Prospect Hot Sheet
This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from July 14-20. Number in parentheses indicates players' ages.
Remember, 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. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (21) Double-A Birmingham (Southern) Kopech told Barons broadcaster Curt Bloom that his performance Thursday night was the best outing of his career after he threw eight shutout innings with no walks. Kopech is doing a better job staying online to the plate instead of spinning off recently. In 54 pro appearances, this was only the fifth outing where Kopech didn't walk anyone. Kopech’s stuff is as good as anyone in baseball. If he can command his fastball he can dominate, just like he did this week.
2. Jahmai Jones, OF, Angels (19) Low Class A Burlington (Midwest) The Angels’ farm system is showing long-awaited signs of improvement. Jordon Adell gives the team a true top prospect and Jones has managed to put an awful April behind him. Now Jones is showing the power-speed combo that made him the toolsiest player in the Angels organization until Adell showed up, and he was promoted to high Class A Inland Empire on Thursday.
3. Nick Fanti, LHP, Phillies (20) Low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic) Fanti did the heavy lifting on a no-hitter by getting 26 of the 27 outs against Columbia earlier this year. He managed to get that final out and complete a no-hitter on his own Monday against Charleston. Fanti doesn’t blow hitters away with his fastball, but his changeup is proving too advanced for the South Atlantic League.
4. Jason Martin, OF, Astros (21) Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas) Martin has an outfield logjam ahead of him, but he is impressing in Corpus Christi with .564 slugging percentage. Scouts previously saw him as a tweener without enough defensive chops to stick in center and not enough power to handle a corner, but he’s exceeded expectations this year.
5. Derek Fisher, OF, Astros (23) Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Speaking of Astros’ outfielders, Fisher has leapt to near the top of the pack by being more aggressive this year to tap into his power. He’s already tied his career-high in home runs with 21 and he’s done so while cutting his strikeout rate.
6. Tony Kemp, OF/2B, Astros (25) Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast) Unlike the other Astros’ upper-level outfielders, Kemp has a fallback position, as he’s also a second baseman. Kemp has primarily focused on second base this year, which is arguably his best fit in the majors. He’s continued to hit for average and could have a role with someone.
7. Jon Kemmer, OF, Astros (26) Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast) Kemmer understandably gets lost in the shuffle sometimes in an Astros’ organization with so many outfielders, but he’s hitting .325/.418/.568 in Triple-A. Kemmer has always hit and should get a shot at the big leagues at some point.
8. Henry Henry, RHP, Padres (18) Short-season Tri-City (Northwest) Henry not only has one of the coolest names in the minors, he also has an electric arm. This week he showed how he can dominate lower-level hitters simply by pitching off his low-to-mid-90s fastball. And if you’re wondering, the Pirates also had a third baseman named Henry Henry in the minors a decade ago.
9. Pavin Smith, 1B, Diamondbacks (21) Short-season Hillsboro (Northwest) Smith’s professional debut has gone as well as expected, with the hits have come in bunches for the No. 7 overall pick in June. Smith has a three-hit, four-hit and five-hit game this week as he makes a pretty strong case for a promotion to the Midwest League.
10. Keston Hiura, 2B/DH, Brewers (20) Rookie-level AZL Brewers (Arizona)/Low Class A Wisconsin (Midwest) Hiura was one of the best hitters in college baseball and the AZL was an unnecessary step down for him. He did what he was supposed to do with multi-hit games in 10 of 15 games convinced the Brewers to promote him to the Midwest League.
11. Aramis Ademan, SS, Cubs (18) Short-season Eugene (Northwest) Thanks to graduations and trades, the Cubs farm system is significantly thinner than it ws a year ago, but Ademan is one of the bright spots among those left. He’s very advanced for his age and after a slow start, he’s handling the Northwest League with aplomb, posting a .936 OPS this month.
12. Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Astros (24) Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast) There’s likely to be one outfield job that will come open in Houston next spring. Hernandez and fellow Fisher are likely the two Astros’ prospects who will challenge for that job, although the fast-rising Kyle Tucker could eventually push both of them aside unless the Astros trade away a big league outfielder. Yes, the Astros are loaded with outfielders.
13. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, White Sox (23) Triple-A Charlotte (International) When Lopez is commanding his fastball and locating his slider, he goes on stretches like this: he’s struck out 22 and walked four in 19 innings this month. There are scouts who think the White Sox should make Lopez into a dominant reliever, but stretches like this are a reminder of why others see him as a mid-rotation starter.
14. Tyler Mahle, RHP, Reds (22) Triple-A Louisville (International) Mahle’s jump to Triple-A hasn’t slowed his impressive season in any way. He’s succeeding largely because he can locate his fastball consistently and stay ahead of hitters.
15. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets (22) High Class A St. Lucie (Florida State) Alonso showed this week he has shaken off an effects of a hand injury that forced him to miss a month of the season. Alonso leapt into the team lead in home runs with five homers this week.
16. Yairo Munoz, SS/3B, Athletics (22) Triple-A Nashville (Pacific Coast) The Athletics’ Swiss Army knife, Munoz has played every position but catcher, first base and right field as his outstanding arm plays most anywhere. He struggled a bit in his promotion to Triple-A but has returned to form this week, raising his Triple-A OPS by 200 points.
17. Tyler O’Neill, OF, Mariners (22) Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast) The Mariners’ farm system is pretty thin these days after plenty of trades, but they can be encouraged that O’Neill has flushed away his poor start to hit 14 home runs in the past month and a half.
18. Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves (19) Double-A Mississippi (Southern) Soroka has yet to allow more than four earned runs in any start this year. He’s allowed more than five runs in a start only once in 53 pro appearances. Soroka’s ability to self-diagnose and fix delivery flaws as they happen are just another reason he’s ahead of any normal development schedule.
19. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (20) High Class A Winston-Salem (Carolina) Jimenez’s introduction to his new organization could not have gone much better. He arrived in Winston-Salem and hit .409 in his first six games, capped off by Thursday’s home run and pair of doubles.
20. Zac Gallen, RHP, Cardinals (21) Double-A Springfield (Texas) Gallen is back in Double-A after a brief but successful stint in Triple-A. Even with him back in Double-A, he's still well ahead of a schedule as the 2016 draftee has uses his excellent control to baffle hitters at three levels.
Mason Martin, 1B/OF, Pirates (18) Rookie-level GCL Pirates (Gulf Coast)
World Baseball Classic Roundup: Canada Tops Great Britain In Highest Scoring Game In WBC History
Canada scored in every inning to beat Great Britain, 18-8, in the highest-scoring opening game in World Baseball Classic history.
Martin was seen as a slugger who might have some feel for hitting coming into the draft. So far, he’s exceeded all expectations, admittedly in a very short sample size. Martin didn’t sign until this month, so this week was his first full week in pro ball. He responded by hitting four home runs to leap into the Gulf Coast League home run lead.