Prospect Hot Sheet (Aug. 26): Is Jose De Leon Ready For A Callup?

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from Aug. 19-25. Remember, this feature 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.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Josh Norris and Vince Lara-Cinisomo.

1. Jose De Leon, rhp, Dodgers
Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: With health issues plaguing the Dodgers’ big league rotation and De Leon dominating Triple-A, how many more starts will the righthander make in the minors? The No. 25 prospect in our midseason update, De Leon has made four starts this month and walked just two of the 102 batters he faced, with back-to-back outings of seven innings and 10 strikeouts. De Leon, who projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter, could end up being a key pitcher for the Dodgers in September and possibly the playoffs. (BB)

2. Josh Hader, lhp, Brewers
Team: Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: On the surface, Hader’s numbers since a promotion to Triple-A have been ugly. Overall, the lefty sports a 1-5 record and 4.79 ERA at the level, but that suggests only that unfriendly atmosphere at Colorado Springs has claimed another victim. Hader has split his 62 Triple-A innings evenly, and his road ERA of 3.79 is more than two runs lower than his mark at home. His start this week was at Round Rock, and he punched out 12 hitters in six innings for easily his most dominant start in the Pacific Coast League. (JN)

3. Alberto Tirado, rhp, Phillies
Team: low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.90, 10 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 20 SO, 6 BB

The Scoop: Acquired in the trade last summer that sent Ben Revere to the Blue Jays, Tirado brought an electric if erratic right arm to the system. With Toronto, Tirado had been at high Class A and used as a reliever. With the Phillies, he’s been bumped down a level but thrust into a starting role in the second half. The results have been spectacular. Since moving into the Lakewood rotation, Tirado has whiffed 73 in 47.1 innings. (JN)

4. Michael Kopech, rhp, Red Sox
Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 10 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: Kopech ranked No. 3 on last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, and in his past three starts, the hard-throwing, 2014 first-rounder has struck out 11, 11 and 10 with just four walks in that span. He has allowed just three runs in his past five starts and overall is 4-1, 1.13 with 85 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. Kopech has elite fastball velocity, but the incorporation of a hard slider has given batters a different weapon to fret about. (VLC)

5. Alec Hansen, rhp, White Sox
Team: Rookie-level Great Falls (Pioneer)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R,3 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Did the White Sox get one of the steals of the 2016 draft, or is Hansen simply overmatching inexperienced Rookie-ball hitters? A second-round pick, Hansen recorded a 5.40 ERA and 6.8 walks per nine innings at Oklahoma this spring. The lightbulb seems to have turned on in pro ball for Hansen, for he has a 1.23 ERA to go with 59 strikeouts and 12 walks in 36.2 innings in the Pioneer League. He is scheduled to make his first start at low Class A Kannapolis tonight. (BB)

6. Mitch Keller, rhp, Pirates
Team: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: One of the year’s biggest breakout performers continued to blossom this week with a pair of dominant starts. Keller comes armed with a mid-90s fastball that he’s learned how to hone into a weapon, as well as a 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup. He has learned how to better attack hitters this year, and the results have shown in his 8-5, 2.46 line with 131 strikeouts in 124.1 innings. (JN)

7. Austin Slater, of, Giants
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .567/.606/1.267 (17-for-30), 3 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBIs, 3 BB, 8 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Slater is following the Matt Duffy path to relevance. He is a Giants prospect picked in the later rounds out of college who flies a bit under the radar because he doesn’t do anything flashy but is a productive hitter who controls the strike zone. Slater, an eighth-round pick out of Stanford two years ago, hit well at Double-A Richmond to start the year and has seen his power numbers spike since leaving a difficult hitter’s park and moving up to Sacramento, where he’s batting .295/.380/.509 with 12 home runs in 62 games. (BB)

8. Dominic Smith, 1b, Mets
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .500/.516/.818 (11-for-22), 6 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: The biggest question with Smith throughout his young career relates to his future power output. He’s a hit-first first baseman who had just 10 home runs in his first two and a half seasons. Smith’s power still comes and goes in stretches, but his 14 home runs this year is a strong step forward for one of the best first-base prospects in the minors. The extra power shows up without hurting Smith’s ability to make contact or draw walks, which is a positive outcome. (JJC)

9.­ Roman Quinn, of, Phillies

3ds_phillies83Team: Double-A Reading
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .308/.333/.769 (8-for-26), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Quinn missed significant time with major injuries each of the past three seasons and was bit by the injury bug again this year, in the form of an oblique strain that shelved him for six weeks. The speedy 2011 second-rounder took some time to round into form once he rejoined Reading on Aug. 4, but he is starting to look like his old self with three multi-hit efforts in his last seven games. (KG)

10. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3b, Blue Jays
Team: Rookie-level Bluefield (Appalachian)
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: .345/.441/.586 (10-for-29), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Other big-ticket international hitting prospects have impressed us by smashing through the competition in their pro debuts. But most of those players, be it Miguel Sano, Gary Sanchez or Rafael Devers, were doing it in either the Dominican Summer League or one of the complex-based Rookie leagues. Guerrero, the No. 1 international prospect in 2015, has made a smooth transition to pro ball as a 17-year-old in the Appalachian League. Batting .287/.374/.481 with eight home runs and more walks (31) than strikeouts (30) through 56 games, Guerrero has shown the bat control, patience and power to project as a potential masher in the middle of a lineup. (BB)

11. Rio Ruiz, 3b, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .292/.346/.833 (7-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: The promising third baseman is showing signs he may be turning his solid-average raw power into home-run production. Ruiz, who is more than four years younger than the average age in the International League, has improved his slugging percentage each of the last three months and had the first multi-home run game of his career last week. Seven of his 10 home runs this year have come in the past two and a half months. (KG)

12. Sal Romano, rhp, Reds
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.29, 2 GS, 14 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Most scouts who see Romano envision him eventually turning into a power closer who combines strikeouts and groundballs. He has the ability to overmatch hitters with his mid-90s fastball up in the zone or to induce them to beat the ball into the ground when he sinks it. But Romano’s second half offers hope to those who see him as a starter. He’s throwing strikes more consistently while also getting more swings and misses. Since July 1, Romano has 64 strikeouts and 10 walks in 67 innings. (JJC)

13. Jesus Sanchez, of, Rays
Team: Rookie-level Princeton (Appalachian)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .423/.483/.692 (11-for-26), 5 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Rays considered skipping Sanchez over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League this year, but they instead went the step-by-step route, bringing him over to the GCL after he tore up the Dominican Summer League a year ago. Sanchez quickly forced a promotion to Princeton on Aug. 20 after hitting .323/.341/.530 in the GCL. He stands out for his bat, but he’s a well-rounded player with a chance for five average or better tools. (BB)

14. Mauricio Dubon, ss, Red Sox
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .476/.476/.810 (10-for-22), 8 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Often overshadowed by teammate Yoan Moncada, Dubon is putting together quite an excellent season himself. The 6-foot, 160-pound Honduran was a Carolina League all-star after hitting .306 in the first half, and he has continued hitting since his promotion to Double-A. After his latest big week, Dubon’s batting line is now up to .337/.368/.538 through 52 games at Portland, showing he is capable of driving the ball against more advanced pitchers. (KG)

15. Austin Riley, 3b, Braves
Team: low Class A Rome (Southern)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .321/.367/.607 (9-for-28), 7 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Riley’s adjustment to full-season ball wasn’t easy. In the first half of the season, he was often overmatched by quality pitchers. His swing is a little long and his power comes from strength more than bat speed. But as he caught up to the South Atlantic Leauge and improved his approach, he’s getting to his power in games again. After hitting .252/.299/.372 with three home runs in the first half, Riley has hit .275/.339/.555 with 14 home runs in the second half. (JJC)

16. Magneuris Sierra, cf, Cardinals
Team: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .357/.357/.643 (10-for-28), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Sierra’s defense in center field is unquestioned. He takes the proper route to the ball and has speed to outrun mistakes. The question is whether Sierra will have the strength to be an impact bat. Some of his hits are aided by his speed. He doesn’t have the bat knocked out of his hands, but evaluators are concerned that he won’t do enough damage to be considered a threat at the plate, thereby reducing his chance to be an everyday player. (VLC)

17. Jairo Beras, of, Rangers

3ds_rangers83Team: high Class A High Desert (California)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .381/.480/.810 (8-for-21), 8 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Beras had two games in High Desert and four games in Lancaster this week and took advantage. He struck six extra-base hits playing in the extreme hitter’s parks to improve his slugging percentage to .527 on the year, which ranks fourth in the Cal League. Beras has eight home runs this month, his most of any month this season. (KG)

18. Kyle Tucker, of, Astros
Team: high Class A Lancaster (California)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .389/.500/.833 (7-for-18), 3 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: If this is—as rumored—the Astros’ last hurrah in the California League, Tucker is making the most of his time at Lancaster’s offensive oasis. The No. 5 pick in last year’s draft has kept on hitting since being promoted earlier this month. With the Jethawks, Tucker is hitting .346/.433/.654 with a homer and five RBIs. (JN)

19. Anthony Santander, of, Indians

3ds_indians82Team: high Class A Lynchburg (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .400/.407/.600 (10-for-25), 7 R, 5 2B, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Santander gets overlooked on his own team because of the presence of catcher Francisco Mejia and first baseman Bobby Bradley. But 2016 has been a breakout for the Venezuelan native who signed in 2011. Santander missed time in 2013 and 2014 with an elbow injury, but he’s now healthy and producing. The physical righthanded hitter makes consistent, hard contact, but is limited defensively even at first base or left field. (VLC)

20. Meibrys Viloria, c, Royals
Team: Rookie-level Idaho Falls (Pioneer)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .409/.500/.682 (9-for-22), 4 R, 6 2B, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: With just two weeks to go in the Pioneer League season, Viloria still has a chance to hit .400—remote as that chance may be. An August slump saw his average dip below .400 for the first time since the second day of the season, but a pair of two-hit games and a three-hit game this week has brought his average back up to .391. Viloria is an advanced hitter with an approach that emphasizes line drives over power, and evaluators like his high-energy approach. (JJC)

Bobby Dalbec, 3b, Red Sox. Dalbec dominated this spring at Arizona. As a hitter, he was a strikeout-prone slugger who struggled to make enough contact to get to his power. So logically, Dalbec was headed to the mound as a pro. There was only one problem with that plan: Dalbec didn’t want to pitch. The Red Sox proved to be a good fit because after watching him dominate in the Cape Cod League in 2015, they believed in his bat. So far, he is rewarding Boston’s faith after the club made him a fourth-round pick.

Dalbec has hit six home runs through 24 games at short-season Lowell after hitting just seven in college this spring. Best of all, he is making more contact than he ever did as an amateur. Dalbec always has the option of going to the mound, but so far, he’s proving his love of hitting isn’t unrequited. (JJC)

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