Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 20 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (8/3/21)

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. 3. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, 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. Liover Peguero, SS, Pirates
Team: High-A Greensboro (East)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .423/.464/1.038 (11-for-26), 9 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Peguero has run hot and cold this season, and he was scalding this past week in a series against rival Winston-Salem. At his best, Peguero is an electric, twitchy bundle of talent who can make highlight plays on both sides of the ball. His five home runs this week are nearly half of his season total and included his second multi-homer game of the year. He and double play partner Nick Gonzales are both Top 100 prospects and stand at the top of an enviable collection of middle-diamond talent in a replenished Pittsburgh system. (JN)

2. Nick Loftin, SS, Royals
High-A Quad Cities (Central)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .522/.560/1.087 (12-for-23) 8 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: An argument can be constructed that Loftin’s game on Sunday was the most thrilling performance we have seen this year. Loftin stepped to the plate in the ninth inning on Sunday needing a home run to hit for the cycle—he’d already gotten four hits with two doubles. Loftin knew that if he got the cycle, he’d also win the game for the River Bandits. And that’s exactly what he did. A walk-off home run to also claim a cycle ranks as one of the most amazing final acts a game can ever see. (JC)

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

Why He’s Here: .538/.556/.731 (14-for-26), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Matos entered the year with his only pro experience coming in the Dominican Summer League and at instructional league, but has handled the jump to Low-A with aplomb. He’s been a contact machine all year (just 40 strikeouts in 314 plate appearances), but this month has been a true coming-out party. In July, the 19-year-old, who checks in as the Giants’ No. 5 prospect, hit .358/.378/.576 with half of his eight home runs on the season. (JN)

RELATED: Read why Matos’ early numbers suggest a very high ceiling

4. Heriberto Hernandez, C/OF, Rays
Low-A Charleston (East)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .571/.667/1.143 (12-for-21), 8 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: There’s no question that Hernandez has some of the best power in the Rays’ system. With good bat speed and quick hands he has plus raw juice, but he is unable to access it at times due to his trouble recognizing pitches. That hasn’t been a problem for him in July. After hitting just four homers over the first two months, Hernandez crushed six long balls—including three last week—to give him 10 on the season while suiting up in left field after spending his first two professional seasons split between the outfield and catcher. (CT)

5. Vaughn Grissom, SS, Braves
Team: Low-A Augusta (East)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .500/.630/1.000 (10-for-20), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 3 RBIs, 6 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: After coming off the injured list on July 14, Grissom, the Braves’ 11th-round pick in 2019, has been on fire. In July, he went 18-for-42 with seven extra-base hits (he had eight combined in May and June) and a 1.285 OPS. Grissom has a rep as a player with bat-to-ball skills and the potential for burgeoning power, which will help him profile at multiple positions around the diamond. (JN)

6. Luken Baker, 1B, Cardinals
Double-A Springfield (Central)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .304/.360/1.087 (7-for-23) 7 R, 6 HRs, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: Baker is a slugger with all the good and bad that term brings with it. Baker’s swing will run hot and cold, but when he’s on, he’s going to put balls in the outfield stands for the fans. This week he was very much on with a pair of two-home run games and home runs in three straight games. (JC)

7. Robinson Pina, RHP, Angels
Team: High-A Tri-City (West)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 1.59, 11 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 20 SO

The Scoop: Pina drew a pair of starts in the Dust Devils’ series against Hillsboro, and he stymied the Hops both times. He switched to a splitter after the 2018 season, and the pitch has worked wonders. His 20 strikeouts this past week are no aberration; he’s been a whiff machine all year, having racked up 99 whiffs in 69 innings. His control still leaves plenty to be desired, however, with 45 free passes issued on the season. (JN)


8. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals
Double-A Harrisburg (Northeast)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO.

The Scoop: If you just watched the Futures Game and that is your lone impression of Cavalli, you may think that control has been a consistent issue for him. Cavalli walked two batters of the five he faced at the Futures Game, and that came just days after he had walked six in 4.2 innings in his previous start. But Cavalli has actually been able to find the strike zone in general. You can look at walk rates, but strike percentage is another, more granular way to look at a pitcher’s ability to throw strikes. The MLB average is a 63.8% strike percentage this year. Cavalli’s strike percentage this year is also 63.8%. But there have been three starts this year where Cavalli dipped below 60% strike percentage—a 59.5% strike percentage in his fourth start of the year, and two mid July starts around his Futures Game outing where he had a 49% strike percentage. Cavalli generally throws strikes, he just had an ill-timed dip. (JC)

9. Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (Angels)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .500/.550/1.278 (9-for-18), 6 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Adell continued his absolute tear in the month of July last week, collecting nine hits in 18 at-bats, crushing four homers and driving in nine. Adell finished the month with six home runs, 28 RBIs and a .343/.393/.608 slash line. Just as encouraging was the fact that he finished with just 26 strikeouts after striking out 36 times in May and 34 times in June to move his strikeout rate below 30% in 339 plate appearances. With plus-plus power, plus running ability and a plus arm, Adell is one of the more exciting players in the minor leagues and will join top hitting prospect Brandon Marsh in roaming the Angels outfield after receiving a promotion on Aug. 2. (CT)

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

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.93, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 12 SO, 25 swinging strikes

The Scoop: The Marlins have such a talented assortment of arms that sometimes it’s easy to forget about Cabrera, but the righthander has continued to go out and produce this season since returning from a right biceps injury in June. In his third career start at the Triple-A level on July 30, Cabrera dominated a Charlotte lineup that included Luis Robert and Jake Burger. The 6-foot-5 fireballer struck out 12 over 4.2 innings of one-run ball while walking four. Cabrera induced 25 swinging strikes on the day, relying on his plus-plus fastball and plus curveball. It might not be long before Cabrera becomes the next young Miami hurler to join the big league rotation. (CT)

11. Ryan Murphy, RHP, Giants
Team: Low-A San Jose (West)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: To say Murphy had an outstanding month might be underselling it. The righthander, plucked out of Le Moyne College, dominated the Low-A West thoroughly and completely in five starts. The Giants showed mercy on the league by moving Murphy to High-A Eugene after his most recent start. Before he left, though, he rattled off five consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts. In total, he finished July with 56 whiffs and just six walks in 31 innings. (JN)

12. Yasel Antuna, SS, Nationals
High-A Wilmington (East)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .458/.536/.875 (11-for-24) 7 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: Antuna is one of the players who began the season needing a nice dose of WD-40. The rust was immense as he hit .060/.179/.209 in May. June was a little better (.222/.281/.370), but in July Antuna showed once again why he is one of the best prospects in the Nationals’ system. Antuna was a doubles machine in July. It was his 4-for-5 day with four doubles that finally brought his batting average above .200 on July 28. Just four games later, Antuna has raised his batting average to .221. (JC)

13. Jose Barrero, SS, Reds
Team: Triple-A Louisville (East)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .458/.519/.833 (11-for-24), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: After a cameo in the bizarre 2020 season, Barrero is back on a normal developmental track and showing exactly why he entered the year as the system’s top prospect. Besides being a shoo-in to stick at shortstop, Barrero has shown a large uptick in power fueled in part by visible strength gains. He excelled at Double-A Chattanooga and has not skipped a beat at Triple-A Louisville. In fact, he’s already swatted one more home run in 29 games at Triple-A (seven) than he did in 40 games at Double-A. (JN)

14. Jose Ramos, OF, Dodgers
Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (West)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .542/.621/.833 (13-for-24), 2 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Ramos torched extended spring training, torched the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League and is now torching the Low-A West to continue his breakout season. The Panama native has multiple hits in eight of nine games since being promoted to Rancho Cucamonga, with seven doubles, a triple and two home runs already. With a natural feel to hit, growing power, the athleticism to play both right and center field and a plus-plus cannon for an arm, Ramos is one of the fastest-rising prospects in a loaded Dodgers’ system. (KG)

15. Gabriel Gonzalez, OF, Mariners
Team: Rookie-level DSL Mariners
Age: 17

Why He’s Here: .500/.524/1.188 (8-for-16), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Gonzalez is one of a host of 17-year-olds tearing up the Dominican Summer League in their first tastes of pro ball. Signed for $1.1 million this past February, Gonzalez is athletic with an excellent looking swing from the right side. He projects for plenty of power to profile at a corner-outfield position, which is where he’s likely to wind up as he gets older and gains more strength. The Mariners have struck it big of late with their international signings like Julio Rodriguez and Noelvi Marte, and Gonzalez could be one of the next up. (JN)



16. Andy Pages, OF, Dodgers
Team: High-A Great Lakes (Central)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .435/.500/.913 (10-for-23), 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Pages is a three true outcomes player. He’s got plus raw power, evidenced by his 21 home runs through 78 games, but at times struggles to get to it due to a large amount of swing and miss (91 strikeouts). He specifically struggles recognizing spin, but is an excellent fastball hitter. Yet last week he had no trouble making contact, collecting 10 hits in 23 at-bats and driving in nine. Pages walked 18 times in July, easily eclisping his career high for a one-month period, and has collected a hit in 12 of his last 13 games. (CT)

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

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Estes’ breakout season continued with another dominant week. The 19-year-old righthander pitched four scoreless innings with six strikeouts against Cubs affiliate Myrtle Beach to start the week and finished the week with six innings, no earned runs allowed, two walks and nine strikeouts against Myrtle Beach again. With a fastball that sits at 93 mph and touches 96, a slider that flashes above-average and an aggressive, attacking mentality that helps him get ahead of hitters quickly, Estes has put himself firmly on the radar as one of the better young pitchers in the Braves’ system. (KG)

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

Why He’s Here: .391/.417/.870 (9-for-23) 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: Vientos just continues to mash. He now leads the Double-A Northeast league with 20 home runs and ranks 10th most in the minors. And 17 of those home runs have come since June 1. The Mets depth of elite prospects remains pretty thin, but they have done a good job of assembling a core group of very useful sluggers. Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty lead that group, but Vientos is very much a core part of it as well. (JC)

19. Spencer Steer, SS, Twins
Team: Double-A Wichita (Central)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .444/.565/1.056 (8-for-18), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Steer had an impressive debut season in 2019, where he showed a strong hit tool and the defensive versatility to play shortstop, second and third, but lacked power. In 2021 he’s worked on hitting the ball in the air and quickly received a promotion to Double-A Wichita in late June after hitting 10 home runs in 45 games at High-A. It took Steer some time to adjust to the upper minors, but he had his best week to date at the level, knocking in seven runs and collecting eight hits in 18 at-bats. Now Steer will need to focus on cutting down on the swing and miss that’s come with his added power. (CT)

20. Ryan Jensen, RHP, Cubs
Team: High-A Eugene (Northwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.80, 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO 

The Scoop: The Cubs’ 2019 first-rounder was extremely up and down early in the season, appearing dominant at his best but struggling to maintain the consistency of his stuff and too often falling behind hitters. He appears to have ironed those issues out. Jensen posted a 1.99 ERA during July and held opponents to a .150 average, showing just how dominant he can be when he’s at his best and throwing strikes. He struck out 28 batters and walked only four in 22.2 innings, a huge uptick in his control after he walked 16 batters (and hit five more) in his first 31.2 innings this year. Jensen has to show he can maintain it, but it’s been the type of dominant run that demonstrates why the Cubs jumped ahead of industry consensus to select him with the 27th overall pick. (KG)


Elly De La Cruz, 3B, Reds
Team: Low-A Daytona (Southeast)
Age: 19

Few players are rising faster than De La Cruz. He began the season playing in the Arizona Complex League, but a .400/.455/.780 11-game stint there necessitated a promotion to Low-A Daytona. There De La Cruz has shown power (he’s already posted a 109 mph exit velocity), speed and a great arm (he’s had a throw of 90 mph-plus, a rarity in the league). De La Cruz may be able to stick at shortstop, but more likely he’s a third baseman or a rangy outfielder. He’s a 19-year-old who has some young player issues—his aggressiveness will need to tone down. But wherever he’s played, De La Cruz has caught the attention of scouts. (JC)


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