Prospect Hot Sheet: May 12
1. Triston McKenzie, rhp, Indians (19) High Class A Lynchburg (Carolina) McKenzie has quickly put himself in the conversation among the game’s best pitching prospects. Just 19 and already in high Class A, he doesn’t have the upper-90s velocity that’s becoming more commonplace among elite young pitching prospect, but he has outstanding feel for pitching. He misses bats with his low-90s fastball and, especially, his curveball. Adding weight to his tall, skinny frame could help McKenzie add to his fastball or at least maintain his velocity deeper into his outings. Given his polish, he could be pitching in the major leagues before his 21st birthday.
2. Ronald Acuna, of, Braves (19) Double-A Mississippi (Southern) Striking out 40 times in 28 games doesn’t scream for a promotion, especially for a 19-year-old in high Class A. Yet the Braves still bumped Acuna to Double-A and he’s gotten off to a fast start. The strikeouts are something to monitor, but he is the equivalent of a college freshman already playing in Double-A.
3. Brent Honeywell, rhp, Rays (22) Triple-A Durham (International) Honeywell has a wide array of pitches that zig and zag, from his mid-90s fastball to his screwball. He has the stuff to miss bats but also the control to throw all of pitches for strikes.
4. Kyle Tucker, of, Astros (19) High Class A Buies Creek (Carolina) Does Tucker know the Astros moved their high Class A affiliate out of Lancaster? The numbers he is posting in the Carolina League this year look like the product of the Lancaster launching pad, but this is simply one of the most talented hitters in the minors growing into his power, with eight home runs in a little more than a month after he hit nine in 117 games last year.
5. Brendan Rodgers, ss, Rockies (20) High Class A Lancaster (California) Speaking of Lancaster, yes, that has helped Rodgers some this year. But he’s still a shortstop with a chance to develop into a plus hitter with plus power.
6. Mitch Keller, rhp, Pirates (21) High Class A Bradenton (Florida State) A second-round pick out of high school in 2014, Keller got off to a slow start in pro ball. In 2015 he walked 16 batters in 19.2 innings at Rookie-level Bristol. Keller walked just 19 in 130.1 innings last year and he has maintained his prolific strike-throwing skills this season in the Florida State League, with the polish to continue to move quickly.
7. Nick Gordon, ss, Twins (21) Double-A Chattanooga (Southern) It’s been a terrific start for Gordon, who is batting .320/.381/.472 through his first 139 plate appearances. After hitting three home runs and drawing just 23 walks a year ago, Gordon already has two home runs and 13 walks this season.
8. Jack Flaherty, rhp, Cardinals (21) Double-A Springfield (Texas) Some scouts had grown lukewarm on Flaherty over the past year, but he’s been one of the sharpest pitchers in the minors this season, keeping his ERA down to 0.69 with 40 strikeouts and five walks.
9. Vladimir Gutierrez, rhp, Reds (21) High Class A Daytona (Florida State) Gutierrez was a reliever in Cuba but had the repertoire of a starter. He’s shown that this year as the Reds have forced him to his changeup, which along with his low- to mid-90s fastball and plus curveball has led to ample swing-and-miss from both lefties and righties. Through 31.2 innings, Gutierrez has a 42-5 K-BB mark.
10. Alex Jackson, c, Braves (21) High Class A Florida (Florida State) The Mariners gave up on Jackson and the Braves were willing to take a flier on the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft, moving him back to catcher from the outfield in the process. Jackson still has a long, long ways to go to stick behind the plate, but he’s at least resurrected some hope of getting to the big leagues. He’s batting .306/.363/.604 with 10 home runs in 33 games, though plate discipline and the stiffness in his swing will get tested at higher levels.
11. Austin Riley, 3b, Braves (20) High Class A Florida (Florida State) A power-hitting third baseman, Riley’s power still comes with strikeouts, but he’s performed well this season, batting .287/.347/.471 in 34 games. His improved defense is another positive sign.
12. Dustin Fowler, of, Yankees (22) Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (International) After leading the Eastern League in triples a year ago, Fowler has used his speed to leg out six triples already this season, with a .293/.341/.537 slash line through 29 games. Tightening his strike-zone discipline remains a key for Fowler to get on base more frequently.
13. Scott Kingery, 2b, Phillies (23) Double-A Reading (Eastern) Reading is a hitter-friendly park, though you wouldn’t know it from Kingery’s performance when he got there at the end of 2016 and hit just .250/.273/.333 in 37 games. He’s looked much better this season, putting together quality at-bats and already surpassing the five home runs he hit in all of 2016 with seven homers in his first 29 games.
14. Shed Long, 2b, Reds (21) High Class A Daytona (Florida State) After a slow week to to open the season, Long has looked more like himself since then, spraying line drives to all fields with sneaky pop for his size. He’s hitting .305/.352/.469, outperforming teammate Nick Senzel.
15. Kevin Kramer, 2b, Pirates (23) Double-A Altoona (Eastern) A .371/.464/.600 slash line? Giddyup! Kramer’s tools are mostly average to below-average, but he has a sharp eye for the strike zone and a knack for barreling the ball.
16. Raimel Tapia, of, Rockies (23) Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast) Albuquerque is one of the best places on the planet for hitters, but the ballpark isn’t the variable in Tapia’s success. He’s a pure hitter who hits everywhere he goes, with outstanding hand-eye coordination and an innate feel for centering the baseball.
17. Michael Chavis, 3b, Red Sox (21) High Class A Salem (Carolina) An elbow injury has mostly limited Chavis to DH this season, but it hasn’t slowed his bat. He is off to a scorching start, hitting .345/.444/.690 through 23 games.
18. Chris Shaw, 1b/lf, Giants (23) Double-A Richmond (Eastern) Shaw has been hammering the ball in a park that suppresses home runs. He’s hitting .320/.425/.530 with four homers in 29 games, with as many walks (17) as strikeouts (17).
19. Beau Burrows, rhp, Tigers (20) High Class A Lakeland (Florida State) Matt Manning (No. 81) is the only Tigers prospect in our Top 100, but Burrows has elevated his stock with an excellent start. He’s held down a 1.16 ERA with a 40-7 K-BB mark in 38.2 innings.
20. Meibrys Viloria, c, Royals (20) Low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic) Making his full-season debut this year, Viloria got off to a rough start. He’s been better over the past week, with the upside to grow into at least a backup and a chance to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues.
Baseball America Prospect Report—April 13, 2021
Tigers prospects Casey Mize and Akil Baddoo headline our Tuesday prospect report.