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Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (8/17/21)



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 Aug. 16. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser, Chris Hilburn-Trenkle 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.


1. Riley Greene, OF, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Northeast)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .500/.536/1.154 (13-for-26), 9 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Most evaluators considered Greene the best pure hitter in the 2019 high school draft class ahead of Bobby Witt Jr. and CJ Abrams. Some even considered him the best overall player of the three, simply because his bat projected to be so impactful that it would make up for any difference in defensive performance. So far, Greene is doing his part to live up to those lofty predictions. The Tigers No. 2 prospect extended his hitting streak to nine games with his scorching week and was promoted to Triple-A after Sunday’s game. He finished his run through the Double-A Northeast batting .298/.381/.525 with 16 home runs, 54 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 84 games and had evaluators turning him in as a future batting champion with his “beautiful” lefthanded swing, balance, feel for the barrel and control of the strike zone. Greene is now one step closer to Detroit, and along with Spencer Torkelson, gives the Tigers a potential franchise cornerstone to build around. (KG)

2. Ian Seymour, LHP, Rays
Team:
Low-A Charleston (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.00, 2 GS, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 18 SO.

The Scoop: The Rays love the funk, and when he’s on, Ian Seymour is the right kind of funky. He rocks back and forth as he waits for the sign. Then he takes a step back with his right foot, twists into an abbreviated leg kick as he rocks and fires. In addition to being unusual, it does an excellent job of helping Seymour keep the ball hidden from hitters until late in his delivery. Seymour stymied Myrtle Beach hitters in two separate starts with a 92-93 mph fastball that they often swung under and through and he also hamstrung them with a slurvy breaking ball. But more than anything, he kept them uncomfortable with a number of half swings, check swings and excuse-me swings that signify when a pitcher is an uncomfortable at-bat. Seymour threw one of the craziest five no-hit innings you will see last Tuesday. Kevin Made apparently doubled in the fourth inning, but the River Dogs appealed that Made failed to touch first base on his way to second, which was upheld, turning a double into a weird 1-3 out. (JC)

3. Joe Perez, 3B, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Central)
Age: 22

Why He's Here: .393/.393/.857 (11-for-28), 6 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: A second-round pick out of high school in 2017, Perez didn't do much to distinguish himself early in his pro career, hitting just .188/.246/.365 in 195 plate appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2019. It's been a different story this year for Perez, who has climbed three levels to get to Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting a combined .293/.353/.516 in 346 plate appearances. (BB)

4. Rylan Bannon, 2B, Orioles
Team:
Triple-A Norfolk (East)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .500/.632/1.643 (7-for-14), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Coming into the season it looked like it might not be long before Bannon made his major league debut thanks to his defensive versatility and decent thump in his bat. But Bannon struggled to a .175 average in May, landed on the injured list with a left oblique strain on May 28 and missed a month of play. He then hit below .100 in July, but he’s looked like a different player over the last week, including a scorching four-game stretch. He collected seven hits in 11 at-bats, including two multi-homer games, and drove in nine runs as he looks to get back on track and earn a September promotion. (CHT)

5. Seth Romero, LHP, Nationals
Team:
Double-A Harrisburg (Northeast)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.00, 9 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Romero, who dealt with off-field issues and had Tommy John surgery in 2018, had never appeared above Low-A before making three relief appearances with the Nationals in 2020. He’s struggled in his first stint in the upper minors this season, but he just had his best week to date. In an Aug. 10 start against New Hampshire Romero pitched a season-high five innings, striking out nine, walking one and allowing two hits. Five days later he struck out six over four innings of two-run ball against the Fisher Cats, giving the 2017 first-rounder a pair of encouraging performances for him to build on down the stretch. (CHT)

6. Nelson Velazquez, OF, Cubs
Team: Double-A Tennessee (South)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .421/.450/1.158 (8-for-19), 6 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 0 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Velazquez made a swing adjustment this season to flatten his bat path and keep his barrel in the zone longer. The result has been a hitter who better handles fastballs, destroys mistakes and uses the whole field more than in previous years. Velazquez received a promotion to Double-A on Aug. 4 and has crushed the ball since he arrived, with four doubles, a triple and five home runs in 11 games with Tennessee. That includes a 4-for-4 game with a double and two homers against Rocket City last week and four consecutive games driving in at least one run. Though Velazquez remains an aggressive hitter prone to striking out, his swing improvements now allow him to make enough contact to project as a major leaguer—and possibly even a regular—in the eyes of both the Cubs and opposing evaluators. (KG)

7. Joey Wiemer, OF, Brewers
Team: High-A Wisconsin (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .429/.500/1.048 (9-for-21), 9 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Wiemer is a big man, with a big swing who can positively detonate baseballs when he makes contact. Lately, he’s been doing that … a lot. He closed his time with Low-A Carolina with a walk-off home run, just days after re-enacting a scene from “The Natural” (or paying homage to Eloy Jimenez) by knocking out a bulb in a light standard. Wiemer continued that hot spell after moving to High-A, where he clubbed four home runs in his first six games. To put that in perspective, he hit four home runs in all of July with the Mudcats. (JN)

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

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.00, 1 GS, 1 CG, 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 14 SO.

The Scoop: The Braves scouting and the pitching development that follows it have been noteworthy, as the Braves are turning later-round picks into interesting arms. Estes is one of the most notable examples, as he looks like the best pick of the 16th round of the 2019 draft. Estes blew away Kannapolis’ lineup with a mid-90s fastball and a tight low-80s breaking ball that he could front and back door. Estes’ fastball had carry and run depending on where he located it, and as impressively, he carried it through all 106 pitches and nine innings—he struck out six in a row in the seventh and eighth innings. (JC)

9. Luis Matos, OF, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (West)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .407/.448/.778 (11-for-27), 7 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: In his first full (official) year as a pro, Matos has showcased a rare combination of contact and results. His .327 average currently stands at fourth in the Low-A West, and his 111 hits overall are second only to Padres prospect Euribiel Angeles. He’s gotten better in each month of the season, and has seen corresponding improvements in each of the three triple-slash categories. In May, Matos finished with a line of .286/.309/.429. Two months later, in July, he hit .358/.378/.566. Halfway through August, those numbers are even better. (JN)

10. Jose Miranda, 3B, Twins
Team: Triple-A St. Paul (East)
Age: 23

Why He's Here: .462/.517/.808 (12-for-26), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: The breakout season continued for Miranda, who torched through the Double-A Central and hasn't slowed down since his promotion to Triple-A. He's hitting a combined .346/.409/.602 in 411 plate appearances, striking out just 13% of the time while hitting 24 home runs. It's an impressive combination of contact and power, with nearly as many extra-base hits (46) as strikeouts (54). (BB)

11. Kyle Bradish, RHP, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (East)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Bradish impressed at the alternate training site in 2020 and didn’t allow a run through three Double-A starts in 2021 before a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. He’s struggled to throw strikes with Norfolk, but that wasn’t an issue for him in two appearances this week. Against Memphis on Sunday, Bradish struck out seven and walked one over five scoreless innings of two-hit ball, his most impressive performance in 13 Triple-A starts. In 12 innings this month, he’s struck out 17 and walked six, four of which came in one start. Bradish attacks hitters from a high arm slot using a high-spin mid-90s fastball and two above-average or better secondaries, but he’ll need to throw strikes more consistently to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. (CHT)

12. Everson Pereira, OF, Yankees
Team: High-A Hudson Valley (East)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .375/.464/.875 (9-for-24), 8 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Pereira is one of a host of high-upside, lower-level prospects for whom the lost 2020 season was devastating. That was especially true considering his 2019 season was limited by injury to just 18 games. This year, he’s quickly made up for lost time. After starting in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League, Pereira has already advanced to High-A. He’s also shown plenty of power, albeit in a small sample. He’s one of 15 players in the Yankees system to have hit 11 or more home runs (though three of those players—Ezequiel Duran, Diego Castillo and Hoy Park—have since been traded) and the only one to do it in fewer than 200 at-bats. Expanding the sample to the entire minor leagues, Pereira is one of five players to have accomplished that feat. (JN)

13. Brayan Rocchio, SS, Indians
Team: Double-A Akron (East)
Age: 20

Why He's Here: .360/.448/.840 (9-for-25), 6 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Rocchio didn't get off to a great start, understandable for a player who was home in Venezuela last year and didn't go to the alternate training site or instructional league. Now he's showing why he's one of the brightest prospects in the Indians system, both in terms of his talent and baseball IQ. Since his recent promotion to Double-A, Rocchio is hitting .255/.369/.897 through 14 games. (BB)

14. Edward Cabrera, RHP, Marlins
Team: Triple-A Jacksonville (East)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Cabrera’s loud stuff remains intact, headlined by a plus-plus fastball that sits in the upper 90s, but his scattered fastball command and overreliance on his secondaries have left evaluators largely underwhelmed this year despite solid numbers. At the same time, Cabrera’s secondaries have been so good, he may be able to make it work. Cabrera primarily pitched off his slider—throwing it 42 times compared to 33 fastballs—and dominated Triple-A Charlotte in his last start. He didn’t allow a hit after the third inning and struck out eight of the final 10 batters he faced to tie his season high with 12 strikeouts. Cabrera mostly dominated with his slider, but he did throw his fastball for a strike 70% of the time in the outing, compared to barely 50% of the time in his previous Triple-A starts. If he can maintain that improved fastball command, it will go a long way toward convincing skeptical observers he can start at the next level. (KG)

15. Miguel Vargas, 3B, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Central)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .440/.462/.840 (11-for-25), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: With Keibert Ruiz traded and Michael Busch scuffling, Vargas has a compelling case as the best pure hitter in the Dodgers system. The young Cuban extended his hitting streak to seven games last week and has hit .308/.387/.524 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs in 53 games since being promoted to Double-A. Now that he’s begun to turn on balls and show pull-side power, in addition to his long-standing ability to drive balls the other way, there are few—if any—holes in Vargas’ offensive game to point to. (KG)

16. Ryne Nelson, RHP, D-backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Central)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: In 2019, Nelson gave D-backs fans a taste of what was to come. This year, he’s given them a great entree. His 124 strikeouts are tied with new rotation-mate Brandon Pfaadt for sixth in the minors, and his 13.89 strikeouts per nine innings ranks No. 22. His twelve strikeouts in his last start represented a new career high, besting the 11 hitters he whiffed just three starts prior. (JN)

17. Spencer Torkelson, 3B/1B, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Northeast)
Age: 21

Why He's Here: .429/.429/.905 (9-for-21), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: It's hard to top the day Torkelson had on Aug. 12, when he went 7-for-7 with three home runs in a doubleheader. The No. 4 prospect in baseball, Torkelson earned a promotion to Triple-A after hitting .263/.373/.560 with 14 home runs, 30 walks and 50 strikeouts in 212 plate appearances with Double-A Erie, showing why he's one of the most dangerous hitters in the minors with an outstanding package of hitting ability, strike-zone judgment and power. (BB)

18. Cristian Pache, OF, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (East)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .412/.444/.882 (7-for-17), 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: It’s going to take quite a month and a half of sustained production for Pache to salvage his 2021 season statistically. He dug himself quite a large hole in May, June and July, but lately, he has started to turn things around with a .359/.419/.692 first half of August. Pache struggled against pitchers who came in on his hands, but this month, he’s gotten to extend his arms more often. If pitchers try to work up in the zone or on the outer third, he’s happy, and he’s been happy a lot lately. (JC)

19. Daniel Espino, RHP, Indians
Team: High-A Lake County (Central)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.80, 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1B, 11 SO

The Scoop: An impressive start to the season saw Espino jump from No. 9 on the Indians preseason Top 30 Prospects list to No. 3 in the Midseason Update, as he struck out 13.5 batters per nine innings and posted a 3.38 ERA in 10 starts at Low-A Lynchburg. He’s struggled since arriving at High-A Lake County, giving up five home runs in 23 innings, but on Saturday against West Michigan he allowed one run on one hit over five innings while striking out 11, his third consecutive double-digit strikeout outing. Led by a fastball that has touched 101 mph and a plus slider, Espino has an impressive arsenal, but he could require some patience as he continues to experience growing pains as one of the younger players in the High-A Central. (CHT)

20. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals
Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Northeast)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: For the seventh time in 16 starts this year, Cavalli didn’t give up an earned run. It’s perhaps equally notable that the Nationals have put Cavalli on a relatively long leash when it comes to workload. He was able to get through seven innings on 88 pitches this time, but he’s thrown more than 90 pitches 11 times this year (but never more than 103). If the Nationals deem Cavalli ready to help the MLB club in 2022, his workload this year (he’s at 89 innings so far with a month of the season left to go) shouldn’t be a big hindrance. (JC)

HELIUM

Jorbit Vivas, 2B, Dodgers
Age: 20

Vivas has impressed with his advanced feel for the strike zone and knack for contact since he signed with the Dodgers for $300,000 out of Venezuela in 2017. Now that he’s gotten stronger and started hitting for power, he’s rising quickly as one of the top young hitters in a deep Dodgers system. Vivas hit two more home runs last week and is now batting .318/.391/.534 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs in 78 games this year for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. Though he isn’t particularly big, he’s grown from 145 pounds when he signed to 171 pounds this year and just keeps getting stronger. Vivas uses his hands well in his swing, manipulates the barrel to all parts of the zone and is a tough out who competes hard in the box. He has a long track record of performing in games and is extending that track record, loudly, in his first full professional season.

Bobby Witt Scottgraugetty

Baseball America Prospect Report — September 10, 2021

Royals prospects Bobby Witt Jr., M.J. Melendez headline Friday's prospect report.

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