This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from Aug. 25-31. 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. Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians (20)
High Class A Lynchburg
Known mostly for his slight build, McKenzie now will be known as the minor leagues’ strikeout king for 2017. He had two starts this week that put him over the top, with 21 whiffs in just 13 innings. The pair of double-digit strikeout outings gave him six such efforts for the season, and pushed his strikeouts per nine ratio to 11.7. He’s also shown excellent durability with his slender 6-foot-5, 165-pound frame, making all 25 starts and pitching seven innings in five of his past 10 starts.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (20)
Remember that time Jimenez missed early with a shoulder bruise? Yeah, me neither. Remember when Jimenez was still in A-ball? Seems like a long time ago. The White Sox have promoted Jimenez, the key to the Jose Quintana trade, to Double-A even though the Barons are 30 games under .500. Jimenez has shrugged off the struggles with three three-hit games this week while adding a pair of home runs. On the season, he’s up to 19 homers and a .314/.379/.578 slash line.
3. Jordon Adell, OF, Angels (18)
It was a huge week for the Angels, who were active at the waiver trade deadline in adding Brandon Phillips and Justin Upton, and Adell provided more good news. The system’s top prospect since his signed as their 2017 first-round pick, Adell has hit safely in 11 straight games, eight of them multi-hit games, including six of seven games this week. The only blemish on his Rookie-level Pioneer League mark so far is a lack of home runs, but Adell’s hitting ability was a question mark for some scouts prior to the draft, and so far, he’s showing bat-to-ball skills.
4. Luiz Gohara, LHP, Braves (21)
Ronald Acuna isn’t the only young sensation on the Triple-A Braves. Gohara has made a career-high 25 starts this season, tracked with Acuna through three levels and earned some CC Sabathia comparisons for his combination of size (he’s bigger than his listed 6-foot-3, 210 pounds), lefthandedness and easy velocity, sitting 94 mph and up to 98 at his best fastball. With his feel for pitching and ability to manipulate the breaking ball, Gohara has the upside of a playoff rotation starter.
5. Seth Romero, LHP, Nationals (21)
Romero needed time to shake off the rust of being kicked off his college team at Houston in April, but he’s doing so with short-season Auburn, making a pair of starts this week without issuing a walk over nine innings. He has the body, repertoire and lefthanded arm to eventually remind Nationals fans of Gio Gonzalez, with swing-and-miss stuff that led to 11 strikeouts in nine scoreless frames this week.
6. Jon Duplantier, RHP, Diamondbacks (23)
High Class A Visalia
Duplantier has earned the minor league ERA title and finished the season in style, with a pair of five-inning scoreless outings with 18 strikeouts and just three hits allowed. (Only one came in this reporting period.) The 23-year-old out of Rice will finish with an overall 12-3, 1.37 line, an ERA that will edge the 1.41 Blake Snell put together (while younger and at higher levels) in his 2015 Minor League POY season. It’s the best full-season ERA in the minors since Justin Verlander (who’s been in the news of late) in 2005.
7. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Dodgers (20)
Still just 20, Diaz has put together a strong finishing kick in the Double-A Texas League, though he won’t get enough plate appearances to qualify for the league’s Top 20 Prospects. The hits come in bunches for Diaz, who had seven hits, including two homers and a double, in the first two games of a series against Northwest Arkansas to make the Hot Sheet.
8. Justin Williams, OF, Rays (22)
Williams just turned 22 and is wrapping up a typical Williams season in style. A career .310 hitter coming into the season, he’s hitting .303 entering the final weekend of play, with a career-best 14 homers despite missing a month with a bruised knee. Three of them came Wednesday against Mobile in a six-RBIs effort, with two homers off Luis Pena, who ranks eighth in the minors in strikeouts. And yes, that OBP is correct—no walks and a sac fly put Williams’ OBP below his average this week.
9. Dermis Garcia, 3B, Yankees (19)
Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Park is no place for a power hitter, with a long history as a pitcher’s park, but the 19 year-old third baseman slugged three homers this week, including game winners Wednesday and Thursday night. The last one was a three-run go-ahead shot in the eighth inning of a 10-5 win that clinched the second-half crown in the SAL’s South Division for the RiverDogs. It also was Dermis’ 17th in 215 at-bats between Rookie-level Pulaski and Charleston.
10. Yairo Munoz, UT, Athletics (22)
Most 22-year-olds aren’t on the yo-yo that Munoz has been on with the Athletics, who have have promoted him at midseason twice in the last three years (once when he was hitting .236) and shifted him all over the diamond. Nevertheless, Munoz has had his best season in 2017 between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville, including a career-high 21 steals. He made starts at shortstop, center field and right field last week while tallying five multi-hit games in a 14-for-27 effort.
11. Freddy Peralta, RHP, Brewers (21)
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Peralta has what scouts call a “disappearing fastball,” a combination of solid low-90s velocity, deception and ease of operation that elicits swings and misses and weak contact from his heater. He’s ridden control of that fastball to a monster season, including a 0.40 ERA in 22.1 August innings. He’s up to 12.7 strikeouts per nine over 114 innings, and his 161 strikeouts rank 10th in the minors.
12. Jaime Barria, RHP, Angels (21)
Triple-A Salt Lake
The Angels didn’t have to give up their top pitching prospect to get Verlander or Upton, holding on to Barria, who has finished a boffo season in the Triple-A PCL. He’s made two starts with Salt Lake (only one this period) and has yet to give up an earned run in starts at Albuquerque and Tacoma, helping the 21-year-old Panamanian to an overall 7-9, 3.15 mark in 137 innings. His 1.8 walks per nine (with 7.4 K/9) augurs well for a future, soon, in the Angels’ rotation.
13. Tom de Blok, RHP, Tigers (21)
Low Class A West Michigan
The rebuilding Tigers snatched de Blok after he threw in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands and slowly built him up from the bullpen to a starting role, and he got off to a tremendous start before struggling for most of August. His final start against Bowling Green will help the 6-foot-4, 195-pound righty, whose fastball can touch 97 and consistently sits 93-95 at his best, finish the year on a strong note.
14. Austin Gomber, LHP, Cardinals (23)
High Class A Springfield
Suddenly, the Cardinals’ rotation is open for prospect business, with Luke Weaver and now Jack Flaherty joining St. Louis’ staff. Gomber has positioned himself to be a factor in 2018 with a strong finishing kick, including a 5-0, 0.91 mark in August with 44 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. His 6-foot-5 build and high slot create angle to his fastball, making him hard to square up consistently (.219 opponents average).
15. Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians (22)
Are you a Bieber believer yet? No one in the minor leagues has thrown more quality strikes this season than the former UC Santa Barbara ace, a 2016 fourth-round pick who’s finishing his first full season in Double-A. He issued two walks in two starts this week, a sure sign of fatigue, as he has just 10 in 167.1 innings all year. He’s the classic strike-throwing college righthander in the Thomas Eshelman mold; both former Big West aces have had strong seasons and profile as back-of-the-rotation starters.
16. Ryan Borucki, LHP, Blue Jays (23)
The best changeup in the Blue Jays system has led Borucki to Double-A this season, and then he made his final start with Triple-A Buffalo. The 2012 15th-rounder, signed for $426,000, has taken the ball every turn, pounded the zone and kept the ball in the ballpark, giving up just seven homers all season. He’s not J.A. Happ yet, but he has a chance to have a similar career.
17. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Twins (21)
High Class A Fort Myers
The Twins had to be patient with Thorpe as the Aussie needed most of two years to recover from Tommy John surgery and its rehabilitation. He even made a start with Double-A Chattanooga in August before returning to Fort Myers, where the Miracle is headed for the playoffs. Thorpe has a recovered his firm fastball and is lined up for a big year in Double-A in 2018.
18. Tyler Nevin, 1b/3b, Rockies (20)
Low Class A Asheville
The son of Phil Nevin missed almost all of 2016 with a hamstring injury that required surgical repair. Injuries have limited him to 72 games in 2017 as well, and the Rockies added 2016 draft pick Colton Welker to their third-base stable, prompting Nevin to play more first base than third of late. He earned South Atlantic League player of the week honors from Aug. 21-27, then had five more hits in 13 at-bats—including a homer Tuesday at Columbia—to finish this week.
19. Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres (22)
Double-A San Antonio
A listed 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Reyes has had a fairly unremarkable career, never ranking in the Padres’ Top 30. But in the last six weeks, no power hitter in the minors has hit for more, well, power. Reyes slugged four homers on the week, dominated Midland in a 6-for-13 series showing and has 14 homers since July 24. Only Giancarlo Stanton has more in pro baseball, according to the Missions. He’ll have to keep hitting because his other tools are fringy.
20. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP, Astros (23)
The Astros traded Franklin Perez to the Tigers for Justin Verlander, giving up one of their top pitching prospects, but they have others. Armenteros, who left Cuba in 2012, has slowly risen up the system, and the 23-year-old has shined down the stretch in the offensive Pacific Coast League, with a 7-1, 2.03 mark in the league. His last two starts (one in this period) have included 15 scoreless innings, just two hits and three walks allowed and 17 strikeouts.
Moises Gomez, OF, Rays (19)
Signed for just $40,000 in 2014, Gomez was young for the signing class and just turned 19. He made a bit of a name for himself in the last year of the Venezuelan Summer League, showing a power-speed mix but also some plate discipline. Gomez finished the Rookie-level Appalachian League season with his best week of the year, with a six-game hitting streak that included six extra-base hits and his fifth homer of the year. His .275/.328/.398 season should set up the 5-foot-11, 200-pound right fielder, who has the strength and bat speed to produce power, for his full-season debut in 2018.