Peter Alonso (NYM, #4)
Last 10 days: 16 for 36, 4 HR, 6 XBH, 9/7 BB/K
Alonso, who I wrote about on last week’s Rundown, kept mashing, including homering in 4 straight games to finish out the week. There’s a stigma about R/R college first basemen, because rarely ever does one have a major impact in the big leagues, but if there is one in the Minors right now who could do it, it’s Pete Alonso. The defense will most likely always be horrific at 1B, so a trade to an AL team come trade deadline if the Mets are still competitive may be in the cards. But the bat is oh so sweet. Alonso is up to .403/.500/.778 on the year with 7 HR and now everyone is watching.
Austin Gomber (STL, #14)
This week: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 16 K
Last Monday, Gomber pitched what will be perhaps the most impressive outing in the Minor Leagues this year, going 8 scoreless innings, walking none, and strikeout out 16 hitters over the course of the afternoon. Gomber’s fastball gained a few ticks in 2017, going from an upper 80s offering to sitting more in the low 90s, but it plays up a bit because he hides the ball well. His secondary pitches grade out as average, sometimes a bit better, and the curveball topped all pitchers in the 2016 AFL in spin rate, so there could be a little more bite in there. There’s a definite back-end starter’s mold here, and perhaps even a tiny bit more if you squint hard enough. Gomber was called up to the Cardinals on Sunday to pitch out of the bullpen.
Zack Collins (CHW, #8)
Last 10 days: 9 for 30, 4 XBH, 9/10 BB/K
Collins finally got the stick working this week, collecting 9 hits, 4 of which went for extra bases. Before this week, Collins was hitting just .054 but still managed a .294 OBP thanks to his ability to walk. This “ability” to walk, however, sometimes pushes too passive, which leads to the lower average and Collins not tapping into all of his power. But Collins knows how to get on base, and if he starts to hit as well, the offensive upside is huge. Defensively, I haven’t read a report on how the defense looks, but his CS% is down from last season in the early going. The glove is what is going to determine Collins’ future.
Isaac Paredes (DET, #7)
Last 10 days: 9 for 32, 5 XBH, 10/8 BB/K
There’s nothing gaudy about Paredes early season performance so far; he’s hitting .300 and 3 HR is good not great… until you throw in the context. Parades is barely 19 years old, making him one of the youngest players in High-A to start the year, he’s doing this all in the Florida State League, the most pitcher-friendly league in the Minor Leagues, AND he his showing unreal plate discipline for someone his age, walking 10 times in his last 10 games and a total of 11.2% of the time on the year. Parades is also showing more power, already with 10 XBH in 74 AB. He could be one of the best SS prospects in baseball after this season.
Sean Reid-Foley (TOR, #10)
This week: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K
Another strong outing for SRF who now has a 1.16 ERA in 4 starts as he repeats AA. Reid-Foley was arguably a top 100 prospect going into 2017, but had a down year, thanks in part to a loss in fastball sink. This FB sink caused north of a 50% ground ball rate in 2016 but that reduced movement in 2017 caused the GB% to plummet to 43%. I saw SRF in person two weekends ago and the fastball had plenty of move, which could be a positive sign that his 50% GB% in 2018 is back to stay. The curveball was above average all night and would toss a couple plus curves too here and there. The command wavered late into the game, but for the most part, he did a good job staying down and inducing weak contact. As a pitcher repeating the level (and still walking almost 4 hitters per 9 innings), the ERA makes him seem a bit more dominant than he has been, but I’m bullish that SRF can find his way into a rotation somewhere down the line.
Willy Adames (TB, #2)
Last 10 days: 12 for 29, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 1 SB, 4/4 BB/K
Not much makes sense anymore in Tampa Bay, but Adames still being in Triple-A tops the list. A top prospect in the game, Adames comes equipped with an above average to plus hit tool and average to above power, not something commonly seen by shortstops who are a safe bet to stick at the position. He hit for the cycle last monday, a grand slam the day before, and is now up to .333/.430/.536 on the year with what seems to be a bit more power than last year. There aren’t many, if any at all, shortstops left in the Minor Leagues better than Adames, and I think he forces TB to call him up before mid June, despite how hard they may try.
Calvin Mitchell (PIT, #16)
Last 10 days: 17 for 39, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 1 SB
Mitchell, also in last week’s Rundown, stayed hot this week with another HR and 8 total XBH. As I’ve said before, Mitchell is likely a left fielder at the Major League level, so he’s really going to need to hit his way there, but hitting is all he’s done to begin the year, now up to .364/.418/.625 on the year with 14 XBH this season at Low-A West Virginia.
Taylor Hearn (PIT, #11)
This week: 2 starts, 9.1 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 5 H, 9 K
2 straight implosions from the Pirates lefty this week, whose ERA ballooned to 5.75 in 4 starts at AA. Hearn has some appeal as a starting pitcher with a mid 90s fastball and an extremely good slider. However, the ultimate projection for him is indeed the bullpen due to a lacking changeup, an inconsistent breaker, and a fastball with limited movement. His track record as a starter is bad, and he’s already 23 years old on his first go at AA, so it may be time for the Pirate’s to think about making the switch.
Jesus Castillo (LAA, #11)
This week: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Castillo wasn’t perfect, as one man reached base via HBP, but he was as close as possible last Wednesday afternoon against a not-too-shabby Mississippi Braves squad. Castillo, who was acquired from the Cubs in 2016 in a trade for reliever Joe Smith, pitched his first full season last year with 124+ IP after never exceeding 63 in any years prior. They were a very good 124 innings as well, with an ERA of 3.32 and two thirds of his starts coming in one of the more hitter friendly leagues in Minor League baseball as a 21 year old. Castillo has 3 averages pitches (FB/curve/change) but can throw them all for strikes, and the curveball looked like it had the potential for more in the video I’ve seen. The fastball is modest at 90-91 mph, but it has some crazy sinking action on it, which led to a 56.5% GB% in 2017. Castillo has deception, gets good extension, and has good frame which could handle some more muscle mass. The overall profile isn’t incredibly sexy, but there’s enough working to perhaps outgrow a #4/5 starter projection with more strength and pitch consistency.
Kevin Smith (TOR, #19)
Last 10 days: 16 for 47, 7 doubles, 10 XBH, 4 SB
Smith was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Maryland as smooth defensive shortstop, highlighted by an above average glove and plenty of arm for the position; he’s a near lock to stick there. There’s some good pop in the bat as well, thanks to good bat speed and an uphill swing, but with that uphill swing comes a swing with a few holes and pitchers at higher levels may be able to expose him. Smith is now hitting .330/.381/.568 on the year, but for a college bat at Low-A, that should be more or less expected. If he makes adjustments as pitchers begin to find his holes, he could hit his way into a regular role, but the limeline is most likely a long one. A good defending utility infielder with some good pop is most likely the outcome.
Cristian Santana (LAD, #14)
Last 10 days: 12 for 40, 4 HR
Along with Dustin May, Santana may be quietly the most intriguing lower Minors prospect in the Dodgers system. The Dodgers toned down his swing a bit in 2017, and Santana proceeded to rake in Low-A, hitting .322/.339/.460 there, including 17 multi-hit games. Santana plays fast and he plays aggressive, which leads to a quick bat and huge power, but can also lead to a lot of overswings, notably on high velocity and breaking balls. He also has a tough time taking a walk. This playstyle carries over to his defense, where he has had an evaluator or two put as high as plus grades on his glove and arm, the definite high-man in that area, but an eval nonetheless, and he can also overplay simpler balls, leaving question marks as to his true defensive home as well. There’s a lot of raw material here to work with, but the refinement will need to come.
Griffin Canning (LAA, #8)
This week: 2 starts, 9.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 6 BB, 5 K
2 good not great starts, as Canning was inefficient and walked a bunch of men, but every healthy start pushes him closer to top 100 consideration, especially with how good his stuff has looked early on.
Ryan O’Hearn (KC, #16)
Last 10 days: 11 for 33, 3 doubles, 1 HR
O’Hearn has put up a decent line at AAA Omaha to start the year at .301/.386/.452, which seems good but loses some of it’s shine when you consider O’Hearn is a slugging 1B who is repeating the PCL. I interviewed O’Hearn in the offseason here. Extremely down to earth and a hard worker, I think O’Hearn gets a shot not too far down the line to try his hand at the Royals’ first base job. After all, the Royals are currently tied for second worst in baseball with a -0.6 fWAR from the 1B position. It makes no sense not to give him a shot at some point, and I’m (perhaps biasly) bullish that he’s the best option they have.
Josh Rojas (HOU, N/A)
Last 10 days: 13 for 36, 8 doubles, 3 SB
Rojas was drafted by the Astros in the 26th round of the 2017 draft as a senior out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a very well known baseball powerhouse (kidding). After hitting just 5 HR in 2 years there, Rojas pumped out just 5 total HR, but hit 10 at Low-A last season post draft, and has racked up 11 doubles already at High-A this season. Rojas had intriguing power on draft day, and his .311/.410/.511 could be a small sample mirage, but his power, plate discipline, and the Astros’ repeated ability to get maximum results out of Trackman darlings (if that’s what he was) make for an intriguing prospect here. He’s a versatile defender who can play all 3 infield positions and could continue to hit his way into the Astros’ top 30 prospects in short order. Not bad for a 26th round pick.
Brendan McKay (TB, #3)
This week: 2 starts, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 16 K
Just as the Rays said he would do when they drafted him, McKay is indeed playing two ways for Low-A Bowling Green. His development is going to be an interesting one to watch, as the development of a true way player is rather unprecedented. McKay will not only have to learn to switch his focus and preparation from one to the other, but he also needs to stay in extremely good shape to be able to manage both, so it’s no surprise that the Rays are taking it slow with him. That said, the numbers he puts up at Low-A as both a top college hitter and pitcher will mean absolutely nothing until he faces better competition.
Isan Diaz (MIA, #5)
Last 10 days: 14 for 45, 4 doubles, 6 XBH
After hitting just .083/.271/.167 in his first 11 games, a line heavily fueled by a .105 BABIP, the new Marlin has turned it on and hit .311/.392/.511 in 11 games since, becoming yet another example for why putting stock into stats early on is futile unless there are evaluations to accompany them, especially for a player getting acclimated to a new organization like Diaz is. After showing great power and plate discipline in 2016, Diaz had a bit of a down year in 2017 and is looking to rebound with his new team.
Ryan Helsley (STL, #8)
This week: 2 IP, 13 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 17 K
Helsley made his last start in AA this week and was then promoted the AAA Memphis and made 1 start there. Both were equally impressive as Helsley only let up 1 run and struck out 8 in each. On a good day, Helsley has one of the better arms in the Cardinals’ system, throwing a mid-90s fastball a wicked curve and a cutter and a changeup which round out a great 4 pitch mix. On a bad day, he can get a bit wild at times, stemming from a high effort delivery, walking 14 in just over 28 innings of work this season, and that can get him into trouble. He’s also a shorter guy at 6’1” with little to no projection left, but given the profile, I think he factors into a future rotation.
Marcus Wilson (ARI, #5)
Last 10 days: 15 for 35, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 2 SB
Last season’s swing change, which included the addition of a slow, dangling leg kick, fueled a breakout from the toolsy outfielder. Now in High-A Wilson continues to get on base a ton, steal bases and sprinkle in a little power. Wilson pulled a lot of pitches in 2017, which isn’t a bad thing, but has been going the other way a lot more to start the year, something worth monitoring as the season progresses. Wilson failed to make the Six Man Rotation 150 prospects list in this offseason, but if he manages to have a similar year as 2017 at High-A, something he looks on his way to doing, he definitely pushes his way into the conversation.
Nick Nelson (NYY, #27)
This week: 2 starts, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K.
Good start to the year for Nelson, as he repeats Low-A. Perhaps more intriguing than his stable ERA and great strikeout numbers are his walks, which so far hover around 2.5 BB/9 compared to last season’s 4.5. In an organization that definitely knows how to get the most out of their pitching prospects, these early season successes become more than interesting than they sometimes should be.
Christin Stewart (DET, #10)
Last 10 days: 13 for 33, 6 XBH
Stewart went on a rampage starting Thursday, collecting 10 hits in his past 4 games, including 4 of those XBH to bring his season stats up to .292/.388/.514. Stewart has a .264/.364/.509 career slash line in the Minors, fueled by great patience at the plate and huge raw power, but is a complete liability on defense, even shoved in left field. Should the Tigers DH spot open up, or they’re will to sacrifice defensive prowess in left field, Stewart could get the call sooner rather than later.
Caleb Ferguson (LAD, #16)
This week: 2 starts, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 11 K
Ferguson was a 38th round selection back in 2014 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, and just the fact that we’re talking about him today means the Dodgers did fantastically with that pick. There’s some definite things to like with Ferguson as a 6’3” lefty, including a developing curveball that could be a very good pitch down the line with more consistency. His fastball is usually low 90s, but a few reports from 2017 have it dropping a bit into the 80s, and his velocity separation on the changeup isn’t great for how little it moves. Mid reliever is my projection, but as I already said, for a 38th rounder, that’s absolutely incredible.
Miguel Amaya (CHC, #10)
Last 10 days: 12 for 34, 6 XBH, 2 HR
Amaya has had a quite interesting start to the year. Amaya is typically thought of as a glove first catcher, but one who could make enough contact in time to profile as a regular, albeit without any power. He’s a good receiver with good pop times and a good arm and per Fangraphs, could have a plus glove and plus arm down the road. To begin the year, you would think Amaya was a bat-first catcher. He currently holds a .292/.370/.538 line which features a SLG% 200 points higher than last season and the kicker is he’s only thrown out 2 of 21 attempted base stealers. Haven’t read anything on the issues he could be having throwing out runners, but I’ll be on the lookout.
Jalen Beeks (BOS, #15)
This week: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 11 K
This was, surprisingly, maybe the worst outing of Beeks’ season thus far and he now has 37 K in 19.2 IP. I saw Beeks’ a week ago and highlighted his start in last week’s Rundown, but to recap, Beeks’ slider really impressed me, as did his fastball, which he keeps low, and these 2 pitches paired with a good changeup give him a very interesting 3 pitch mix. The command needs a lot of work still, as he had a tendency to miss his spots, and his pitch counts reflect that, averaging close to 92 pitches per 5 IP. However, for someone I was lower on coming into the year, I’m buying Beeks as a #4/5 starting pitcher, one who can probably only get you through the 5th inning most time, but can do so with a few strikeouts and a lot of weak contact. If the command takes a step forward, that projection is a lock.
Telmito Agustin (WAS, #27)
Last 10 days: 12 for 29, 3 XBH, 2 SB
Agustin was signed out of the Virgin Islands in 2013 and put up great numbers in the Dominican Summer League in 2014. Since then however, Augustin hasn’t done much with his time at short season or Low-A. Out of the gate in 2018, Agustin has been great, collecting 8 more hits this week including 4 on Sunday afternoon, raising his line to .368/.377/.544 on the year with 3 stolen bases to boot. He’s a smaller guy and a slappy hitter, with a lot of arms and very little lower body and core involvement, so there shouldn’t ever be much power, and if you hadn’t noticed by the small gap in BA and OBP, Agustin is allergic to taking a walk, so there probably isn’t anything more than a 5th OF here, but Agustin has good speed and an average glove and may be able to give him some defensive value.
Juan Soto (WAS, #2) – Soto was promoted to High-A Potomac on Monday afternoon after absolutely destroying Low-A Hagerstown in his short time there, hitting .373/.486/.814 with 13 XBH in just 16 games. Soto homered in his 2nd game in High_a on Wednesday.
Jhailyn Ortiz (PHI, #6) – Placed on 7-day DL at Low-A Lakewood Friday morning.
Photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports