MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Hitters at Every Minor League Level
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Headed into Wednesday’s game against the Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays offense is collectively batting .229 through 20 games, which is the fifth-worst team average in the major leagues.
While Wil Myers shouldn’t be regarded as a “solution” to the team’s offensive woes, it’s time for the Rays to promote their top prospect to the major leagues. The 22-year-old outfielder has found his groove at Triple-A Durham and is batting .328/.430/.453 with 12 RBI through 17 games.
Besides Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist, the Rays have received minimal production from their trio of third outfielders. Given the overwhelming early-season struggles of Matt Joyce (.563 OPS), Sam Fuld (.331 OPS) and Shelly Duncan (.691 OPS), Myers would seemingly serve as an immediate upgrade over all three players.
However, Myers isn’t the only young hitter putting up big numbers in the minors.
Here’s a look at this week’s hottest and coldest hitters and every minor league level.
*All stats courtesy of MiLB.com
Bob Levey/Getty Images
This week’s installment features only the hottest hitters at the Low-A level. Don’t worry; there are a lot of them.
Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies
.351/.467/.676, 10 R, 6 XBH (3 HR), 10/5 K/BB (10 G)
The 22-year-old is currently feasting on Low-A pitching and is batting 8-for-21 with three home runs and seven RBI during his current six-game hitting streak.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
.231/.365/.462, 10 R, 6 XBH (3 HR), 17/13 K/BB (13 G)
One of the younger everyday players at a full-season level, Correa, 18, will inevitably struggle at times this year. That said, he’s still shown solid plate discipline and power in the early going and enjoyed the first multihomer of his young career over the weekend.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
.296/.358/.451, 7 XBH, 16 RBI, 3 SB, 21/8 K/BB (18 G)
The second-youngest everyday player at a full-season level, Mondesi continues to surpass all expectations. During his current eight-game hitting streak, the 17-year-old is 12-for-31 with six extra-base hits and 10 RBI.
Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.284/.326/.519, 17 R, 13 XBH (3 HR), 24 RBI, 22/5 K/BB (18 G)
After missing nearly the entire 2012 season with a knee injury, Bell is making up for lost time with a hot start at Low-A West Virginia. During his current six-game hitting streak, the 2011 bonus baby is 9-for-26 with two home runs and 10 RBI.
Andrew Toles, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
.378/.410/.662, 11 R, 14 XBH (5 3B), 19 RBI, 9 SB, 10/3 K/BB (17 G)
After posting an .810 OPS with 14 stolen bases last summer in the rookie-level Appalachian League, the 2012 third-rounder is currently leading the Midwest League with 28 hits, five triples and 19 RBI.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
.308/.361/.554, 14 R, 10 XBH (3 HR), 17/3 K/BB (18 G)
Possessing one of the best combinations of raw talent and emerging baseball skills in the low minors, Alfaro is seemingly coming into his own as he repeats at Low-A Hickory to start the season. He’s still overly aggressive at the dish, but he’s making more consistent contact and utilizing his plus raw power. The 19-year-old also turned in the first multihomer game of his career on Tuesday.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
.235/.346/.588, 15 R, 10 XBH (7 HR), 27/11 K/BB (19 G)
Gallo may be striking out at a 40 percent clip, however, it should always be tolerable provided that he’s jumping the yard with consistency. Last 10 games: .286/.432/.771, 12 R, 5 HR, 13/8 K/BB.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
.414/.506/.557, 20 R, 5 XBH, 16/11 K/BB (18 G)
After a mediocre showing last season in the short-season New York-Penn League, Nimmo has seemingly figured things out while moving up a level. He currently leads the South Atlantic League with a .414 batting average, while his 29 hits are tied for the league lead.
Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets
.379/.447/.652, 12 XBH (3 HR), 17 RBI, 9/6 K/BB (17 G)
A contact-oriented hitter coming out of Purdue, Plawecki has added a little length to his swing and is showcasing more frequent power as a result.
Rock Shoulders, 1B, Chicago Cubs
.410/.486/.672, 8 XBH (4 HR), 13 RBI, 13/9 K/BB (16 G)
A 25th-round selection in 2011 out of State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, the left-handed first baseman is currently leading the Midwest League with a .410 batting average. Last five games: 8-for-15, 2 HR, 5 RBI.
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
.404/.514/.614, 13 R, 6 XBH (2 HR), 7 SB, 12/12 K/BB (16 G)
Buxton has been highly impressive so far in his full-season debut for Low-A Cedar Rapids. The second overall pick in the 2012 draft, the toolsy outfielder is batting .404/.514/.614 with six extra-base hits (two home runs), seven stolen bases and 12/12 K/BB through 16 games.
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Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
.384/.439/.740, 16 R, 12 XBH (7 HR), 19 RBI, 20/7 K/BB (19 G)
In possession of arguably the best raw power in the minor leagues, Sano is putting up monster numbers in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Through 19 games at High-A Fort Myers, the 19-year-old is batting .384/.439/.740 with 28 hits (seven home runs), 19 RBI and 20/7 K/BB. He’s been especially hot as of late with a 1.301 OPS and five home runs over his last 10 games.
Stephen Piscotty, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
.381/.447/.595, 5 XBH (2 HR), 2/4 K/BB (12 G)
The 36th overall selection in the 2012 draft, Piscotty is off to a red-hot start in the Florida State League and notching multihit games with ease. The 22-year-old could be in line for an early-season promotion to Double-A.
Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins
.338/.368/.500, 16 R, 8 XBH (2 HR), 15/4 K/BB (19 G)
The 21-year-old may have one of the more promising hit tools in the low minors, as he’s continued to hit at every stop. Last 10 games: .300/.356/.425, 12 hits, eight RBI.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
.299/.385/.507, 14 R, 8 XBH (3 HR), 14 RBI, 14/8 K/BB (18 G)
Back at High-A Tampa to open the 2013 season, Sanchez has impressed through the first three weeks with his ability to hit for both average and power, and has showed signs of improving plate discipline.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.338/.397/.441, 5 XBH, 9 SB, 6/7 K/BB (18 G)
One of the biggest pop-up prospects last season, Polanco is yet to slow down despite making the jump to a more advanced level (High-A). Through his first 18 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, the 6’4” outfielder is batting .338/.397/.441 with six extra-base hits, nine stolen bases and 6/7 K/BB.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
.328/.414/.525, 7 XBH (2 HR), 7 SB, 11/9 K/BB (16 G)
Cecchini continues to offer a promising blend of batting average and above-average speed, and he could start to show more power this season after adding roughly 20 pounds of muscle over the winter.
Delino DeShields, 2B, Houston Astros
.333/.396/.521, 11 R, 6 XBH (3 3B), 5 SB (5 CS), 14/5 K/BB (12 G)
After posting an .818 OPS with 101 stolen bases in 2012 across two levels, DeShields is off to a great start this season back at High-A Lancaster. Through 12 games the second baseman is batting .333/.396/.521 with six extra-base hits, five stolen bases and 14/5 K/BB in 48 at-bats.
Max Muncy, 1B, Oakland Athletics
.324/.461/.706, 19 R, 10 XBH (8 HR), 16 RBI, 13/17 K/BB (19 G)
The 22-year-old first baseman has been destroying High-A pitching, though those numbers are also inflated by playing in the California League. He’s not expected to hit for much power, but the on-base skills are legitimate.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
.313/.389/.453, 6 XBH, 7 SB, 8/8 K/BB (17 G)
The third-youngest everyday player at the High-A level, Lindor has showcased his usual plus-plus defense while making strides from both sides of the plate. Through 17 games, the 19-year-old is batting .313/.389/.453 with six extra-base hits, seven stolen bases and 8/8 K/BB.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
.171/.310/.257, 3 XBH, 2 SB, 17/7 K/BB (9 G)
After an outstanding professional debut in which he posted a 1.027 OPS across three levels, Russell received an aggressive promotion to High-A Stockton for his first full season in the minors. He has battled a few minor injuries and is off to a slow start with a .171/.310/.257 triple-slash line through nine games, but should wind up posting monster numbers in the California League.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox
.164/.230/.491, 9 H (6 HR), 13 RBI, 37/5 K/BB (16 G)
After posting an .804 OPS in his professional debut across three levels, Hawkins has been painfully overmatched at High-A Winston-Salem to begin the season. Of the nine hits he’s amassed in 16 games, six have left the park. Meanwhile, the fact that he has struck out 37 times in 55 at-bats is reason to worry.
Brandon Jacobs, OF, Boston Red Sox
.200/.318/.364, 7 XBH (6 2B), 3 SB, 19/7 K/BB (16 G)
Repeating the High-A level after a disappointing 2012 campaign, things don’t seem to be getting any better. He’s been more successful as of late, though, going 6-for-20 with three doubles and five walks.
Kenny Diekroeger, 2B, Kansas City Royals
.212/.212/.327, 2 HR, 14/0 K/BB (13 G)
Diekroeger has been steadily declining since his sophomore season at Stanford, as both his swing and approach are now a complete mess. Should have taken the above-slot money as a second-rounder in 2009.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
.148/.246/.246, 4 XBH, 2 SB, 26/6 K/BB (16 G)
Expected to put up monster numbers in the California League (High-A), Story has struggled to get it going at the plate. Through 16 games, the 20-year-old shortstop has piled up 26 strikeouts in 61 at-bats (43 percent strikeout rate).
Mac Williamson, OF, San Francisco Giants
.215/.329/.385, 11 R, 6 XBH (2 HR), 18/5 K/BB (17 G)
Since his power surge during the first week of the season, Williamson has struggled mightily. Over his last 10 games, the 6’5” outfielder has mustered only two extra-base hits while fanning 12 times.
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Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
.311/.378/.405, 11 R, 5 XBH, 23/8 K/BB (17 G)
Bogaerts has raised his triple-slash line to .311/.378/.405 in a hurry after a shaking off a sluggish start. The 20-year-old has been especially hot over his last 10 games, too, batting .395/.469/.558 with 17 hits.
Hernan Perez, 2B, Detroit Tigers
.347/.363/.493, 9 XBH (8 2B), 11 RBI, 7 SB, 10/3 K/BB (17 G)
After receiving a cup of coffee last season—promoted from High-A—Perez, 22, is making a case to get back to the major leagues with his red-hot start at Double-A Erie.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
.299/.413/.642, 11 XBH (6 HR), 16 RBI, 4 SB, 24/12 K/BB (18 G)
During Springer’s current five-game hitting streak, the 23-year-old outfielder is 8-for-17 (.471) with three home runs and five RBI. He turned in a monster game on Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with two home runs, a walk and stolen base.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
.314/.372/.671, 18 R, 13 XBH (5 HR), 6 SB, 10/7 K/BB (18 G)
Pederson had a breakout season (.913 OPS, 26 SB) last year as a 20-year-old in High-A and has showed no signs of slowing down despite moving up to Double-A Chattanooga. Over his last 10 games, he’s batting .375 with nine runs scored, seven extra-base hits and four stolen bases.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals
.275/.353/.487, 15 R, 9 XBH, 4 SB, 22/8 K/BB (19 G)
One of the more polarizing prospects in the game, Goodwin is beginning to heat up in his second tour of Double-A, as the left-handed hitter is now batting .333/.381/.615 with 11 runs scored and six extra-base hits over his last 10 games.
Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Chicago Cubs
.276/.356/.447, 13 R, 4 HR, 11 SB, 21/10 K/BB (19 G)
The 21-year-old switch-hitter is shooting up the organizational depth chart with his hot start, showing a more projectable power-speed combination.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
.167/.246/.222, 3 2B, 6/6 K/BB (16 G)
The left-handed hitting second baseman has shown signs of life over his last two games: 4-for-9, 2 2B, 3 RBI.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
.183/.290/.233, 3 XBH, 2 SB, 17/8 K/BB (17 G)
Coming off a breakout campaign in 2012 between both Class-A levels, Cowart has struggled through his first three weeks at Double-A with a .523 OPS and 17 strikeouts in 17 games. He’s showing signs of life, though, as he’s 8-for-25 (.320) over his last seven games.
Miles Head, 3B, Oakland Athletics
.183/.227/.310, 5 XBH (2 HR), 17/3 K/BB (17 G)
After posting a .968 OPS with 23 home runs across two levels in 2012, Head’s long swing and fringy pitch recognition has made him exploitable this season in Double-A.
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
.161/.206/.161, 14/3 K/BB (20 G)
Acquired in the Justin Upton trade over the offseason, the 23-year-old shortstop is yet to collect an extra-base hit or steal a base through 20 Double-A games.
Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees
.176/.283/.255, 3 XBH, 2 SB, 16/8 K/BB (12 G)
Heathcott’s lack of experience has been obvious in the early going at Double-A Trenton, as his overaggressive approach has led to excessive weak contact and a 31 percent strikeout rate through 12 games.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
.344/.379/.467, 18 R, 7 XBH, 5 SB, 23/4 K/BB (20 G)
Even though he posted a .668 OPS in 69 Double-A games last season, the Diamondbacks handed Owings an aggressive promotion to Triple-A for 2013. He’s responded well thus far, though he’s going to have to coax more than one walk every other week to remain successful. As I’ve said before, developing consistency will be crucial toward Owings’ development.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
.414/.431/.759, 14 XBH (3 HR), 21 RBI, 9/2 K/BB
Arenado has been absolutely mashing at Triple-A Colorado Springs after nearly making the 25-man roster out of spring training. With little left to prove in the minor leagues—the Pacific Coast League is only inflating his numbers—don’t be surprised if he’s in the major leagues by the end of May.
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
.259/.354/.648, 10 XBH (5 HR), 25 RBI, 17/8 K/BB (14 G)
Zunino was mired in an 0-for-20 slump last week—his first slump as a professional—but has busted out over his last two games: 4-for-8, HR, 7 RBI.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
.328/.430/.453, 5 XBH, 12 RBI, 20/12 K/BB (17 G)
Myers is heating up at Triple-A Durham and has now recorded a hit in eight consecutive contests. It’s only a matter of time—possibly days—until he’s hitting in the middle of the Rays’ order.
Nick Franklin, SS/2B, Seattle Mariners
.325/.449/.500, 3 XBH (2 HR), 3 SB, 7/8 K/BB (11 G)
One of the younger everyday players at the Triple-A level, Franklin, 22, is off to a hot start and could be in the mix for playing time up the middle with the Mariners by midseason. The switch-hitter is currently riding a six-game hitting streak during which he’s 6-for-16 with two home runs, six RBI and six walks.
Chris Colabello, 1B, Minnesota Twins
.328/.377/.642, 9 XBH (6 HR), 17/6 K/BB (19 G)
After seven season in the independent Can-Am Association, Colabello posted an .836 OPS at Double-A New Britain last season—his first as a professional. And with his hot start in 2013, the 29-year-old may actually reach the major leagues.
Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
.256/.315/.427, 9 XBH, 17/8 K/BB (21 G)
Receiving an aggressive assignment to Triple-A for the 2013 season, Castellanos has underwhelmed through his first 21 games at the level. However, the 21-year-old may be turning the corner, as he’s now 5-for-11 with two home runs and two doubles over his last three contests.
Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers
.147/.247/.250, 5 XBH, 30/9 K/BB (19 G)
Olt has struggled mightily at Triple-A Round Rock to begin the season, as he’s batting .147/.247/.250 with a 44 percent strikeout rate. Perhaps more significantly, at least pertaining to the organization, the 24-year-old’s dismal start is hurting his potential trade value.
Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
.258/.352/.419, 4 XBH (3 HR), 24/9 K/BB (16 G)
As he always seems to do, Davidson got off to hot start at Triple-A Reno, but is currently stuck in an ugly 7-for-38 (.184) slump during which he’s struck out 19 times—or 50 percent of his at-bats.
Jared Mitchell, OF, Chicago White Sox
.154/.325/.231, 3 XBH, 5 SB, 30/16 K/BB (18 G)
After posting a .447 OPS through 14 games at Triple-A Charlotte, Mitchell was recently demoted to Double-A Birmingham.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
.221/.293/.309, 6 R, 13 SB, 13/7 K/BB (18 G)
After stealing a record-setting 153 bases in 2012, Hamilton has been successful in 13 of 14 attempts in his first taste of Triple-A this season. He’s struggled at the dish, though, with a .162 batting average over his last 10 games.
Jon Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
.221/.312/.309, 4 XBH, 13/7 K/BB (19 G)
The Orioles continue to challenge the 21-year-old, who is currently the fifth-youngest everyday player at the Triple-A level. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Schoop has struggled in the early going. He seems to coming around though, as he’s 10-for-29 with three doubles during his current eight-game hitting streak.