Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (8/13/18)

Image credit: (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from July 30-August 5. Contributing this week were Kyle Glaser, JJ Cooper, 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. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
Team: Triple-A Buffalo (International)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .458/.458/1.000 (11-for-24), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 5 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Guerrero homered in four straight games this week. He is currently hitting .441 since he moved up to Triple-A 11 games ago. He has eight walks and three strikeouts for Buffalo.

At this point, all Guerrero needs to do to win the minor league batting crown is to stay healthy. He is currently hitting .400. Taylor Ward sits second in the minors with a .348 average. If Guerrero plays in every game the rest of the season, getting the same number of at-bats per game as he has so far this season, he’d need to hit a measly .172 (14-for-81) over the final 22 games to top Ward’s .349 average.

In the worst full month of his pro career, Guerrero hit .278 in July of last year as he jumped from the Midwest League to the Florida State League.

Guerrero still has a good chance to become the minors first .400 hitter this century. Jose Martinez hit .384 playing for Omaha in the Pacific Coast League in 2015 and Jose Altuve hit .389 playing in high Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011. But no full season minor leaguer has topped .400 since Erubiel Durazo did it in 1999.

With his average sitting at an even .400, Guerrero has to be a .400 hitter for the final three and a half weeks, just like he’s been all season. (JJ)

2. Luis Patino, RHP, Padres
Team: Low Class A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.74, 10.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 17 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Patino is squarely in the conversation for biggest breakout of the season. The Colombian righthander has clobbered the competition in the Midwest League since mid-May and has racked up a ratio of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s allowed more than two earned runs just twice in 15 starts and has allowed just one home run all season. That longball also stands as the only one he’s allowed in his two professional seasons. (JN)

3. Deivi Garcia, RHP, Yankees
Team: High Class A Tampa (Florida State)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 12 SO, 0 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Garcia’s outing this week certainly deserves consideration for best weird outing of the year. The righthander was perfect for seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader with Clearwater, but got a no-decision in a game his team lost without giving up a hit or allowing a walk. Garcia continued the dominance he’s shown all year with 12 punchouts, marking the second time in three starts he’s whiffed a dozen. (JN)

4. Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .560/.593/.880 (14-for-25), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Chavis missed most of the season while serving a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, but he has gotten right back on the horse in Double-A. He’s swatted five homers, including a two-homer game on Aug. 9, in the 21 games since he’s been back. Even with the suspension, he’s one of the better prospect in a tapped-out Red Sox system. He’s also been splitting time between first and third base with fellow bopper Bobby Dalbec. (JN)

5. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins
Team: High Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .355/.429/.677 (11-for-31), 8 R, 0 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Historically, a first-rounder making it to full-season ball in his first pro season is an indicator of good things to come. Lewis accomplished that feat last year and has continued showing off this season. Since a promotion to high Class A Fort Myers, Lewis, still just 19 years old, has thrived. He’s put forth a .904 OPS and is walking nearly as often as he’s striking out (16 walks against 20 whiffs in 26 games). He’s a cornerstone in a rejuvenated Twins system. (JN)

6. Ibandel Isabel, 1B, Reds
Team: High Class A Daytona (Florida State)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .500/.538/1.250 (12-for-24), 7 R, 3 2B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Isabel swings really hard, and when he connects, he hits the ball very, very far. If this was 1968, the flaws in his game would overwhelm the positives. But in 2018, there may end up being some sort of role for a player who is a threat to homer pretty much anytime he steps into the batter’s box even if his strikeout rate (36 percent) is positively frightening. Isabel collects home runs in bunches. He had four home runs in a three-game stretch this week. He’s also had a seven home run in seven days stretch earlier this year. (JJ)

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .500/.565/1.100 (10-for-20), 6 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Alonso has hit well since the Mets promoted him to Vegas two months ago, though his strikeout has jumped from 18 percent in Double-A to 28 percent in Triple-A. Given the way Alonso’s swing works and the rest of his minor league track record, he should be able to find the barrel with more frequency going forward, which should help him tap into his plus-plus raw power more often. (BB)

8. Luis Rengifo, SS/2B, Angels
Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .455/.538/.682 (10-for-22, 6 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, r RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Grade out Rengifo’s tools and there isn’t anything that will jump out right away. But the sum of the parts, instincts and ability to control the strike zone as a middle infielder make for a prospect with a chance to be an everyday big leaguer. Despite being one of the youngest players in Triple-A, Rengifo hasn’t missed a step after his second promotion of the season, batting .315/.379/.468 through 27 games. (BB)

9. David Peterson, LHP, Mets
Team: High Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.50, 12 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 15 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Peterson’s transition to high Class A has been rough. The lefthander from Oregon has been hit hard since moving up a level, but could use this week as a turning point. People inside the organization believe Peterson’s strength has been zapped a little bit by the oppressively hot and humid weather he’s encountered in the Florida State League, which has led to a little bit of his struggles. That said, the Mets still have confidence in Peterson’s polish and three-pitch mix. (JN)

10. Wander Franco, SS, Rays
Team: Rookie-level Princeton (Appalachian)
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: .500/.571/.708 (12-for-24), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: The Rays’ 17-year-old wunderkind continues to hit and hit and hit some more. Franco ran his hitting streak to nine straight games last week, and continued to show a remarkable mastery of the strike zone with twice as many walks as strikeouts. With an average hovering around .360 and an OPS above 1.000 in his first year of pro ball, when most others his age are preparing for their senior year of high school, Franco is reinforcing his standing as one of the game’s top prospects. (KG)

11. Kevin Newman, SS, Pirates
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .476/.500/.857 (10-for-21), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Things haven’t gone the way the Pirates had hoped when they drafted Newman in the first round three years ago. Now 25 in Triple-A, Newman doesn’t draw many walks and hasn’t shown much ability to drive the ball with impact, but he has shown good plate coverage to put the ball in play. Newman has struck out in just 10 percent of his plate appearance this year, and while there’s risk he might never become a big league regular, his bat-to-ball skills give him a chance to carve out a career along the lines of Whit Merrifield if everything clicks. (BB)

12. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Red Sox
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .333/.370/.750 (8-for-24), 4 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Dalbec earned a promotion to Double-A at the start of the month and has commenced mashing like he did in high Class A. After leading the Carolina League in home runs, he’s hit five more longballs in his first nine games at Double-A, including a pair of two-homer games. A two-way player at Arizona, Dalbec was drafted as a power hitter who could move to the mound if his bat stalled, but right now he’s solidifying himself as an unquestioned position player moving forward. (KG)

13. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .471/.471/1.059 (8-for-17), 8 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: While Guerrero Jr. is the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year favorite and Eloy Jimenez is right behind him, Tucker should be one of the best rookies in baseball next season. Both his hitting ability and power project to be plus, giving the Astros yet another well-rounded player to add to a lineup full of them. (BB)

14. Ronnie Dawson, OF, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .450/.500/.800 (9-for-20), 7 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Dawson hit just .247 at high Class A Buies Creek but earned a promotion to Double-A anyway, and he’s finding more success at the more difficult level. Dawson recorded a hit in five of six games last week to bump his average to .350 in Double-A, and he’s showing better ability to get to his power too, with three doubles, a triple and three home runs in 11 games. (KG)

15. Oscar Gonzalez, OF, Indians
Team: Low Class A Kane County (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .545/.545/.864 (12-for-22), 6 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Gonzalez has been lauded for his pure hitting ability ever since the Indians made him their top signing in the 2014 international class, and he’s delivering on it in pro ball. After batting .303 in Rookie ball and .283 in short-season last year, Gonzalez is up to .296 this year after his latest big week. He’s in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, including four games of at least three hits, and he continues to get the bat to the ball even with a raw approach that has resulted in 11 walks and 100 strikeouts in 107 games. (KG)

16. Mickey Moniak, OF, Phillies
Team: High Class A Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .400/.486/.567 (12-for-30), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Moniak has had few moments of stardom over the past two seasons, but the past week has been among the best Moniak has had as a pro. Moniak is hitting .278/.331/.443 in the second half of the season. That’s not great, but when you entered the all-star break with a sub-.600 OPS, that’s a pretty dramatic improvement. (JJ)

17. Luis Gonzalez, OF, White Sox
Team: High Class A Winston-Salem (Carolina)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .412/.500/.941 (7-for-17), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Gonzalez was one of the top hitters in the western U.S. while at New Mexico and is showing the same advanced ability at the plate in his first full professional season. The White Sox’s third-round pick a year ago recorded a hit in all six games last week, pushing his slash line up to .302/.359/.501 on the season. Gonzalez’ long-term power potential was in question entering the season, but he’s answered those questions so far with 34 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs in 97 games. (KG)

18. Tristan Pompey, OF, Marlins
Team: High Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .571/.647/.714 (8-for-14), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Pompey slid to the third round despite a very productive career at Kentucky. The very early returns on his pro career are showing that the Marlins may have gotten a steal. Pompey is already playing for his third different team of the season after a promotion to Jupiter. Pompey is now hitting .339/.448/.446 across those three stops. He has legit power, but Pompey is most comfortable spraying line drives, which is working so far. (JJ)

19. Kyle Muller, LHP, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 4.09, 2 GS, 11 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: A year ago, Muller wasn’t ready to pitch for low Class A Rome as he tried to figure out how to work with reduced velocity. Muller went to work during the offseason and regained the mid-90s fastball that made him a second-round pick. And not coincidentally Muller has jumped from low Class A Rome to high Class A Florida to Double-A Mississippi in the span of four months. Muller is showing signs of being a dominating lefty with a plus fastball. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but he’s already reaping the rewards of a very productive offseason. (JJ)

20. Joe Palumbo, LHP, Rangers
Team: High Class A Down East (Carolina)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

Palumbo showed flashes of brilliance in April 2017, but he missed the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery. Palumbo got back in to game action in June, and since returning to the Carolina League in July, he has looked just like he did before the operation, mixing a fastball that parks in the low-90s with a plus curveball to produce a 3.32 ERA and a 25-3 K-BB mark in 21.2 innings with the Wood Ducks. (BB)


Tyler Phillips, RHP, Rangers
Team: Low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Phillips’ impressive second half run got even better this week with his best outing of the season. Phillips is now 5-0, 1.76 with a 50-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the second half of the season. Phillips doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but he locates everything to both sides of the plate and he has a plus changeup that absolutely baffles low Class A hitters. (JJ)

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