Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (6/7/22)
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 June 6. 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.
Geoff Pontes chatted regarding the Hot Sheet from noon-1 p.m. ET. You can read the transcript here.
1. Colin Barber, OF, Astros
Team: High-A Asheville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .524/.583/1.286 (11-for-21), 8 R, 1 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS
The Scoop: After a lost 2021 season where Barber was limited to 16 games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery, he’s once again healthy in 2022 and enjoying a breakout season with Asheville. Entering the week, Barber had just one home run on the season, but he caught fire against Hickory pitching, slugging five home runs on the week. His performance in Sunday’s matinee put the exclamation point on the stretch as he went 3-for-4 with two home runs, three runs batted in and nine total bases. It’s a great sign that the former fourth-round pick is back to full health for the first time since his professional debut in 2019. (GP)
2. Troy Johnston, 1B, Marlins
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .625/.633/1.292 (15-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO.
The Scoop: An unheralded 17th-round pick out of Gonzaga in 2019, Johnston emerged as a sleeper in the Marlins system last season with his intriguing feel to hit, power potential, decent athleticism and good instincts for the game. He’s continued to showcase those traits at Double-A this season and had his best series of the year against Biloxi last week, recording multiple hits in five of the six games in the series. That included recording an extra-base hit in all but one game. Johnston is now batting .312/.378/.462 at Double-A and showing his skills translate to higher levels. In turn, he’s solidified himself as a legitimate prospect. (KG)
3. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .348/.360/.820 (8-for-23), 8 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO.
The Scoop: Alvarez had eight hits last week and five of them went for extra bases. Swing hard and good things will often happen. Alvarez has the power to make good things happen more often than most, even if he also is somewhat strikeout prone. The minors are full of promising catching prospects right now, but Alvarez ranks near the very top of that group. (JC)
4. D.J. Herz, LHP, Cubs
Team: High-A South Bend (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: It’s rather easy to label Herz the best lefty this season in the Midwest League as his 1.45 ERA is fourth on the circuit among pitchers with a minimum 30 innings, ranking just behind righthanders Joe Boyle, Gordon Graceffo and Gavin Williams. On Wednesday, Herz went six scoreless innings while allowing just a single hit, with no walks and 12 strikeouts. He sat 93-94 mph, touching 96 mph during the outing while mixing in his easy plus changeup and low-80s curveball with two-plane break. Herz is one of the Cubs top prospects and the rare lefthanded starting pitching prospect with above-average velocity and three average or better pitches. (GP)
5. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals
Team: Triple-A Rochester (International)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 5 H, 1R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: After struggling over his first seven starts of the season, Cavalli entered his May 22 start with a 7.62 ERA over 28.1 innings. Since that day, Cavalli has turned a corner, as he’s allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts, a stretch that spans 19 innings. The righthander turned in his best start of the season on Saturday, going seven innings in the front end of a doubleheader against Buffalo. He struck out 10 in the outing, walking just two batters and missing barrels in bunches. His high-octane pitch mix is led by a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and two plus breaking balls in his slider and curveball. (GP)
6. Jonathan Aranda, 2B, Rays
Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
Why He’s Here: .300/.462/.800 (6-for-20), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Aranda is one of the purest hitters in the Rays’ system. The man rakes more than northeasterners in the fall. Last week, he made like a diesel engine and found his power stroke. Against Nashville (in its first-ever series in Durham thanks to the minor league realignment), Aranda slammed three home runs, half of his season total entering the week. The Rays protected Aranda on their 40-man roster this offseason. So far, the decision is looking wise. (JN)
7. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Team: Low-A Carolina (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .440/.462/.920 (11-for-25), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: After laying waste to the Carolina League for a month, this series looked like the tallest order for Chourio, the youngest player in the full-season minor leagues. Lynchburg’s pitching staff is chock full of talented college arms, so it stood to reason that they’d carve such a greenhorn on moxie alone. As Dana Carvey’s John McLaughlin might yell: “WRONG!” Instead, Chourio, who since his last homestand has turned his stride into more of a toe-tap, thrived. He clubbed three home runs—one apiece to left, center and right field—and finished with consecutive three-hit games. After 28 games in Low-A, Chourio has as many games with three-plus hits (five) as he does with no hits. The Mudcats won two of the six games against the Hillcats, and Chourio had the go-ahead knocks both times. (JN)
8. Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.00, 12 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 17 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: Pfaadt has made just about everything look easy since the D-backs drafted him out of Division II Bellarmine (Ky.) in the fifth round in 2020. That includes pitching in the brutally tough environment of Amarillo. Pfaadt made consecutive home starts last week at launching pad Hodgetown Stadium and held Midland in check, tossing back-to-back outings of six hits and two runs allowed. He struck out eight batters in his first start and nine in his second, continuing a dominant season in the context of Amarillo. Pfaadt is now 3-3, 3.86 with 71 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 53.2 innings for the Sod Poodles. In case there was any doubt, he cemented himself as one of the D-backs’ premier pitching prospects with the performance. (KG)
9. Wilyer Abreu, OF, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi
Why He’s Here: .348/.531/.652 (8-for-23), 11 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 9 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB.
The Scoop: The Astros farm system is a lot thinner now than it was a few years ago. Multiple years of draft penalties will leave a pretty gaping hole. But the Astros have managed to consistently produce interesting well-rounded fourth outfielder types. Abreu’s well-rounded skill set may allow him to become the next of those. He shows a very patient eye at the plate and has more walks (52) than strikeouts (50) this year. Then when he reaches base, he knows how to steal a bag despite having only average speed. He’s a fringy center fielder who can play both corners, with enough arm for right field. (JC)
10. Mason Auer, OF, Rays
Team: Low-A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .407/.429/.724 (11-for-27), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO, 4 SB, 1 CS.
The Scoop: Auer was known more as a pitcher than hitter coming out of high school, but a solid season in the outfield at San Jacinto (Texas) JC convinced the Rays he was a position player going forward. He’s rewarding that faith so far. Auer is an athletic outfielder with a strong arm (as you would expect for a former pitcher). His power has yet to fully develop, but he has shown a knack of putting the barrel on the ball. He’s a speedster who knows what he’s doing on the basepaths. He’s swiped 18 bases in 20 tries and his eight triples lead the minors. (JC)
11. Shane Baz, RHP, Rays
Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.08, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: In a pair of rehab outings, Baz showed he might just be ready to add a jolt to the Tampa Bay rotation. After whiffing four in his first turn against Nashville, the 22-year-old righthander turned it up a couple notches in the series finale by striking out 10 Sounds hitters, doubling the total he’d accumulated in three prior rehab outings with the Bulls. Sunday’s outing also marked his fourth career 10-strikeout start, a career-best he set three times in 2021. (JN)
12. Enmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Twins
Team: Low-A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .583/.700/1.500 (7-for-12), 5 R, 1, 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 7 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB.
The Scoop: Rodriguez is the king of the no-contact plate appearance. In 26% of his plate appearances this year, he’s struck out. In 28% of his plate appearances, he’s walked. In his first 45 games this year, he’s had exactly one game where he didn’t walk or strike out—he did get hit by a pitch in that game. As a center fielder with on-base skills, Rodriguez is a pop-up prospect to watch. He does hit some stinging line drives already and he’s a plus runner as well. (JC)
13. Edwin Arroyo, SS, Mariners
Team: Low-A Modesto (California)
Why He’s Here: .524/.593/.619 (11-for-21), 3 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SO, 1 CS.
The Scoop: Arroyo has been one of the best stories of the California League so far. Jordan Lawlar has been the league’s standout shortstop, which was to be expected. But Arroyo has been nearly as impressive. He’s hitting a robust .320/.394/.536 and his nine home runs are fifth best in the league. (JC).
Hot Sheet Podcast: Zavier Warren, Elly De La Cruz, More
Geoff Pontes and Josh Norris talk Zavier Warren's power surge, Elly De La Cruz's wild home run and more.
14. Ceddanne Rafaela, OF, Red Sox
Team: High-A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .423/.444/.731 (11-for-26), 2 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 3-for-3 SB
The Scoop: Rafaela has quickly proven himself as one of the most electrifying players in Boston’s system. The 21-year-old spent his final series in the South Atlantic League banging the ball around Winston-Salem, including consecutive multi-hit games to close the series. He came a homer away from the cycle (which would have been his second of the year) in the series opener, too. For his efforts, the Red Sox bumped Rafaela to Double-A Portland, where he’ll get his first test at the upper levels. (JN)
15. Juan Mercedes, RHP, Mariners
Team: High-A Everett (Northwest)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 12 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: Mercedes primarily pitched in relief in recent seasons but moved into the rotation for High-A Everett this year. After struggling with consistency early, he pieced together back-to-back dominant outings last week against Eugene. Mercedes opened the series with seven no-hit innings with two walks allowed and 10 strikeouts on May 31. He followed rehabbing Mariners reliever Ken Giles on Sunday and tossed five more scoreless innings with two hits allowed, no walks and four strikeouts. With a fastball that sits at 93 mph and touches 96, a slider he commands well and a running changeup that is effective against lefties, Mercedes is establishing himself as a solid pitcher worth watching in the lower levels of the Mariners system. (KG)
16. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.42, 6.1 IP, 3H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR
The Scoop: In what has become a weekly tradition here on the Hot Sheet, Abbott turned in another standout outing on Wednesday. He tossed 6.1 innings of one-run ball, striking out nine while allowing just five baserunners to reach. He was completely even in terms of fastball and curveball usage in this one, throwing 41 fastballs and 41 curveballs. His breaking ball has continued to show its quality, generating a dozen swinging strikes during this outing, including all seven of his swinging third strikes. Abbott has been a revelation for the Reds as his Double-A record now stands at 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA after four starts. (GP)
17. Jordan Diaz, 3B, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .407/.407/.815 (11-for-27), 4 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO.
The Scoop: One of the most talented position players in the A’s system, Diaz got to spend a series at launching pad Amarillo and took advantage. He reeled off four consecutive multi-hit games, homered three times in four days and drove in seven runs to power the RockHounds offense out of the cleanup spot. Diaz is now up to .306/.352/.561 with 19 doubles, nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 46 games this year, continuing his ascent up Oakland’s system. (KG)
18. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .476/.500/.857 (10-for-21), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS
The Scoop: Henderson won’t celebrate his 21st birthday until the end of June but he has reason to celebrate early as he was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday. The standout shortstop went out in style last week, collecting a base hit in all five games he played in, including three-hit games on Tuesday and Wednesday to open the series. Henderson also had an extra-base hit in four of his five games last week. He moved to Norfolk after a standout 47 games with Double-A Bowie where he hit .312/.452/.573 with eight home runs and 12 stolen bases on 14 attempts. Most impressively, Henderson has walked more than he’s struck out, with a walk rate of 19.7% and a strikeout rate of 18.3%. One of the best positional players in the minors is just a call away from the big leagues. (GP)
19. Tommy Henry, LHP, D-backs
Team: Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.98, 13.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO, 1 HR
The Scoop: A second-round pick in 2019, Henry went straight to Double-A for his full-season debut last year and struggled. The D-backs pushed him to Triple-A this year anyway, and he’s rewarded the club’s faith in him. Henry delivered back-to-back strong starts against Tacoma last week, tossing six scoreless innings with one hit allowed and 11 strikeouts in his first outing and following with 7.2 innings, three runs allowed and five strikeouts on Sunday. Most impressively, both starts came at homer-happy Reno. Despite pitching in inhospitable conditions all year, Henry now has a 3.60 ERA in 11 starts for the Aces. (KG)
No. 20 Logan O’Hoppe, C, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .313/.450/.938 (5-for-16), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: O’Hoppe, who entered the Top 100 this week, is the rarest of the rare: a Phillies prospect who thrives away from the extremely hitter-friendly environs at Double-A Reading. This week, he found the Nutmeg State’s hospitality much to his liking. The powerful 22-year-old swatted three homers against the Yard Goats, bringing his season total to 11, just six shy of his career-best 17 from a season ago. (JN)
Helium: B.J. Murray Jr., 3B, Cubs
Team: Low-A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .529/.692/.588 (9-for-17), 9 R, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, 8 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: A 15th-round pick in 2021 out of Florida Atlantic, Murray is a native of the Bahamas. While his power production is not typical of a corner infield prospect, he shows advanced plate discipline, above-average bat-to-ball skills and a knack for well-struck line drives and enough fly balls to avoid the groundball hitter, contact-first label. He’s split time between first and third base this season, but is truly a bat-first prospect. Murray currently leads the Carolina League in on-base percentage at .464—he’s walked in 16.4% of his plate appearances. Murray is an older college hitter in Low-A, but he is producing at such an advanced level that it’s worth taking notice. (GP)