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

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Angels prospect Jo Adell

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from June 10-17. Contributing this week were JJ Cooper, Matt Eddy,  Josh Norris 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. Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Team: High Class A Inland Empire (California)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .536/.581/1.036 (15-for-28), 9 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: At just 19 years old, Adell is quickly emerging as one of the top five-tool prospects in the minor leagues. He earned a promotion to the California League roughly a month ago and has taken the circuit by storm. He’s gotten on base in 20 of 25 games with Inland Empire, and his .971 OPS would rank second in the league if he had enough time to qualify. His blend of talent and athleticism puts him at the head of the system’s rebirth. (JN)

2. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Rays
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .462/.559/.962 (12-for-26), 6 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 7 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Lowe was a 13th-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2016. When he got to high Class A Charlotte in the second half of 2017, he batted .249/.355/.353 in 52 games. For a first baseman, that’s not typically the resume of a prospect. But Lowe’s return to the Florida State League in 2018 was outstanding, and he’s kept it going in his first 10 games since his promotion to Double-A with a promising combination of barrel awareness, strike-zone awareness and lefthanded power, with his OPS ranking fourth in the minors. (BB)


3. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
Team: Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .407/.448/.741 (11-for-27) 3 R, 3 2Bs, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: Kirilloff has made a pretty strong case for a spot in high Class A Fort Myers. Kirilloff has shown few weaknesses in his first try at full season ball (he missed last year with Tommy John surgery). What is notable about Kirilloff is how he’s able to use a high-contact approach while still driving the ball with power. Kirilloff has eight extra base hits, seven walks and only eight strikeouts this month. (JJ)


4. Nick Senzel, SS/3B, Reds
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .406/.424/.625 (13-for-32), 4 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Senzel missed a little less than a month with a bout of vertigo but has come back swinging ever since. In the 18 games since his return, the Reds’ top prospect has slashed .338/.398/.500 with a home run and 15 RBIs. Senzel has rotated back and forth between second base and third base all season, but on Saturday he got his first taste of the season at shortstop. With Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett locked in, Senzel would raise his value exponentially if he could pull off shortstop. (JN)

5. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates
Team: Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .394/.394/.606 (13-for-33), 7 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 6 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Cruz is just scratching the surface of his potential as he gains more body control over his (at least) 6-foot-6 frame. His strength, leverage and bat speed produce towering blasts when everything is in sync, and while he will probably always have a high strikeout rate, he’s made progress cutting that down since the start of the season as he learns to maintain a more consistent swing path and cover his gigantic strike zone. A corner outfield spot is likely Cruz’s position when he gets to the big leagues, but if everything clicks at the plate, he could certainly profile there. (BB)


6. Ryan McKenna, OF, Orioles
Team: High Class A Frederick (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .458/.567/.875 (11-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO.

The Scoop: McKenna was seen as a projectable, high ceiling outfielder when he the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round out of a New Hampshire high school. But it was also understood that he may need a little longer than normal to develop. He spent a year in rookie ball and another in short-season ball before making it to low Class A last year for a rather non-descript season. There’s nothing boring about his 2018 season. Balls are finding holes that they haven’t in the past for McKenna, but beyond that, he’s making better and more contact while also working better counts. (JJ)

7. Will Craig, 1B, Pirates
Team: Double-A Altoona (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .522/.607/1.261 (12-for-23), 12 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: A standout power hitter at Wake Forest, Craig entered the season with just eight pro home runs in two seasons. He also switched positions from third base to first base last season, placing even more emphasis on his power production. Craig has delivered that power this season, swatting 11 home runs, 15 doubles, a .493 slugging percentage and 50 RBIs in the Eastern League. (ME)

8. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, Reds
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.38, 2 GS, 11.3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 15 SO.

The Scoop: This has not been a season to remember for Gutierrez. The Cuban righthander has been around the zone regularly. He throws strikes, but all too often those strikes have been lined back up the middle. But lately, he’s doing a better job of staying around the zone but without catching as much of the fat part of the plate. Gutierrez’s last two starts are his best of the season–they are the first time all season he’s allowed less than two runs in an outing. (JJ)

9. Taylor Widener, RHP, D-backs
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO.

The Scoop: There were enough players involved in the trade that sent Widener to the Diamondbacks that it’s hard to easily explain who Widener was traded for–he was part of a six-player, three team trade that sent Brandon Drury to the Yankees and Anthony Banda to the Rays and Steven Souza to Arizona. But the change of scenery has done Widener a favor. For one, there are less starting pitching prospects to beat out in the D-backs system and for another, Widener is pitching better. (JJ)

10. Ryan Noda, OF, Blue Jays
Team: Low Class A Lansing (Midwest)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .333/.379/.667 (9-for-27), 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: A 15th-round pick last year from Cincinnati, Noda came out swinging in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, hitting .364 with 59 walks and 60 strikeouts in 66 games. The hits haven’t been falling for Noda at the same rate in the Midwest League this year, but he has maintained a stellar walk-to-strikeout ratio of 58-to-57. He continues to drive the ball for power (eight homers) while also reaching base nearly 45 percent of the time. (ME)


11. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins
Team: Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .417/.440/.708 (10-for-24), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Between Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff (No. 3 on the Hot Sheet), the Twins have two of the best prospects in the Midwest League. Lewis has done a bit of everything this year with a well-rounded set of tools and polish for his age, making plenty of contact, using the middle of the field with occasional power and taking advantage of his speed to steal 16 bases in 19 attempts. (BB)

12. Michel Baez, RHP, Padres
Team: High Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.61, 10.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: The hard-throwing, 6-foot-8 Cuban righty has carved up California League competition of late by recording a 1.65 ERA in his last five appearances. He has 29 strikeouts and 10 walks through 27.1 innings in that stretch, while allowing a .196 opponent average.

13. Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres
Team: High Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 3.00, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO, 1 HBP

The Scoop: Like Lake Elsinore rotation-mate Michel Baez, Morejon has rounded into shape in the California League. The lefthander has gone 4-1, 2.80 in his past six starts while striking out 43 and walking 10 in 35.1 innings.

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Classification All-Star Teams

Baseball America honors minor leaguers at all levels with our annual Classification All-Stars.

14. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Team: Double-A Biloxi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .393/.414/.607 (11-for-28), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Hiura is a pure hitter. In his first 16 games in Double-A, Hiura is batting .383/.431/.550, thanks to a compact swing with explosion from the right side. Given his hitting polish, Hiura probably won’t need too much time at Double-A either, with a major league debut looking likely by early next season. (BB)


15. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 9 SO, 2 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Luzardo was part of the package the A’s acquired last summer in exchange for relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, and he’s quickly begun to look like one of the game’s best pitching prospects. His three-pitch mix has drawn raves this year, and the numbers have matched his arsenal. The A’s jumped him over low Class A to begin the year and he quickly proved too advanced for the level. He’s been particularly dazzling in June, whiffing 17 in 15 innings over three starts while allowing just nine hits (no home runs) and two walks. (JN)

16. Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins
Team: High Class A (Jupiter)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Guzman was one third of the player package the Marlins received from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton deal, and it was obvious from the jump why he was included. Guzman was the minor leagues’ hardest-throwing starter last year, regularly hitting 100 mph or better with his fastball. After missing the first month of year with an injury, Guzman was very wild in May but has settled down somewhat in June. He racked up 10 strikeouts in his most recent start, matching a career high set last season. (JN)

17. Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians
Team: Low Class A Lake County (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .500/.538/.833 (12-for-24), 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO.T

The Scoop: Patience has been required with Jones. The Indians waited until Jones had checked off stints in the Arizona League and the New York-Penn League before sending him to the Midwest League this year. Jones has always been known for a solid approach and a good swing and it’s starting to pay off on the stat line. Jones is hitting .365/.476/.558 this month. He had an awful April (.182/.321/.364) and an only OK May (.260/.372/.417) so the arrow is pointing in the right direction. (JJ)

18. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Phillies
Team: Triple-A Lehigh Valley (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 7 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: De Los Santos was the prospect the Phillies received when they sent shortstop Freddy Galvis to San Diego, and the righthander has overpowered the International League. His 1.47 ERA is the best in the league (though only the third best in the Phillies system) and he’s allowed just 51 hits in 73.1 innings this season. He’s shown the ability to attack both low and high with a high-90s fastball that fronts a four-pitch mix. (JN)

19. William Contreras, C, Braves
Team: Low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .394/.444/.485 (13-for-33), 4 R, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Contreras is putting himself in Top 100 prospect conversation as one of the top catching prospects in the minors. He’s a talented hitter with an approached geared toward right-center field. Contreras has solid thump for a catcher already, and once gets stronger and learns which pitches he can turn on, there should be even more home run power in there for him to unlock. (BB)

20. T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Blue Jays
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Score: As a 6-foot-7, groundball-oriented starter, Zeuch doesn’t miss as many bats as other pitching prospects, but he compensates with an ability to work deep into games. He has logged seven or more innings in four of his past five Eastern League starts. Zeuch has struck out 4.7 per nine innings at Double-A thus far, so sharpening his control (2.6 walks per nine) will be important.


HELIUM

Everson Pereira, OF, Yankees: Pereira, 17, ranked as the No. 4 international prospect last year when the Yankees signed him out of Venezuela for $1.5 million. Pereira has yet to make his official pro debut, but his stock is already climbing. When Pereira signed, he was an athletic center fielder with a well-rounded balance of tools and skills, hitting well in games with a fluid swing, good bat control and strike-zone judgment. At the time, Pereira was mostly a line-drive hitter with gap power, but he’s grown an inch and added significant size and strength, to the point where he now has plus raw power. And that power is already showing up in games. The Yankees had already planned to skip Pereira over the Dominican Summer League, but Pereira was so good in extended spring training (he hit eight home runs there) that he now will skip over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and make his pro debut with Pulaski in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Two other big 2017 international signings—Rays shortstop Wander Franco and Blue Jays righthander Eric Pardinho—will join Pereira in the Appy League, and while Franco is already a Top 100 prospect, Pereira has a chance to join him soon and potentially skyrocket up the list. (BB)

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