at catcher once Buster Posey calls it a career. (JN)

7. Ethan Small, LHP, Brewers
Team: Double-A Biloxi (South)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.35, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Small doesn’t throw particularly hard, normally sitting around 89-92 mph with flecks of 93, but his funky delivery and excellent changeup have helped him slice up hitters in the Double-A South. His latest start established a new career high with 12 strikeouts, which broke the mark of 11 he set two starts ago. He needs to improve the command of his fastball and consistency of his slider, but Small so far has shown enough to dominate, and his 58 strikeouts are the third-most in the minor leagues behind just Cade Cavalli and Hunter Greene. (JN)

8. Alexander Canario, OF, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (West)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .429/.469/.714 (12-for-28), 13 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Canario dealt with a nagging shoulder injury in 2019 and in 2020 before having surgery to repair it late in 2020. Though he started slowly in Low-A, he’s come on of late and is beginning to show hints of the player the Giants believe he will become. He’s hit in all but two games in June, and is slashing .349/.388/.558. Perhaps most important since the Giants had worked to cut down on his swings and misses, Canario has struck out just seven times in 43 at-bats this month. (JN)

9. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Team: Low-A Modesto 
Age: 19 

Why He’s Here: .435/.536/.957 (10-for-23), 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 1-1 SB 

The Scoop: Marte showed signs of slowing down after his scorching start, batting .166 (8 for 48) with three-extra base hits in the two weeks spanning May 22-June 5. He bounced back in a big way last week, reeling off four consecutive multi-hit games and recording at least one extra-base hit in each. At the tender age of 19, Marte leads the Low-A West in batting average (.324), is tied for the league lead in home runs (eight) and ranks second in OPS (.999). (KG) 

10. Casey Schmitt, 3B, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (West)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .450/.520/1.050 (9-for-20), 5 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Schmitt started slowly in his first season as a pro, which was a bit surprising for a player in Low-A with a college pedigree. Like teammate Alexander Canario, though, Schmitt has hit the switch in June. He’s 13-for-35 this month after collecting just eight hits in all of May. If he reaches his ceiling, the Giants expect Schmitt to be a player who can contribute on both sides of the ball. The last couple of weeks might have helped him turn an early corner toward reaching that status. (JN)

11. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates
Team: Double-A Altoona (Northeast)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .400/.478/.900 (8-for-20), 9 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Cruz has long tantalized because of his light-tower power and the amount of contact he makes despite extremely long limbs. He showcased those skills this week, when he hit three home runs in four days from June 9-13. Besides the power, Cruz also has excellent speed and a strong throwing arm. The latter skill could help keep him at shortstop, though it would be an asset in right field too. If he does move, his offense will more than profile for a corner outfield spot. (JN)

12. Josh Winder, RHP, Twins
Team: Double-A Wichita (Central)
Age: 24 

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.45, 11 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO 

The Scoop: An unheralded seventh-round pick out of Virginia Military Institute in 2017, Winder came on strong during instructional league last fall and has carried it over into this season. Winder delivered a pair of strong starts against a talented Tulsa team to improve to 2-0, 2.16 in eight starts this season. What has stood out in particular is his control. Winder has 50 strikeouts against only eight walks in 41.2 innings this season. With a solid four-pitch mix topped by a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, Winder is progressively asserting himself as one of the Twins most promising starting pitching prospects. (KG) 

13. Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals 
Team: Low-A Palm Beach (Southeast)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .360/.419/.720 (9-for-25), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Winn hit .192 in May, but he’s now hitting .318 in June. The prospective two-way player has focused on hitting so far, but he’s still getting a chance to show off the strength of his arm. When it comes to shortstops, Wynn possesses one of the strongest arms in pro baseball. It’s an easy 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. After bobbling a grounder earlier this year, Wynn recovered to fire a 95.8 mph bullet to retire the hitter. That’s harder than any infield throw in the majors in 2021 and harder than all but three throws in MLB in 2020. It’s not a one-time fluke. Winn has also been clocked at over 93 mph on four other infield throws this year. There have been only three throws of more than 93.0 in the major leagues this season. (JC)

14. Samad Taylor, OF/2B, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Northeast)
Age: 22 

Why He’s Here: .550/.654/1.100 (11-for-20), 11 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO, 2-3 SB 

The Scoop: Taylor was a rail-thin middle infielder whose game centered around contact and speed when the Indians drafted him in the 10th round in 2016. After being traded to the Blue Jays in a deal for Joe Smith the following year, Taylor has progressively and surprisingly added more and more power. He showed off his new juice with three more homers for New Hampshire this week. He now has nine home runs in 33 games, tying his career high that he set with Low-A Lansing in 2017—when he played 121 games. Taylor has added that power without sacrificing any of his speed or athleticism. He has played second base, third base, center field and left field this season and is 13-for-15 on stolen bases. (KG)

15. Graham Ashcraft, RHP Reds
Team: High-A Dayton (Central)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 iP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 SO.

The Scoop: Ashcraft on June 11 was matched up against Dodgers’ 2020 first-rounder Bobby Miller and managed to out-shine him. Miller came out sitting 96-97 mph and looking quite dominant. Ashcraft was just a little bit better. His first pitch of the game was 99 mph on the generally accurate Dayton stadium gun and his fastball sat 97-98 and regularly bumped 99. It took a little while longer for his breaking ball to lock in, but once he started in the second inning snapping off high-80s sliders with good depth, the Great Lake Loons’ hitters had little chance. Ashcraft was still able to get to 97 mph when he needed it in the fifth and sixth inning, but it was the turbo-sink on a 93-95 mph two-seamer that hitters kept swinging over the top of the second time through the order. (JC)

16. Drew Millas, C, Athletics
Team: High-A Lansing (Central)
Age: 23 

Why He’s Here: .500/.565/.850 (10-for-20), 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1-1 SB 

The Scoop: Millas has been known as a solid defensive catcher with a questionable bat dating back to his days at Missouri State. He got off to a slow start at the plate this year in his pro debut and appeared to confirm that reputation, but he’s found his offensive stroke recently. Millas has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games and finished last week with four consecutive multi-hit games, capped by going 3-for-3 with a double and a home run on Sunday. The switch-hitting Millas is a better hitter from the left side and, if he can keep his bat going, has a chance to be a contributor on both sides of the ball for Oakland.  (KG)

17. Sherten Apostel, 3B, Rangers
Team: Double-A Frisco (Central)
Age: 22 

Why He’s Here: .381/.481/.810 (8-for-21), 5 R, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO 

The Scoop: Apostel struggled in his first taste of the majors last season and got off to a slow start at Double-A this year, but he’s begun to turn it around. Apostel has a hit in seven of his last eight games and hit three of his four home runs this season all in the last week. He had his best game of the young season with a two-home run night against Northwest Arkansas on June 10 and has raised his average from .183 to .236 in the last 10 days. (KG)

18. Louie Varland, RHP, Twins
Team: Low-A Fort Myers (Southeast)
Age: 23 

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO 

The Scoop: Varland is a hometown kid who was drafted by the Twins in the 15th round out of Division II Concordia-St. Paul in 2019, a year after the A’s drafted his older brother Gus. While admittedly old for the level and playing in a pitcher-friendly league, Varland has nonetheless impressed in Fort Myers’ rotation this year. The 6-foot-1 righthander is 3-1, 2.42 with 45 strikeouts in only 26 innings this season. He is on a run of 12 consecutive scoreless innings and, after struggling with his control in May, has 17 strikeouts against just two walks in June. (KG)

19. Aldo Ramirez, RHP, Red Sox
Team: Low-A Salem (East)
Age: 20 

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 SO 

The Scoop: Ramirez has a history of pitching above his age and has continued to demonstrate impressive command and feel for pitching in his full-season debut. Ramirez delivered a pair of scoreless starts against Fredericksburg last week to improve to 1-1, 2.03 in eight starts this season. He is currently riding a 14-inning scoreless streak with seven hits allowed, three walks and 16 strikeouts over his last three starts. (KG) 

20. Matt Vierling, OF, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Northeast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .455/.500/.864 (10-for-22), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: A former two-way player at Notre Dame, Vierling has effectively flushed the memory of struggling at High-A Clearwater in 2019. Other than a few days on the bench with a minor injury, Vierling has raked from day one of this season. He’s hitting .433 this month and he now leads the Double-A Northeast with a .644 slugging percentage. He’s also in the top five in batting average (.345) and on-base percentage (.422). (JC)


Joey Estes, RHP, Braves
Team: Low-A Augusta (East)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 SO.

The Scoop: Estes is one of the players who made himself a better player over the long coronavirus layoff. His fastball is getting swings and misses up in the zone with excellent hop and ride. His breaking ball is better, and he’s added a dastardly changeup as well. He shows the potential for three plus pitches, and he carries himself with a healthy swagger on the mound. He likes to challenge hitters and for now, hitters don’t have an answer. For a 16th-round pick out of high school, he already qualifies as quite a find. This week’s start lowered his ERA to 1.01 and he has 39 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. (JC)

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