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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (5/28/19)

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 May 20-26. Contributing this week were Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Josh Norris, Kyle Glaser and Justin Coleman.

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. Kyle Muller, LHP, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop: If you look at Mueller’s stats for the season, it’s easy to say he’s too wild. And for the first few starts of the season, that was absolutely true. Mueller could not find the strike zone in early April, walking 14 batters in only 8.2 innings. In his first three starts, it was 50-50 whether he was going to throw a strike or a ball. But Muller has had no such problems lately. RIght now, he’s working in and out with a 95-97 mph fastball, using it to set up a big 2-to-8 curveball that generates swings and misses. This month, Muller has walked 11 in 33.1 innings, throwing strikes on 64 percent of his pitches. At one point on Sunday, Muller threw 15 strikes in a row to record six outs, including four strikeouts in two of the easiest innings a pitcher could have. Muller also went 2-for-2 on Sunday with a double, offering a reminder that he was a draftable hitter as well with excellent power. (JJ)

2. Abraham Toro, 3B, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .536/.610/.893 (15-for-28), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: With Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker tearing it up in Triple-A, Toro is flying under the radar a level below. The switch-hitter was on a tear this past week, but he has been making noise all year long. His .337 batting average, .434 on-base percentage and .998 OPS are all the best in the Texas League, and he’s shown the ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate. (JN)

3. Isan Diaz, 2B, Marlins
Team: Triple-A New Orleans (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .440/.560/1.120 (11-for-25), 11 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 6 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Diaz broke out of a season-long slump in a big way last week, homering in five straight games and piecing together four multi-hit games. While the Marlins will likely never get full value back from the Christian Yelich trade, the improvements shown by Diaz and Monte Harrison at Triple-A are encouraging developments toward making the trade potentially more palatable. (KG)

4. Deivi Garcia, RHP, Yankees
Team: Double-A Trenton (Eastern)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.25, 12 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 17 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR

The Scoop: Garcia hasn’t missed a beat since moving to Double-A after a month in the Florida State League. He’s continued to use a mix of a mid-90s fastball and a changeup and curveball that each flash plus to strike out hitters at an astonishing rate. His strikeout rate is just less than 16 hitters per nine innings, the best among all qualified minor leaguers. (JN)

5. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .400/.500/.971 (14-for-35), 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After hitting .165/.211/.388 in 23 games in April, Tucker is batting .360/.462/.843 in 24 games this month. Between Tucker and Yordan Alvarez, the Astros have two future middle-of-the-order mashers in Triple-A who should be up in Houston by the All-Star break. (BB)

6. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 14 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Mize is a pitcher, and pitchers are always risky, but the righthander has already passed the first test of a No. 1 overall pick. At this point in Mark Appel’s career, it was already clear that he was not a dominating ace. The same could be said for Bryan Bullington and Luke Hochevar. Mize has looked dominant. It’s fair to wonder if Mize is too good for the minors. He’s toyed with hitters in high Class A and Double-A, allowing only 42 hits and 11 walks and 74 strikeouts in 78.1 innings. He has a 1.49 ERA over his still brief minor league career. He’s held his opponent scoreless in seven of his 10 starts this year, and he’s worked at least five innings in every start. While 78 minor league innings may seem like very few, it’s more than some of the other dominant top college first-round pitchers. Tim Lincecum had just 63 minor league innings before he arrived in San Francisco. Chris Sale’s minor league apprenticeship was just 10.1 innings. Stephen Strasburg threw 55 minor league innings before his callup. So far, Mize hasn’t really been challenged. With the Tigers going nowhere this year, there’s no real incentive for Detroit to push Mize to the majors yet, but he is showing he’s ready when they are. (JJ)

7. Logan Allen, LHP, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Allen is continuing to prove he is one of the better arms in a stacked San Diego farm system. The lefthander struck out a season-high 10 batters in his only start of the week, needing 104 pitches to navigate through seven innings. The lefthander’s competitiveness and four-pitch mix make for a mature profile on the mound and should help him at the big league level. (JC)

8. Will Craig, 1B, Pirates
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: .400/.500/.833 (12-for-30), 8 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Craig's game power spiked last year, when he slugged 20 home runs in 132 games for Double-A Altoona after hitting six homers the previous season in the high Class A Florida State League. This season, Craig has already gone deep 14 times in 45 games, though that looks more like a boost from the new Triple-A baseballs than a change in approach like he showed last season. (BB)

9. Gavin Lux, SS, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .393/.438/.786 (11-for-28), 8 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The arrows continue to point up on Lux, who probably won't spend much more time in Double-A Tulsa. Lux showed the potential to be a plus hitter last year, and as he's added more strength to go with his bat speed and learned which pitches he can drive with authority, his power has gone up this year. Lux already has 11 home runs in 40 games, four shy of his career-high 15 homers he hit last year. (BB)

10. Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Detroit’s No. 2 prospect dominated in his start against Hartford this week. The righthander matched his season high with 10 strikeouts while continuing to show improved control, allowing just two free passes. In addition, it was his only start in the month of May in which he gave up fewer than three hits. Manning has been consistently throwing strikes and his changeup is continuing to trend in a positive direction. (JC)

11. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Team: Low Class A West Virginia (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .304/.450/.870 (7-for-23), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Edwin Diaz has been excellent for the Mets. Robinson Cano, not so much. The final outcome of the offseason’s most talked-about trade won’t be known for years, but Kelenic is certainly making a good first impression on his new organization. The Mariners prospect is up to a .304 batting average with nine home runs, 25 RBIs and a .952 OPS after his latest big week, and his 101 total bases rank third in the South Atlantic League. (KG)

12. Brendan McKay, LHP, Rays
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: McKay will make his Triple-A pitching debut today (May 28). Southern League hitters will be thrilled to see him go. McKay’s combination of plus stuff and plus control was a riddle the league never figured out. He allowed three runs in his last seven starts for Montgomery. Normally a 70 percent strike percentage would be a case of throwing too many strikes, but in McKay’s case no one is hitting him, so there hasn’t been a reason to nibble more. McKay’s bat will be more challenged by the jump. He had a .448 OPS for Montgomery. (JJ)

13. Shane Baz, RHP, Rays
Team: Low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 10 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 13 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: The final piece in last summer’s Chris Archer trade, Baz continues to impress in his first full season in the Rays system. Since reporting to Bowling Green at the start of May, the righthander has allowed just 12 hits and four earned runs in 20 innings. He has 25 strikeouts against just five walks, is holding opponents to a .174 batting average and has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any start. (KG)

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14. Luis Urias, 2B, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .385/.484/.462 (10-for-26), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Urias has just kept on hitting since returning to Triple-A El Paso from the big leagues. The infielder had at least one hit in every game he played this past week, posting a seven-game hit streak dating back to May 18. The Padres’ No. 3 prospect continues to show that he can put the barrel on the ball with consistency and make use of the whole field. Even though his first stint in the big leagues wasn’t fruitful, a return should be in the works rather soon. (JC)

15. Domingo Leyba, SS/2B, D-backs
Team: Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .412/.459/.941 (14-for-34), 10 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: Leyba doesn't jump out for any big tools, but he has the hand-eye coordination to be a high-contact hitter, with the new PCL baseballs providing some extra juice when he does square it up. Leyba has split time between shortstop and second base, though his arm is better suited at second. (BB)

16. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Pirates
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .333/.440/.905 (7-for-21), 4 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Kramer struggled in his first taste of the majors last year. He’s making the case he deserves another chance with his performance back at Triple-A this year. Kramer has recorded a hit in eight of his last 10 games and actually saw his batting average drop. Overall, he’s hitting .285/.376/.508, and most notably has increased his walk rate nearly five percentage points from last year. (KG)

17. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, Twins
Team: High Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: One of this season’s biggest risers, Balazovic has slashed through the competition at both of the lower levels. He pitches with a mid-90s fastball that touches as high as 97 mph, and he pairs it with two average offspeed pitches in his slider and changeup as well as a curveball that lags slightly behind. His strikeout rate of 13.3 per nine innings is the sixth among all qualified minor leaguers. (JN)

18. Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox
Team: High Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .385/.484/.462 (10-for-26), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 BB, 4 SO, 5-for-5 SB

The Scoop: Duran has a chance to enter June still hitting over .400. The minor league batting average leader had a three-hit and a four-hit game this week. That’s par for the course for Duran—it was Duran’s 11th and 12th game of the season with three or more hits. Duran only has seven games all season where he’s gone hitless. So it’s much more likely on any given night Duran will get three hits than that he’ll go hitless. (JJ)

19. Kris Bubic, LHP, Royals
Team: High Class A Wilmington (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.25, 2 GS, 12 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Kansas City’s No. 10 prospect put together two solid starts this week, pitching past the fifth inning for the first time this month against Asheville. He faced more traffic on the bases in his second start thanks to four walks, but he managed to get through five innings while throwing 55 of 96 pitches for strikes. While Bubic has been inconsistent with his control, his easy delivery and plus changeup help him to work out of jams. (JC)

20. Ljay Newsome, RHP, Mariners
Team: High Class A Modesto (League)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 SO, 0 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Newsome added some velocity after taking part in the Mariners’ “Gas Camp” this past offseason, and the results are clear. He now sits in the low 90s and touches as high as 93 mph, and he is getting swings and misses on 17 percent of his pitches this year. That’s a jump of nearly five percent from last season. He pairs his fastball with an average changeup and a below-average curveball, but the command of his fastball, particularly up in the zone, is strong enough to rack up the whiffs. (JN)


Julio Rodriguez, C, Cardinals
Age: 21

Rodriguez was a first-round selection in last year’s draft in the Dominican Winter League, and he’s starting to make noise stateside. He’s a solid defender who has thrown out 38 percent of attempted basestealers this year, and he leads the high Class A Florida State League with a .925 OPS. It’s rare to find a catcher who can truly contribute on both offensively and defensively, so keep an eye on Rodriguez. (JN)

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