Juan Soto (WAS, #2)
Last 10 days: 13 for 36, 8 XBH, 4 HR, 2 SB
Soto, who was featured on the Rundown last week, remained hot at Low-A Hagerstown, proving once again that he’s far too good for the level. With a .360/.427/.523 slash line last year at Low-A in almost 100 PA before getting hit in the hand and a 1.350 OPS in 50 PA this season, Soto has done just about everything you can do in 150 PA to receive a promotion. Expect it within the next month.
Touki Toussaint (ATL, #11)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 7.2 IP, 7 R (5 ER), 13/6 K/BB
The line from the last 10 days looks bad because of Toussaint’s 2.2 IP meltdown in week one, but he rebounded nicely this week, with a 5 IP, 9K outing that also saw him walk only 3, which isn’t terrible for his standards. These sort of night and day outings have been an issue for Toussaint since his days with Arizona; some days, he’s lights out and pitches like an ace and in others, he loses his arm angle and can’t make it out of the third inning. Touki is a backend bullpen piece for me and Braves’ writer Jason Gold, but still ranked in the SMR Top 150 solely because the ceiling is sky high if his mechanics can find some consistency.
Josh Naylor (SD, #16)
Last 10 days: 17 for 36, 6 HR
Also featured on the Rundown last week, Naylor just kept hitting HR with another 3 this week. For a heavy 1B only prospect, Naylor is actually decent defensively and has always had great plate discipline and approach. Hopefully we’re watching the birth of the long awaited power.
Shane Bieber (CLE, #8)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 13 IP, 6 hits, 0 R, 17/0 K/BB
I don’t want to write about Bieber every week the same way I found myself doing with Acuña last season, but he’s forcing my hand when he shoves like this. Also worth noting is that Bieber completed these 13 IP in 157 pitches, 72 in start #1 and 85 this week. Given 100 pitches, Bieber could have gone a complete game in each.
Edward Olivares (SD, #20)
Last 10 days: 15 for 37, 4 XBH, 2 HR.
The return for Yangervis Solarte in this most recent offseason was interesting before the start of this season as a guy who’s plus speed and plus arm allowed him to be a potentially plus defender in CF. The bat speed is great as well, but there are huge issues with plate approach, pitch recognition, and setup/load. Still, a very good week for Olivares, who collected a whopping 12 hits this week with both home runs. The CALL is an established hitter’s league, so it is going to be worth noting where and how Olivares does his offensive damage. His swing did not look any notably better in the video I saw from this weekend, but my eye is also far from highly trained.
Connor Wong (LAD, #15)
Last 10 days: 13 for 36, 9 XBH, 5 HR.
Wong, the Dodgers’ 3rd round pick in 2017, has been absolutely raking since the season opened up, hitting 2 more home runs on Sunday. However, the 2 home runs may not even be the highlight from Sunday for Wong, who “anxiously” started at 2B for the first time in his career. At least 3rd on the organizational catching depth chart behind Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, Wong getting looks at other positions could be huge for him. His catching could be above average in time, but he looks usable in other positions, including OF as well. His increasing versatility plus easy swing and good offensive profile make Wong and interesting guy to watch.
Corbin Martin (HOU, #10)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 10 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 13/5 K/9
Martin was a college pitcher with extremely good stuff who was fell to the 2nd round because he moved back and forth from the rotation and the bullpen during his time in college because of control issues. Now, in an organization that develops players extremely well, Martin is blossoming a bit. Dang, that sound a lot like Alec Hansen.
MJ Melendez (KC, #4)
Last 10 days: 6 for 20, 4 XBH, 1 SB
Featured on Six Man Rotation’s breakout prospects for this year, Melendez was noted as someone who simply needed to hit in order to put himself on the national radar, and hitting is exactly what he has done so far, hitting 2 triples on Wednesday and holding a 1.000 OPS through Sunday. I asked Eric Longenhagen about Melendez in his most recent chat at Fangraphs, and he said this was not just a case of Melendez coming out of the gate hot, but that his swing is “better and more athletic than it was last year.” Get ready to begin hearing his name a lot.
Colton Welker (COL, #4)
Last 10 days: 15 for 33, 7 XBH, 3 HR
7 more hits, 3 more doubles, and 1 more homer for Welker this past week. He’s fortunate enough to call Lancaster, one of the best hitting environments in all of Minor League baseball, his home park, but at some point, that doesn’t matter. This kid can absolutely mash and has already walked 4 more times than he’s struck out in the early season. With some defensive improvements, he becomes a extremely good 3B prospect. With none, he becomes a R/R 1B prospect, which is far less sexy.
Luis Ortiz (MIL, #5)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 11 IP, 2 ER, 10 K
Great 6 IP, 0 R, 8 K outing for Ortiz on Wednesday as he toed the rubber opposite of Braves top pitching prospect Kyle Wright, who pitched well also, only allowing 1 unearned run and striking out 6 in 4 innings of work. Ortiz’ only real hurdle is durability and/or injury concerns, as he currently weighs north of 250 lbs. and missed time last year with a hamstring strain. Beyond that, Ortiz’ stuff and command, give him an extremely high upside.
Ben Rortvedt (MIN, #24)
Last 10 days: 8 for 20, 3 doubles
All 8 hits came this week, including a 4 for 4, 2 double game on Tuesday. A prep catcher drafted in the 2nd round just 2 years ago in 2016, Rortvedt makes for an interesting watch early on. There’s a lot of rawness to his game, both offensively and defensively, but some reports indicate that his first full pro season last year didn’t look as bad as the .224/.284/.315 triple slash makes it seem. He has a quick lefty swing and has looked promising defensively, but I would expect a long road to the bigs for Rortvedt.
Enyel De Los Santos (PHI, #14)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 8 IP, 2 R, 14 K
De Los Santos, who was traded this offseason to the Phillies in exchange for Freddy Galvis, was a breakout pick of mine last year, which looked great after a perfect 6 innings with 7 K in mid-April, but it was more of a promising mixed bag after that as opposed to a true breakout, as he had 3.78 ERA over 150 innings at AA. De Los Santos has a great frame, throws a mid 90s fastball with poor extension but good deception, and both a curveball and changeup which have received average or better grades. From those who have seen him this year, his stuff actually looks a bit better than where it was before the trade. Gotta wonder if those reports plus 14 strikeouts through 8 IP are early indicators of a breakout.
Pete Alonso (NYM, #4)
Last 10 days: 10 for 27, 3 doubles, 3 HR
Not many prospects in the Minors can get to huge raw power in game like Alonso can, already up to 42 doubles and 26 HR in 131 career pro games. That said, Alonso is a 1B who very well could be a DH only guy because of his extremely poor defense a 1B. The list of R/R college 1B currently in the bigs starts and stops at Paul Goldschmidt now that Rhys Hoskins is in LF (probably unfair, but even if you include Hoskins, the list is still miniscule). You could argue that Alonso’s stats are exactly what a college DH-only prospect needs to be doing. Here’s to hoping the Mets stay competitive and Alonso gets flipped to an AL team at the deadline.
Freddy Peralta (MIL, #10)
Last 10 days: 3 starts, 16 IP, 2 R, 20/5 K/BB
Why is everyone still sleeping on him? Maybe it’s because his stuff isn’t super sexy, pitching with a low 90s fastball and 2 offspeeds which don’t ever figure to become a plus pitch. Still, Peralta struck out 169 hitters in 120 innings as a 21-year-old at AA thanks to what Fangraphs called “one of the most unique release points.” Peralta’s pitches jump on hitters with a low arm slot and massive extension, allowing his stuff to play up.
Keston Hiura (MIL, #1)
Last 10 days: 5 for 30, .468 OPS, 9 K
Well this isn’t great. Hiura avoided Tommy John surgery post-draft, electing to rehab instead and even played a few games a 2B. He looked like he was on his way to a full recovery. To start 2018, Hiura has done nothing but DH and hasn’t hit at all, which raises the questions about his throwing elbow. If he was fielding and struggling, it would be no big deal. I don’t think it’s unfair to question the status of that elbow at this point, however.
Michael Kopech (CHW, #2)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 10 IP, 1 R, 11/4 K/BB
Best arm in the Minors. Yawn.
Zac Lowther (BAL, #17)
Last 10 days: 1 start, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 13
More like Zac Wowther, am I right? (Shit, sorry) What a start to the year by the 2nd rounder out of Xavier, who now has a 1.49 ERA and a 13.1 K/9 in 60 professional innings. Those numbers are incredibly sexy, but need to be taken with a decently sized grain of salt. Not only is Lowther a college pitcher pitching at the lower levels of the minors, but he also has an extremely interesting profile that can be extremely tough for a young hitter who has never seen anything like it. Lowther uses his FB a ton, but thanks to deception, great spin rate, and a funky delivery, hitters have a really tough time picking it up. Wait until Lowther reaches High-A to put any stock into the outcome of his starts, but command, a decent curve, and the funky fastball give him an outside chance to break a rotation one day.
Tyler Stephenson (CIN, #9)
Last 10 days: 15 for 33, 6 XBH, 1.288 OPS
Stephenson missed time in both 2016 and 2017 with injuries, so hopefully he can make it through the year unscathed. Stephenson has big power, a 70 grade arm from the catcher position, and has improved defensively. Stephenson’s stiffness in the box is an oft noted issue with his hitting, but the approach is pretty good, as he’s walked almost as many times as he’s struck out since the beginning of 2017. If Stephenson can show a better hit tool and catch a handful of healthy games, he can make some noise as a very legitimate catching prospect.
Justin Dunn (NYM, #3)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 10 IP, 0 R, 14 K
I’m still a fan of Dunn, as I tried to sneak him onto the SMR Top 150 this past offseason, despite a 5.00 ERA in his first full pro season. He still pitches with a mid 90s fastball with two distinct, above average breaking balls, but lefties murdered him last year to the tune of .345/.464/.462 thanks to the lack of a changeup and fastball movement. The changeup and/or pitch sequencing will need to become better to be a mid rotation starter, but the initial ingredients are there. Hope is most definitely not lost.
Foster Griffin (KC, #9)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 9 IP, 1 R, 7/2 K/BB
A great 6 IP, 0 R start this week gets Griffin the spot here. The 2014 1st rounder had a quiet rebound year last season between A+/AA after not having an ERA below 6.00 since the year he was drafted. The timing of his delivery played a huge part in this, as did the development with his curveball. The fastball, however, is what could be an issue for him at higher levels. Despite good sink and good command, it currently sits 89-90 most of the time and it has been noted plenty of times that hitters will wait for it during at-bats. Griffin most likely profiles as a #5 SP or organizational arm because of the fastball.
Luis Alexander Basabe (CHW, #13)
Last 10 days: 16 for 43, 6 XBH, 2 SB
Basabe, the frequently forgotten 3rd piece in the trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston, spent all of last season with a knee injury and a surgery to repair a torn meniscus ended his season in August. Well, he’s back, healthy and reportedly just as fast, just as strong, and just as intriguing as he was at the time of the trade. A rebound year is in full swing, health permitting.
Eric Lauer (SD, #13)
Last 10 days: 3 starts, 18 IP, 6 R, 19 K.
What seems like a not-so-sexy first 3 starts was actually highlighted by a beautiful 6 IP, 10 K outing Sunday afternoon. Lauer was the 25th overall pick in 2016 and figured to move quick through the Padres organization and that’s exactly what he has done, starting the year in AAA and most likely seeing some starts in SD later this year. With a low-90s fastball, above average changeup, and 2 breaking balls, Lauer’s stuff won’t blow anyone away, but he continues to be successful regardless of level.
Josh Lowe (TB, #11)
Last 10 days: 14 for 38, 6 XBH, 4 SB
Lowe, who was also featured in our breakout prospects article, is already doing what he needed to to begin the year, which is hit for power. He showed some raw in high school, but his .386 SLG last season is alarming. Lowe has moved to the OF since being drafted and allowed his plus speed and plus arm to be put to good use. The hit tool will always be an issue, but a good CF prospect with power is an extremely interesting prospect. Let’s hope the power is here to stay.
Tristen Lutz (MIL, #9)
Last 10 days: 2 for 29, 2/14 BB/K
Lutz, one of the most interesting prospects drafted outside of the top half of the 1st round in 2017, is off to a bad start, to stay the least. It’s Lutz’ first full season of pro ball and it’s been barely over 30 PA, so nothing to worry about, but it’s a noteworthy slow start.
Taylor Clarke (ARI, #7)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 11 R (7 ER)
All of these runs came in a 3.1 inning start on Wednesday and realistically all the runs should have been earned. Clarke looked as terrible as the stat line; he was everywhere with his fastball, and his slider lacked any bite at all. The curve flashed decent but he hung it a bunch and hitters jumped all over it when he did. There was some talks that Clarke’s stuff looked better this spring, but I didn’t see it in this look.
Tony Santillan (CIN, #5)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 10 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 13/4 K/BB
Santillan pitched 6 innings, allowed no runs, and struck out 8 in his start on Wednesday, building on his strong start to the season. Highlighted by a fastball that can touch close to triple digits and a slider than gets frequent plus grades, Santillan has your typical control and changeup concerns that make it tough to envision anything other than a dominant RP. The changeup has made some notable strides over the past year, and leaves the glimmer of hope that he can start, but it’s a long shot. The Reds will understandably continue to develop him as a starter.
Bryce Wilson (ATL, #13)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 8.2 IP, 0 R, 10/1 K/BB
He’s better than Kolby Allard and Joey Wentz. Get used to it.
Dane Dunning (CHW, #6)
Last 10 days: 2 starts, 11.1 IP, 1 R, 16 K
He’s also better than Kolby Allard and Joey Wentz, but that seems less applicable here.
Ian Clarkin (CHW, #16)
Last 10 day: 2 starts, 12.1 IP, 1 R, 8 K
Clarkin was the other piece that complemented Blake Rutherford in the trade that brought Frazier, Robertson, and Kahnle to NY last season. Clarkin has had many injury issues in the past and works low 90s with his fastball, but if he’s healthy, the arsenal, which contains 2 other average pitches, may be able to factor into a rotation in the future.
A.J. Puk (OAK, #1) – Officially had Tommy John Surgery on Wednesday. Puk will be out 12-18 months.
Domingo Acevedo (NYY, #6) – Placed on the DL Friday with blister issues.
MacKenzie Gore (SD, #2) – Also placed on the DL Friday with a blister.
Griffin Canning (LAA, #8) and Jose Suarez (LAA, #20) have been promoted to AA Mobile. Canning has looked especially impressive this year after being sent to Arizona post-draft to work on strength and conditioning last season. He’s sat consistently mid-90s, hitting 97 a few times, and his breaking balls have shown impressive spin and swing-and-miss potential. Suarez has also been impressive, striking out 18 in 2 starts, and will now pitch at AA at just 20 years old.
Brett Phillips (MIL, #6) – Called up Monday following a collision that sidelined Lorenzo Cain for some time.
Hunter Harvey (BAL, #4) – Called up to the Major Leagues Monday for bullpen insurance purposes then swiftly sent back down Wednesday. Did not pitch.
Jaime Barria (LAA, #7) – Called up to the big Monday for a spot start and pitched very well, allowing just 1 run over 5 IP. Barria was demoted after his start.
Tyler Beede (SF, #4) – Called up Tuesday. Has made 2 starts at MLB level in 2018, walking 8 and allowing 7 runs in 7.2 innings of work.
Photo credit: Ken Inness/MiLB.com