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Prospect Hot Sheet (5/7/18)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from April 30-May 6. Contributing this week were JJ Cooper, Josh Norris, Ben Badler, Matt Eddy and Kyle Glaser.

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. Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .607/.645/1.571 (17-for-28), 13 R, 3 2B, 8 HR, 14 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Take a hitter with 70-grade raw power, give him 28 at-bats in El Paso and Albuquerque, and you get the kind of monstrous week Reyes had. The massive 6-foot-5, 240-pound Dominican homered twice on Wednesday, hit two more homers on Thursday and homered twice again on Friday, giving him three consecutive multi-home run games. He slowed down a bit over the weekend—homering only once each on Saturday and Sunday to give him five straight games with a longball. Reyes’ power has long been real (he led the Padres' system with 25 homers last year) and he has gradually cut his strikeout rate and improved the quality of his at-bats. Though Reyes isn’t the toolsiest player, his big power and effervescent personality—he often serves as the translator for his Latin American teammates and is known to light up the locker room with his enormous smile—has Padres officials believing he is a big leaguer. (KG)

2. Juan Soto, OF, Nationals
Team: high Class A Potomac (Carolina)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .522/.607/1.261 (12-for-23), 10 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: If it weren’t for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s nightly exploits, Soto would be the talk of the minor leagues. Instead, he’ll have to settle for shining slightly under the radar. He’s swatted 11 home runs this year between his two stops, and is alone in second place in the minor leagues in that category. And now that Jabari Blash has been promoted to the big leagues, Soto’s 1.277 OPS reigns as the best in the minors. (JN)

3. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .467/.556/1.000 (7-for-15), 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: When the season began, the Braves had three positions where the team’s 2019 plans were unclear. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson were set in the infield. Ronald Acuña and Ender Inciarte were going to be two of the outfielders. But third base, one outfield spot and catcher were wide open. Riley, who was just promoted to Triple-A, has played well enough that third base is not really a question mark for 2019 anymore. Riley’s .393/.394/.677 stat line in a month at Double-A this season is even more notable when you remember that he is the youngest hitter in the league. (JJ)

4. Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox
Team: high Class A Winston-Salem (Carolina)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.69, 13 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 18 SO, 2 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Cease was the other headline prospect the White Sox acquired from the Cubs in last summer’s Jose Quintana trade, along with Eloy Jimenez. A flamethrower with control issues, Cease walked 12 batters in his first 19.1 innings before dialing in last week, headlined by seven shutout innings with no walks and 12 strikeouts against Lynchburg on May 1. When Cease finds the strike zone as he did last week, his fastball-curveball combination is as good as any in the minors. Opponents are batting only .200 against him on the year. (KG)

5. Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres
Team: high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 16 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The ScoopPaddack had to wait 20 months from his Tommy John surgery until he got back on the mound, but he picked back up like he never missed any time at all. Paddack had a 0.85 ERA with 71 strikeouts and five walks in nine starts in 2016 before going down, and he’s back on a similar path in 2018. He pitched six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in his grand return on April 30, and followed up Sunday with nine strikeouts in four scoreless frames. With a darting 90-95 mph fastball that explodes late through the zone, a plus changeup and elite control, Paddack only needs to stay healthy to rise into the upper echelon of Padres pitching prospects. (KG)

6. Jonathan Arauz, SS, Astros
Team: low Class A Quad Cities (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .522/.586/1.043 (12-for-23), 8 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: A part of the Ken Giles trade between the Astros and Phillies after the 2015 season, Arauz has simmered slowly in short-season ball the past two seasons—which included a 50-game ban for stimulant use in 2017—but he could be reaching a boil this season. The switch-hitting Panamanian has hit .309 in the cold Midwest League this spring while cracking four homers, stealing four bags and drawing 18 walks in 27 games. (ME)

7. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .500/.545/.889 (9-for-18), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: It’s barely May, but we’re already beginning to run out of superlatives for Guerrero. One of his home runs during this Hot Sheet period registered an exit velocity of 117 mph, which would place him among the hardest-hit balls this year in the major leagues. He’s the youngest player in the Eastern League and leads the circuit in batting average by a wide margin, and places among the top five in both on-base and slugging percentage. (JN)

8. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox

Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .481/.500/.852 (13-for-27), 6 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Welcome back, Eloy Jimenez. A strained pectoral kept Jimenez from making his 2018 debut until April 19, but he’s back to annihilating Double-A pitching, with a .319/.347/.652 slash line and six home runs in 17 games. The only thing the White Sox are competing for this season is the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, so there isn’t any urgency for them to push Jimenez to the big leagues, but by early next season he could become an anchor in the middle of their lineup. (BB)

9. Thomas Jones, OF, Marlins
Team: low Class A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .350/.409/1.000 (7-for-20), 8 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: A dual-sport star in high school, Jones dropped football to focus on baseball when the Marlins offered him $1 million as a 2016 third-rounder. He struggled to make contact at short-season Batavia last season, hitting .181 but with enticing power and speed potential. The Marlins held Jones back at extended spring training until May 2 this year, but his performance—including four homers in his first three games—proved he was ready to try the South Atlantic League. (ME)

10. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
Team: high Class A Florida (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO.

The Scoop: Anderson is one high school righthander drafted in the top five picks who has survived so far. Hunter Greene has a 13.50 career ERA, Riley Pint (5.59 career ERA) is on the disabled list and Tyler Kolek has thrown 3.2 innings since the 2015 season ended, but Anderson just keeps rolling along. The righthander hit a speed bump with back-to-back rough outings to finish April, but he’s been in control in his first two May starts. (JJ)

11. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Team: Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .313/.405/.781 (10-for-32), 9 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop:  While April wasn’t kind to Tatis, the prodigious tools he showed last season remain intact. His 33 percent strikeout rate (45 whiffs in 137 plate appearances) bears monitoring, but Tatis is still a 19-year-old in an aggressive Double-A assignment. When he isn't expanding the zone against breaking balls on the outer half, he shows why he’s one of the game’s best prospects—just as he did this past week. (BB)

12. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Team: high Class A Carolina (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .417/.417/.708 (10-for-24), 6 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO.

The Scoop: Hiura collects hits in bunches. In 10 of his 27 games this year, Hiura has two or more hits. He has four three-hit games and one four-hit game already. What Hiura is not doing is playing in the field. He’s still working on rehabbing his right elbow, the same one that kept him from playing in the field at UC Irvine last year and limited him to three games at second base at the tail end of last season. But he's continuing to mash, which is what he was drafted ninth overall to do. (JJ)

13. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO.

The Scoop: Toussaint has tantalized for years with a big breaking, hard curveball and mid- to upper-90s fastball, but the results have not always matched the stuff. He is showing signs he’s taking a step forward this year. Toussaint reached double-digit strikeouts for only the fourth time in his career last week. His 12.8 K/9 this year is easily the best strikeout rate of his career, and it was his curveball that disarmed Pensacola hitters in his latest start on Friday. (JJ)

14. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, Cubs
Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: De La Cruz’s problems have never revolved around his stuff, but rather staying healthy long enough to use that stuff to make a difference. He’s had a rough go of it so far this year in his first taste of the upper levels, but his most recent start was a gem. His 10 strikeouts represented his third time in double digits and just the second start in which he didn’t allow an earned run. (JN)

15. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins
Team: Triple-A Rochester (International)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.63, 14.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 14 SO, 2 BB, 1 HR

The Scoop: Twins' starters rank ninth in the American League with a 4.55 ERA, and it doesn’t figure to be long before Gonsalves is brought up to help. Gonsalves made his Triple-A debut this week and won both his starts in dominating fashion, pitching 7.2 scoreless innings of one-hit ball on May 1 and following with nine strikeouts over 6.2 innings on Sunday. Gonsalves is more about pitchability than electric stuff, but opponents have hit just .198 against him in his minor league career. As long as he continues to make strides with his control, the 6-foot-5 southpaw figures be in the majors sooner rather than later. (KG)

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16. Cavan Biggio, 2B, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .368/.538/.842 (7-for-19), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 7 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: New Hampshire has an all-time infield with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Biggio, three sons of former big leaguers, including two Hall of Famers. Vlad Jr. and Bichette are two of baseball’s best prospects, but Biggio has started to establish himself as a legitimate prospect with his bat and ability to move all around the infield. Biggio has a smooth lefthanded swing that generates loft, with six home runs in 23 games this year after 11 long balls in 127 games last year in the less hospitable high Class A Florida State League. He’s off to a .300/.431/.662 start, putting together consistently quality at-bats by working himself into good counts and taking advantage when he gets a pitch he can drive. (BB)

17. A.J. Alexy, RHP, Rangers
Team: low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 12 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: One of three prospects acquired by the Rangers from the Dodgers in last summer’s Yu Darvish trade, Alexy posted a 9.64 ERA in his first four starts before a brilliant turn last week. Facing West Virginia on Friday, Alexy took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, struck out two batters in each of his six frames and earned his first win of the year. Most importantly, he walked only three batters after walking 12 in his first 14 innings. Alexy’s aggressive, up-tempo delivery leads to shaky control at times, but if he can harness it like he did in his last start, it adds explosiveness to his low-90s fastball and above-average curveball. (KG)

18. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies
Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .320/.346/.680 (8-for-25), 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Rodgers has the strength and bat speed to be a power-hitting shortstop. He shows in batting practice and at times in games. He doesn’t swing and miss excessively, but a more selective hitting approach to stay within the strike zone and put himself in more advantageous counts would put him in better position to fully tap into his power, with the potential for 25-plus homers over a full season. He started to show glints of that this week, bashing three homers to double his season total and raise his slugging percentage to .519. (BB)

19. Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.50, 12 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 11 SO, 3 BB, 1 HR

The Scoop: Burrows has been gangbusters in a return to Double-A to start the year. The righthander, who struggled with control and got hit hard at the end last season, has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his first five starts. He’s added a hard slider to his repertoire and has worked hard to get the ball down in the zone more often. So far, he’s been plenty successful. (JN)

20. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Rays
Team: low Class A Bowling Green (League)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .286/.524/.571 (4-for-14), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-0 SB; 0-0, 0.00, 4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Baseball’s other two-way sensation has found instant success in low Class A. As a pitcher, McKay has whiffed 33 in 18.2 innings. At the plate, he’s racked up 20 walks against just 12 strikeouts. The latter stat plays right into McKay’s reputation as a supremely patient hitter. The Rays are famous for slow-cooking their prospects, and the same should be expected for McKay despite his pedigree as a the No. 4 overall pick from an elite college program last year. (JN)


Nick Green, RHP, Yankees

One of the three pitchers the Yankees acquired in the 2016 deadline trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Rangers, Green has slowly but surely made a name for himself as a groundball king. With high Class A Tampa this season, Green has induced more than 3.5 groundouts per flyout,  second in the minor leagues and just a tick above his career rate of 3.20. He accomplishes this with a three-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball that, in the words of one evaluator, “moves like a low-90s slider.” He couples it with a curveball that spins at more than 3,000 revolutions per minute and a changeup that is his third pitch at this point. He needs to iron out his control (16 walks in 29 innings this season) but he’s done enough to raise eyebrows. (JN)

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