Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (8/26/19)

Image credit: Dylan Carlson (Photo by Zach Lucy/Four Seam Images)

Welcome back to the Hot Sheet, which ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from Aug 19-25. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser 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. Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .483/.533/.741 (13-for-27), 8 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: 
One of the fastest risers in the minor leagues this season, Carlson, who won’t turn 21 until the middle of October, has made a mark in the Cardinals’ upper levels. He blitzed the Texas League after opening as its fourth-youngest player, putting forth an OPS of .882 before moving to Triple-A Memphis. That mark still stands as the TL’s second-highest figure. He’s quickly adjusted to the Pacific Coast League, where he’s notched at least one hit in all 10 of his games. It’s also worth noting that he’s stolen 18 bases this season, and two more would give him a 20-20 season. (JN)

2. Pavin Smith, 1B, D-Backs
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .500/.538/.917 (12-for-24), 5 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Because he plays in the Southern League, it’s easy to miss that Smith has shown solid growth this season. He’s actually been one of the best hitters in the Southern League, but the league has been so difficult for hitters. Smith ranks among the league’s top 10 hitters in average (.294), on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.474). Smith has been even better in the second half of the season—he’s hitting .338/.407/.557 since the all-star break. Next year, Smith’s numbers will likely blossom with a move to Triple-A Reno, but you’ll remember he started to put it together this year. (JJ)

3. Orelvis Martinez, SS, Blue Jays
Team: Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: .308/.419/.808 (8-for-26), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: The Blue Jays last year dropped $3.51 million on Martinez, giving him the biggest bonus of any 16-year-old in the 2018-19 international signing period. He has rewarded their confidence thus far, standing out as one of the best prospects in the GCL, where he’s hitting .270/.344/.525. While his defensive home is likely over at third base, Martinez has the offensive ability to fit there, with quick hands that stay inside the ball well and the ability to generate plus power with ease. (BB)

4. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .375/.400/.792 (9-for-24), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: The crown jewel of the trade that sent Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to New York, Kelenic has been outstanding in his first full season as a pro. After starting in low Class A, he’s risen all the way to Double-A Arkansas and has left a trail of pummeled baseballs at each stop. He’s recorded a hit in all but three of his first 14 games in the Texas League and is just one stolen base away from a 20-20 season. He’s slated for the Arizona Fall League and could make his major league debut just a few months after he turns 21 next July. (JN)

5. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Team: Dominican Summer League Mariners
Age: 17
Why He’s Here: .500/.550/.944 (9-for-18), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The Mariners have one of the best facilities in the Dominican Republic. They start all of their Latin American signings there for the DSL, so while other teams push their top signings straight to the United States, the Mariners kept Julio Rodriguez in the DSL for his first season and did the same this year with Marte. With the season wrapped up last week, Marte could follow Rodriguez to give the Mariners consecutive MVPs in the DSL, with Marte batting .309/.371/.511. While Marte isn’t quite as polished as a hitter as Rodriguez was last year, he has more athleticism and offers more defensive value, a potential power/speed threat who torched the league with a .423/.477/.744 line in the season’s final month. (BB)

6. Miguel Vargas, 3B, Dodgers
Team: High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .545/.565/.955 (12-for-22), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Vargas stood out for his pure hitting ability when he came out of Cuba and signed with the Dodgers for $300,000, a bargain price for a prospect who has already reached high Class A at 19. Vargas has good strike-zone judgment and good bat path that stays through the hitting zone a long time, helping him make a lot of contact and get on base at a high clip. (BB)

7. Parker Dunshee, RHP, Athletics
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Texas)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 11.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Pitching in the Pacific Coast League, and especially Las Vegas, has proven a nearly impossible task this season. Dunshee found the magic formula last week with six sharp innings at home followed by 5.2 scoreless in Tacoma. The strike-throwing righthander has little margin for error with a fastball that lives in the 87-91 mph range, but he’s shown he can hit his spots enough to carve out a measure of success at higher levels. (KG)

8. Luis Verdugo, SS, Cubs
Team: Rookie-level Arizona (Arizona)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .444/.464/.926 (12-for-28), 9 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBIs, 0 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Verdugo earned positive reviews from scouts last year as a 17-year-old in the AZL despite subpar numbers. Verdugo returned to the AZL this year and has shown why scouts were so high on him. His projected power turned into game power last week with four home runs, and his natural feel for getting the barrel to the baseball has resulted in a .306/.369/.451 slash line this season. As Verdugo begins to figure things out, the $1.2 million signing bonus he was given as an amateur out of Mexico may turn out to be a bargain. (KG)

9. Andrew Knizner, C, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .333/.440/.810 (7-for-21), 5 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Knizner has been perfectly average at the plate for Memphis this year. His .280/.360/.462 stat line this year is almost identical to the Redbirds’ .278/.358/.467 stat line as a team. So a strong August to finish the season has been an encouraging sign for the Cardinals’ best catching prospect. But the bat is good enough for the majors. All Knizner has left to do is show that his glove is good enough to come close to matching his bat. (JJ)

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .522/.542/.696 (12-for-23), 1 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 0 SO

The Scoop: Hayes has long been regarded for his glovework at third base, and his bat has slowly but surely started to catch up. He might never be the prototypical masher that typically corresponds with a corner infield spot, but the strides he’s made over the course of the season (his second-half average is 43 points higher than his mark in the first half) could give him enough juice to stick in an everyday role. (JN)

11. Austin Allen, C, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .474/.474/1.158 (9-for-19), 4 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 4 SO

The Scoop: Yet another power binge helped Allen earn his third callup of the season to San Diego. There’s little doubt that Allen can bring a team lefthanded power. What is not yet clear is if Allen’s defense is going to be good enough for him to earn a regular spot on the Padres’ roster. Austin Hedges is much better defensively, while Francisco Mejia has shown enough to be remain ahead of Allen in the Padres’ pecking order so far. Allen can commiserate with Ty France, another El Paso star who has just recently gotten a shot in San Diego. (JJ)

12. Tim Cate, LHP, Nationals
Team: High Class A Potomac (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Cate hit a bit of a rough stretch at the end of July, but he’s found his footing in August. The 2018 second-rounder has a 2.64 ERA with 26 strikeouts and five walks this month, capped by his dominant outing at Frederick last week. Cate’s seven innings tied for the most he’s thrown in a game this season, and his nine strikeouts were second-most. As the season nears its end, the former UConn lefty is pitching his best. (KG)

13. Brandon Marsh, OF, Angels
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .467/.515/.633 (14-for-30), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Real estate in the Angels outfield will be limited soon, with Mike Trout and Jo Adell likely holding down two of those spots for the long term beginning at some point next season. Whether Marsh stays with the Angels or ends up elsewhere, he has taken important steps in his development this season, cutting his strikeout rate from a concerning 28 percent last year in high Class A to 22 percent this year in Double-A. The athletic outfielder is hitting .302/.387/.434 with Mobile. (BB)


14. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .286/.355/.679 (8-for-28), 8 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Mountcastle has been the best power hitter on a somewhat power-limited (by 2019 Triple-A standards) Norfolk club. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s fully ready for Baltimore. Mountcastle’s aggressiveness has become more and more pronounced, which means his offensive value is very focused on hitting for a high average and smashing home runs. Admittedly those are some very good qualities, but it explains why Mountcastle has a .342 on-base percentage despite a .310 average. If Mountcastle’s average slumps in the majors, his on-base percentage could quickly dip into unsustainable levels, so he may need some more time to develop a little more selectivity. (JJ)

15. Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Cubs
Team: High Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.69, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Entering the year, Marquez was hard-thrower with interesting upside. With the season nearly done, he’s cemented his rep as the best arm in the Cubs’ system. He regularly gets his heater into triple-digits and couples it with a wicked breaking ball from the left side. He’s been electric since moving to high Class A Myrtle Beach, allowing just eight hits while whiffing 16 over his first 15.1 innings, which span four starts. (JN)

16. Luis Medina, RHP, Yankees
Team: High Class A Tampa (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Medina has long had the most electric package of pitches in the Yankees’ system but has rarely found the strike zone consistently enough to be effective. For the last six weeks it’s started to seem like he’d turned a bit of corner. He struck out 10 against low Class A Rome that day and has been solid or better since. He has used an arsenal of three potential plus or better pitches to slice and dice the competition in August. In three starts in the season’s final month, Medina has struck out 25 against just four walks over 17 innings. (JN)

17. Brayan Rocchio, SS, Indians
Team: Short-season Mahoning Valley (New York-Penn)
Age: 18
Why He’s Here: .364/.391/.682 (8-for-22), 4 R, 1 1B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3-for-4 SB

The Scoop: Rocchio drew bullish scouting reports from scouts last year and again this spring, though he got off to a slow start once the New York-Penn League started. That’s behind him now, with Rocchio hitting .313/.382/.475 this month, showing a short stroke with excellent bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate and all-around baseball savvy well beyond his years. (BB)

18. Otto Lopez, 2B, Blue Jays
Team: Low Class A Lansing (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .393/.393/.607 (11-for-28), 2 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: With Wander Franco and Xavier Edwards promoted to higher levels and no longer eligible, Lopez has pulled into the lead in the Midwest League batting title race. The breakout Blue Jays prospect has strung together multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games, including a 4-for-6 night on Aug. 23 that put his batting average over the .320 mark. Lopez has an eight point edge on Alek Thomas, who has also since been moved up, giving the Lugnuts’ second baseman full control of the batting race. (KG)

19. Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 2.25, 2 GS, 12 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Guzman is on a roll. He’s 3-1, 1.20 with an amazing six hits allowed in 30 innings in August. He has walked 13, but if you’re holding hitters to an .066 average, a few walks don’t matter much. Guzman has shortened up his arm path significantly over the past couple of years in an attempt to find better control, but he is still working to repeat it consistently. But he throws extremely hard, and when he locates even semi-consistently he can be hard to square up. The Marlins have a lot of pitching coming up, but Guzman is one of the pitching prospects closest to the majors.

20. Shea Langeliers, C, Braves
Team: Low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .571/.591/.619 (12-for-21), 7 R, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: The ninth overall pick started slow after signing but has since picked it up. Langeliers went 4-for-4 in his first game of the week and 4-for-4 in his final game of the week, altogether compiling a five-game stretch that raised his average from .206 to .246. With a balanced swing and solid understanding of the strike zone, Langeliers has the tools to be an average hitter and has started to flash them. (KG)


Andrick Nava, C, Phillies

When the Phillies signed Nava last year out of Venezuela, he was a 16-year-old catcher who showed offensive promise but wasn’t considered one of the elite prospects in the class. Yet after signing, Nava performed so well at Dominican instructional league and again this spring that the Phillies pushed him straight to the United States for his pro debut. The arrow continues pointing up on Nava, who is hitting .311/.348/.372 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. While Nava’s defense needs to catch up, he shows innate barrel awareness from both sides of the plate to put the ball in play with high frequency. (BB)

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