Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (8/20/18)

Image credit: Luis Urias (Photo by John Williamson)

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from August 13-19. 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. Luis Urias, 2B, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .593/.625/1.000 (16-for-27), 11 R, 5 2B, 3 3B, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Urias has battled his leg kick all year, but he recently made the adjustment to get it moving in the direction of the pitcher instead of the first base dugout. The difference was clear for all to see during his torrid week. Urias reeled off five consecutive multi-hit games, including four three-hit games, and raised his season batting average from .270 to .290 in a span of six games. He finished the week off in grand style, belting the game-tying RBI triple in the ninth and then scoring the winning run on Sunday. (KG)

2. Bryse Wilson, RHP, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Wilson dominated Louisville like few pitchers have all year. Wilson blew hitters away with a 93-97 mph fastball (and the occasional slider) as he faced the minimum over eight innings. The Braves push their pitchers up the minor league ladder aggressively. It seems to be working out, as Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka got to the big leagues as a 20-year-old this year while Luiz Gohara pitched for the Braves as a 21-year-old. There have been six pitchers who have reached the big leagues this year before they turned 22, three of them are Braves. Wilson is on pace to make it to Atlanta next year as a 21-year-old. (JJ)

3. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .409/.435/.818 (9-for-22), 4 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After a breakout 2017 season that ended with his major league debut, Hays has had a rough follow-up. He’s played just 62 games all season, including nine rehabbing at short-season Aberdeen. Now healthy, Hays finally seems to be getting on track and has performed well in a small sample this month. He’s made a ton of contact this season but hasn’t produced quite the same impact as he did in 2017. (JN)

4. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
Team: High Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .440/.500/.720 (11-for-25), 5 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: The Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets most of the headlines for his eye-popping campaign, but Kirilloff deserves more than a few plaudits as well. The 20-year-old outfielder leads the minor leagues in extra-base hits, with 66, and doubles, with 42. After missing a season with Tommy John surgery, how Kirilloff would return was anyone’s guess. He’s more than re-established himself, he’s made himself into one of the game’s finest prospects. (JN)

5. Connor Seabold, RHP, Phillies
Team: Double-A Reading
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 2.25, 2 GS, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 19 SO

The Scoop: Seabold has moved quickly in his first full year as a pro and he’s had some impressive stretches with Double-A Reading. Now the question is whether he has enough stuff to make the massive jump from Double-A success to the big leagues. The Phillies’ third-round pick in 2017 was seen as having outstanding command coming out of Cal State Fullerton. So far, he’s nibbled at times, which is understandable as Seabold’s low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup are more fringe-average than exceptional. But Seabold has been very good for Reading recently, as he’s gotten ahead of hitters and has done a better job of avoiding home runs, something that has been an issue at times. (JJ)

6. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 2 GS, 14 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: The Braves have promoted five different prospects to make starts for the big league club this year (Soroka, Allard, Gohara, Max Fried and Touki Toussaint). Wright is likely the next to get the call. The Braves’ 2017 first-round pick struggled early this season in Double-A, but he caught up and then surpassed that level of competition in Double-A. So far Triple-A batters haven’t had much better luck against Wright, with his mid-90s fastball and a varied assortment of secondary offerings. Wright had good feel for his curveball during his seven one-hit innings against Louisville last Monday. (JJ)

7. Jose Israel Garcia, SS, Reds
Team: Low Class A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .448/.467/.690 (13-for-29), 5 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: If you’re looking for signs of hope, Garcia is batting .286/.339/.411 through 54 games in the second half, with his highest OPS of the season coming in August. In general, though, Garcia has struggled through his first pro season, batting just .245/.295/.345 with a free-swinging approach that has hampered him after signing last year for $5 million.

8. Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .391/.481/.826 (9-for-23), 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Besides the remarkable ascension of Juan Soto, Kieboom’s season has been the story of the Nationals’ minor leagues. Like Soto, Kieboom missed a chunk of last year with injuries and has come back strong. He’s among the top five in the organization in both home runs (16) and RBIs (61) and has spent nearly half of his season in Double-A as a 20-year-old. There are questions about whether he’ll stick at shortstop in the long term, but he’s likely to hit no matter where he plays. (JN)

9. Keegan Akin, LHP, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.46 (2 G, 2 GS), 12.1 IP, 8 H 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Akin isn’t overpowering, but he has been effective at keeping Double-A hitters off balance, holding down a 2.77 ERA in 130 innings. There isn’t a plus pitch in Akin’s repertoire, but if he tightens his command, he could develop into a fifth starter or a middle reliever.

10. Bubba Thompson, OF, Rangers
Team: Low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .417/.481/.792 (10-for-24), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 3-for-5 SB

The Scoop: Thompson has some of the best raw tools in the Rangers organization. An athletic center fielder with plus-plus speed and a 60-grade arm, Thompson takes advantage of those wheels on the basepaths (25 steals in 32 attempts) and has been solid overall at the plate, hitting .284/.340/.446, though he does have a 27 percent strikeout rate. (BB)

11. Francisco Mejia, C, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .385/.407/.731 (10-for-26), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Mejia has been everything the Padres could have hoped for since they acquired him in the trade for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber on July 19. The top catching prospect in baseball has hit .316/.368/.494 since joining the Padres organization, including a stretch of five consecutive multi-hit games. Mejia figures to remain with El Paso with the Chihuahuas in a playoff race—the Padres front office highly values minor league playoff experience for prospects—but he’s in line to make his San Diego debut as soon as El Paso is done. (KG)

12. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Astros
Team: High Class A Buies Creek (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR

The Scoop: Bukauskas’ first half was marked by injury and underperformance. Since returning from an oblique strain, however, the former North Carolina ace has been nails. In his most recent gem, he showed a 93-95 mph fastball with cutting movement, as well as a putaway slider. He used primarily that combination, with a changeup mixed in, to stymie the prospect-laden Winston-Salem club for seven innings of one-hit ball. He’s allowed just eight hits overall in 18 innings with Buies Creek. (JN)

13. Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .353/.400/.882 (6-for-17), 4 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Getting your first taste of Double-A at 19 years old is excellent enough for a prospect, but Ruiz has done much more. He made the Futures Game, has held his own at the plate and has made great strides as defender. The numbers aren’t going to jump out at you—although his last two weeks have been excellent—but simply surviving the Texas League as its second youngest player has been remarkable in and of itself. (JN)

14. Jonah Davis, OF, Pirates
Team: Rookie-level Bristol (Appalachian)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .375/.464/1.250 (9-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Davis carried Cal with a .321 average, 15 home runs, 58 RBIs and a 1.053 OPS this spring as lefthanded-hitting center fielder, but he inexplicably fell to the 15th round of the draft after being considered a slam-dunk, top-10 round selection. The Pirates are reaping the early rewards, as Davis has pulverized the Appalachian League to the tune of a .326/.411/.658 slash line with 12 homers in 45 games. All nine of his hits last week went for extra-bases, and overall he has a hit in all but 10 games this season since being drafted. (KG)

15. Drew Ellis, 3B, D-backs
Team: High Class A Visalia (California)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .474/.545/1.105 (9-for-19), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: It’s been a middling first full season for the D-backs’ 2017 second-rounder, but Ellis is at least on the way to finishing on a high note. Ellis homered in back-to-back games at cavernous Modesto during the middle of the week, and he capped off the weekend with a three-hit game on Saturday and another homer on Sunday. Ellis’ power is his ticket, so his continued ability to get to it—or not—will be key to his future. (KG)

16. Eric Pardinho, RHP, Blue Jays
Team: Rookie-level Bluefield (Appalachian)
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Pardinho currently is an out away from qualifying for the Appalachian League ERA leaders. So when he makes his next start, he’ll immediately jump onto the leaderboard, where he will rank second in the league with a 2.93 ERA. He’s already fourth in the league in strikeouts (57). It’s much more impressive when you consider that Pardinho is one of the youngest players in the league as a 17-year-old (he won’t turn 18 until next January). Pardinho has present plus stuff with a fastball that can reach 97 mph. (JJ)

17. Nick Solak, 2B/LF, Rays
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .350/.480/1.000 (7-for-20), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HRs, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: In his second full season, Solak continues to show an offensive-minded skill set with a mix of hitting ability, plate patience and good power for a middle infielder. Solak has the offensive ability to carry him to the big leagues, though defensive question marks come with him. If he’s more left fielder than second baseman, that puts even more pressure on what he does at the plate, so sticking at second base would give him a better shot to be a big league regular.

18. Cristian Santana, 3B, Dodgers
Team: High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .429/.429/.831 (12-for-28), 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 0 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: Santana has showcased huge raw power and incredible reaction times defensively at third base all season, but his breaking-ball recognition has been a major issue and led to a 135-to-18 strikeout-to-walk mark. Santana has made strides in the last month and it’s showing. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games last week, hitting three homers in a four-game span and delivering a pair of four-hit games. Santana has all the tools to be a middle-of-the-order, everyday third baseman, he just has to keep improving his ability to recognize breaking pitches and make contact. (KG)

19. Joe Dunand, SS, Marlins
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .375/.423/.875 (9-for-24), 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: A second-round pick last year, Dunand has run into trouble since getting to Double-A in June, batting .193/.263/.365 for the Jumbo Shrimp. But after striking out 41 times in 28 games last month, Dunand has settled down in August, batting .327/.393/.564 since the start of the month. (BB)

20. Austin Beck, OF, Athletics
Team: Low Class A Beloit (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .333/.394/.567 (10-for-30), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Over the first half of the season, Beck held his own against Midwest League pitchers, but he very rarely did any damage. But as the season is wrapping up, Beck is starting to finally pile up some extra-base hits. Beck averaged only five extra base hits a month from April-June. But after hitting nine doubles last month, Beck already has nine extra-base hits this month with a week and a half left in the month. First-round picks are expected to produce more than two home runs in a season, but Beck’s .291/.331/.386 slash line has promise to go with his lack of power. (JJ)


Ben Braymer, LHP, Nationals 
Team: High Class A (Potomac)

Braymer has stayed below the radar most of his career, but he’s been successful almost everywhere he’s been. A 6-foot-2 lefthander, Braymer was a junior college All-American in 2015 after leading the country in strikeouts, had a 3.56 ERA his lone season at Auburn and now owns a career 14-7, 3.13 mark as a professional after the Nationals picked him in the 18th round in 2016. Braymer can run his fastball up to 94 mph, and his slider and changeup are both viable offerings to go with solid-average control. Though he mainly profiled as a reliever out of college, Braymer is 5-2, 2.43 as a starter this year, showing he has the chops to start with a solid arsenal. (KG)


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