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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (6/4/2018)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from May 26 to June 3. Contributing this week were 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. Braden Bishop, OF, Mariners
Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .577/.607/1.000 (15-for-26), 11 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: An elite defensive center fielder, Bishop saw increased success at the plate last year after lowering his hands in his stance and began driving the ball. After a slow start to 2018, Bishop exploded with a scorching week. He rapped out 19 hits in his last seven games, raising his average from .221 to .274. That included a two-home run game on Saturday to give him six longballs on the year, already a career-high. (KG)

2. Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
Team: Low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .278/.316/1.000 (5-for-18), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: The chiseled Matias is still learning to consistently put the bat on the ball. When he does, he sends baseballs a long, long way. Matias took over the minor league lead with 17 home runs after launching four more homers this week, and he is now on pace to hit 53 home runs this season. As notable as Matias’ big power, however, are his big strikeouts. Matias’ seven punchouts this week put his strikeout rate at 35.6 percent for the season, a number that will have to come down for him to get to his power against better pitching. (KG)

3. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .292/.379/.750 (7-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Tucker has 46 RBIs this year, and 28.2 percent of that total came this week. Those 13 RBIs vaulted him into a tie for fourth place in the minor leagues and put him just eight behind the leader, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Tucker’s year has been uneven, but a .350 on-base percentage and a sub-20 percent strikeout rate for a 21-year-old in Triple-A is pretty darn good. (JN)

4. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays
Team: Low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .458/.500/.875 (11-for-24), 4 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: One of the most exciting two-way catchers in the low minors, Hernandez turned in another outstanding week in the Midwest League. His performance pushed him to 10th in the league batting race at .311, but that tells only part of the story. Hernandez’s power, plate discipline, receiving and strong arm are equally notable. (ME)

5. Jonathan Hernandez, RHP, Rangers
Team: High Class A Down East (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: There haven’t been many bright spots for Rangers pitching prospects, who have been hit hard by injuries. Hernandez has been an exception, with a breakthrough 2018 season that gives him a strong argument as the system’s top arm. His strikeouts are up, his walks are down and while some scouts once felt he would fit better as a reliever, he’s now showing the combination of stuff and feel for pitching to project as a midrotation starter. (BB)

6. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Twins
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 14 SO
The Scoop: Finally healthy after two seasons lost to Tommy John surgery and then mononucleosis, Thorpe has shown bat-missing stuff in the Southern League. The Aussie lefthander throws top-shelf stuff with a fastball up to 95 mph and a power breaking ball, but commanding and sequencing his stuff is on his to-do list. Thorpe showed signs of progress last week by allowing fewer baserunners than usual and not allowing a home run.

7. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Team: Double-A Biloxi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .524/.583/.905 (11-for-21), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: There’s never been much of a doubt that Hiura was going to hit. The question was: After elbow surgery, how much value would he provide on defense? He spent most of the year as a DH in high Class A Carolina, but has played second base in all three of his games with Biloxi. He’s notched hits in each of those games, too, and has had a hit in 16 of his last 17 games as well. (JN)

8. Gavin Lux, SS, Dodgers
Team: High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .368/.429/1.053 (7-for-19), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Lux was a first-round pick in 2016, but he struggled to a .244/.331/.362 line in his first full season last year with low Class A Great Lakes. Bumped up a level this year, Lux has already matched the seven home runs he hit last year en route to hitting .318/.404/.530. Lux still doesn’t look comfortable against lefthanded pitching, but there are a lot more reasons for optimism overall than there were coming into the season. (BB)

9. Drew Waters, OF, Braves
Team: Low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .448/.500/.621 (13-for-29), 9 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: In a year that has seen unexpected success in the major leagues, Waters is helping prove that there’s still more coming in the Braves’ minor league pipeline. His .305 average ranks fourth on their farm, and his 13 doubles, .563 slugging percentage and .905 OPS all rank at the top of the system. He’s failed to get on base just once since April 20, and is doing it all while playing center field every day. (JN)

10. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
Team: Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .433/.485/.833 (13-for-30), 8 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The 2016 first-rounder lost a development year in 2017 when he had Tommy John surgery. The sweet-swinging Kirilloff appears to be just fine despite the layoff in the Midwest League, which he leads with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs after his big week. (ME)

11. Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
Team: Low Class A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.80, 10 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 12 SO, 3 BB, 2 HR

The Scoop: After a very rough start to his first test in full-season ball, Greene has started to find his footing. He carded his first professional win on Sunday, and reached the five-inning mark for the second time in as many starts. It was always baffling to see how hard he was getting hit with the premium stuff he offers, but he’s gone 1-1, 3.47 with 27 strikeouts against nine walks in 23.1 innings since May 1. (JN)

12. Luis Patino, RHP, Padres
Team: Low Class A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.00, 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 12 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Patino popped up for the Padres last year as an athletic strikethrower who sat 90-92 mph and touched 95 as a 17-year-old. He’s continued pounding the strike zone in his first taste of full-season ball, posting a 19:4 strikeout-to-walk mark in 17.1 innings since joining Fort Wayne on May 16. The 6-foot Colombian will be 18 years old the entire season, and represents yet another high-upside arm in the Padres system. (KG)

13. Adam Plutko, RHP, Indians
Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 26
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Plutko might not knock you out with his stuff, but he will use it to get you out. Just a few days after teammate Shane Bieber pitched a rain-shortened no-hitter, Plutko answered with a nine-inning version. He came a ninth-inning walk away from a perfect game, and continues to prove himself as a viable option in the major leagues. (JN)

14. Pavin Smith, 1B, Diamondbacks
Team: High Class A Visalia (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .316/.458/.789 (6-for-19), 4 R, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The eagle-eyed Smith has walked more often (25) than he was struck out (23) this season in the California League, but until last week he had not shown the power expected of a premium first base prospect. Drafted seventh overall out of Virginia a year ago, Smith connected for three home runs last week, accounting for 75 percent of his season total. His plate discipline has come as advertised. He ranks second in the Cal League in walks and is one of the circuit’s toughest batters to strike out. (ME)

Hunter Greene (Photo By John Fisher Getty Images)

Why Does Reds RHP Hunter Greene Have MLB's Most Hittable Fastball?

How does a pitcher with top-of-the-scale velocity serve up home runs at a break-the-scale rate?

15. Stuart Fairchild, OF, Reds
Team: Low Class A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .348/.423/.783 (8-for-23), 4 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Reds drafted Fairchild 38th overall out of Wake Forest last year, and so far he’s delivered promising early returns. After reeling off a hit in nine of his last 10 games, Fairchild is now batting .304/.395/.451 in his professional career, with 27 steals in 35 attempts as well. (KG)

16. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Rays
Team: Low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .478/.551/.609 (11-for-23), 8 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 2 SO, 4-for-6 SB

The Scoop: Brujan did what he does best this past week, controlling the strike zone by swinging at good pitches, making plenty of contact and using his speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths. Brujan is a little man without much extra-base thump, something that will get tested more at higher levels, but his plate coverage, plate discipline and wheels make for a potential high on-base threat while playing in the middle of the diamond. (BB)

17. Miguel Amaya, C, Cubs
Team: Low Class A South Bend (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .438/.571/.875 (7-for-16), 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The Cubs signed Amaya for $1 million out of Panama when he was 16 in 2015, but his performance the last two years did little to distinguish him as a prospect. That’s changed. Amaya is batting .295/.382/.518, showcasing a promising balance of hitting ability and power for a young catcher. (BB)

18. Michael Gettys, OF, Padres
Team: Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .368/.400/.895 (7-for-19), 3 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Gettys is as streaky as it gets offensively, looking like a world-beater at his best and utterly lost at his worst, and often flopping back-and-forth between the two in a matter of weeks. The “good” Gettys has showed up in full force recently, batting .425 during a current 11-game hit streak. He homered in three straight games this week, and overall has raised his OPS from .681 to .809 during his hit streak. (KG)

19. Mickey Moniak, OF, Phillies
Team: high Class A Clearwater (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .414/.433/.621 (12-for-29), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Few prospects needed a big week quite like Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft who has generally scuffled since embarking on full-season ball a year ago. Last week he showcased the feel for hitting, power (including his first Florida State League home run) and plus speed that attracted so much attention two Junes ago.

20. Marcos Diplan, RHP, Brewers
Team: High Class A Carolina (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 HBP, 2 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: When the Rangers signed Diplan out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million when he was 16, he was a small righthander with a knack for missing bats but prone to bouts of erratic control. Diplan throws harder now, but that general profile remains the same. Now with the Brewers, Diplan looks like a midrotation starter when he’s throwing strikes, like he did in his last start, but he will need to repeat his mechanics more consistently throughout the season to cut down on his walk rate of 5.6 per nine innings. (BB)


Eric Hanhold, RHP, Mets: The Mets sent Neil Walker to the Brewers last year in August in exchange for a player to be named later, a player who turned out to be Hanhold. As a starter, Hanhold reached high Class A in 2016 and didn’t miss many bats (5.7 K/9), but as a reliever his stuff ticked up and he has become a power arm out of the bullpen. Hanhold, 24, sits at 95-98 mph with his fastball and mixes in a hard slider at 88-90 with late action to miss bats. After striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings in Double-A the first two months of the season, Hanhold received a promotion last week to Triple-A Las Vegas, putting him in position for a big league callup by the end of the year. And yes, that’s Hanhold striking out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on three consecutive sliders at the beginning of the video.


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