Ranking The 20 Hottest MLB Prospects | Hot Sheet (5/14/24)


Baseball America’s Hot Sheet ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers how minor league players performed through May 13. Contributing this week were Baseball America staffers 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.

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1. James Wood, OF, Nationals

Team: Triple-A Rochester
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .455/.519/1.182 (10-for-22), 10 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS

The Scoop: One of Wood’s most enjoyable traits to watch is how he sometimes homers on pitchers where he looks to be just trying to extend his arms to make contact. His power is so prodigious that balls that look like attempts to poke the ball over the infield just keep carrying. Wood’s 94.6 mph average exit velocity ranks No. 1 among Triple-A hitters and trails only four MLB hitters. This year Wood is also showing plenty of timing and adjustability to his swing. He’s staying back and poking the ball to left field when needed—six of his 11 doubles are to left. (JC)

2. Xavier Isaac, 1B, Rays

Team: High-A Bowling Green (South Atlantic)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .529/.636/1.176 (9-for-17) 9 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SB, 1 SB, 0 CS

The Scoop: Isaac’s 2024 season has not been as impressive statistically as 2023, but the pieces are still all here for a potential impact bat. He hits the ball hard, makes plenty of contact and doesn’t chase bad pitches out of the strike zone. This week is a useful reminder of what he can do. This is one of the best hitting first basemen in the minors. (JC)

3. Carson Spiers, RHP, Reds

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

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 12 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 3 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: For all of the Reds’ offensive issues, the rotation has been exceptional. Free agent signing Frankie Montas’ 4.20 ERA is the worst of the five starters, and the four homegrown starters all have ERAs in the threes. As long as everyone stays healthy, Spiers will sit in Triple-A for much of the season, but he does provide very valuable rotation depth in case an injury does occur. Weeks like this are excellent reminders of the value of a four-pitch strike thrower with durability. (JC)

4. Carson McCusker, OF, Twins 

Team: Double-A Wichita (Texas) 
Age: 25 

Why He’s Here: .526/.591/1.158 (10-for-19), 7 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The legend of Carson McCusker caught fire last week, as the former Indy ball slugger went off against Arkansas. McCusker was signed last summer after three years in the independent Atlantic League. McCusker stands 6-foot-8 with easy top-of-the-scale power. In fact, McCusker has the highest 90th percentile exit velocity in all of the minor leagues among qualified hitters. Last week, McCusker kicked his series off with a bang, going 5-for-5 with three home runs on Tuesday. He continued to reach base throughout the series, getting on-base at least twice in each game. McCusker has outlier power but his lack of bat-to-ball ability will be his biggest hurdle. (GP) 

5. Yilber Diaz, RHP, D-backs

Team: Double-A Amarillo (Southern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.50, 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: What’s the best way to keep the offense at bay in a lumberyard like Amarillo? Don’t let them hit the ball. Diaz has employed that strategy all season long and has reaped the benefits. The powerful righthander has double-digit strikeouts in each of his last two games, which has led to this absurd May line: 13 IP, three hits, one run (earned), three walks and 21 strikeouts. He’s also racked up 43 whiffs in that time, including totals of 21 and 22 that led the entire minor leagues each day. (JN)

6. David Festa, RHP, Twins 

Team: Triple-A St. Paul (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Earlier this week Eli-Ben Porat highlighted Festa in his Statcast standouts. Festa, a 6-foot-6 righthander the Twins drafted in the 13th round of the 2021 draft, has developed into the top pitching prospect in the Twins system. On Saturday, Festa continued his dominance of International League competition, striking out 10. Festa has a good fastball with velocity, ride and a release that plays up due to his average of 7 feet of extension. He mixes a hard slider at 85-87 mph with a high rate of gyro spin and a changeup in the high 80s. Festa needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 draft, meaning he’s likely to be added to the Twins’ active roster this summer. (GP)

7. Sammy Stafura, SS, Reds

Team: ACL Reds (Arizona Complex)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .588/.650/.882 (10-for-17), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS.

The Scoop: The Reds decided to send their 2023 second-round pick to the Arizona Complex League to start his first full season. That’s not a particularly aggressive assignment, but makes some sense considering Stafura was playing in a high school league in New York at this time last year. And if you’re going to head to a complex league, tear it up. That’s what Stafura’s doing. He had two four-hit games this week and is hitting .525 overall. The moved-up complex league season is potentially beneficial for players like Stafura, who can get established in the ACL and then move up to Low-A later this season. (JC)

8. Zebby Matthews, RHP, Twins

Team: Double-A Wichita (Texas)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Matthews had excellent control last year, but this year he’s taken it to a hard-to-fathom extreme. In five starts and 29.1 innings, he’s walked no one. He’s hit no batters. He’s yet to throw a wild pitch. Matthews has a 39-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 69.3 strike percentage (far beyond the normal 63% strike percentage). According to Synergy Sports data, Matthews has thrown 411 pitches. Just 29 of those were in three-ball counts, and 21 of those 29 were 3-2 counts. Matthews isn’t a soft-tossing control specialist. He’s added nearly two ticks to his fastball, as he now sits 95-96 and touches 97-98. The Twins are great at developing day two/day three college pitching picks into big leaguers. Matthews should become the next example. (JC)

9. Jake Bloss, RHP, Astros

Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 22 

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: After a strong Double-A debut last Sunday, Bloss had a near repeat performance in his second Double-A start. He’s now made consecutive starts where he’s gone six scoreless innings allowing two hits. In Saturday’s start Bloss allowed two hits, striking out four with no walks. His Double-A WHIP through two starts is 0.33 with a .100 opponent batting average. Bloss jumped from No. 11 in the Astros preseason rankings to No. 8 in the recent update. The 2023 third-round pick out of Georgetown mixes a four-seam fastball with ride and cut sitting 94-95 mph, a sweeper at 82-83 mph with 11-12 inches of sweep, a cutter, changeup and curveball. He mixes all of his pitches and shows average command of his entire mix. (GP) 

10. Niko Kavadas, 1B, Red Sox 

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

Why He’s Here: .500/.591/1.056 (9-for-18), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: While Kavadas’ college exploits at Notre Dame pale in comparison to the home run totals of recent years, the Red Sox first baseman has always shown a knack for finding the barrel. Last week at Buffalo, Kavadas continued his assault on the International League. He collected hits in all six games he played in and had home runs in three separate games. Kavadas is currently hitting .319/.467/.702 with nine home runs and an 18% walk rate across 32 games. With the Red Sox trying a variety of options at first base due to the injury to Triston Casas, could Kavadas find his way to the majors this summer? (GP) 

11. Adrian Del Castillo, C, Diamondbacks

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

Why He’s Here: .522/.560/1.000 (12-for-23), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Tacoma’s pitching staff is likely very happy to see Del Castillo go after last week. Over five games Del Castillo collected a dozen hits and had multiple hits in all five games. After a few up and down seasons Del Castillo has really found his stride in 2024. He’s making contact at a high rate, and has a well above-average 90th percentile exit velocity with a mark of 105.9 mph. Del Castillo has split his time between DH and catcher and is a heavily bat-driven prospect. His combination of average or better plate skills, power and solid swing decisions has Del Castillo trending up. (GP)

12. Aidan Miller, SS/3B, Phillies

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

Why He’s Here: .438/.526/.938 (7-for-16), 2 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Miller has been nothing short of magnificent in his first full season as a pro. He’s hitting the ball hard and often while also controlling the strike zone exceptionally well for someone his age. Facing Tampa this past week, Miller, whom the Phillies took in the first round last year, slammed a pair of home runs and doubled his season total in the process. His showcase game came on May 8, when he collected his second four-hit game of the year. The outburst included two doubles, a home run and a season-high four RBIs. (JN)

13. Jesus Baez, SS, Mets

Team: Low-A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .391/.440/.739 (9-for-23), 3 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Baez was part of a stacked 2022 international signing class for the Mets and so far has stood out as one of the best of that year’s group. The 19-year-old Baez scuffled a bit in the Florida Complex League a year ago and earned uneven reviews from scouts. He’s started strong in 2024, however, and his four home runs—including a pair this past week—are already double his total from 2023. As an amateur, Baez was known for his powerful bat and throwing arm, and the former is beginning to blossom in the early portion of this season. (JN)

14. J.T. Ginn, RHP, Athletics

Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: In the not too distant past, J.T. Ginn was considered one of the top pitching prospects in college baseball. Since that time Ginn has dealt with injury and at times ineffectiveness. Fast forward to 2024 and Ginn is enjoying one of the best stretches of his professional career. In his first career Triple-A start Ginn struck out 10 while generating 20 whiffs. Ginn mixed primarily his sinker at 92-94 mph with his gyro-cut slider at 82-84 mph. Ginn’s pitch mix is heavily reliant on those two pitches for success. Neither has outlier movement or velocity but he shows above-average command of each. (GP) 

15. Matt Mervis, 1B, Cubs 

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

Why He’s Here: .474/.542/.947 (9-for-19), 4 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Mervis returned from a stint in the major leagues and caught fire in Triple-A. Over five games against Columbus, Mervis reached base in all five games, including four games where he reached base multiple times. His signature game of the week came on Saturday as he collected three hits and slugged a pair of home runs. Mervis finds himself down the pecking order with the Cubs flush with options at first base. He’ll need to continue to produce while he awaits his opportunity. (GP) 

16. Tyler Callihan, 2B, Reds

Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .429/.519/.810 (9-for-21), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 3-for-4 SB

The Scoop: Callihan scuffled through April in the Southern League but has seen the ball well in May. In 11 games he is hitting .324/.442/.559. The Reds drafted Callihan out of high school in the third round in 2019 and have helped him develop more proficiency on defense. This year he’s playing second base and left field. Stringing together more quality weeks like the most recent one will help push him up the Reds’ organizational depth chart. (ME)

17. Zac Veen, OF, Rockies

Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .417/.481/.667 (10-for-24), 5 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: A healthy Zac Veen is a productive Zac Veen. The Rockies outfield prospect missed a chunk of the 2023 season while recovering from surgery on an injury that might have been sapping his performance even before he was placed on the injured list. All that’s in the past now, and Veen is raking at Double-A. The 22-year-old clubbed two more home runs this past week, giving him five for the season, or two more than he’d had in his previous 80 games at Double-A, which were spread across two seasons. At his best, Veen possesses the coveted power-speed combination. Those skills have shown up in spades in 2024. (JN)

18. Robert Calaz, OF, Rockies

Team: ACL Rockies
Age: 18

Why He’s Here: .353/.500/.765 (6-for-17), 3 R, 0 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Calaz was one of the best players in the Dominican Summer League in 2023, and he’s been one of the best players in the very early going in the Arizona Complex League. The powerful teenager crushed his first stateside this past week and added two triples for good measure. The pair of three-baggers equaled his total from 2023. He had 21 extra-base hits over 43 games in the DSL and already has five on his ledger in six games in Arizona. He’s one to watch as the summer heats up down in the desert. (JN)

19. Luke Gold, 1B/OF, Tigers

Team: High-A West Michigan (Midwest)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .412/.524/.882 (7-for-17), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Gold leads the Midwest League with 17 extra-base hits and is batting .309/.398/.600 with seven home runs through 30 games. The third-year pro was drafted in the fifth round in 2022 out of Boston College. Gold played second base as a college junior but has settled into a first base and left field routine in High-A this year, with a few starts at third base. Given his age and experience, he should be in consideration for a Double-A promotion based on his recent power binge. (ME)

20. Jacob Wilson, SS, Athletics

Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .478/.520/.609 (11-for-23), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: As an amateur at Grand Canyon, Wilson earned a reputation as one of the country’s premier bat-to-ball specialists. So far, that skill has translated to pro ball. The 22-year-old collected 40 hits in his first 22 Double-A games, which earned him a ticket to Triple-A Las Vegas, one of the minor leagues’ premier offensive destinations. Against the most advanced arms in the minors, Wilson hasn’t missed a beat. He’s 7 for his first 19 in the PCL and could be in the line to make his big league debut sometime this summer. (JN)


Joe Rock, LHP, Rays

Rock was acquired from Colorado this past offseason in exchange for speedster Greg Jones. With the Rockies in 2024, the lefthander spun his wheels a bit and finished 1-10 with a 4.66 ERA. With Triple-A Durham this season, Rock is rolling. He was excellent in his most recent outing, against Nashville, when he punched out six hitters over five innings while allowing just one unearned run. Nothing in Rock’s arsenal is a particularly knockout offering, but his ability to mix, match, command and change eye levels from a deceptive delivery should be enough to help him reach the big leagues. (JN)

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