Spring Training Hot Sheet: Baseball’s 10 Hottest Prospects From The Past Week (3/7/23)

The Hot Sheet is back! Baseball America’s staff ranks the 10 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did through March 6. Contributing this week was Josh Norris.

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. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Reds
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .688/.647/1.313 (11-for-16), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Encarnacion-Strand is a nightmare to two groups of people: Cactus League pitchers and uniform embroiderers. The former Twins prospect who came over as part of the haul for Tyler Mahle, Encarnacion-Strand has demolished the ball early and often in spring training and is the kind of hitter who will have Reds fans dreaming of a better tomorrow. 

2. Jordan Walker, 3B/OF, Cardinals
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .429/.429/1.000 (9-for-21), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: At just 20 years old, Walker is already putting on displays of power that could power all the light stanchions in the Grapefruit League. The fearsome slugger impressed in both the Texas League and the Arizona Fall League in 2022 and has a shot at the Cardinals’ left field job on Opening Day. If he keeps hitting like this, it will be hard to keep him down for long. 

3. Lawrence Butler, 1B, Athletics
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .615/.688/1.231 (8-for-13), 4 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The powerful Butler shortened his swing in 2022 and still showed the ability to hit the ball quite hard. He missed time with an arm injury but made up the at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, where he showed both power and plate discipline. He’s started strong in the Cactus League and faces a big test in 2023, when he’ll reach Double-A for the first time. If he can keep his plate discipline strong while still hitting for power, he could move up the A’s prospect ranks in a hurry. 

4. Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .385/.429/1.154 (5-for-13), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty are the clear top tier of Mets prospects, but Mauricio’s upside is too loud to be ignored. He’s got the twitchiness and impact that teams covet, but his plate discipline needs to get a lot better before he can fully tap into the natural gifts that allowed him to be one of four minor leaguers in 2022 with 25 or more of both doubles and homers and 20 or more stolen bases. It’s a long way until Opening Day, but Mauricio is still just 21 and is continuing to tease at his potential. 

5. Blake Sabol, C, Giants
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .462/.533/1.154 (6-for-13), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Sabol was plucked in the Rule 5 draft and is now part of a large group of catchers vying for a job in San Francisco. Sabol’s rep is as a bat-first player who needs a bit more polish defensively. It’s very early in the spring, but the 25-year-old Sabol is letting his bat make the case for his inclusion on the Opening Day roster. 

6. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .636/.636/1.182 (7-for-11), 5 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Kjerstad’s injury history is well documented, but he finally got on the field last year and was excellent. He crushed the Arizona Fall League and has started strong in the Grapefruit League, with a pair of home runs among his seven hits. He should spend most of his time in 2023 at the upper levels. If he continues to produce, he’ll make the No. 1 farm system in baseball that much stronger. 

7. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .400/.438/.867 (6-for-15), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Once the weather warmed up in the Midwest League last season, Soderstrom busted out and showed why he is one of the best offensive prospects in the game. He jumped three levels last year, from High-A to Triple-A, and should put up video game numbers in 2023 because of his talent and the extraordinarily hitter-friendly atmosphere he’ll call home in Las Vegas. There’s plenty of doubt as to his future defensive home, but like a baseball Taylor Swift, he’s a hitter who’s gonna hit, hit, hit. 

8. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .471/.526/.706 (8-for-17), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Sure, Mets owner Steve Cohen might have the deepest pockets in the game, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t produce a few more homegrown stars to complement Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. Francisco Alvarez and Baty could fill that bill as early as this season. Baty has started strong this spring and has the bat to profile at either third base or left field if he has to make the move full-time. 

9. Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .400/.438/.800 (6-for-15), 6 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: The Red Sox are in a bit of a rebuild at this point, but Casas could pair with Rafael Devers in the coming years to give Boston a pair of corner infield cornerstones. The hulking first baseman gave the Red Sox a taste of his power in 2022 when he swatted five home runs in the big leagues. Given a long-term chance this year, they hope he’ll become the complete hitter they projected when they drafted him in 2018. 

10. Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .429/.500/.857 (6-for-14), 6 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Dominguez had an excellent 2022 season that started in Low-A and ended with one of the loudest playoff performances in recent memory during Somerset’s run to the Eastern League championship. The 20-year-old has dazzled in the early going in the Grapefruit League, showing hints of the tremendous tool set that had fans eagerly awaiting his pro debut in 2021 after it was waylaid for a season by the pandemic. If he goes back to Double-A and mashes, his already-excellent prospect stock could take a huge jump. 


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