Prospect Hot Sheet (Aug. 5)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from July 29-Aug. 4. 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: John Manuel, Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper and Vince Lara-Cinisomo.

1. Dylan Cozens, of, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .385/.429/1.231 (10-for-26), 8 R, 2 3B, 6 HR, 13 RBIs, 2 BB, 10 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: There might not be a prospect who draws more disparate reactions than Cozens. In the past two days Cozens has hit five home runs, which gives him 32 for the season. He’s hitting .287/.370/.618 and he even has 18 steals in 19 tries to go with his 66 extra-base hits. It’s a massive season by a 22-year-old who is age appropriate for the Eastern League. So what’s the reason to hesitation from scouts?

Well, there are a few reasons. He is rendered nearly helpless by lefties (.204/.286/.387), but that’s not disqualifying. There are a number of very good big league lefthanded hitters who turn to dust against a good lefty, most notably long-time Phillie Ryan Howard.

Cozens is a below-average defender in the outfield. He runs well underway, but scouts say he has a lot of work to do on routes and reads. But again, if you hit 30-plus home runs, teams will live with below-average defense.

The biggest reason for the skepticism is Reading’s park. Scouts and analytics departments remember Darin Ruf’s breakout season in Reading. Ruf hit 38 home runs with Reading that year, but has never topped 20 home runs in any season before or since.

At home this year in one of the best home run parks in the minors, Cozens is hitting like peak-Barry Bonds with less walks (.307/.395/.817). On the road, he’s hitting like he’s hit throughout the rest of his young career (.266/.344/.417). You can’t discount the 48 extra-base hits he has in 54 home games, but you also can’t write off the fact that he has 18 extra-base hits in 50 games on the road.

So scouts generally still see Cozens as a somewhat improved version of the player they have scouted in the past. So a number of them are still turning him in as a potential role player at the big league level, but even they admit that as they watch him climb toward 40 home runs this season, it’s a little nerve-racking to have him ranked so low on their lists of Phillies prospects. (JJC)

2. Franmil Reyes, of, Padres
Team: high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .517/.576/1.103 (15-for-29), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Reyes was a big boy when the Padres signed him for $700,000 out of the Dominican Republic three years ago. Now he’s 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. Are the tools finally connecting or is he benefitting from the California League, especially Lake Elsinore’s recent series at Lancaster? It could be a combination of both as Reyes had a monster week. He’s slugging .472 on the road with 10 of his 13 homers away from home. He also has a reverse split, slugging .454 against righthanders, while hitting just .185 against lefties. (VLC)

3. Brandon Woodruff, rhp, Brewers
Team: Double-A Biloxi (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.69, 2 GS, 13 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 14 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: Woodruff is one of the best pop-up prospects in the minors this year, but he hasn’t really come out of nowhere. Woodruff was a significant prospect coming out of high school who was drafted in the fifth round by the Rangers. But after heading to Mississippi State, Woodruff’s career was slowed by injuries and inconsistency. Now he’s healthy and he’s put that inconsistency behind him. Since July 1, Woodruff has a 0.49 ERA in six starts. He’s struck out 46 and walked five over that stretch as his once shaky control has stabilized. And he’s doing it with plus stuff as different scouts have given his fastball, changeup and breaking ball plus grades. (JJC)

4. Lewis Brinson, of, Brewers
Team: Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .538/.538/.769 (14-for-26), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: It’s tough to have a better debut in your new organization than Brinson did after being traded in the deal for Jonathan Lucroy. Although the power/speed center fielder struggled at Double-A, scouts are still intrigued by all the tools. Brinson doesn’t have to be even a league-average hitter to be a useful big leaguer, but if the improvements he’s made to his contact rate start paying off more, he could be more than that. (VLC)

5. Sean Newcomb, lhp, Braves

Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.54, 2 GS, 11 2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 17 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: This has been a disappointing season for Newcomb. He hasn’t been awful, but his Achilles heel throughout his pro career—his below-average control—hasn’t gotten better. Weeks like this one offer a sneak peek at what can happen when Newcomb is able to attack the zone. When he can get to strike two before ball three, hitters get very defensive and he can cruise. But there are still way too many starts where he tries to get to precise and nibbles, falling behind in counts, racking up too many walks and exiting the game too early. This week could be a sign he’s putting it together, but he still has a ways to go with his command and control. (JJC)

6. Josh Morgan, 3b, Rangers
Team: high Class A High Desert (California)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .423/.529/.500 (11-for-26), 7 R, 2 2B, 6 RBIs, 6 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Morgan’s hand-eye coordination enables him to have some of the best bat control in the organization. When he swings, he rarely misses, and while there isn’t much extra-base impact in his hits, his ability to manage his at-bats and put the ball in play are what make him stand out as a prospect. An experiment to put Morgan behind the plate didn’t stick, so Morgan has spent time bouncing between shortstop, third base and second base this season. (BB)

7. Eloy Jimenez, of, Cubs
Team: low Class A South Bend (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .481/.500/.778 (13-for-27), 6 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Dominican teenager has put all the tools together this season, culminating in star performances at the Midwest League all-star game and most prominently, the Futures Game. Jimenez has prodigious power and all his tools have shown improvement, including his English as he communicates more easily with teammates and media. (VLC)

8. Teoscar Hernandez, of, Astros
Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .394/.417/.667 (13-for-33) 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Hernandez’s career resembles an Alaskan crab boat in the Bering Sea in mid-January. The highs at the top of the waves are really high where you can see for miles. The lows at the troughs of the waves are frightening. Coming off a year where he hit .219/.275/.362 Hernandez was understandably left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. He went unpicked even though scouts could see his loud tools. This year, we’ve seen Hernandez improve on the form that made him a breakout prospect in 2014. Hernandez’s contact rate has skyrocketed this year as he’s trade a little bit of power for a massive improvement in his contact ability. For a player with his kind of speed, it’s been a great tradeoff. (JJC)

9. Tyler Beede, rhp, Giants

Team: Double-A Richmond (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.69, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 15 SO, 6 BB

The Scoop: Beede has shown his Vanderbilt velocity this season, turning his fastball up to 97 mph when he needs it. The changeup flashes plus, but the breaking ball continues to lag. His four-seamer and two-seamer can both be plus pitches. He’s once again the Giants’ top prospect with the trade of Phil Bickford to the Brewers. (VLC)

10. Sal Romano, rhp, Reds
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.69, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 12 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: A jumbo-framed 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Romano has a powerful fastball that parks in the mid-90s and can reach the upper-90s. If Romano does end up moving to the bullpen, as many scouts predict he will, expect more of those high-end velo numbers airing it out in short stints. While there’s effort and energy to his delivery, Romano is able to repeat fairly well and fill up the strike zone, with just 2.2 walks per nine innings this season. (BB)

11. D.J. Wilson, of, Cubs
Team: short-season Eugene (Northwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .625/.625/.875 (10-for-16), 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Wilson, who got $1.3 million to sign out of high school in Canton, Ohio, last year, packs a ton of athleticism into his listed 5-foot-8, 177-pound frame. He got off to a slow start for short-season Eugene but he had a brilliant three-game stretch this week with 10 hits in 13 trips, including a homer and double. Wilson has refinements to make but is starting to get his legs under him and has the impact tools the Cubs crave and should spearhead the franchise’s next wave of toolsy prospects. (JM)

12. Kolby Allard, lhp, Braves

Team: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.42, 1 GS, 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 11 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: Allard was a bust in his first stab at pitching in the South Atlantic League, but after returning from a back injury, he apparently just needed a chance to regroup. After being sent to the Appalachian League for five starts, Allard has been much better in his return to Rome. This week’s outing was easily the best of his very young pro career. Allard was considered the best prep lefty in the 2015 draft class before he missed almost the entire high school season with a back injury. He’s already made up for lost time, as he’s pitching well in full-season ball before his 19th birthday. (JJC)

13. Eric Jenkins, of, Rangers

Team: low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .444/.500/.741 (12-for-27), 7 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: The Rangers have had plenty of raw, tooled-up players come through Hickory in recent years. Jenkins fits that mold, though his game skills have proven cruder than some of his predecessors. While he’s hitting just .223/.282/.328 with 124 strikeouts in 98 games, Jenkins’ plus-plus speed is still being put to good use. His 44 stolen bases (in 54 attempts) are tied with Red Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada for the most in the minors. (BB)

14. Ryan Yarbrough, lhp, Mariners
Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 13 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 11 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: A fourth-round pick in 2014, Yarbrough was signed by area scout Devitt Moore as a low-cost senior sign that helped give the Mariners enough money to sign Gareth Morgan to a well-above-slot deal. Three seasons later Morgan is in his third season in the Arizona League while the senior sign has proven to be one of the Mariners’ best pitching prospects. Yarbrough doesn’t have the stuff to dominate, but he can locate and gets good angle on his pitches. It adds up to a potential back-of-the-rotation option for Seattle in the not-to-distant future. (JJC)

15. Anthony Alford, of, Blue Jays
Team: high Class A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .400/.483/.680 (10-for-25), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: A knee injury kept Alford off the field for most of the first month of the season. When he got back in the lineup, the results weren’t pretty. By the end of June, Alford had racked up 59 strikeouts in 43 games and a was hitting .204./304/.293. Over the past month, Alford has been much better, batting .271/.378/.467 with 18 walks, 27 strikeouts and going 9-for-9 in stolen bases in his last 28 games. (BB)

16. Lucas Sims, rhp, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 10 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 12 SO, 7 BB

The Scoop: In three of Sims’ past four starts in Triple-A before his demotion back to Mississippi, he gave up six or more runs while failing to make it to the fifth inning. Since returning to the Southern League, Sims has allowed five earned runs in six starts. He’s been much better in Double-A as his combination of plus stuff and minus control hasn’t been punished nearly as much by less-advanced hitters. Sims still has work to do on his control. Even in his latest run of success, he’s struggling to top 60 percent in his strike percentage, but he is showing improvement and he’s a 22-year-old handling Double-A. (JJC)

17. Stephen Gonsalves, lhp, Twins
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.75, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 16 SO, 4 BB

The Scoop: Gonsalves gave up six hits and six runs in his second start in Double-A, but since then he has been locked in. He fanned 16 in 12 innings this week, relying as usual on his 88-92 mph fastball that can reach higher and quality changeup. He probably needs to throw his slider more but it’s hard to argue with the results—the 22-year-old has allowed just four earned runs in his last 36 innings for a 1.00 ERA, with 41 strikeouts, 19 hits allowed and 18 walks in that span, six starts. (JM)

18. Mark Mathias, 2b, Indians
Team: high Class A Lynchburg (Carolina)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .345/.441/.586 (10-for-29), 8 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: From 2008-15, the Indians made one playoff appearance—a loss in the wild card game in 2013. The origins of the Indians’ run to a likely playoff spot this year started with some very astute trades to help bulk up the team’s starting pitching. But the second part to the Indians’ resurgence has revolved around better drafting. Last decade the Indians whiffed on first-rounder after first-rounder. This decade they have drafted Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer in the first round. And the astute drafting carries on deeper into the draft. Mathias was a potential top-two-rounds pick before a shoulder injury slowed him down in 2015. The Indians picked him in the third round and have watched him return to his pre-injury form. Since the all-star break Mathias is hitting .326/.409/.515. (JJC)

19. Derian Gonzalez, rhp, Cardinals
Team: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.84, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 14 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: Gonzalez is 5-0, 2.39 but can get overshadowed on his own Peoria staff because of Sandy Alcantara, Junior Fernandez, Jake Woodford, Ryan Helsley … it’s a good staff, suffice to say. But don’t discount Gonzalez. While he might lack Alcantara and Fernandez’s triple-digit heat or Alcantara’s projectability, Gonzalez has more polish and his curveball could be a plus offering if he continues to refine it. (VLC)

20. Francis Martes, rhp, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.84, 1 GS, 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 12 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: One of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the minors, Martes has had his moments of wildness and inconsistency this year, but then there are weeks like this one where he looks unhittable. When Martes locates his fastball/curveball combination, he can gets swings and misses on the fastball either up and in or down in the zone, setting hitters up for a power curve that comes in at a slider speed but with more downward break than sweep or tilt. (JJC)


Elieser Hernandez, rhp, Astros. HoustonAstrosHernandez, who signed with the Astros in 2011, got to the States in 2014 but has been moved cautiously. He reached full-season ball in 2015 and began this year at high Class A but was battered to the tune of a 9.10 ERA in eight appearances. Back at Quad Cities, he’s righted himself. Hernandez, still just 21, has a four-seam fastball that has rise and run and sits 90-93 mph; He has a two-seamer that he throws to induce ground balls at 88-90; a slider at 80-83 that can get sweepy but has depth, and a changeup at 82-85 with sink and some tail to it. A tough competitor, Hernandez attacks the zone and succeeds thanks to late life on all his pitches. He can put batters away with all three offerings. (VLC)

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