Zack Brown (MIL, #23)
This week (AA): 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K
No this isn’t the country singer. It’s Milwaukee’s 5th round pick from 2016. Beautiful 1-hit performance from Brown on Friday in which he lost the perfect game in the 8th on an error and lost no-hitter with 2 outs in the 9th on a bloop double that hit the diving center fielder’s glove. Life isn’t fair. Brown has a pretty good arsenal with a 92-96 FB, plus curve, and a decent changeup, but his delivery and command have been questioned in the past. From everything I’ve seen, that command seems to have taken a small step forward this year, despite no real change to his delivery. I mean, look how perfectly this FB is placed:
— Brewers Farm (@BrewersFarm) June 16, 2018
And here’s a dirty sequence from John Eshelman at 2080 Baseball:
Here’s a taste of what #Brewers Zack Brown had cooking in Biloxi tonight.
— John T Eshleman (@2080_John) June 16, 2018
Brown has a 2.53 and is striking out a man per inning through 14 starts this year.
Ryan McKenna (BAL, #29)
Last 10 days (A+): 19 for 41, 7 XBH, 8:5 BB:K
McKenna padded the stat sheet this week, mostly because he’s been white hot for a month now – hitting .445/.523/.695 since 5/11 – but also partially due to 3 double headers on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. McKenna has seemingly come out of nowhere this year, absolutely raking all year long, and he now sports a .377/.467/.556 line heading into the MiLB All Star games. We’ve seen this before as recently as last year with Baltimore prospects, as Austin Hays seemingly came out of nowhere as well on his way to 30 HR last year, but unlike his farm mates Hays and Ryan Mountcastle, McKenna isn’t your typical, Orioles-bred, aggressive hitter. He’s been controlling the strike zone and has 37 walks to just 45 strikeouts. I’d like to see it at the higher levels before completely buying in, but McKenna had been thought highly of at the time he was drafted in 2015, including notes of a potentially very good hit tool. Baseball America even went as far as calling him “high-ceiling” back then. Perhaps the tools are beginning to shine.
Taylor Widener (ARI, #4)
This week (AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K
According to Rob Terranova of MiLB.com, Widener made some mechanical tweak in a bullpen session prior to Wednesday’s outing. Safe to say it paid off. Along with this change before this dominant start, Widener seems to be making all the right moves this season with his new team. After being moved from the Yankees organization to Arizona in the 3-way trade that sent Brandon Drury to New York, the Diamondbacks may have unlocked something with Widener. Through his 13 starts this season, his K/9 is up to 11.84 from 9.73 last season and his BB/9 is down to 2.93 from 3.77 last season, all while pitching at a more competitive level. He’s got the whippy, low slot arm you usually see with RP, but with a 2.53 ERA at AA, Widener has proven himself to be one of the best arm in the Arizona system, and they’d be hard pressed to switch him into relief now.
Jo Adell (LAA, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 22 for 46, 4 doubles, 5 HR, 4 SB
This dude is a damn electric factory. He’s human, as it took him a bit to get adjusted to High-A, hitting just .157/.204/.412 in his first 12 games, but boy did he adjust with a 1.300+ OPS in 13 games since then. He also barely struck out this week with just 3 Ks. He’s got some of the best tools in all of the Minors – perhaps the best – and he’s doing it all. The hit tool, which was the primary concern at the time of the draft despite hitting .562 in his final year of HS, is looking like far less of a concern now. Adell figures to be one of the biggest risers on prospect lists; the ceiling here is massive.
Michael Kopech (CHW, #2)
This week (AAA): 3 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 8 BB, 2 K
I haven’t had a chance to talk much about Kopech this season, because, well, there hasn’t been many bright spots. At the end of 2017, Kopech began “dialing back” his fastball; instead of pumping 100 with each one, he brought it back down to the 95-97 range and began throwing a much higher amount of strikes. In his last 50 innings of the year, he threw 67% strikes, walked just 10, and had a 1.26 ERA. It had seemed he had turned a corner. The strike throwing was just as good to begin the year as well, throwing 65% strikes in his first 3 starts. However in the 10 starts since, the strike rate is back down into the mid-50’s, and Thursday threw just 40% strikes on his way to 8 walks in just 3 innings. I’ve always been a huge Kopech believer, but it may be safe to question if the control will ever come at this point. Kopech has a 5.20 ERA and a 6.1 BB/9 through 13 starts.
Dane Dunning (CHW, #6)
This week (AA): 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K
On a day in which Kopech’s flaws were exposed to a worrying degree, there at the very least another performance in the White Sox system that was worth getting excited over. Dunning comes equipped with plus fastball, plus slider, and an average changeup, an arsenal that gives him a decent chance to be the ever-mythical #3 starter in the Majors down the road. Dunning can get a little lost in the mix of a very good crop of pitching prospects, but at this point, the chance that he’s the best pitcher that came over in the Adam Eaton trade is higher every single day. Through 10 starts at AA, Dunning has a 2.78 ERA, 65 strikeouts, and just 22 walks.
Will Craig (PIT, #17)
Last 10 days (AA):
Ever since being drafted 22nd overall in 2017, Craig’s professional career has been highlighted by a lack of power. Despite hitting .347/.461/.623 during his 3 year career at Wake Forest, including a .700+ SLG in his final 2 years, there was some concern that his power wouldn’t translate to professional ball because he struggled with wood bats in the Cape Cod League in 2015, and until this point in time, those concerns have been somewhat validated. In his first 2 seasons in pro ball, his SLG sat under .370. Craig, however, may have turned a corner and finally adjusted to wood, as he homered 5 times in 6 games this week and racked up three 3-hit games, pushing his SLG close to .500 for the year.
Max Fried (ATL, #7)
This week (AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 11 K
Good rebound start from Fried after getting waxed for 7 runs over 5 innings in his start previous. It’s been a pretty wild season for Fried, who has already changed levels 5 times this season, and he’s had mixed results at every level. I’ve never been incredibly high on Fried, but there are plenty of people who are, and his curveball is easily one of the best breakers in all of the minors. It isn’t hard to envision a very good starting pitcher here as a big lefty with good stuff and an unhittable, gif-worthy curve.
Nick Senzel (CIN, #1)
Last 10 days (AAA): 18 for 45, 7 XBH, 2 SB
Slick Nick almost made it the entire week with all multi-hit games, but had to settle for just 1-5 with a double on Sunday like an idiot. He has 17 hits in his last 8 games. He should be up to the Majors very, very soon.
Matt Sauer (NYY, #10)
This week (A-): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
The New York Penn League Short Season ball is officially underway and the Yanks 2nd rounder from a year ago started it off right on Friday. Sauer has been up to 97 with his FB in the past, but was sitting more 94 in extended Spring Training. He also has a pretty good breaker to complement. I don’t like the delivery and the effort associated with it, but the Yankees are high on this kid. Not much can be taken from 1 start, but it’s a good beginning of the year for Sauer.
Bo Bichette (TOR, #2)
Last 10 days (AA):
No real update here. Bichette is still one of baseball’s premier prospects as he figures to hit, maximize his power output, and stick at shortstop, where his defense has taken a big step forward this season. One thing worth noting is the success Bichette has had on the basepaths. He now has 21 stolen bases in just 26 attempts in 66 games, way up from his 22/29 SB in 110 games last season. Bichette isn’t exactly a burner, but he got decent speed and good instincts in every facet of the game, making him a baserunning threat.
Sam Hentges (CLE, #16)
This week (A+): 12.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 10 K
A 2014, 4th round pick, Hentges is a big lefty at 6’6”, 250 lbs. Hentges required Tommy John in the middle of the 2016 season, which caused him to not only miss the remainder of 2016, but lost him the majority of his 2017 season as well. Before the injury, his velo had ticked up into the low-90s consistently, and his 2 secondaries looked solid as wel. In addition to the frame, there’s a good delivery and an arsenal fit to potentially profile towards the back of a rotation.
Breakout LHP prospect Sam Hentges. 6’6” frame w/ natural angle; advanced strikes/command of low-90s FB that t94; makings of avg-to-solid CB; CH needs work but projects as playable third. Turning scouts’ heads early in 2018. See J.A. Happ type ceiling. #RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/qX4PvGZcyj
— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) May 2, 2018
Kodi Medeiros (MIL, #18)
This week (AA): 12 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 15 K
There hasn’t been much to get excited about with Medeiros since being drafted 12th overall in 2014. At the time of the draft, Medeiros had a plus fastball with plus life and a plus slider, but a sidearm delivery and lack of strike throwing and a changeup made his path to a future rotation spot hazy. Since then, the control, command, and changeup all have not developed, and Medeiros has a career 4.90 ERA in the minors. The switch to a reliever could come soon, which Eric Longenhagen thinks his fastball could play up. A lefty with a plus slider and mid-90s FB with life most likely has some sort of role in a Major League bullpen
Kyle Tucker (HOU, #1)
Last 10 days (AAA): 16 for 40, 7 XBH, 4 SB
Like Bichette and Senzel, there really isn’t much to say about Tucker that isn’t already known; he’s a baller with a beautiful left handed swing who figures to be a very dangerous hitter in his prime. He’s an easy top 10 prospect in baseball. The real question with Tucker now is when, if ever, he gets the call this season on an extremely cramped Astros squad. On any other team in baseball, Tucker could be up and playing every day, perhaps even challenging for Rookie of the Year, but it’s hard to see him playing much in Houston this season unless a myriad of injuries or poor performance happens.
Kyle Funkhouser (DET, #6)
This week (AA): 2 starts, 11 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K
It’s been a long road for Funkhouser over the past 3-4 years. Once a 1-1 candidate for the 2015 draft, Funkhouser’s stock dropped a bit in the spring of his junior year. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the late 1st round with a compensation pick, didn’t sign, returned to Louisville for his senior year, didn’t raise his stock, and was then drafted by the Tigers in the 4th round in 2016. Since then, Funkhouser’s stuff that made him a potential first rounder has been back, with a mid-90’s fastball, plus slider, decent changeup. His strike throwing has taken a step back this year, however, and he can run into some issues with walks. Funkhouser has a 3.60 ERA, 71 K, and 30 walks in 70 innings in 2018.
Antoni Flores (BOS, #17)
Last 10 days (FRk): 12 for 29, 5 XBH, 6:6 BB:K
It feels really good to get to talk about Red Sox prospects in a positive way after almost nothing has gone right for their farm this season. Overshadowed by the late Daniel Flores and Danny Diaz, Antoni Flores was ranked as the 35th overall international prospect of 2017 by Baseball America because scouts, and teams didn’t see him as an impact bat and potentially not even a shortstop long term. The Red Sox, however, saw something to consider him as one of the better bats in the class and gave him $1.4M last season. So far that looks pretty good.
Antoni Flores is a name to know for July 2. pic.twitter.com/vTXAA5TMFS
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 17, 2017
Keegan Thompson (CHC, #18)
This week (A+): 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
Perfect outing for Thompson on Thursday afternoon, as the ex-Auburn Tiger continues to make his way through the Cubs’ system. Thompson sits low-90’s, has 2 distinct breakers that both receive good grades, and a decent changeup which gives him a very good 4-pitch mix. His delivery screams bullpen for me, as there seems to be too much arm for my liking, but he has just good enough stuff to profile in the back end of a rotation if his arm and health allow it. Thompson has a 3.19 ERA in his 12 starts this season.
Francisco Mejia (CLE, #1)
Last 10 days (AAA): 12 for 25, 4 doubles, 2 HR
There was a mid-week promotion to the Majors mixed in here, so Mejia only played 4 games this week, but all were multi-hit games and he homered in the 2 games he caught. Despite an extremely odd down year hitting for Mejia, I’m still all in on his bat as one of the best in the Minors. I’m also bullish on his ability to catch and be not terrible at it 50% of the time if the Indians wanted it. He’ll be a prospect that won’t move much (for me) on our midseason list despite horrid performance. AAA can be weird.
Lincoln Henzman (CHW, #26)
This week (A): 2 starts, 13 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K
This included a dominant 7 inning, 1 hit outing last Tuesday in which he struck out 6. Drafted in the 5th round in 2017 out of Louisville, Henzman is a ground ball pitcher with a sinker in the low-90s and 2 average secondary offerings. Really not much to take from a college arm working well at Low-A, but they were good enough to include this week. Henzman’s 2.23 ERA is also a bit of a mirage, as he has a whopping 12 unearned runs in just over 70 innings, which more often than not in MiLB is the pitcher failing to get the final out an error, or in other words, mostly his fault. Henzman has a 3.72 run average.
Jake Rogers (DET, #4)
Last 10 days (AA): 8 for 24, 2 doubles, 4 HR, 7:7 BB:K
Rogers made the “Next 10” section of Six Man Rotation’s top 150 prospects preseason on the back of his elite glove and power potential, but so far this season, it has been an absolute mess at the dish for the Tigers’ catcher. Before this week, he was hitting just .169/.269/.250 in 42 games. Rogers had a monster Tuesday afternoon with a 3 HR game, and then collected a couple more XBH and a lot of walks as the week went on, raising his season OPS by 100 points throughout the week. Hopefully, this is Rogers finally getting comfortable – his second half will be an important one.
Jon Harris (TOR, #30)
This week (AA): 2 starts, 12 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K
Jon Harris isn’t very good, but he had 2 good starts so here he is. It’s a lot of fringe-average to average stuff with fringe-average command of it all.
Kevin Kramer (PIT, #)
Last 10 days (AAA): 14 for 37, 8 XBH, 1 SB
Featured Photo credit: Brewers Farm