Prospect Hot Sheet (July 15): Gerber Powers His Way To Top

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from July 8-14. 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, Matt Eddy, Josh Norris and Vince Lara-Cinisomo.

1. Mike Gerber, of, Tigers
Team: high Class A Lakeland (Florida State)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .529/.619/1.176 (9-for-17), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Early in the season, Gerber was a disappointment. He was expanding the strike zone and swinging through more pitches than usual, which caused his slash line to bottom out at .204/.265/.353 on May 22. Since then, Gerber has been outstanding, hitting .342/.402/.608 over his last 42 games, with just three hitters in the minors posting a better OPS during that stretch.

Gerber is showing more power than ever, with some of that extra juice coming at the expense of contact, but he’s starting to discover the right balance of bat control and power to maximize his offensive impact. (BB)

2. Rafael Devers, 3b, Red Sox
Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .346/.393/.692 (9-for-26), 4 R, 3 2B, 3 3B, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: After a slow start, Devers has raked over the past month or so. In fact, his line this week is nearly identical to his production since June 1. From that point forward, he has hit .348/.393/.541 with 13 doubles, five triples and a homer. (JN)

3. Lewis Brinson, of, Rangers
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .321/.345/.679 (9-for-28) 5 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Brinson’s 2016 season has brought back the concerns he began to answer with his breakout 2015 campaign. While his walk rate has regressed, Brinson has been a victim of some bad luck on balls in play, too. Since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three weeks, he has been on a tear. He’s a legitimate center fielder with at least average power. (JJC)

4. Ozzie Albies, 2b, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 19.
Why He’s Here: .367/.424/.600 (11-for-30) 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 0-for-1 on SBs.

The Scoop: Albies is the odd prospect who was demoted without it being a full-fledged demotion. While he wasn’t dominating Triple-A, his return to Double-A was as much about getting him more comfortable playing beside shorstop Dansby Swanson as it was to get him hitting against players closer to his own age. (JJC)

5. Adam Engel, of, White Sox
Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .500/.543/.781 (16-for-32), 9 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3-for-5 SB

The Scoop: Engel can really fly, and his speed plays on the bases. He ranks among the Southern League leaders with 31 steals (third), 54 runs (third) and nine triples (first). He’s also hitting .371/.443/.597 with 10 extra-base hits and eight stolen bases through 14 games in July. (ME)

6. Miguelangel Sierra, ss, Astros
Team: Rookie-level Greeneville (Appalachian)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .500/.529/1.063 (8-for-16), 5 R, 3 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Yes, Sierra played just four games this week, but he homered three times and has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball, batting .333/.382/.810 with eight home runs in 16 games. For a player who coming into the year stood out more for his game savvy and instincts, the power spike has been a major surprise and welcome addition to Sierra’s skill set. (BB)

7. Jesus Sanchez, of, Rays
Team: Rookie-level GCL Rays (Gulf Coast)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .407/.407/.815 (11-for-27), 9 R, 2 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Sanchez ranked as the No. 27 international prospect in 2014, when he signed with the Rays for $400,000. He then proceeded to crush the Dominican Summer League last year in his pro debut. Success is following Sanchez to the U.S., where he’s showing good bat control, strong hands and wrists to drive the ball with the speed and athleticism to play in the middle of the diamond. (BB)

8. Luis Urias, 2b, Padres
Team: high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .429/.586/.619 (9-for-21), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Batting .327/.393/.431 in 82 games stands out for a teenager in the Cal League. But what stood out the most this past week was when the Padres granted Urias a three-day visit to Triple-A El Paso, and he didn’t skip a beat, going 4-for-9 with a home run and five walks. Urias might not have any flashy tools, but his bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline have helped him move quickly since signing out of Mexico three years ago. (BB)

9. Johan Camargo, inf, Braves

3ds_braves83Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .560/.577/.720 (14-for-25), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: While Camargo is best known as a versatile, rifle-armed middle infielder, the switch-hitting Panamanian can hit enough to handle a utility role in the majors one day. He has played mostly second base this season at Mississippi, though he spotted at shortstop while Dansby Swanson attended the Futures Game and now he starts mostly at third base with the return of Ozzie Albies to the Southern League. (ME)

10. D.J. Stewart, of, Orioles
Team: high Class A Frederick (Carolina).
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .381/.481/.810 (8-for-21), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Much like Bubba Starling with the Royals, Stewart “earned” a change-of-scenery promotion. At the time of his jump from low Class A Delmarva, the 2015 first-round pick was slugging less than .400 in the Sally League. The change has worked so far. Stewart hit two home runs this week after hitting just four in 62 games in Delmarva. (JJC)

11. Yeyson Yrizarri, ss, Rangers 3ds_rangers75

Team: low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .462/.462/.654 (12-for-26), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Rangers signed and developed big league middle infielders Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Hanser Alberto, and Yrizarri is the junior member of the system’s full-season, middle-infield depth chart. While the 19-year-old Dominican hasn’t hit much this season—just .255/.275/.367—he is proving himself to be a line drive-oriented hitter and efficient defensive shortstop with a strong arm. (ME)

12. Meibrys Viloria, c, Royals
Team: Rookie-level Idaho Falls (Pioneer)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .625/.684/1.063 (10-for-16), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Viloria has shown a promising bat ever since the Royals signed him as a 16-year-old out of Colombia, but you wouldn’t know it from his stats. Last year, Viloria did not have any extra-base hits, giving him an inexplicable .000 isolated slugging percentage. This year, he has collected 19 of them in 19 games, and coaches love his high-energy, infectious leadership behind the plate. (JJC)

13. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3b, Blue Jays
Team: Rookie-level Bluefield (Appalachian)
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: .412/.560/.824 (7-for-17), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 0 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Blessed with many of his famous father’s characteristics, Guerrero showed enough in extended spring training to push his way to the Appalachian League as a 17-year-old. So far, he’s rewarded the Blue Jays’ confidence. He has whiffed just 11 times (none this week) against much older competition and has put up an OPS of .832. (JN)

14. Sandy Alcantara, rhp, Cardinals

3ds_cardinals81Team: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 2.84, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 16 SO, 5 BB

The Scoop: The No. 8 prospect in the Cardinals organization upon release of today’s Midseason Update, Alcantara has passed up Peoria rotation-mates such as Jake Woodford and Junior Fernandez because of his present stuff and remaining projection. Alcantara has triple-digit heat, a changeup he can throw at 20-25 mph slower and a developing breaking ball. (VLC)

15. Cody Ponce, rhp, Brewers
Team: high Class A Brevard County (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: After a bout of arm fatigue early in the year, Ponce is back and dealing. The 2015 second-rounder didn’t debut until June 8 and has been eased back into action since. Over his last two starts, including this week’s brilliant outing, Ponce, who boasts the potential for two plus pitches, has allowed just five hits and no walks over 11 shutout innings with 17 strikeouts. (JN)

16. Chris Paddack, rhp, Padres

Padres-smallTeam: low Class A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: The move from the South Atlantic to the Midwest league has not slowed Paddack’s roll. The tall righthander finally allowed a run—but only one—in his first two starts in the Padres organization since the trade for Fernando Rodney. Paddack has a mid-90s fastball, a double-plus changeup and a slider he throws for strikes. (VLC)

17. Mitch Hansen, of, Dodgers
Team: Rookie-level Ogden (Pioneer)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .348/.400/.870 (8-for-23), 5 R, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: A second-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Texas, Hansen hit just .201 with no homers in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year. He 6-foot-4 lefthanded hitter has natural lift in his swing and plus raw power, which he has shown in the Pioneer League this season. Hansen leads the circuit with seven homers to go with a .340/.383/.588 batting line through 23 games. (ME)

18. Erick Fedde, rhp, Nationals
Team: high Class A Potomac (Carolina)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 13 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: Behind Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, Fedde, another of the games’s growing legion of Las Vegans, ranks among the Nationals’ top pitching prospects. Utilizing a three-pitch mix, the righthander whiffed 13 over two starts and sat between 93-96 mph and touched 97 with his fastball in his most recent outing. His slider has also sharpened this season and is working toward becoming an out pitch. (JN)

19. Stephen Gonsalves, lhp, Twins

3ds_twins81Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 11 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Gonsalves doesn’t overpower hitters, but he’s done well since his promotion to Double-A, relying on a low-90s fastball that plays up thanks to deception and a changeup he throws with fastball arm speed. A red flag has been a rising walk rate. For his career, Gonsalves has averaged 3.3 walks per nine innings, but at Double-A that rate has risen to 4.8 per nine. (VLC)

20. German Marquez, rhp, Rockies
Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.13, 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB

The Scoop: The No. 6 prospect in the Rockies’ system as of the Midseason Update, Marquez was no throw-in in the deal that sent Corey Dickerson to the Rays. Marquez can touch 98 mph and drops a plus curveball in as well. He also is working to hone his changeup. (VLC)

Esteury Ruiz, ss, Royals: When the Royals busted through their international bonus pool last year, they did it primarily to sign outfielder Seuly Matias and shortstop Jeison Guzman, a pair of prospects from the Dominican Republic. For $100,000, the Royals also landed Dominican shortstop Esteury Ruiz, who has quickly become one of the team’s most exciting lower-level prospects. The 17-year-old Ruiz is extremely skinny (6 feet, 150 pounds) but puts a serious charge into the ball thanks to his quick wrists, snappy bat speed and feel for the barrel. Playing in the Dominican Summer League, he is hitting .269/.358/.472 with 11 walks and 16 strikeouts in 124 plate appearances, with a team-high three home runs. (BB)

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