Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (8/2/22)

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 Aug. 1. 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.

1. Blake Walston, LHP, D-Backs
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 10 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 18 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: It’s been a bumpy ride for Walston thus far over his first few months at Double-A. Coming out of the break Walston made arguably his two best starts to date with Amarillo. Walston’s two starts were eerily similar statistically speaking, as the lefty went five innings, allowed just a single run, with a dozen swinging strikes and 16 looking strikes in each of his two starts. He struck out eight in his July 23 start and 10 in his July 29 start, with the latter being his highest single-game strikeout total since his promotion to Double-A. Over the two starts Walston showed all four pitches in two-strike counts and recorded a swinging third strike against all of his offerings. Walston is still learning to pitch against upper-level hitting and has to do it in one of the toughest home environments in minor league baseball. His last two starts were a step in the right direction. (GP)

2. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .478/.520/1.130 (11-for-23), 3 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: There’s an old baseball adage that speed doesn’t slump. The logic being that a true speedster could turn enough ground balls into hits, so that they’d never have a lengthy stretch of 0-fors. There are some very speedy players who have proven over the years that the adage isn’t necessarily true—Billy Hamilton is very fast, but he also struggled with slumps. Manzardo is also proving the adage untrue, because he’s not fast at all, but he doesn’t seem to slump. Manzardo has yet to go hitless three games in a row at any point in his pro career, and he’s hit over .300 in five of the six months he’s played in pro ball. The only outlier was a month where he hit .291/.418/.494. Speed may slump, but Kyle Manzardo doesn’t. (JC)

3. Justin Dirden, OF, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas) 
Age: 25 

Why He’s Here: .500/.595/.900 (15-for-30), 9 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO 

The Scoop: Dirden has had a big pair of series the last few weeks buoyed by four games with three or more hits. Dirden hit a home run in each series, including on Saturday and Sunday to close the series at Amarillo. Overall on the year Dirden is hitting .323/.409/.601 with 18 home runs and has split time between all three outfield positions. A 2020 nondrafted free agent, Dirden has been one of the most successful players from that class of NDFAs. (GP)

4. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .444/.487/.833 (16-for-36), 5 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Mets’ No. 2 overall prospect has turned it on as the summer temperatures have heated up. Since June 1, the 22-year-old is slashing .346/.432/.605 with nine doubles, 13 home runs and 39 RBIs. All three of those numbers are the best in the Eastern League during that time period. (JN)

5. Joey Ortiz, SS, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .500/.548/.921 (19-for-38), 11 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: Ortiz seemed on the glidepath to a pretty disappointing season. After ending 2021 at Bowie, Ortiz returned there to begin the 2022 season. As of June 30, he was hitting .206/.271/.325, seemingly worse in his return to the Eastern League than he was to finish off 2021. But Ortiz has effectively turned his season around with an excellent month. Ortiz hit .404/.438/.674 with 13 extra-base hits in July, raising his slash line to .258/.314/.416 in one excellent month. (JC)

6. Brainer Bonaci, 2B, Red Sox 
Team: Low-A Salem (Carolina) 
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .467/.528/.933 (14-for-30), 5 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Coming out of the break Bonaci’s second half got off to an excellent start. The infielder had three hits in three of his first five games and at least one hit in all of the six games following the break. His standout game came last Tuesday at Fredericksburg as Bonaci went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs. The first of his hits came off the bat at 100 mph against a 94 mph fastball from Nationals prospect Andry Lara. Bonaci’s raw power is really beginning to show in games as he slugged .581 over 23 games in July, and hit 11 balls into play at 95-plus mph over the last eight games. He’s a well-balanced hitter with above-average bat-to-ball skills, a discerning eye at the plate and improving game power. (GP)


7. Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox
Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .393/.485/.929 (11-for-28), 10 R, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Colas impressed at the Futures Game with a single and a diving catch and has carried that momentum back with him to Birmingtham. Colas has hit five home runs in eight games since returning from Los Angeles, including a pair of two-homer games. He’s now batting .323/.384/.523 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in his first season stateside and is looking more and more like the White Sox’s next Cuban success. (KG)

8. Addison Barger, SS, Blue Jays 
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .455/.514/.939 (15-for-33), 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 8 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Promoted to Double-A New Hampshire the week prior to the break, Barger has enjoyed his first two weeks in Double-A, hitting .455/.516/.745 with four home runs over his first 15 games. A majority of that production has come in the nine games following the break as Barger hit a home run in four of his first six games following the break in the calendar. Over the course of that nine-game stretch Barger put eight balls in play at 100-plus mph off the bat including three of his four home runs. An improvement to Barger’s bat-to-ball ability has paid dividends this season as he’s been more consistently able to get to his power. Barger is still an aggressive hitter by nature who looks to barrel up and put the ball in play. (GP)

9. Gabe Bierman, RHP, Marlins
Team: Low-A Jupiter (Florida State)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.71, 12.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 15 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: A seventh-round pick out of Indiana last year, Bierman has had an up-and-down first full season but turned in a pair of dominant outings to close out July. He pitched 5.2 innings with four hits and one run allowed, no walks and seven strikeouts against St. Lucie and followed that up with an even sharper performance, pitching seven innings with just three hits and one unearned run, one walk and seven strikeouts in a win over Daytona. In all, Bierman posted a 2.96 ERA in July to make a compelling case for a promotion. (KG)

10. Carson Seymour, RHP, Mets
Team: High-A Brooklyn (South Atlantic)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.00, 12 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 19 SO, 3 HR

The Scoop: The Mets selected the 6-foot-6 righthander in the sixth round last year and so far Seymour has performed while flashing powerful stuff with more advanced strike-throwing than he showed as an amateur. After impressing in Low-A over the first month of the season Seymour was promoted to HIgh-A, where he continued to see encouraging results. In his two post-break starts for the Cyclones, Seymour struck out 19 batters over 12 innings, while generating 26 swinging strikes. Seymour went six innings on July 22, allowing three hits, all solo home runs, while striking out 10 and not walking a batter. On July 28 Seymour kept the ball in the ballpark en route to six innings of one-run ball on four hits, three walks and nine strikeouts. Seymour mixes a fastball at 93-95 mph with four-seam and sinker variations, an upper-80s slider, a downer curveball in the low 80s and a changeup he’s shown feel for. It’s a deep pitch mix of average to above-average pitches. (GP)

11. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .364/.432/.697 (12-for-33), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Henderson has run his current hit streak to 12 games, a streak made even more impressive by the fact it was interrupted by the Futures Game. Henderson has reached base 16 times in 37 plate appearances since returning from Los Angeles, continuing his push for BA’s Minor League Player of the Year Award and a callup to Baltimore. (KG)

12. Colton Cowser, OF, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .400/.525/.733 (12-for-30), 12 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 7 BB, 9 SO.

The Scoop: Cowser’s 2022 season has found another gear since he was promoted to Bowie. In his first two months at Aberdeen, Cowser was having a perfectly solid season. He was drawing walks, getting on base and swiping bases. Since arriving in Bowie, he’s managed to cut his strikeout rate from 28% to 21% while hitting for massively more power. Cowser had 12 extra-base hits in July with six home runs. He had seven home runs in the first three months of the season. (JC)


13. Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .300/.361/.867 (9-for-30), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: This year has been extremely boom or bust for Martinez. This Hot Sheet period featured a whole lot of booms. In July, for example, Martinez had 14 hits. Seven of them were home runs. His outburst last week pushed him into the Eastern League lead with 24 home runs, one in front of Richmond’s Sean Roby. Martinez is one of the youngest players in the league and has plenty to improve upon, but he’s shown his raw power plays in the upper minors. (JN)

14. Darius Vines, RHP, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: Thrice drafted, Vines was finally plucked by the Braves in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. Despite producing solid numbers over his last couple of seasons Vines has slid under the radar. His early season struggles certainly didn’t help as Vines entered his start on June 19 with a 6.02 ERA on the season. In the seven starts since that date Vines has an ERA of 1.51 with 45 strikeouts to 11 walks over 41.2 innings. He’s showing starter qualities as well, going six or more innings in five of those seven starts while walking three batters or fewer in each. Two of his best starts over this stretch came following the all-star break as Vines went six scoreless on July 23, striking out 10 while walking one and allowing just a single hit. On July 29 Vines again went six innings, allowing a single earned run on six hits while striking out four and not walking a batter. Vines primarily works off of a three-pitch mix of a low-90s fastball with above-average hop, a tight low-80s slider and a changeup, but will occasionally mix in a slow curveball with depth. (GP)

15. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Team: High-A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Age: 18

Why He’s Here: .351/.390/.595 (13-for-37), 8 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: After concluding his time in the Carolina League with a weekend set against Down East, Chourio earned a promotion to High-A Wisconsin. Instantly, he became the youngest player in the entire classification. In his first series, he proved he belonged. Chourio collected two hits in his opening game, then notched his first High-A home run in Saturday’s game. The blast was to dead center, leaving the bat at 100 mph and traveling more than 400 feet. In all, Chourio went 8-for-24 in his first six games after his promotion, putting another exclamation point on one of the loudest seasons in the minors. (JN)

16. Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals
Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .314/.375/.743 (11-for-35), 10 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Earlier this season, one scout noted that despite absurd exit velocities, Walker hadn’t quite yet tapped into all of his power. Since the minor league all-star break concluded, he’s begun to make that change. He’s swatted four home runs since then, which was half the total he’d produced in the previous 72 games. Perhaps even more impressive, those four home runs came in Walker’s second and third multi-homer games of the season, on July 29 and 31. (JN)

17. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B, Guardians
Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .459/.545/.622 (17-for-37), 8 R, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Trying to figure out how the Guardians are going to find room for all of their sweet-swinging middle infielders is a nearly impossible task. They have Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, a pair of relatively young infielders, established at the big league level. Gabriel Arias and Ernie Clement are knocking on the door. Jose Tena, Brayan Rocchio and Angel Martinez aren’t far away either. And then there’s Freeman. He’s not a slugger, but he makes bushels of contact while capably handling second base and possibly shortstop. In another organization, a hitter of his caliber in Triple-A would be seen as just a call away from the big leagues. With Cleveland, he’s one of many fighting for just a few jobs. (JC)

18. Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
Team: Double-A Richmond (Eastern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: When everything syncs up in his delivery, Harrison’s stuff is among the nastiest in the minor leagues. When it doesn’t, his stuff is still pretty darn nasty, but it’s not always near the strike zone. He works primarily with a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and changeup and gets plenty of deception in his delivery thanks to a funky arm action and a low approach angle generated by how deep he sinks on the mound when he releases the ball. Harrison’s results in High-A were excellent and earned him both a berth in the Futures Game and an early bump to Double-A. Since the move up, he’s performed well but found upper-level hitters a bit more selective than the ones he faced at High-A. He’s walking 4.84 hitters per nine innings at Richmond but still whiffing nearly 14 hitters per nine. (JN)

19. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
Team: High-A Lansing (Midwest)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .324/.385/.706 (11-for-34), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: One bad month can go a long way toward obscuring a good season. In April, Soderstrom was frigid. The 20-year-old produced an OPS of just .549. From May 1 on, he’s slashed .283/.344/.559 with 15 doubles and 18 home runs. In that time, there are just two catchers in the minor leagues with more homers—Jakson Reetz (Brewers) and Hunter Goodman (Rockies). There are still questions about his defense and he has a significant platoon split, but Soderstrom has unquestionably been much better since the calendar hit May. (JN)

20. Aaron Zavala, OF, Rangers
Team: High-A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .344/.500/.594 (11-for-32), 14 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 9 BB, 9 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Aaron Zavala just gets on base. It’s what he does. His worst on-base percentage for any month this season was .378. That figure came in April, when he hit just .177 and slugged just .274. He had more walks (19) than hits (11) or strikeouts (15) that month. Since then, he’s put the bat on the ball more often while still maintaining the same command of the strike zone. From May 1 on, Zavala is hitting .304/.437/.485 and has hit 10 home runs. He earned a promotion to Double-A in recent days and will now be challenged to improve upon a severe platoon split that has seen him produce an OPS of just .525 against lefties. (JN)


Miguel Ullola, RHP, Astros
Team: Low-A Fayetteville (Carolina)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The 6-foot-1 Ullola was signed out of the Dominican Republic in January of 2021, and has been one of the best kept secrets in the Astros farm system. The righthander sits 93-95 mph on his fastball, touching 98 mph at peak with a flat vertical approach angle and plus vertical break. In fact Ulloa’s combination of velocity, shape and release traits is rare. His average fastball velocity of 93.6 mph, induced vertical break average of 19-plus inches and a vertical approach angle average of 4.3 degrees is a rare combination even among the best major league fastballs. Ullola pairs that with a mid-to-high-80s slider with cutter-hybrid type shape and two less used offerings in a low-80s curveball and a firm changeup. Ullola shoved across his two four-inning turns showing command of the zone with dominant bat-missing stuff, generating 25 swinging strikes across the two appearances. (GP)


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