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Hot Sheet: Baseball's 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (8/23/22)



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. 22. 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. Hunter Goodman, C, Rockies
Team: High-A Spokane (Northwest)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .357/.357/1.000 (10-for-28), 3 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 0 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: Goodman is steadily becoming more of a first baseman who catches sometimes rather than a catcher who slides over to first to rest his legs some days. He’s played 68 games at first so far this year and he’s caught 44 games. But if he hits like this, who cares? Goodman is currently working on a five-game home run streak and now has 30 home runs overall. Goodman is also a good athlete for a catcher. (JC)

2. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Painter’s season has been nothing short of remarkable. In fact, it’s gone well past remarkable, shot past outstanding, put incredible in the rear-view mirror and is rapidly approaching unbelievable. At this time last year, Painter had been a professional for just more than a month. In the months prior, the righthander had closed his senior season of high school and then been selected with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Now he’s in Double-A, where he put forth a sparkling debut that extended his scoreless innings streak to 26. Simply by throwing a pitch in Double-A in his first full pro season, Painter joined a very exclusive club of high school pitchers. Since 1997, just six high school first-round arms have reached Double-A in their first full seasons as pros: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Dylan Bundy, Forrest Whitley and Painter. Does joining that group guarantee big things for Painter? No. Is it a really great indicator? Absolutely. (JN)

3. Shane Sasaki, OF, Rays
Team: Low-A Charleston (Carolina)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .444/.500/.926 (12-for-27), 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 4 SB, 2 CS.

The Scoop: Sasaki’s second half of the season just keeps getting better and better. After flirting with hitting .300 for the first half of the season, Sasaki now is the Carolina League’s batting leader and more surprisingly he’s also third in the league with a .478 slugging percentage. It may be time for Sasaki to get a promotion so he can get a stronger test. He’s posted a 1.170 OPS this month with 17 extra-base hits in 18 games. (JC)

4. Mark Vientos, 3B, Mets
Team: Triple-A Syracuse (International) 
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .448/.467/.828 (13-for-29), 9 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: The Mets 2017 second-rounder is still just 22 years old and is enjoying his second highly productive season in the upper minors. After a down April where Vientos hit just .164/.257/.311, he turned it on in May and has hit .318/.389/.598 with 21 home runs over 68 games since May 1. August has been his strongest month to date, and last week’s performance is a big reason why. Vientos had a hit in every game of last week’s series and multi-hit games in four of his six games in the hitter-friendly confines of Charlotte. Vientos’ game is centered around his power, so it’s no shock that he had extra-base hits in four of six games and home runs in three out of six. Hitting the ball hard all week resulted in good production for Vientos as he put 11 balls into play at 100-plus mph against Charlotte. While Vientos is behind Brett Baty on the Mets organizational depth chart, he’s likely capable of contributing at the major league level right now. (GP)

5. Matthew Lugo, SS, Red Sox
Team: High-A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .381/.435/1.048 (8-for-21), 9 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: A 2019 second-round pick out of Puerto Rico, Lugo has enjoyed his best season as a professional in 2022, hitting .273/.328/.504 and slugging .500 or better in every month of the season with the exception of July. The power breakout for Lugo has been the biggest development year over year for the infielder and this held true last week. On Friday and Saturday Lugo had consecutive two-home run games, going 7-for-10 with 10 RBIs, seven runs and a double to go along with the four home runs. This explosive pair of games accounted for a majority of Lugo’s production on the week and pushed his August line to .303/.370/.636 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. (GP)

6. Dalton Rushing, C, Dodgers
Team: Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .476/.500/1.048 (10-for-21), 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: It’s hard to make a better first impression than the one Rushing is making. The Dodgers top pick in the 2022 draft is batting .420 with five home runs, 15 RBIs and as many walks as strikeouts (10) in his first 13 games since being assigned to Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, earning rave reviews from scouts and opposing managers alike. All three of Rushing’s home runs last week cleared 400 feet, showcasing his plus power, exceptional strike-zone discipline and impactful lefthanded swing. Combined with the surprising speed he’s shown on the basepaths and the elite makeup he’s demonstrated working with his pitchers, there is already a strong sense Rushing fell 10-20 spots too far in the draft and that the Dodgers got a steal at No. 40. (KG)

7. Bryan Woo, RHP, Mariners
Team: High-A Everett (Northwest)
Age: 22

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

The Scoop: Woo was one of the fastest risers in the 2021 draft before he suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but the Mariners still took him in the sixth round knowing he’d need to rehab. Woo is making that decision look prescient. He’s already jumped two levels to High-A since returning and owns a 2.18 ERA in 13 starts. He overwhelmed Vancouver in his latest outing, using a running mid-90s fastball and a short, swing-and-miss slider to set a new career high for both innings pitched and strikeouts. (KG)

8. Gabriel Moreno, C, Blue Jays
Team: Triple-A Buffalo (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .588/.632/.647 (10-for-17), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Though he has not shown nearly the same power as he did in his breakout 2021 season, Moreno has been one of the purest hitters in the minor leagues this season. He has 17 multi-hit games—including a quartet of four-hit games—and is currently riding a streak of five games in a row with two or more hits. He had only one extra-base hit this week, but it was memorable. On Aug. 17, Moreno lined a ball so hard that it got stuck in the left-field wall at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field. After they’d initially called it a home run, the umpires got together and awarded Moreno an automatic double. (JN)

9. Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers
Team: Triple-A Nashville (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .579/.619/.684 (11-for-19), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Frelick, the Brewers’ first-round pick from 2021 out of Boston College, has already been promoted twice this season and has quickly found the International League to his liking. The 22-year-old is a contact machine who has already racked up 10 multi-hit games in his first 17 games with Triple-A. That figure includes a string of five straight to close the most recent series. The stretch started with a four-hit game on Aug. 17 and continued with nine hits in his next 15 at-bats. Combine his proclivity for contact with excellent defense in center field, and you’ve got an excellent prospect. (JN)

10. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .429/.455/.952 (9-for-21), 3 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: When Jung is on the field, he produces. He missed most of this season recovering from springtime shoulder surgery, but returned to play on July 28 and reached Triple-A once he’d completed his rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League. He’s hit in every game with Triple-A Round Rock, and his only two hitless games all season came early in his ACL stint. Jung’s power has started to show up, too. Jung slammed three home runs this past series—including a two-homer day on Aug. 16—and has already notched eight home runs in 66 at-bats between both of his minor league stops. Even with a few sizable pauses mixed in, Jung looks like a key piece of Texas’ big league rebuild. (JN)

11. Gavin Cross, OF, Royals
Team: Low-A Columbia (Carolina)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .318/.444/.909 (7-for-22), 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: Cross ranked 10th on the Baseball America Top 500 draft rankings this year, which makes him the highest-ranked player on that board who isn’t currently on the Top 100 Prospects list. If Cross’ pre-draft pedigree may have had him on the cusp of a Top 100 spot, his post-draft performance is helping as well. Cross has shown excellent power so far while the contact improvements he made this year at Virginia Tech have carried over as well. (JC)

12. Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
Team: Double-A Richmond (Eastern)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After a string of shorter outings after returning from the Futures Game, Harrison is stretched out once more and looks to be hitting his stride as his Flying Squirrels approach the Eastern League playoffs. His most recent outing was his fourth this season of six or more innings. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was also his fourth with double-digit strikeouts. Between High-A and Double-A, Harrison has struck out 153 hitters in 92.1 innings, good for third in the minor leagues behind Royber Salinas and Brandon Pfaadt. (JN)

13. Michael Toglia, 1B, Rockies
Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .407/.448/.815 (11-for-27), 2 R, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 9 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Toglia has had arguably one of the more underrated seasons in the minor leagues in 2022. He connected for his 25th and 26th home run of the season last week and is hitting .327/.377/.633 across a dozen games with Triple-A Albuquerque. Last week was his best week at the Triple-A level to date as he connected for an extra-base hit in five out of six games at Tacoma. Toglia had hits in all six games and reached base 13 times in the series. He put seven balls into play at 100-plus mph including a 109.8 mph single off of Justus Sheffield on Thursday. Toglia has some swing and miss, but he has above-average chase rates and easy plus game power that should play at the major league level. (GP)

14. Eddy Diaz, 2B, Rockies
Team: High-A Spokane (Northwest)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .684/.650/.947 (13-for-19), 6 R, 5 2B, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Diaz has long been lauded for his defense at second base and speed on the basepaths. Now, his bat is starting to come around. The 22-year-old Cuban had multiple hits in four of five games against Tri-City last week, including tying his career high with four hits in the series finale on Sunday. Overall, Diaz is now hitting .363 since July began, a sign of the positive—and needed—steps forward he’s taking at the plate. (KG)

15. Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .476/.538/.905 (10-for-21), 3 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: I’d say we’ve run out of superlatives for De La Cruz, but that happened weeks ago. Now, it’s about reinforcing just how superlative the Reds’ top prospect has been since thawing out from the early-season chill of the Midwest League. Since May 1, the 20-year-old has hit .318/.376/.645 with 23 doubles, six triples and 24 home runs. With 241 total bases this season, De La Cruz is second in the minors, behind only fellow Hot Sheeter Hunter Goodman. Whether it’s turning triples into homers through guile and speed or simply blasting baseballs nearly 500 feet, De La Cruz has made every at-bat this season a must-watch. (JN)

16. David Villar, 3B, Giants
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .391/.462/.913 (9-for-23), 4 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO.

The Scoop: He’s gotten a 23-game stint in the majors this year where he struggled to hit, so it’s hard to know if Villar will get another shot with the big league club anytime soon. But his Triple-A season is good enough to deserve another look. Villar hits the ball extremely hard, doesn’t expand the strike zone too much and draws walks. His 27 home runs are second-best in the PCL and his .644 slugging percentage also leads the league. (JC)

Royals

Kansas City Royals 2022 MLB Draft Report Card

Revisiting the Royals 2022 MLB draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.

17. Mason Auer, OF, Rays
Team: High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic) 
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .381/.480/.857 (8-for-21), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: The 2021 fifth-rounder out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC has enjoyed a strong first full season of professional baseball across both levels of Class A. Auer is hitting .287/.364/.481 with 13 home runs and 42 stolen bases this season. His combination of average bat-to-ball and on-base ability, above-average raw power and twitch have made him one of the more intriguing athletes in the Rays system. Last week he flashed the range of his skills that has brought him success this season as he hit five extra-base hits, stole three bases and got on base 11 times over five games against Greenville. Auer had three consecutive multi-hit games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and put eight balls into play during the series at 95-plus mph. (GP)

18. Jackson Rutledge, RHP, Nationals
Team: Low-A Fredericksburg (Carolina)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: The 6-foot-8 righthander out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC had one of the best starts of his professional career last Wednesday, going seven scoreless innings with three hits allowed, two walks and 10 strikeouts. He sat 93-94 mph, peaking at 95 mph during this start, mixing his slider at 83-85 mph and his changeup at 86-87 equally throughout. He had 16 swinging strikes during this start—11 against his fastball, four against his slider and one against his changeup. Over the last month Rutledge has started to show his upside once again, as he’s tightened up the execution of his three-pitch mix. (GP)

19. Jud Fabian, OF, Orioles
Team: Low-A Delmarva (Carolina)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .429/.538/.857 (9-for-21), 8 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO.

The Scoop: The Orioles wanted to draft Fabian in 2021, but the Red Sox picked their pocket by selecting him a pick before the Orioles in the second round. Fabian didn’t sign, returned to Florida and a year later, the Orioles landed him. His first week of pro ball has gone about as well as it could have. Yes, he’s hit for average and doubles power. But most importantly, he’s not striking out, which was his Achilles heel at Florida. (JC)

20. Harry Ford, C, Mariners
Team: Low-A Modesto (California)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .400/.613/.900 (8-for-20), 11 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 BB, 7 SO, 5-for-6 SB

The Scoop: Ford’s early-season struggles are quickly fading into the rear view. The Mariners 2021 first-round pick showed off his power-speed combination with six extra-base hits and five stolen bases in six games against Rancho Cucamonga last week, continuing a red-hot summer surge. Ford is now batting .303/.453/.507 since the start of June, a .960 OPS that ranks seventh in the Cal League in that time. (KG)

Helium

Miguel Ullola, RHP, Astros

In recent years, the Astros have done an excellent job turning low-dollar international signees into excellent big leaguers. Ulolla might be the next in line. The 20-year-old righthander has used a full four-pitch complement to whiff 90 hitters in 56.2 innings this season at Low-A in his first test at full-season ball. His primary offerings are a lively low-90s fastball with excellent analytical characteristics and a sweeping slider/cutter hybrid in the high 80s, but he has a changeup and curveball as well. He’s been working lately to tweak the break on his slider and add more rhythm and fluidity to his delivery. Improving the latter will help Ulolla show better control and command, which will be the biggest overall step toward determining whether he can reach and thrive at the highest level. (JN)

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