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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (4/29/19)

Welcome back to the Hot Sheet, which ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from April 23-28. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Justin Coleman and Ben Badler.

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. Luis Urias, 2B, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .429/.500/1.250 (12-for-28), 11 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 11 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Urias went 2-for-24 in his first stint with the Padres this year and was sent back to Triple-A on April 21, with manager Andy Green citing the need for Urias to find his rhythm and timing. Back in the Pacific Coast League, San Diego’s No. 3 prospect appears to have found them both. Urias went 2-for-4 in his first game back with El Paso, went 3-for-5 the next day and reached a crescendo over the weekend. Urias hit two home runs Saturday night, the first multi-home run game of his career. On Sunday he took it one step further, hitting three home runs in a 10-6 victory over Las Vegas. His five home runs over the weekend came in a span of eight plate appearances, and overall he has seven home runs in 10 games with El Paso this season. With the 36-year-old Ian Kinsler batting .139 with a .471 OPS, the time is fast approaching for Urias to assume his place as the Padres’ everyday second baseman for good. (KG)

2. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Team: Triple-A San Antonio (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .450/.522/1.050 (9-for-20), 5 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: When Hiura squares it up, the ball is flying. Of his 28 hits, 17 have been extra-base hits, including seven home runs. His strikeout rate early on is up from last year, but there isn't much question about Hiura's pure hitting ability, as he's one of the best natural hitters in the minors. (BB)

3. Wander Franco, SS, Rays
Team: Low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .429/.500/1.000 (9-for-21), 7 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: With Vladimir Guerrero Jr.., Eloy Jimenez and Fernando Tatis Jr. all in the big leagues, Franco is next in line for the title of best prospect in baseball. So far, he’s doing nothing to prove otherwise. He continues to exhibit otherworldly contact ability, plate discipline and pop through his first test at full-season ball. Oh, and he’s the youngest player in the Midwest League and the third-youngest in all the minor leagues. (JN)

4. Kris Bubic, RHP, Royals
Team: Low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.38, 13 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: The Royals’ No. 10 prospect had two good starts back-to-back for Lexington, collecting 10 strikeouts in his second start of the week. Working mostly with a three-pitch mix, Bubic gave up just two earned runs in 13 innings. His control has improved to a 2.45 walks per nine innings, in contrast to his 4.50 walks per nine innings last season. (JC)

5. Zach Haake, RHP, Royals
Team: Low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 0-2, 1.64, 2 GS, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: When Haake was at Kentucky, he bounced between being a hard-throwing short-stint reliever and being a fill-in weekend starter. Bouncing back and forth didn't really seem to suit the hard-throwing righthander, and his junior season fell apart. The Royals drafted him in the sixth round despite an 8.42 ERA and have worked to help him develop the consistency and stamina he'd previously lacked. So far, it's working out pretty well. Haake is throwing strikes more consistently and carrying his velocity deeper in games. He still may end up moving back to the bullpen one day, but he's got a better chance to stay a starter than it looked like a year ago. (JJ)

6. Yonathan Daza, OF, Rockies
Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .480/.517/.960 (12-for-25), 6 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, O SO

The Scoop: Although he went hitless during his brief three-game stint in the big leagues, Daza has been tearing up Triple-A. While he has been polished defensively for quite some time, the hit tool is still maturing for the Rockies’ No. 19 prospect. Not only is he showing power, but five of his six games this week Daza had multi-hit performances, including a four-hit game against Triple-A Salt Lake. (JC)

7. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .391/.462/.957 (9-for-23), 6 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Riley got off to a slow start, but like the rest of the Gwinnett lineup, he's just finished up a very good week. As a team, Gwinnett posted a .985 OPS over the past week. Riley was a big part of that as he had at least one extra-base hit in five of Gwinnett's six games. As long as Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman are healthy, there's no clear path for Riley to get regular time in the majors this year. Riley is playing a little bit of first base, but he's yet to log any time in the outfield this season, which was proposed as one other avenue to big league playing time. (JJ)

8. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Team: Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .409/.480/.909 (9-for-22), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Kelenic established himself as one of the premier high school hitters in the country last year, when the Mets drafted him with the No. 6 overall pick. The early returns are promising, with Kelenic showing a calm, balanced swing from the left side and a good eye for the strike zone that has translated to immediate success. (BB)

9. Spencer Howard, RHP, Phillies
Team: High Class A Clearwater (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.25, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 11 SO, 0 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Howard, who was primarily a reliever in college, has found his way as a full-time starter as a pro and has been nothing short of dominant this season. He pitches with a powerful fastball that sits in the 93-96 mph range and regularly touches higher, including flecks of triple-digits. He backs it up with a traditional complement of curveball, slider and changeup, any of which can project as plus offerings. There’s still command and consistency issues to iron out, but it’s very easy to see a spot in the middle of a rotation in Howard’s future. (JN)

10. Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays
Team: High Class A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Pearson has been nearly untouchable his first five starts and delivered another masterpiece April 25. The flamethrowing righthander retired 11 straight to open the game, took a no-hitter into the fifth and finished with a career high 10 strikeouts. After allowing back-to-back hits top open the fifth and receiving a mound visit, Pearson promptly struck out the next three batters on 11 pitches to finish his day. Pearson is now 3-0, 0.95 to start the season, with 30 strikeouts and two walks in 19 innings. (KG)

11. Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
Team: Low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .417/.462/.833 (10-for-24), 3 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Given his college pedigree and draft position, Bohm should be mashing at low Class A … and he is. Scouts are split on both his future position—first or third base—and whether he’ll have enough power to profile at either corner. There’s at least average power (which could multiply once he gets to use the baseballs in play in Triple-A and the big leagues) right now, and he’s got the arm strength to play the hot corner. Now it’s a matter of refining his footwork and increasing his mobility. (JN)

12. Ibandel Isabel, 1B, Reds
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .323/.344/.742 (10-for-31), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Ibandel has massive raw power, so when a pitcher make a mistake, he has the juice to drive it out to any part of the park. Ibandel's big swing and inability to control the strike zone lead to a lot of strikeouts and not many walks, but the pure power grades out among the best in the minors. (BB)

13. Anthony Kay, LHP, Mets
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 17 SO, 5 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Kay certainly lived up to his name over his last two starts, racking up 17 punchouts. Arguably the Mets’ best pitching prospect, the lefthander showed a fastball up to 95 mph with a potentially plus changeup and an average slider. That mix was enough to carve over two consecutive outings, including one against Akron that featured his second time as a pro with double-digit strikeouts. It’s just his second pro season, but he could move quickly and settle in toward the back of the Mets’ rotation. (JN)

14. Brendan McKay, LHP/DH, Rays
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: 0-0, 0.90, 2 GS, 10 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 15 SO.

The Scoop: McKay's uniqueness as a two-way player can sometimes overshadow just how impressive he is as a pitcher. The Rays bumped him up to Double-A this spring, even though his bat was likely to be overmatched by the promotion. So far, that's been true—he's hitting .178/.255/.200 and is 1-for-his-last-20. But so far the Southern League has also failed to provide much of a challenge for McKay as a pitcher. Since signing, McKay has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the minors. His control is nearly impeccable and he gets swings and misses on his 91-94 mph fastball in the zone, setting up his curveball, cutter and changeup. Against Mississippi on April 22, McKay threw strikes on 78 percent of his pitches. Normally that would be too many strikes, but in McKay's case, he was able to simply blow M-Braves hitters away so there wasn't really any reason to nibble. McKay got 24 swinging strikes in just 66 pitches (36 percent). (JJ)


Rangers Will Take Patient Approach With Spencer Howard

The Rangers plan to let their newest addition build his pitch count up in the major leagues in a starting role.

15. Tanner Houck, RHP, Red Sox.
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern League)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Boston’s No. 7 prospect didn’t allow a run in his two starts this week. He has improved his control after allowing six walks in his first two starts of the season, and he allowed only one walk across 11 innings this week. Houck began to turn a corner midway through last season as he went back to his lower arm slot after toying with raising his release point. Other than a very rough debut this season (seven runs in four innings against Reading), Houck has now allowed only one run in 16 innings in his last three starts. (JC)

16. Abraham Toro, 3B, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .409/.462/.727 (9-for-22), 8 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Toro's production tailed off last year when the Astros promoted him to Double-A, but he's hitting .276/.330/.483 through 22 games in his return to the Texas League. There isn't a lot of flash to Toro's game, but he has a fast bat and a sound hitting approach from both sides of the plate. (BB)

17. William Contreras, C, Braves.
Team: High Class A Florida (Florida State League)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .448/.515/.586 (13-for-29), 6 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: With the Braves’ system a bit thinner on positional talent than it was a few years ago, Contreras is showing that he could be the total package. His athleticism works well behind the dish, and Contreras collected 13 hits in 29 at-bats this week. The Braves’ No. 9 prospect is starting to show that he can be a rare player that provides value on offense and defense at the catcher position. (JC)

18. Parker Dunshee, RHP, Athletics.
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas League)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 15 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 0 HR

The Scoop: Dunshee is continuing his dominance of the Texas League, going 15 innings across two starts without allowing an earned run. The Athletics’ No. 14 prospect throws four different pitches and is able to manipulate his fastball to act more like a cutter against lefthanded hitters. If he keeps trending positively, it isn’t unreasonable to think that he could pitch as a swingman in the big leagues this season. (JC)

19. Daulton Varsho, C, Diamondbacks
Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern League)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .348/.444/.652 (8-for-23), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Varsho collected eight hits in 23 at-bats this week, including two home runs and a double. His swing is compact and has some loft, which is allowing him to hit for more power. The D-backs’ No. 3 prospect is known as an offensive-minded catcher whose athleticism may allow him to move around the diamond in order to enhance his value. (JC)

20. DL Hall, LHP, Orioles
Team: High Class A Frederick (Carolina)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Hall, the second-youngest pitcher in the Carolina League, had a rocky start to his season but turned it around in his latest outing. The lefthander stymied Winston-Salem—which includes wunderkind outfielder Luis Robert and contact machine Nick Madrigal—for five innings. Utilizing a four-pitch mix fronted by a lively mid-90s fastball that touched 97 mph, Hall racked up a season-high eight Ks, including Robert twice.


Ljay Newsome, RHP, Mariners

One of the beneficiaries of the Mariners' offseason camp that works to help pitchers add velocity, Newsome's stuff has ticked up this year. He now sits 89-91 mph and touches 93 mph. He's getting a lot of swings and misses just off the zone because he locates his fastball and gets ahead in counts. That approach has worked surprisingly well so far. The 22-year-old leads the minors with 46 strikeouts. He has only four walks in 29.2 innings despite not having any pitch that grades as even above-average. Newsome's fast start is reminiscent of what Ben Lively did in the California League in 2014 when he dominated with average stuff, command and plenty of deception—Lively went 5-0, 0.31 that April with a 40-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Newsome's stuff is a tick below Lively's and is not that of a significant prospect, but he's putting himself on the radar, which is a strong step forward for a 5-foot-11 righthander who was a 26th-round draft pick.

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