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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (5/6/19)

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 April 30 to May 5. Contributing this week were Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Josh Norris, Kyle Glaser and Justin Coleman.

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. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 14 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: As you surely know by now, Mize threw a complete game no-hitter in his Double-A debut. In his second start of the week, he allowed two hits and one unearned run while striking out four. The only run he allowed this week came when he allowed a single, saw that runner move up on a ground out, struck out the next batter and then induced what should have been an inning-ending ground out. Instead, an error allowed that runner to score from second. In other words, he once again was in complete command—he induced three infield pop-ups in the first two innings on Saturday. For the season, Mize’s ERA is a hard-to-detect 0.22 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is an almost-silly 50-to-5. Few first-round picks, even No. 1 overall picks, do this. It’s bringing back memories of Mark Prior’s quick run through the minors (79 strikeouts, 57 baserunners in 51 innings) or Stephen Strasburg’s (1.30 ERA, 65-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55.1 innings). It’s not a guarantee of future dominance. Danny Hultzen went 8-3, 1.19 for Double-A Jackson with 38 hits allowed in 75 innings. Hultzen dominated, then struggled in Triple-A before shoulder injuries ruined his career. But most pitchers who do this don’t spend a lot of time in the minors. Mize is on the fast track. He’s yet to be challenged by high Class A or Double-A, and he already has roughly as many innings in the minors as Prior or Strasburg received before their callups. Don’t expect to see Mize jump up to Detroit just yet, but a few more weeks like this and another promotion may be in line. (JJ)

2. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .478/.538/1.261 (11-for-23), 10 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Simply put, Riley has eviscerated International League pitching this season. He’s made adjustments to his swing designed to shorten his path to the ball and keep the barrel in the zone longer, and the changes have had very loud results. His 10 home runs—including one that went an estimated 492 feet and another that left the bat at 110 mph—are second in the International League, where he was the circuit’s sixth-youngest player on Opening Day. (JN)

3. Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Astros.
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast League)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .600/.677/1.000 (15-for-25), 11 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 6 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: Alvarez has been a one-man wrecking crew since joining Triple-A Round Rock. The Astros’ No. 3 prospect started off May with three multi-hit games, including a four-hit performance against Oklahoma City. The offensive-minded Alvarez has an above-average hit tool with plus power but lacks a true position on the field, making it likely that he moves around between DH, first base and left field in an effort to get at-bats at the big league level. (JC)

4. Edward Cabrera, RHP, Marlins
Team: High Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Cabrera pitched very well during the month of April, and he came out with a dominating performance to start May. The Marlins’ No. 8 prospect tossed 6.2 scoreless innings with a season-high 13 strikeouts. Cabrera works mostly with a mid-90s fastball that has late life and two secondaries—a curveball and changeup—that both flash plus. Known for having some control issues, Cabrera hasn’t walked a batter in his last two outings. If he continues to hone his control, Cabrera could find a permanent home in the rotation. (JC)

5. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres
Team: High Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.96, 9.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 18 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: Why is MacKenzie Gore here? Because 18 of the 28 outs he recorded last week were strikeouts. Because he hasn’t surrounded more than four hits in any of his six starts this year. Because he’s a lefthander who can run his fastball into the upper 90s and back it up with three nasty offspeed pitches. Because he’s striking out an average of 13 hitters per nine innings this year, as the second-youngest pitcher in the California League. That’s why MacKenzie Gore is here. (JN)

6. Jake Rogers, C, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: .350/.435/.800 (7-for-20), 6 R, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Our reports on Rogers typically lead with glowing remarks on his defense. He's one of the top defensive catchers in the minors, with a rocket arm and advanced receiving skills. He earns high marks from his pitchers and opposing scouts for his ability to call a game and manage a pitching staff, with Rogers the man behind the plate for Casey Mize's no-hitter on April 29. But now Rogers is also doing damage with his bat, hitting .274/.413/.548 through 20 games. (BB)

7. Jazz Chisholm, SS, D-backs
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .300/.417/.900 (6-for-20), 5 R, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: The D-backs aggressively moved Chisholm to Double-A after only 36 games at high Class A Visalia last year. After a rough 3-for-44 start, the electric shortstop has started to figure things out. He is 13-for-47 (.277) with seven home runs in his last 13 games, capped by four home runs in three games to finish the week. (KG)


8. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Team: Triple-A San Antonio (Pacific Coast League)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .385/.467/.962 (10-for-27), 7 R, 3 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Brewers’ top prospect just keeps raking wherever he goes. He has a compact stroke with solid power, leading to his three home runs on the week. His plus hit tool should easily carry him to the majors, where he will benefit from his all-fields approach at the plate. Hiura should get some at-bats in Milwaukee rather soon, where he should profile as a middle-of-the-order bat that plays a respectable second base. (JC)

9. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Team: Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .364/.462/.773 (8-for-22), 3 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Armed with one of the prettiest lefthanded swings you’ll find in the minor leagues, Kelenic has hit the ground running in his first taste of full-season ball. He’s already put together a 17-game hitting streak and has failed to get on base in just two of 27 games this season. His 1.050 OPS is third in the South Atlantic League. (JN)

10. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .444/.524/1.000 (8-for-18), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: While Yordan Alvarez has been dominating the Pacific Coast League during the first month of the season, Tucker has been surprisingly ineffective. Alvarez’s impressive start and Tucker’s struggles in Houston last season together make it appear that Tucker is a little further from Houston right now than he was when the 2018 season began. But it’s easy to forget that Tucker is only 22 years old. He’s younger than Adam Haseley, for one example. And Tucker is starting to finally heat up. Eight of his nine home runs have come since April 20. (JJ)

11. Edward Olivares, OF, Padres
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .393/.433/.857 (11-for-28), 1 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Olivares blasted three home runs yesterday, raising his season line to .296/.361/.593 with eight homers through 27 games. Olivares' free-swinging tendencies have hampered his ability to get on base in the past, so he has to develop a more selective offensive approach, but he has an array of exciting tools between his power, speed and arm strength. (BB)

12. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 11 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: Anderson is but one of the many jewels the Braves have stashed on their Double-A club, and this week he stood out as one of the most talented arms in the Southern League. He’s the second-youngest pitcher in the league, and he’s racked up 37 strikeouts in his first 29 innings. Evaluators who’ve seen Anderson this year express a need for improved fastball command and for one of this two offspeed pitches—curveball and changeup—to step forward as a plus offering. What he has now, though, is plenty to carve up the Southern League. (JN)

13. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/3B, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .542/.560/.750 (13-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Mountcastle keeps hitting. Through 29 games, he's batting .345/.370/.546, and while he's not the most disciplined hitter, Mountcastle has hit well at every level and earns widespread praise from scouts for his bat. The risk with Mountcastle has always been on the defensive side. A poor defender at third base, Mountcastle has spent most of his time this season playing first base, putting greater demands on what he will have to produce offensively at the next level. (BB)


Curtis Terry Becomes A More Complete Player

The fifth-year pro busted out in full-season ball to win the Rangers' minor league player of the year award.

14. Josh Breaux, C, Yankees
Team: Low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .500/.556/1.313 (8-for-16), 8 R, 1 2B, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: It’s not hard to find scouts who believe that Breaux will eventually end up as a 100 mph reliever who pitches late innings of crucial games. But Breaux has always wanted to hit, and he has the power to do some damage. Breaux is still striking out a lot and not walking much at all, but he is hitting lengthy home runs. His four this week came in just four games.

15. Tucupita Marcano, SS/2B, Padres
Team: Low Class A Fort Wayne (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .538/.568/.654 (14-for-26), 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Marcano is one of the better pure hitters in the lower minors. He has a compact, adjustable swing with good hand-eye coordination and disciplined strike-zone judgment, which leads to good plate coverage and a lot of balls in play. Marcano doesn't do much damage on contact, but his ability to get on base at a high clip while playing in the middle of the diamond make for a promising profile. (BB)

16. Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers
Team: Double-A Erie (Eastern League)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: 1-1, 3.46, 2 GS, 13 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: Manning is part of what has turned into arguably the minor’s best prospect pitching rotation. Casey Mize throws up zeroes every time he pitches. Alex Faedo has regained his velocity and has pitched much better, including throwing a no-hitter of his own, and Manning has been steadily impressive. His 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year is just a few walks worse than Mize’s. Manning normally attacks hitters with a fastball-curveball combo, but it starting to see improved results from his changeup. He has seen his control wane from time to time, walking one hitter in his last start and three the start prior. Even with average control, Manning is beginning to look the part of a mid-rotation starter for the Tigers. (JC)

17. Drew Waters, OF, Braves
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .524/.524/.667 (11-for-21), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Waters went hitless in his final five at-bats and still hit .524 last week. The 20-year old switch-hitter has excelled in the leadoff spot for Mississippi, delivering a leadoff hit in seven straight games prior to Sunday, and he has upped his on-base percentage to .381 on the year. Despite only 30 games at high Class A before being moved to Double-A, Waters has made the most difficult jump in the minors look easy. (KG)

18. Joe Palumbo, LHP, Rangers
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.92, 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Palumbo has had no problems since in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The 6-foot-1 southpaw entered in relief in his latest outing and struck out four of the first five batters he faced en route to a 10-strikeout day. Palumbo has limited batters to a .198 opponent average on the year while striking out 35 in 27 innings, showing the same bat-missing stuff he did prior to his surgery (KG).

19. Hudson Potts, 3B, Padres
Team: Double-A Amarillo (Texas)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .423/.464/.769 (11-for-26), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Potts hit .154 with two extra-base hits in 22 games at Double-A last year and struggled with the level again at the start of this year, batting .189 with 34 strikeouts in his first 23 games. He appears to be figuring things out. Potts ran off a six-game hit streak last week, capped by straight three multi-hit games. He’s elevated his batting average from .189 to .241 in those six games alone while getting to his considerable power with three doubles and a pair of home runs. (KG)

20. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, Twins
Team: High Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: The Twins sent Balazovic back to low Class A Cedar Rapids to begin 2019 after he put together a very solid season there in 2018. Pitching with a plus fastball and above-average control, Balazovic earned a quick bump to the Florida State League. In his first start there on Sunday, he put together one of the best outings we’ll see in that league all year. He left after seven innings with a perfect game, having struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced. Balazovic succeeds because he can spot his fastball and he can throw his downer breaking ball for strikes while getting enough on it to get swings and misses in the zone. As a fifth-round pick in 2016 out of Ontario, Balazovic has been on a slow climb through the minors, but he’s now one of the Twins' best starting pitching prospects.


Justin Toerner, OF, Cardinals

The Cardinals signed Toerner last year for $3,000, a token bonus for a senior sign out of Cal State Northridge who went No. 834 overall as a 28th-round pick. Through 25 games with high Class A Palm Beach, Toerner is batting .360/.496/.488, leading the Florida State League in on-base percentage by 57 points, splitting his time between right and center field. Power is a question mark on Toerner, who has three home runs in 92 pro games, but he showed a knack for hitting and controlling the strike zone from the left side as a four-year starter in college. Those attributes have carried over into the FSL, and if Toerner can add more power as he gets to his mid-20s, his skill set will continue to play at higher levels.

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