Juan Soto (WAS, #2)
Last 10 days (A+): 17 for 39, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 10:3 BB:K
There’s not much more I can say about Juan Soto. Last season he put up .351/.415/.505 in 32 games before a series of unavoidable injuries cost most of the remainder of his season. This year, he hit .373/.486/.814 in 16 games at Low-A, got promoted to a more competitive level, and has hit .388/.492/.857in 12 games there. His 23 XBH hits lead all of MiLB by a lot. He’s one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game.
Dylan Cease (CHW, #5)
This week (A+): 2 starts, 13 IP, 10 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 18 K
Last Tuesday, Cease absolutely dominated an (admittedly very weak) Lynchburg Hillcats squad, striking out 12 and only allowing 2 baserunners in 7 scoreless innings. Cease threw 74 of his 101 pitches for strikes, which is huge for him; just the start before, he managed only 51 of his 88 pitches for strikes and it led to 6 walks on the afternoon. This start, however, was the sort of start that have evaluators and scouts fawning over Cease’s upside as a Major League starter, as he can hit mid to upper 90s with his fastball, and was said to hit 100 mph during the 4th and 5th innings during this game. He compliments it with a good-to-great curveball and developing changeup. There’s definitely some reliever risk here, as the delivery has some effort to it, the changeup currently lags behind, and Cease has yet to pitch 100 healthy professional innings. That said, even with the aforementioned 6-walk outing in mind, I’m much more bullish on Cease being a starter than I was a year ago. Cease also tacked on a 6 IP, 2 R, 6 K outing on Sunday in which he also threw a good amount of strikes.
Eloy Jimenez (CHW, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 18 for 45, 4 HR, 9 XBH
Eloy missed the first 11 games of the season recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, but he’s still tied for the Southern League lead in home runs with 6. The bat is special, and there is only one prospect in baseball with a higher offensive ceiling.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. (TOR, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 13 for 25, 6 XBH, 5:5 K:BB
This is the guy I was talking about.
Chris Paddack (SD, #22)
This week (A+): 2 starts, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 K
I featured Paddack (as well as Soto, Luzardo, Matias) as a prospect to keep an eye on this season in this article I wrote back in September, and so far so good for the former Marlin. After coming over as a return for Fernando Rodney, Paddack was shut down and needed Tommy John surgery which would end his 2016 and cause him to miss 2017 as well. Until that point, Paddack was posting video game numbers with a 0.85 ERA and 71 K in 42.1 IP. Paddack has a mid-90’s FB, a plus-plus changeup and a curveball that has developed well so far. He’s one to continue to monitor as he works his way back from injury.
Chris Shaw (SF, #2)
Last 10 days (AAA): 13 for 42, 5 HR, 9 XBH
Shaw cranked out 3 home runs between Wednesday and Thursday and now has 8 on the year. At 6’4”, Shaw’s power is not in question; it’s likely 70 grade raw power and a beautiful left handed swing with leverage to compliment it. Shaw’s issues are with, well, everything else. He’s got a pretty good arm, but his range in the outfield is horrendous thanks to his non-existent speed. The hit tool needs work, as Shaw has a tendency to chase, and the walk rate isn’t as good for someone with his sort of 30% K rate. There a definite path to playing time here, but there’s only 2 tools (power, arm) that project to average or better. I’m bearish, but if the hit tool comes along, he could be a power hitting LF. If not, he’s most likely a 4th OF.
Look I know I can’t compete with Pablo Sandoval pitching so watch this at your convenience but here’s Chris Shaw taking a few BP swings pic.twitter.com/mreKn8tOy6
— Doug (@moonwalkmcfly) April 28, 2018
JD Davis (HOU, #9)
Last 10 days (AAA): 21 for 43, 9 doubles
Davis got a short stint on the big league squad at the beginning of the year, but didn’t hit too well, getting demoted down to the PCL after 8 games. Since the demotion, Davis has hit .425/.474/.655 in 22 games, including 19 hits during the 9-game hit streak he’s currently on. Like Shaw, Davis’ carrying tool is his power and arm from 3B, but for a 25-year-old slugger given his second taste of the PCL, this sort of performance may be something we should expect. Still, Davis is a good enough defender at 3B with an adequate enough hit tool to be a second division regular in the Majors. Like Colin Moran, expect Davis’ to be a trade chip at the deadline for the Astros, who seemingly have the left side of their IF set for many years.
Stephen Gonsalves (MIN, #3)
This week (AAA): 2 starts, 14.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 14 K
The first two starts at a new level for the Twins’ top farmhand we’re a complete success, as Gonsalves only allowed run in 2 starts was 1 solo HR and he lowered his ERA to 1.30 on the year between AA and AAA. I’ve been a fan of Gonsalves for a while, but a frequent knock on him is his lack of true, swing-and-miss breaking ball. He throws both a curve and a slider, and the thought is that one (most likely the CV) can get to average in time. Regardless, I like the sum of the parts either way; he’s a big lefty with deception, good mechanics, and a nasty changeup which plays well with the fastball. Honestly, maybe the most impressive part about these 2 starts were how many innings he made it through on under 190 total pitches. He’s been efficient and I love that. Hopefully we see him in Minnesota sometime this season.
Jonathan Arauz (HOU, #22)
Last 10 days (A): 14 for 40, 4 HR, 8 XBH, 1 SB, 9:7 BB:K
In December 2015, the Phillies traded Ken Giles and a small, 16-year-old infield prospect to the Phillies in return for Vincent Velazquez and others; Jonathan Arauz was that small IF prospect. Since then, Arauz has developed into a quietly good hitter, though his professional stats have never backed that up. He served a 50 game suspension last season for Methamphetamine use, but got on base at a respectable clip when he returned. He has a bit of a line drive oriented swing, so I’m not sure how much power he gets to down the road, but he’s killing the ball so far in 2018 with a .419 OBP, 13 XBH, and more walks than strikeouts The kicker is that Arauz has a real chance to stick at shortstop. He could be a guy that shoots up lists this season.
Ian Anderson (ATL, #5)
This week (A+): 2 starts, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K
Anderson lowered his season ERA to 3.81 with these 2 starts. These sorts of starts were absolutely necessary for Anderson, as he failed to make it out of the 3rd inning in both of his 2 starts prior. His improving command will sometimes get him in trouble, so these night and day differences start to start aren’t a huge concern, nor are they all that surprising. Anderson is still a great size and pitches with increible extension and 3 potential above average to plus pitches. The former 3rd overall pick could very well turn out to be the best of these Braves pitching prospects.
Monte Harrison (MIA, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 16 for 43, 3 HR, 8 XBH
Like other prospects in the Christian Yelich deal, Monte struggled out of the gate for Miami, as he was late on almost everything (early season timing issue), but he’s now hitting like the tooled-up athlete they traded for, collecting 16 hits in his past 10 games and raising his triple slash to .266/.650/.459 on the year. Harrison has it all: 70 speed, 70 arm, and great raw power. There are still questions about his pitch recognition and discipline, but if the hit tool comes, Harrison’s ceiling is that of a perennial All Star CF.
Beau Burrows (DET, #4)
This week (AA): 2 starts, 12 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 11 K
Two good starts for Burrows this week with a 6 IP, 2 ER start last Monday and a 6 IP, 0 ER start on Saturday. The 22nd overall pick in 2015 has had a very good pro career thu far, with an ERA below 3.00, but quietly struggled last year vs. left handed hitters, because although he comes with a mid 90’s fastball and a good changeup, Burrows curveball is still developing. The lefty/righty splits ever so slightly better in the early going, but I’ve read nothing about how the secondaries look nor seen video of them. I’m not a fan of Burrows delivery, and if the platoon splits stay the way they are, Burrows could be destined for the bullpen long term, but Burrows would absolutely thrive there, as his fastball can get to 100 mph in short stints.
Gavin Lux (LAD, #13)
Last 10 days (A+): 21 for 43, 6 doubles, 2 SB, 7:7 BB:K
You wouldn’t know it by the stat line, but Lux is a glove-first infielder, with a plus glove, plus arm, and plus speed that figures to keep him at SS with the ability to win multiple Gold Gloves at 2B if he has to move for any reason. This season though, Lux’s bat had been wide awake, hitting .351/.451/.468 through 133 PA; he has twenty hits in his last 9 games. It could be supported by an usually high BABIP, but the walk rate nearly matches the strikeout rate, so Lux is clearly seeing the ball well. Though the stat line from 2017, is anything but sexy, Lux actually hit very well in August/September last season and he’s hitting lefties (an issue in 2017) better, so there’s a lot to be optimistic about with the former 20th overall pick.
Oscar De La Cruz (CHC, #3)
This week (AA): 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K
There’s a lot to like but also a lot not to like with DLC as a prospect. For starters, he’s never shown even a glimpse of staying healthy, pitching only ~250 professional innings in 5 professional innings coming into 2018, and in none of those seasons did he exceed 75 IP. His fastball has always lacked plane and was down into the low 90s back in August and his changeup is inconsistent. However, on days it works, DLC’s fastball movement and plus curveball allow him to tear through a lineup. Hopefully he can stay healthy for a full season in 2018.
Dustin Fowler (OAK, #5)
Last 10 days (AAA): 17 for 45, 8 XBH, 3 SB
After starting out the year hitting .250/.290/.281 over his first 16 games, Fowler has settled into the PCL, hitting .389/.400/.685 in his last 12, including multiple hits in 5 of his last 7 games. The ex-Yankee is suing the White Sox after running into an exposed electrical box last season, costing him a massive chunk of time from a rather horrific injury. The knee itself, however, seems healthy, and Fowler is playing well. He’s a plus runner and a good defensive CF, so it makes you wonder how long he’ll be at Triple-A; the Athletics’ rotation of Mark Canha, Jake Smolinski, and Boog Powell in CF has been one of the worst in baseball this season.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 12 for 44, 3 HR, 9 XBH
Tatis has picked it up since a low start, now up to .218/.285/.440 on the year. Tatis isn’t walking nearly as much as he did last season, but he’s shown that he can walk in bunches, as he took 21 walks in his final 76 High-A PA last season, so that could change very quickly. He’s also just 19 years old in AA, so this was expected to be a challenge for him. Junior now has 16 XBH on the year.
Keston Hiura (MIL, #1)
Last 10 days (A+): 20 for 48, 6 doubles, 8 XBH, 1 SB
At this point, this week’s Rundown is just a who’s who of players that started slow and have turned it on since. I suggested the it was possible that Hiura’s elbow was bothering him; along with his early season struggles, he was also DHing and hadn’t played a single inning at 2B this season. Hiura still hasn’t taken the field but he’s begun to hit.
Brett Adcock (HOU, #28)
This week (A+): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
As the Astros’ 4th round pick in 2016, Adcock is a smaller guy at 6’1”, but he’s stocky and strong and throws hard. He pairs his fastball with a good breaker and has been fairly dominant this year working as a starter and out of the bullpen, holding opponents to a .108 batting average on the year and inducing 21 swinging strikes in this most recent start. There’s significant control/command worry here, so he’s most likely a lefty reliever down the line, but it could work very well out of the bullpen.
Kevin Smith (TOR, #19)
Last 10 days (A): 17 for 41, 7 doubles, 10 XBH, 2 SB, 6:2 BB:K
As I said last week when Smith made the Rundown, I’m slowly becoming a fan. I think he’s hitting a bit out of his element at the moment; reports about his swing from last year, were not super. But was a potential 1st rounder before his junior year, he’s got a lot of power, and he figures to be a good bet to stick at short. That’s great profile, even if the hit tool is never average.
Heliot Ramos (SF, #1)
Last 10 days (A): 1 for 29, 17 K
It’s been a really tough start for the teenager in his first year of professional baseball, but don’t let it cloud what Ramos is. Drafted at just 17 years old, Ramos is still younger than a good amount of draft eligible players for 2018 and he’s already in pro ball. Before this cold streak he had an OPS above .750. His inclusion here is not a statement, just a noteworthy bad stretch. No need to panic just yet. All the tools are still there.The development just may be a slower burn than some anticipated.
Corbin Burnes (MIL, #2)
This week (AAA): 2 starts 11 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 14 K.
Burnes had a not-so-great start last Monday at home, allowing 3 over 4 innings, but rebounded as best he possibly could with a 7 inning, 13 K outing to finish the week. At home this year at Colorado Springs, the best hitter’s park in all of professional baseball, Burnes has a 10.22 ERA in 3 starts. Away? 0.93 ERA with a 13 K/9. Burnes may have been good enough to pitch in Milwaukee’s rotation before the season even started.
Rylan Bannon (LAD, #30)
Last 10 days (A+): 12 for 35, 6 XBH, 1 SB, 8:8 BB:K
Bannon was selected in the 8th round in last year’s draft after hitting .339/.449/.633 and winning Big East Player of the Year in his junior year at Xavier. He’s a plus defensive 3B, but at just 5’10”, he may not have the power to play there full time, but to his credit, he bulked up over the winter, swings hard, and has been able to muster 9 HR and 16 XBH so far this season at Rancho Cucamonga. He played 2B in high school and played there 5 games last year, so the Dodgers may elect to move him around the diamond for versatility purposes (as they are known to do) if that’s the role they see him playing in the future, but if the power is here to stay, there’s enough tools here to be an interesting prospect.
Stuart Fairchild (CIN, #10)
Last 10 days (A): 10 for 31, 3 XBH, 6 SB, 7:9 BB:K
In 6 games this past week, Fairchild got on base at an almost .500 clip and stole 5 bases, raising his triple slash to .302/.410/.448. Fairchild comes with some mechanical issues when he hits, including a very stiff setup, which may hinder his ability to hit in the future, and realistically, an advanced college bat should be hitting as good if not better at Low-A, but there’s a surefire CF here with some real baserunning threat, as made apparent by the 9/10 SB attempts. Hopefully we can see Fairchild get a promotion to A+ sooner than later.
Logan Shore (OAK, #12)
This week (A+): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
The ex Florida Gator pitched in a rotation with AJ Puk and Dane Dunning in college, which was quite an embarrassment of riches. Shore works in the low 90s with some good sink to it and compliments it nicely with a plus to double-plus changeup, both pitches he commands very well. The slider, however, lacks behind, and the low velocity fastball make him hittable at times. He’s more polish than sheer stuff, but the sick changeup and ability to locate all of his 3 pitches give him a great floor if he stays healthy.
Kevin Kramer (PIT, #8)
Last 10 days (AAA): 13 for 38, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 1 SB
Corbin Martin (HOU, #10) to AA Monday
Shane Bieber (CLE, #8) to AAA Monday
Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY, #14) to AA Trenton Wednesday night
Justus Sheffield (NYY, #3) to AAA on Saturday
Bryse Wilson (ATL, #13) to AA on Saturday
Austin Riley (ATL, #6) to AAA on sunday
Photo credit: MLB.com