MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Players at Each Minor League Level
We’re now well into the minor league season, and countless prospects continue to open eyes with their performances at each of the four full-season levels.
With teams having played in the neighborhood of 50 games since Opening Day on April 3—most starting pitchers have made about a dozen starts, while hitters are within range of 200 plate appearances by now—small sample sizes are no longer quite so small.
As we've done in previous installments, this week’s list of players once again combines reports on both hitters and pitchers in the same article.
Here are the hottest and coldest players at every minor league level.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
2014 Statistics: .322/.419/.518, 31 R, 21 XBH (8 HR), 36 RBI, 1 SB, 49/33 K/BB (236 PA)
Judge, 22, was in this same section a week ago, and he then went on to record a hit in each of his past seven games, including three more homers among seven total extra-base knocks to go along with 11 RBI. Sure, the strikeout rate is a tad high (20.7 percent) for a first-round college product in Low-A, but that's picking nits. Judge will move up a level soon enough.
Austin Wilson, OF, Seattle Mariners
2014 Statistics: .297/.374/.495, 23 R, 21 XBH (7 HR), 39 RBI, 0 SB, 38/16 K/BB (207 PA)
The 22-year-old Wilson, who went early in last year's second round, only played five games this past week, but he made 'em count. The Stanford product had a hit in each contest, including three straight multi-hit efforts, and he also smacked a pair of home runs, drove in nine and walked (three) more times than he whiffed (one).
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Statistics: 3 W, 1.68 ERA, 0.9 5 WHIP, 2 HR, 64/20 K/BB (53.2 IP)
The 19-year-old 2013 first-rounder continues to pwn (with a "p") the South Atlantic League. In his most recent outing, Harvey allowed only four baserunners and one unearned run over 6.0 innings with seven strikeouts. A promotion to High-A should be in the works.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Statistics: 2 W, 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 1 HR, 22:7 K:BB (27.1 IP)
Stanek, 22, likely would have been a top-10 selection a year ago had it not been for a hip injury that eventually required surgery and delayed his pro debut until May. The former No. 29 overall selection has looked strong since returning, especially of late, with 12.0 innings of seven-hit, one-run ball and a 10/1 k/BB over his past two starts.
Stryker Trahan, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Statistics: .193/.262/.340, 26 R, 16 XBH (6 HR), 31 RBI, 3 SB, 69/17 K/BB (221 PA)
The converted catcher and 2012 first-rounder did smack two homers over the past week, but he recorded only one other hit (3-for-24, .125 BA). Trahan, 20, also struck out eight more times, raising his season total to a whopping 69, which is among the 25-highest totals in all of the minors.
Dorssys Paulino, SS, Cleveland Indians
2014 Statistics: .217/.272/.298, 12 R, 11 XBH (0 HR), 8 RBI, 2 SB, 45/12 K/BB (175 PA)
His 2012 rookie-league breakout campaign (.938 OPS) is feeling farther away by the day. The fact is, ever since he's been in full-season ball, Paulino hasn't been any good, with an OBP south of .300. Even worse, now the one area that appeared to be somewhat reliable—his extra-base pop—has withered, too (11 XBH, .298 SLG in 2014). He's still only 19 and very raw, but even more so than he looked two years ago.
Alberto Tirado, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Statistics: 1 W, 5.40 ERA, 2.01 WHIP, 3 HR, 37/36 K/BB (38.1 IP)
Tirado has great stuff, as his 8.7 K/9 shows, but the 19-year-old Dominican is still learning to harness it—as his even more astounding 8.5 BB/9 proves. He gave up seven earned while getting but two outs in his penultimate start, and he then followed that up by allowing three earned on six hits and four walks over four frames his last time out.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Statistics: 5 W, 2.24 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2 HR, 65/17 K/BB (56.1 IP)
After some injury issues cropped up at the end of his first full pro season, the Puerto Rican native and 2012 first-rounder has been healthy—and tearing up the Florida State League. Berrios, who just turned 20 in May, has allowed only 13 hits and four walks while striking out 30 over his past three starts (20.0 IP), culminating in seven scoreless innings of one-hit, 13-strikeout ball over the weekend.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
2014 Statistics: .328/.399/.495, 35 R, 21 XBH (5 HR), 49 RBI, 15 SB, 36/22 K/BB (233 PA)
On one hand, 2012's top overall pick ranks second in the California League with 49 RBI, but on the other, Correa's 15 steals place him sixth. Over the past week, the 19-year-old went 13-for-27 (.487) with six walks and only four strikeouts. Those are not bad numbers for the second-youngest position player in the circuit.
Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Statistics: .318/.414/.557, 31 R, 24 XBH (9 HR), 39 RBI, 3 SB, 39/30 K/BB (210 PA)
All Winker has done since being taken 49th in 2012 is hit. The 20-year-old lefty swinger is thoroughly enjoying the hitter-friendly California League recently, with four homers and 10 RBI in his past six games, four of which came at High Desert, one of the very best locales to bat in baseball.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Statistics: 2 W, 2.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 0 HR, 41/27 K/BB (37.2 IP)
As a 6'7" hurler, Glasnow has his bouts with control and command when he's not repeating his delivery well (6.2 BB/9). Of course, that and his stuff also makes him incredibly hard to hit—over his past two starts, he gave up just three knocks and struck out 16 in 10.2 combined innings.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Statistics: .193/.283/.331, 21 R, 15 XBH (4 HR), 24 RBI, 0 SB, 39/22 K/BB (205 PA)
Born in New York, New York, but inked for $500,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Candelario has become a popular sleeper (if such a thing exists) due to his advanced approach at the plate at such a young age (20). Even that abandoned him in May, though, as Candelario walked merely four times in 95 trips while also hitting just .178.
Chris Stratton, RHP, San Francisco Giants
2014 Statistics: 3 W, 4.80 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 10 HR, 57/24 K/BB (60.0 IP)
The Giants have had a great run of developing amateur arms into top pros, but doing so with Stratton is proving to be more difficult than expected after he was taken with the 20th overall pick in 2012. That's especially discouraging for a college product who's now nearly 24 and has not only yet to ascend from A-ball but is struggling there. Two of his past three starts have been better, and it is the California League, but no pitcher in the circuit has allowed more homers (10).
Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
2014 Statistics: 0 W, 11.93 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, 5 HR, 15/5 K/BB (14.1 IP)
During the week of the draft, it's only fitting to include last year's No. 1 overall pick. Alas, for the 22-year-old Appel, his mention here isn't under the greatest of circumstances, as he was having issues adapting to the Astros' asking him to pitch every four days (instead of the normal five) in their piggybacking approach to starters.
Then he went out and got torched on the last day of May for 10 hits and 10 earned runs while getting only four outs in his bandbox home park at Lancaster. At least he owned up to it after, though. And don't forget: Appel had an appendectomy just before the start of spring training.
Steven Moya, OF, Detroit Tigers
2014 Statistics: .286/.307/.562, 31 R, 30 XBH (12 HR), 39 RBI, 9 SB, 56/6 K/BB (212 PA)
The 6'6", 230-pound Moya is freakishly athletic but also has his flaws, namely plate discipline (just take a look at that strikeout-to-walk ratio above). Still, the 22-year-old has been absolutely out of his mind of late. In his last 10 games, he's gone 20-for-42 (.476) with seven homers, 15 RBI and four steals—and no walks.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Statistics: .353/.460/.700, 50 R, 34 XBH (19 HR), 51 RBI, 7 SB, 66/36 K/BB (248 PA)
Frankly, we're getting a little tired of writing up Bryant, 22, in this space week after week, but he's making it impossible not to do so. Rather than wax poetic about last year's No. 2 pick's power, we'll just list his stats since the last article (seven games): .480 BA, 7 R, 7 XBH (5 HR), 8 RBI, 1 SB.
Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets
2014 Statistics: .335/.367/.524, 24 R, 19 XBH (6 HR), 35 RBI, 0 SB, 21/8 K/BB (177 PA)
The bat has never been a question for Plawecki, but now the 23-year-old's power is starting to come on with five of his six homers coming in the past two weeks. Maybe Plawecki, and not the injury-plagued Travis d'Arnaud, is the Mets catcher of the future.
Richie Shaffer, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Statistics: .225/.295/.468, 18 R, 22 XBH (8 HR), 25 RBI, 1 SB, 51/17 K/BB (190 PA)
The Clemson product, drafted 25th overall in 2012, has been underwhelming in his first taste outside of A-ball. Shaffer has just seven hits in his last 37 at-bats (.189) and whiffed 15 times over that same stretch, which is becoming a cause for concern (26.8 percent strikeout rate for the year).
Michael Ohlman, C, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Statistics: .212/.311/.308, 20 R, 10 XBH (2 HR), 13 RBI, 0 SB, 38/22 K/BB (181 PA)
Ohlman was finally both healthy and productive in 2013 when he hit .313/.410/.524 in easily his best season since being selected in the ninth round back in 2009. This year hasn't been quite so noteworthy, however, as the 23-year-old's power has fallen off with just 10 non-singles and only two homers.
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Statistics: 6 W, 3.59 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 11 HR, 52/26 K/BB (72.2 IP)
Cooney goes from among the coldest last week to the hottest this time after coming within one out of a no-no against Javier Baez and the Iowa Cubs in his next-to-last start. The 23-year-old lefty followed that up with 6.2 solid innings of six-hit, one-run ball on Tuesday. Should the Cardinals need a spot starter at some point, Cooney is in position for the call.
Mikie Mahtook, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Statistics: .338/.396/.523, 19 R, 27 XBH (2 HR), 29 RBI, 9 SB, 55/16 K/BB (217 PA)
A first-rounder out of LSU only three years ago, Mahtook now looks like a fringe fourth outfielder at best, as he is a 24-year-old with no carrying tool. That hasn't stopped him from going bonkers lately, though, with 18 knocks in his last 35 at-bats (.514), including nine for extra bases.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
2014 Statistics: 4 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4 HR, 55/24 K/BB (55.2 IP)
With Jon Singleton's promotion to Houston this week (he homered in his first game on Tuesday), could Folty be far behind? The 22-year-old with the upper-90s fastball fired 7.2 innings of six-hit, one-run ball with 10 whiffs in his latest outing and certainly could help either in the Astros' five-man or bullpen sooner than later.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Statistics: 6 W, 1.64 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 1 HR, 69/19 K/BB (65.2 IP)
Not even two weeks ago, Nelson was shutting out the Miami Marlins over 5.2 frames in a spot start after an ankle injury kept Yovani Gallardo out of action for a turn. Back in Nashville, Nelson, who turns 25 on Thursday, hurled his 11th quality start out of 11 outings and did so with a career-high 11 strikeouts while allowing only one run on three hits and two walks over 7.2 innings. Think he wants to get back to The Show?
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Statistics: .229/.296/.352, 26 R, 17 XBH (4 HR), 22 RBI, 1 SB, 36/18 K/BB (230 PA)
Arguably the biggest breakout prospect in all of baseball last year when he hit .320 with 31 homers and 103 RBI across High- and Double-A, Franco has been fighting through a tough beginning to 2014. The shame of it is, with third baseman Cody Asche on the DL, Franco might have been up with the floundering Phils right now if he weren't on another cold streak (6-for-29 with no walks over the past week).
Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
2014 Statistics: .254/.315/.360, 37 R, 15 XBH (3 HR), 25 RBI, 7 SB, 51/20 K/BB (263 PA)
At this stage of his career Brown will no longer be considered a prospect once he turns 26 in September. Of course, he's not really much of a prospect as is and hasn't been since his boffo—and outlier—2011 in the hitter-haven California League. Sure, he has some pop and enough speed to be intriguing, but he's never adjusted his approach in the box (6.7 career walk rate) or improved his ability to read pitchers (66 percent career stolen-base percentage) to the point where he actually can put his tools to use.
Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox
2014 Statistics: .180/.252/.339, 14 R, 16 XBH (7 HR), 18 RBI, 0 SB, 73/17 K/BB (210 PA)
Yeesh, what happened to this guy? Expected to contend for the Opening Day third base job on the South Side after being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks for closer Addison Reed over the winter, Davidson didn't quite get the gig despite a solid spring, and he has since cratered in his new digs. The line above is bad, but the fact that he's swinging and missing more than ever—his 73 strikeouts are the ninth-most in the entire minor leagues—is particularly worrisome.
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