Ranking The 20 Hottest MLB Prospects | Hot Sheet (4/9/24)


The Hot Sheet is back! Baseball America’s staff ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers how minor league players performed through April 8. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, Geoff Pontes, J.J. Cooper and Matt Eddy.

This simply recognizes how the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects.

You can chat with Josh Norris at 2 p.m. ET. We’re also hosting a weekly Hot Sheet show at 3 p.m. ET on YouTube. Check out our channel here.

1. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .444/.531/1.222 (12-for-27) 9 R, 3 2B, 6 HR, 21 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: Sending Norfolk to play at the hitter’s heaven that is Charlotte’s Truist Field against a Charlotte team that has had the worst record in Triple-A in 2021, 2022, 2023 and so far in 2024 went about as could be expected. The Tides scored 11.8 runs per game in their six-game series while winning five of six. But the Tides’ juggernaut of a team also averaged nine runs per game when winning two of three against Durham. Kjerstad was the star of the Charlotte series. His six home runs he hit this week are more than anyone else in the minors has hit this year. No other MiLB hitter has 20 RBIs this year. (JJ)

2. Kyle Stowers, OF, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 26

Why He’s Here: .308/.357/.962 (8-for-26), 7 R, 2 2B, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: Stowers is the Orioles’ Triple-A outfielder facing the most pressing questions about where he fits in their long-term plans. He first reached Triple-A in 2021, then reached the majors in 2022. He now has 825 Triple-A plate appearances with 45 Triple-A home runs. He’s been exceptional in 2024, but it’s hard to figure out how that translates into a significant role in Baltimore barring injuries. Colton Cowser is in Baltimore serving as a lefthanded hitting outfielder who can play all three spots. Stowers is effectively blocked by a similar, younger player who is viewed as having a higher ceiling. If you view Stowers as a corner outfielder, Kjerstad fits the same niche and is also younger. All Stowers can do is continue to produce and carve out a role somewhere in the majors, whether as a call-up or trade piece. (JJ)

3. Connor Norby, OF, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .393/.455/.821 (11-for-28) 11 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 3 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Speaking of roster log jams, Norby is yet another outfielder trying to hit his way to a role in Baltimore. He hasn’t thrown away his infielder’s mitt. But with Jackson Holliday playing second base most days in Norfolk, Norby has become a corner outfielder who can slide back to second base as needed. Norby’s bat should be good enough to handle the switch, and so far, he’s looked reasonably comfortable in the outfield. He did sail a throw well over the catcher on one throw home, but generally he’s making the routine plays in the outfield while mashing at the plate. (JJ)

4. Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .407/.500/.630 (11-for-27) 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 10 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: To the best of our collective memory, we’ve never had this happen before where the top four players on a Prospect Hot Sheet all came from the same team. The three-game abbreviated schedule for Double-A, High-A and Low-A played a role, but Norfolk’s utter dominance this week is the driving factor. Norfolk has 29 home runs in nine games this year. No other MiLB team has more than 14. As a team, the Tides are hitting .343/.433/.671. Mayo has been one of the linchpins of the Tides’ dominance. He’s hitting more for average than power so far, but don’t worry about whether the power will come: he has three of the 20 hardest-hit balls in Triple-A this year. (JJ)

5. Sean Sullivan, LHP, Rockies 

Team: High-A Spokane (Northwest)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Sullivan has found success wherever he’s pitched over his last three seasons. From his freshman season in the Big Ten with Northwestern, to his summer on the Cape, to his sophomore year at Wake Forest, Sullivan has thrown strikes, gotten outs and missed bats. He’s a low-slot lefthander with a 6-foot-4 starter’s frame and unique fastball traits. In Sullivan’s High-A debut, the lefty dominated Vancouver over six innings, striking out 13 while generating 22 swinging strikes in the effort. While Sullivan doesn’t stand out for his velocity, his sidearm slot and flat fastball plane create deception. (GP)

6. Cade Povich, LHP, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.82, 2 GS, 11 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Povich was nearly as dominant as the Tides’ bats as he cruised through Charlotte’s lineup in two starts this week. Surviving at Truist Field isn’t easy, but Povich stayed away from hard contact by keeping Knights’ hitters guessing at what was coming. Povich now has a very varied arsenal with a low-90s fastball, a sweepy slider, a slower, bigger curveball, a changeup and a cutter. It’s a great way to force hitters to defend the whole plate. (JJ)

7. Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers

Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.24, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 15 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: After nearly two full seasons in Double-A, Leiter moved to Triple-A at the end of the 2023 season and opened back at the level this season. So far, so good. His first outing was excellent, and saw him finish with nine strikeouts and no walks over five two-hit innings. The walk total is the most notable figure, considering he had just one start in all of 2023 without issuing a free pass. Leiter’s second outing was a bit more uneven, with three walks and six strikeouts in 3.1 innings. Overall, Leiter has thrown 89 strikes in 143 pitches this season, good for a 62.2% clip, more than 6% better than the rate he produced at the level in 2023. (JN) 

8. Jackson Holliday, 2B/SS, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .333/.543/.542 (8-for-24), 12 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 10 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Holliday reached base in well over half of his plate appearances this week. He walked more times this week than all but three Triple-A players this season, and he hit line drives all over the field. And that ranks him sixth among Norfolk Tides on this week’s Hot Sheet. It was that kind of week for Norfolk. (JJ)

9. Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates

Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The reigning No. 1 overall pick is doing No. 1 overall pick things. After showcasing his wicked arsenal in short bursts all spring, he is overpowering hitters with triple-digit heat and then snatching their souls with filthy breaking balls. Eleven of his 18 outs this season have come on strikeouts, and he’s got 19 whiffs over the course of both outings. It shouldn’t be long before he’s on the mound in Pittsburgh for his big league debut. (JN)

10. Jordan Beck, OF, Rockies

Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .321/.444/.786 (9-for-28), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 7 BB, 11 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: It was easy to see coming into the season that the combination of Beck’s plus power and the hitting happy parks of the Pacific Coast League would yield eye-popping stats. In Albuquerque’s first two series of the year, Beck has hits in six of eight games, and had reached base in every game. Beck hit three home runs over that time and has accumulated six total extra-base hits. The ball has jumped off Beck’s bat so far. He now has four games with two or more balls in play recorded at 100 mph or higher, and has two recorded hits at 108 mph or higher. Beck could hit his way into the Rockies lineup sometime early this summer. (GP)

11. Caleb Durbin, 2B, Yankees

Team: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .464/.579/.786 (13-for-28), 6 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 8 BB, 2 SO, 7-for-7 SB

The Scoop: The Yankees acquired Durbin from the Braves after the 2022 season in a trade that sent Lucas Luetge to Atlanta. He compiled a .395 on-base percentage in his first year in the Yankees organization in 2023 and then led the Arizona Fall League with 21 stolen bases. Durbin climbed to Triple-A this season and is off to a hot start with five multi-hit games in his first eight. As a 5-foot-6, righthanded-hitting second baseman, he will need to continue hitting and continue mixing in starts at third base and shortstop to get an MLB look. (ME)

12. Joey Loperfido, OF, Astros

Team: Triple-A Sugar Land (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .258/.306/.742 (8-for-31), 7 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBIs, 3 BB, 14 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Loperfido was one of bigger standouts from spring training, and he’s carried a lot of that start into the season. He doesn’t have a particular standout tool, but he does so many things well enough that he should reach the big leagues at some point this season. Loperfido earned placement on this list thanks to his power output, which places him second in the minor leagues. He had one wipeout game where he struck out six times in as many at-bats, but otherwise he’s been excellent in the early going. (JN)

13. Keider Montero, RHP, Tigers

Team: Triple-A Toledo (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After six seasons with the Tigers, Montero pitched his way onto the 40-man roster in 2023. Now, Montero is very much in the short and long-term plans of the Tigers. Montero hasn’t allowed a run over two starts with Triple-A Toledo. He’s been heavy with his fastball usage, throwing the pitch over 60% of the time. There’s good reason behind it, as the pitch sits 95-96 mph touching 97 mph with ride. He mixes a slider, curveball and changeup. Montero has relief risk but has continued to see success as a starter. (GP)

14. Noah Schultz, LHP, White Sox

Team: High-A Winston-Salem (South Atlantic)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Much like Lord Finesse, Schultz is nasty, period. The lefthander flummoxed the competition in all but one of his outings last season, and so far health is the only roadblock he’s faced. He established a new career high in his first turn of 2024 by striking out 10 Asheville hitters over the course of four shutout frames. The spindly southpaw carves the opposition with three fantastic pitches, the gem of which is his absolutely disgusting slider that can be poison to lefties and righties alike. If he can stay healthy this year, he has a chance to move very quickly through the minors. (JN)

15. Walter Pennington, LHP, Royals

Team: Triple-A Omaha (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: We highlighted Pennington on our spring training Hot Sheet when he stood out as a dominating reliever against big league hitters. Pennington has carried that success over into the regular season. He’s struck out 10 of 25 batters he’s faced so far. He’s walked two, given up one single and one double. Pennington doesn’t light up a radar gun, but his low-three quarters arm slot makes his slider an extremely tough pitch for lefties to handle, and he has developed a cutter to battle righthanders. Pennington looks like he could help the Royals’ big league bullpen at some point this year. (JJ)

16. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates 

Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .405/.463/.595 (15-for-37), 11 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: It’s been a rocky few years for the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 draft as his strikeout rate has skyrocketed. Gonzales seems to have gotten his swing right heading into the season. He now has hits in eight of Indianapolis’ first nine games and has six multi-hit games already this season. Gonzales has flashed some power too, with three games already with multiple balls in play above 100 mph. If Gonzales can find a happy medium between his natural hitting ability and power, he has a chance to be a resurgent post-hype candidate. (GP)

17. Dustin Harris, OF, Rangers

Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .310/.344/.655 (9-for-29), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Harris is one of the Rangers’ best remaining prospects in the minor leagues. Where he plays defensively is an open question—he’s played third base and left field this season—but his value will likely predominantly come from what he does in the batter’s box. In the early days of the season, he’s found plenty of success in that regard. He clubbed three home runs—including one of inside-the-park variety—accounting for a third of his hits for the season. He’s primed to make his debut at some point this year. (JN)

18. Adrian Del Castillo, C, D-backs

Team: Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .412/.444/1.059 (7-for-17), 8 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: If the gains Del Castillo showed in spring training are real, then he might stand as yet another lesson in patience in player development. The Miami alum’s stock took a tumble in his draft year both for his lack of defensive certainty and for an offensive performance that didn’t live up to his reputation. His minor league career has largely been nondescript as well, but scouts this spring reported a rejuvenated bat and glovework that has improved enough that he could be in line for his debut at some point this season. (JN)

19. Landon Knack, RHP, Dodgers

Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Age: 26

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 3.60, 10 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: Knack broke camp with the Dodgers, even after he was optioned to Triple-A early in camp. He returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City when the team returned from Korea. While Knack awaits his next opportunity in the major leagues, he’s performed well over two starts with Oklahoma City. While Knack hasn’t shown overpowering stuff, he generates whiffs with his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. Knack’s ability to land a variety of shapes and move the ball around the zone is his bread and butter. (GP)

20. Jonah Tong, RHP, Mets

Team: Low-A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Tong is a native Canadian who transferred to Georgia Premier Academy as a high school senior in 2022. The Mets drafted him in the seventh round, attracted to his riding fastball properties and athletic delivery. This is the first season in which Tong has broken camp with an affiliate, and his first appearance for St. Lucie was a promising one. He struck out 11 Daytona batters in 4.1 innings using a 92-94 mph fastball and mid-80s cutter as his primary out pitches. Tong also got whiffs with a curveball and changeup. (ME)


Zyhir Hope, OF, Dodgers

Team: Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .417/.533/.533 (5-for-12), 5 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Dodgers added Hope and Jackson Ferris in the January trade that shipped Michael Busch to the Cubs. Chicago had drafted Hope out of high school in the 11th round last year and paid him $400,000, the equivalent of fifth-round money. He has outstanding speed and quick hands that helped him crush three early home runs in California League play, including one with a 113 mph exit velocity. The power is real. If Hope hits, he could take off as a prospect. (ME)

Landen Maroudis, RHP, Blue Jays 

Team: Low-A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Just a few miles down the road from his childhood home and his high school alma mater, Landen Maroudis made his professional debut. The scheduled starter for Sunday’s game Maroudis was moved back to four innings in relief in lieu of an Alek Manoah rehab appearance. With Dunedin down 7-4 Maroudis entered the game in the sixth and quieted the roar of the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Over four perfect innings Maroudis struck out five, touched 96.4 mph and sat 94.5 mph, mixing in a slider at 85 mph and a low-80s curveball. During the spring, Maroudis impressed on the backfields for his combination of present stuff, projection and pitchability. The fourth rounder could be a potential mover this season. (GP)

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