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Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (6/28/21)



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 June 27. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser 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. Korey Lee, C, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Central)
Age: 22

Why He's Here: .444/.545/1.222 (8-for-18), 6 R, 1 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Lee ranked 179th on the BA 500 when the Astros surprised the industry by taking him with their first-round pick at No. 32 overall in 2019. Maybe the Astros were on to something. Lee hit .330/.397/.459 through 29 games at High-A Asheville, and since getting promoted to Double-A, he has been even better. Through his first 11 games in Double-A, Lee is hitting .341/.413/.829 with five walks, five strikeouts and six home runs, with four of those homers coming over the past week. Lee also has a plus arm that has helped him shut down the running game this year, throwing out 10 of 23 basestealers (43%). (BB)

2. Mark Vientos, 3B, Mets
Team: Double-A-Binghamton (Northeast)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .400/.500/1.200 (8-for-20), 7 R, 1 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: After a poor start to the season, Vientos has caught fire the last two weeks. He extended his hitting streak to nine games with a dominant series against Reading and has homered in five of his last six games. Since June 15, Vientos has increased his batting average from .208 to .261 and his OPS from .680 to .814. (KG)

3. Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees
Team: Low-A Tampa (Southeast)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .389/.542/.833 (7-for-18), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Volpe has been extraordinarily impressive since Opening Day in his first official full season as a pro. He leads the league in home runs, runs scored, RBIs, extra-base hits, total bases and is fourth in the league in stolen bases. He’s gotten excellent reviews all season long for his all-around game and exceptional makeup. After a pro debut in 2019 marred by recovery from mononucleosis, Volpe has quickly shot up the Yankees’ prospect boards and could be in Top 100 consideration by season’s end. (JN)

4. Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates
Team: Low-A Bradenton (Southeast)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO.

The Scoop: The Pirates have started to build a very interesting group of young pitchers, and Jones is one of the names worth watching. He’s been slowly building up to 65-plus pitches, and has been stretching out to four innings per outing. This week, he was nearly unhittable. Of the 12 outs he recorded, 11 came by strikeout and he finished off hitters with his fastball, slider, curve and changeup. Jones always has top-tier velocity—he has touched 97 mph in every game this year. He’s maxed out at 99 and he sits 95-96 every time out. (JC)

5. Edward Cabrera, RHP, Marlins
Team: Double-A Pensacola (South)
Age: 23

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

The Scoop: After a long layoff while recovering from a right biceps injury, Cabrera is back on the road to Miami. He made a pair of tune-up starts at Low-A Jupiter, then headed to Pensacola. In two starts there, Cabrera has been filthy. Combined, the righthander has tossed 10.1 innings, allowed one earned run on five hits, walked one and struck out 16. His fastball has touched 100, and he’s paired it with a particularly dastardly changeup as well. (JN)

6. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Team:
Triple-A Tacoma (West)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .333/.367/.750 (8-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: After struggling mightily in the big leagues, Kelenic is getting back on track at Triple-A. He’s recorded multiple hits in five games since his demotion, restoring confidence that he can make the adjustments necessary to achieve his high ceiling. If he can do that, he’ll still find himself as one of the crown jewels of the Mariners’ rebuild. Kelenic’s last two series came at hitters havens Las Vegas and Albuquerque, and he took advantage. In those games, he posted a 1.019 OPS with three home runs. (JN)

7. Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals
Team:
Palm Beach (Southeast)
Age: 19

Why He's Here: .458/.500/.750 (11-for-24), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: It has been a spectacular pro debut for Walker, the Cardinals' first-round pick (No. 21 overall) last year. A 6-foot-5 righthanded hitter with plus-plus raw power, Walker has translated that thunder into games with patience, power and a strikeout rate that he has kept in check, hitting .374/.475/.687 with six home runs, 18 walks and 21 strikeouts through 27 games. Walker has already put himself into the BA Top 100, and he's making a case to climb higher in the next update. (BB)

8. Luis Patiño, RHP, Rays
Team:
Triple-A Durham (East)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 SO.

The Scoop: The Rays have already used 11 different pitchers as starters this season, including Patiño. He pitched well in his brief time in Tampa Bay, but a finger injury led to an IL stint and a trip back to Durham when he returned to health. Patiño is ready for the return call to St. Petersburg. He’s working on a 17-inning scoreless streak, and over those 17 innings Patiño has allowed exactly one extra-base hit (a double by Ryan McKenna). (JC)

9. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Team:
Double-A Corpus Christi (Central)
Age: 22

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

The Scoop: Brown’s stuff has impressed since the Astros drafted him in the fifth round out of Wayne State in 2019, but his command and control have often drawn 30 grades from evaluators on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He hasn’t exactly repudiated that assessment with 5.9 walks per nine innings this season, but he showed how dominant he is when throwing strikes on June 24. Brown pitched six shutout innings against Amarillo and struck out eight consecutive batters at one point. The outing lowered his ERA from an ugly 6.20 to a more palatable 4.99. (KG)

10. Garrett Mitchell, OF, Brewers
Team:
High-A Wisconsin (Central)
Age: 22

Why He's Here: .316/.500/.737 (6-for-19), 7 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: We had Mitchell ranked as the No. 6 draft prospect on the BA 500, but he slid to the Brewers with the 20th overall pick in the first round. It seemed like a potential steal at the time for the Brewers to get a player with Mitchell's athleticism, explosion, tools and college track record. He stepped into the BA Top 100 right away, and he has been an on-base machine so far, drawing 24 walks in 22 games with a .313/.495/.522 overall line. (BB)

11. Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies
Team: Low-A Clearwater (Southeast)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Abel is the unquestioned No. 1 prospect in the Phillies’ system, and this week he proved he can dominate without much variety in his arsenal. Using primarily a fastball—just nine of his 65 pitches were offspeeds—Abel cut through the Daytona lineup. To put that in perspective, he got more swings and misses (13) than offspeeds thrown (nine). Abel has had an uneven season statistically but has gotten incredibly positive reviews from evaluators. In his last two starts, Abel has gone nine innings, allowed one hit (a solo home run), walked one and whiffed 16. (JN)

12. Graham Ashcraft, RHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (South)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO.

The Scoop: There are starter deliveries and reliever deliveries. Ashcraft’s delivery leans strongly towards a reliever delivery. He pitches entirely from the stretch, using a high-tempo delivery that can’t be described as effortless. His mannerisms on the mound also look like those of a reliever. Steely-eyed and unfazed? Not Ashcraft. He celebrates every strike out like he just recorded the final out in the ninth.

But the results tell a different story. Not only has Ashcraft not allowed an earned run in his past 32 innings of work, but in his Double-A debut, he threw a true complete-game shutout. There have been officially 23 complete games in the minors this year, but thanks to doubleheaders and rain-shortened games, the vast majority of those are of the seven inning variety or even shorter—Frank Duncan managed to have a 4.1 inning complete game earlier this year. Ashcraft’s CG this week was only the third nine-inning complete game of the minor league season, joining Cooper Criswell and Penn Murfee. About the hardest ball Ashcraft gave up in his Double-A debut was a Luis Aviles Jr. comebacker that hit Ashcraft flush. The ball ricocheted off of Ashcraft straight to shortstop Jose Barrero who recovered to throw out Aviles. Maybe he ends up a reliever, but Ashcraft’s fastball/slider combo right now is getting results as a starter. (JC)

13. Logan T. Allen, LHP, Indians
Team: High-A Lake County (Central)
Age: 22

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

The Scoop: While the older and more well-known Logan Allen has struggled for the Indians both in the majors and at Triple-A, the other Logan Allen in the Indians system is faring quite well. The younger Allen, who was the Indians’ second-round pick out of Florida International last year, delivered the best start of his young career with six scoreless innings and a career-high nine strikeouts at Great Lakes on June 24. He improved to 4-0, 1.79 in his first eight career starts, with 58 strikeouts and 12 walks in 45.1 innings. (KG)

14. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, Pirates
Team: High-A Greensboro (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: In a rotation full of prospects at High-A Greensboro, Mlodzinski has stood out above the rest. He’s allowed one or fewer earned runs in all but one of his seven starts, and has shown impeccable control of a nasty arsenal of four-seam and two-seam fastballs as well as a slider and changeup. In four starts this month, Mlodzinski has whiffed 28 against just three walks over 20 innings. In his latest start, against Greenville, Mlodzinski, whom the Pirates chose in the supplemental first round of the 2020 draft, whiffed nine and established a new career high in the process. (JN)

astros-900x635

Draft Sanctions Have Left The Astros At a Talent Deficit

The effects of the Astros penalties for sign stealing have left a significant mark. In fact, they have left the Astros at a significant handicap to the rest of the league when it comes to acquiring top talent.

15. Will Benson, OF, Indians
Team: Double-A Akron (Northeast)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .421/.519/.947 (8-for-19), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: It’s been a slow climb through the minors for Benson. A 2016 first-round pick, Benson was left unprotected in last year’s Rule 5 draft and went unselected. Teams were scared off by his struggles to make contact at the plate. He struggles to time his swing, and this year is his first stint above Class A. But Benson does have impressive physical tools and has long shown an ability to draw walks to pair with his impressive power. This year, both of his best attributes (the walks and power) have been solid, but his batting average, as usual, has not kept pace. Benson has a .407 on-base percentage, and his five triples (tied for fifth most in the minors) have pushed his slugging percentage to .484. But his batting average is .226. There’s something here, but Benson still hasn’t put it all together. (JC)

16. Nick Allen, SS, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Central)
Age: 22

Why He's Here: .476/.500/.762 (10-for-21), 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Allen generates a lot of buzz for his defense—and rightfully so—but he hasn't been a slouch with the bat either. Allen is hitting .329/.380/.469 through 34 games, and while he probably will never be a huge slugger, his four home runs already match his career total coming into the year that he hit over 228 previous games. (BB)

17. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Team: High-A Fresno (West)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .476/.458/.714 (10-for-21), 4 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2-3 SB

The Scoop: On a team with top draft picks Zac Veen, Drew Romo and Grant Lavigne, Tovar has emerged as Fresno’s best player by a clear margin. The 19-year-old delivered four consecutive multi-hit games to finish off the week and is now tied for the highest batting average (.323) in the Low-A West among players with at least 150 plate appearances. Combined with his growing ability to hit for power (.524 slugging percentage) and the athleticism to stay in the middle infield, Tovar is quickly emerging as one of the Rockies’ best prospects. (KG)

18. Zavier Warren, C, Brewers
Team: Low-A Carolina (East)
Age: 22

Why He's Here: .333/.520/.778 (6-for-18), 6 R, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Warren primarily played shortstop at Central Michigan, but he does have a catching background, and the Brewers have been playing him at catcher and third base this season. The good news is that if catching doesn't stick for Warren, he has a safety net option at third base, where he has the defensive tools to play and the offensive upside to fit as well. A third-round pick last year, Warren is hitting .270/.404/.573 with seven home runs through 25 games. (BB)

19. Cole Winn, RHP, Rangers
Team: Double-A Frisco (Central)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Winn’s pro debut wasn’t sharp in 2019, but he’s come back a different pitcher after the canceled 2020 minor league season. Winn continued a breakthrough year at Frisco with seven strikeouts over five shutout innings on Sunday, using both his curveball and changeup to get swings and misses for strikeouts. Winn now has a 2.27 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP in nine starts this season, solidifying himself as the most promising pitcher in the Rangers’ system. (KG)

20. Shane Baz, RHP, Marlins
Team: Triple-A Durham (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO.

The Scoop: There was little subtlety to Baz’s approach against Jacksonville on Sunday (June 27). The Jumbo Shrimp hitters weren’t catching up to his 95-97 mph fastballs, especially when he climbed the ladder. That and a few well-placed changeups were enough for Baz to rack up 10 strikeouts in just five innings. A bloop single in the first and an Isan Diaz double to lead off the second were the only base runners Baz allowed in this week’s outing. He retired the last 12 batters he faced. (JC)

HELIUM WATCH

Luis Perales, RHP, Red Sox

Two years ago, the Red Sox signed Perales out of Venezuela when he was 16 on July 2. He was a small signing—under $100,000—but he had a loose, easy delivery, good arm action and fast arm speed with a fastball that touched 90 mph by the time he signed. Perales has yet to pitch in an official game, but he has been on an upward trajectory since then. After signing in 2019, he pitched in the Tricky League (an unofficial league for July 2 signings) and increased his fastball to 95 mph, showing a mid-70s curveball with tight spin as well and ranking as Baseball America’s No. 27 international signing in the 2019 class. Perales spent 2020 stuck at home, but last week in the Dominican Republic, Perales came out touching 98 mph. He turned 18 in April, the age equivalent of a high school senior eligible for the draft this year had he been born in the United States. Of course, we still need to see how Perales does when the real games start this year, but the arrows continue to point in the right direction.

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