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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (6/25/18)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from June 17-24. Contributing this week were JJ Cooper, Matt Eddy,  Josh Norris 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. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .577/.607/.769 (15-for-26), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Talk about domination. Tucker, the Astros’ No. 1 overall prospect, absolutely destroyed the Pacific Coast League this week and has done so all June long. In the season’s third month, Tucker, still just 21 years old, holds a .415 average and a 1.085 OPS. More than that, he’s also a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases. And sure, he’s in a hitter-friendly environment in Fresno, but his home-road splits are nearly identical. (JN)

2. Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays
Team: Triple-A Durham (International)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .400/.464/1.080 (10-for-25), 9 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Lowe had a breakout season at high Class a Charlotte last season, but even as he did so scouts remained lukewarm because of his modest tools. Lowe’s production is starting to put some of those doubts to rest. Lowe blitzed through Double-A Birmingham and joined Triple-A Durham two weeks ago, providing offensive reinforcement to a lineup that had just lost Willy Adames and Jake Bauers. Lowe has exceeded expectations since arriving, as he hit five home runs this week to help Durham win four of its past six games. (JJ)

3. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Twins
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: The hard-throwing Australian southpaw had been trending toward the big leagues after losing 2015 and 2016 to injury, but his progress appears to be accelerating in the Southern League this season. Thorpe ranks fourth in the league with 86 strikeouts after a recent run that has seen his rate of swinging strikes surge and his rate of mistakes plummet. In his past five appearances he has struck out 40 (against eight walks) in 27.2 innings while allowing opponents to hit just .225 with one home run. (ME)

4. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates
Team: Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .571/.600/1.071 (8-for-14), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Because of his lanky, 6-foot-6 frame, there’s a lot of discussion around where Cruz might play if and when he moves off of shortstop. For now, though, he’s just really fun to watch. He’s got electric raw power, a strong throwing arm and improving plate discipline, and his 10 homers are one off the system's lead. He came over from the Dodgers in the Tony Watson deal last summer and is looking like a very nice acquisition. (JB)

5. Yordan Alvarez, OF, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .400/.400/.767 (12-for-30), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Alvarez missed a month with a hand injury, but you wouldn’t know it based on his hot hitting in the Texas League. He homered in his June 17 return and launched three more during this Hot Sheet “scoring period.” The 6-foot-5, lefthanded-hitting Alvarez hits the ball hard with consistency and now carries a .324/.380/.606 batting line with 10 homers through 35 games this season. (ME)

6. Jordan Yamamoto, RHP, Marlins
Team: High Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 2 H, 0R, 0 ER, 13 SO, 2 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Yamamoto was decidedly the fourth prospect Miami got back in the deal that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee last winter. But while Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz are all having their struggles, Yamamoto is excelling. The Hawaiian righthander is 3-0, 1.63 in five starts since coming off the disabled list in late May, with 33 strikeouts and six walks in 27.2 innings. With a high-spin rate fastball batters struggle to gauge, a swing-and-miss slider and an exceptional track record of throwing strikes, Yamamoto is showing the ingredients of a bonafide future starter. (KG)

7. Daz Cameron, OF, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .440/.500/.840 (11-for-25), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Florida State League features the lowest slugging percentage in the full-season minors, to which Cameron says: “Tell me about it.” Since jumping to the Eastern League, he has gone on a tear at the plate by piling up 11 hits (five for extra bases) in six games to go along with two steals. Cameron made swing changes last season that helped unlock his batting potential in the second half of the Midwest League season. Could he be heading for another second-half surge? (ME)

8. Taylor Ward, 3B, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .400/.464/.840 (10-for-25), 8 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: A chronic lack of effort behind the plate forced the Angels to move Ward from catcher to third base before the season, with general manager Billy Eppler noting the move meant Ward “basically was now responsible for himself.” Three months in, it’s been a great move for all involved. Freed from the demands of catching, Ward has blossomed at the plate more than was even thought possible. He hit .345 with a .973 OPS at Double-A Mobile, earned a promotion and has continued to rake in Triple-A, hitting .311 with a .928 OPS. Beyond just his bat, Ward is letting his athleticism shine—he has 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts this year. (KG)

9. Jalen Beeks, LHP, Red Sox
Team: Triple-A Pawtucket (International)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 2.34, 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: Beeks has been the breakout prospect for the Red Sox this season, as his fastball/cutter combination has kept him a step ahead of International League hitters all season. Beeks struck out seven in each of his two starts this week. He now has seven or more strikeouts in 10 of his 13 Triple-A starts this season. (JJ)

10. Will Smith, C/3B, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .350/.381/1.000 (7-for-20), x R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Smith is splitting time between third base and catcher with prized catching prospect Keibert Ruiz on the roster in Tulsa. Whatever position he plays, Smith is hitting. The 2016 first-rounder homered in four straight games this week, including a blast on June 21 that traveled 430 feet and left the bat at 110 mph. Smith revamped his swing at the Dodgers' request last year to generate more loft, and he’s gotten more comfortable in his second year with his new swing, delivering 11 long balls in 44 games for a 35-home run pace. Smith is doing that while looking like a natural at third base and remaining an above-average defensive catcher, giving him intriguing versatility. (KG)

11. Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .318/.444/.773 (7-for-22), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: When it comes to Alonso, the Mets are hoping that what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. The slugging first baseman continued his barrage following his promotion out of the Double-A Eastern League, which he led with 15 homers, by hitting .300 with four extra-base hits in his first eight Pacific Coast League games. Alonso launched three homers in a June 23 game against Reno—and that’s great—but the true indication of his breakout lies in his performance versus righthanders, against whom he’s hitting .316/.435/.572 with 35 walks and 44 strikeouts this season.

12. Ranger Suarez, LHP, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.64, 14 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: After earning a reputation as a supreme control artist early in his career, Suarez continued opening eyes all the way up the ladder. He’s run into the standard trouble at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, where his ERA is 4.34, but he’s been dynamite overall. He complements his low-90s fastball with the standard slider, changeup and curveball and has allowed just two home runs all season long. He’s worked to a 1.06 ERA in June, and is quickly becoming a bigger part of the Phillies’ enviable stable of minor league arms. (JN)

13. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .438/.455/.719 (14-for-32), 4 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Mountcastle missed the first month of the season with a hand injury. As often happens with hand injuries, his power has been sapped since he’s returned, but otherwise he’s picked up right where he left off with a breakout 2017 season. Mountcastle still has to prove he can play third base, but the 21-year-old has always hit. (JJ)

14. Mason Martin, 1B, Pirates
Team: Rookie-level Bristol (Appalachian)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .375/.483/.958 (9-for-24), 10 R, 1 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After tearing up the Gulf Coast League last season, Martin found himself torn up by the South Atlantic League. Striking out nearly 1.5 times per game, Martin lost more than 100 points off his batting average, 150 points off his on-base percentage and nearly 300 points off his slugging percentage in his jump to the Sally League. So far the Appalachian League has proven much more his speed, as he already has as many home runs in six games there as he did in 44 games with low Class A West Virginia. (JJ)

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15. Dakota Hudson, RHP, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.29, 14 IP, 15 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: The Cardinals lost Alex Reyes, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright to injury this month. Hudson keeps making the case he’s ready to come to St. Louis as a reinforcement. The sinkerballer improved to 10-2, 2.04 on the year with another stellar week, including eight innings of one-run ball against New Orleans on Saturday. While Hudson doesn’t miss a ton of bats, he rises up in big spots to avoid major damage. He has held opponents to a .154 batting average with runners in scoring position this season and has allowed only one home run all year. (KG)

16. Darick Hall, 1B, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .429/.448/.714 (12-for-28), 8 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: It’s 2018, so we all know that RBIs are a function of opportunity as much as they are of skill. Hit behind a couple of hitters with .400 OBPs and you are likely to have many more opportunities than someone who is hitting behind a couple of hitters with .290 OBPs. That said, 15 RBIs in 28 at-bats is a pretty amazing week. Hall had four different days this week where he had three RBIs. There’s never been in any doubt in Hall’s power, but his week he showed his ability to hit for average as well. (ME)

17. Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins
Team: High Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-2, 3.86, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 13 SO, 3 BB, 2 HR

The Scoop: At just 22 years old, Guzman has already been part of two trades. He was sent to the Yankees with Albert Abreu for Brian McCann, then was dealt to the Marlins with Jose Devers and Starlin Castro in exchange for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He’s been coveted for his electric fastball, which parks in the upper 90s and regularly visits triple-digits. He complements the pitch with a slider and a changeup and impressed enough in spring training to skip over low Class A Greensboro. He’s still refining his command and control, but he’s got one of the most tantalizing arms in the system. (JN)

18. Randy Cesar, 3B, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .409/.458/.727 (9-for-22), 4 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Cesar wasn’t a big name entering the year, but he’s begun making headlines this summer. His week was very nice in and of itself, but the bigger picture earned him a place on Hot Sheet. Cesar has hit in 41 straight game with Double-A Corpus Christi, and is leading the Astros’ system with a .354 average and 90 hits this year. He’s got above-average raw power, too, and could hit his way into a bench role in the major leagues. (JN)

19. Seth Beer, OF, Astros
Team: Short-season Tri-City (New York-Penn)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .391/.500/.826 (9-for-23), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Drink it in, Astros fans, drink it in. The man with the most popular name in this year’s draft has quickly made the conversion to pro ball and is lighting up the New York-Penn League. Beer has swatted four home runs in his first nine games as a professional after a successful junior year with Clemson. He’s making a push for an early promotion to low Class A Quad Cities for what could be a very quick trip through the lower levels. (JN)

20. Walker Lockett, RHP, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 3.55, 12.2 IP, 13 H, 11 R, 5 ER, 16 SO, 0 BB, 1 HR

The Scoop: Lockett got hit around in his major league debut on June 2, but he hasn’t let it linger since returning to Triple-A. Lockett has 27 strikeouts and three walks in 23.2 innings since returning to El Paso, exactly the type of performance he can deliver when right as a strike-throwing sinkerballer. Lockett doesn’t have supreme stuff, but if he can keep pounding the bottom half of the strike zone as he has been, he’ll get another shot in the majors sooner rather than later. (KG)


Roberto Ramos, 1B, Rockies
Normally, a 23-year first baseman who leads the California League in home runs playing for Lancaster isn’t the real deal, but there’s much more to Ramos than what’s on the surface. Physically huge at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Ramos is turning around both velocity and breaking balls and sending them a mile, with TrackMan data showing him hit routinely hitting blasts of 450+ feet and posting exit velocities of 100+ mph or more. Evaluators grade Ramos’ raw power a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and he keeps getting to it. After leading the Cal League in homers during the first half, he won the league’s Home Run Derby in front of the home crowd, earned a promotion to Double-A, and hit two home runs in his first game with Hartford. For an encore, he homered twice again in his second game as a Yard Goat. With huge raw power and a unfailingly polite, outgoing personality, Ramos has turned himself into a legitimate prospect with a carrying tool and the makeup to keep rising. (KG)

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