MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Hitters at Every Minor League Level
This past week George Springer became the first minor leaguer to reach double-digit home runs and stolen bases this season.
After amassing 24 home runs and 32 stolen bases last season in 128 games across two levels, the 2011 first-rounder (11th overall) is already making a case for an ahead-of-schedule promotion to the major leagues. Although his propensity for striking out remains a lingering concern—and probably will always be part of his game—the toolsy outfielder has showcased improved power frequency so far this season, and currently stands as the minor league leader with 13 home runs.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest hitters at every minor league level this season.
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
.341/.447/.583, 39 R, 18 XBH (5 HR), 15 SB, 29/26 K/BB (35 G)
Buxton has cooled off a bit as of late but appears to be catching fire once again after a 4-for-7, 4 R, 2 XBH, 4 RBI performance on May 12.
Adam Brett Walker II, OF, Minnesota Twins
.309/.356/.655, 24 XBH (10 HR), 44 RBI, 35/8 K/BB (35 G)
Strikeouts may always be part of his game, but man, ABW2 has some robust raw power. He already paces the Midwest League in numerous offensive categories including home runs (10), RBI (44) and total bases (91). Last 10 games: 1.192 OPS, 11 XBH (4 HR), 17 RBI, 12/0 K/BB.
Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.292/.362/.500, 18 XBH (6 HR), 35 RBI, 37/17 K/BB (36 G)
After missing most of the 2012 season recovering from knee surgery, the 2011 second-round bonus baby’s approach is consistently improving, which has aided his batting average and power frequency. Last 10 games: 1.105 OPS, 3 HR, 7/7 K/BB.
Andrew Toles, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
.345/.381/.547, 19 XBH (7 3B), 20 SB, 21/6 K/BB (33 G)
Possessing game-changing, plus-plus speed, Toles going from home to first (left-handed hitter) is a sight to see. During his current seven-game hitting streak: 12-for-27 (.444), 8 R, 4 XBH, 7 SB.
Dilson Herrera, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
.299/.364/.449, 11 XBH (3 HR), 5 SB, 33/13 K/BB (32 G)
The 19-year-old looks like he’ll be the Pirates’ Low-A breakout prospect this season much like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson last season. Last six games: 11-for-23 (.478), 2 HR, 5 RBI.
Rosell Herrera, SS/3B, Colorado Rockies
.371/.455/.614, 30 R, 20 XBH (7 HR), 9 SB, 29/21 K/BB (36 G)
Granted this is his second tour of the Sally, but it’s safe to say that Herrera has more than resuscitated his prospect stock. Last 10 games: .378/.489/.649, 7 2B, 3 SB, 5/9 K/BB.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
.238/.299/.450, 16 XBH (8 HR), 6 SB, 61/11 K/BB (36 G)
High-ceiling, high-risk prospect with plus power-speed profile, but the strikeouts are already piling up in a hurry.
Patrick Leonard, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
.145/.217/.179, 4 2B, 29/10 K/BB (31 G)
The 6’4”, 225-pound third baseman was the fourth prospect included in the deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City during the offseason. He has plenty of raw power, but has mustered only four doubles through 31 games.
Dante Bichette, 3B/1B, New York Yankees
.168/.224/.234, 5 XBH, 22 RBI, 38/7 K/BB (34 G)
The 2011 second-rounder is repeating the South Atlantic League, so it’s especially discouraging that his strikeout and walk rates continue to move in opposite directions.
Clint Coulter, C, Milwaukee Brewers
.165/.270/.282, 5 XBH, 23/8 K/BB (25 G)
Brewers’ first-round draft pick from 2012 has a chance for an above-average-to-plus hit tool, but like his defense behind the plate, the bat may need a few seasons in A-ball.
Dorssys Paulino, 2B/SS, Cleveland Indians
.189/.268/.198, 2B, 23/11 K/BB (30 G)
Coming off an outstanding professional debut last season in which he posted a .938 OPS as a 17-year-old, Paulino is yet to get things started in his full-season debut.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
.266/.362/.659, 25 R, 22 XBH (5 HR), 11 SB, 19/20 K/BB (34 G)
Cecchini is making a mockery of the Carolina League; he’s pacing the league in all triple-slash line categories, as well as doubles (13) and total bases (81).
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
.333/.409/.468, 13 XBH (4 3B), 8 SB, 15/17 K/BB (37 G)
The 19-year-old’s stock continues to soar, as he’s emerged as one of the game’s top prospects. Besides the plus-plus defense, Lindor’s plate discipline and approach have both been outstanding this season.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
.281/.359/.496, 15 XBH (7 HR), 30 RBI, 30/14 K/BB (35 G)
The 20-year-old’s plate discipline is noticeably improved, as he continues to showcase his plus raw power. Last 10 games: 1.024 OPS, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 8/4 K/BB.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
.372/.457/.690, 32 R, 20 XBH (10 HR), 31 RBI, 38/18 K/BB (35 G)
Sano continues to melt faces with his assault on Florida State League pitching, leading the league with 10 home runs and 89 total bases, and is tied for the share of the lead with 31 RBI.
Ji-Man Choi, 1B, Seattle Mariners
.319/.414/.613, 27 R, 22 XBH (5 HR), 28 RBI, 23/18 K/BB (32 G)
The soon-to-be 22-year-old has been on fire to open the season thanks to a mature approach and a compact, power left-handed swing. During his current 10-game hitting streak: .342/.444/.789, 11 R, 4 HR, 7/6 K/BB.
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
.237/.272/.468, 17 XBH (6 HR), 45/5 K/BB (34 G)
Disappointing and frustrating start to the season for the Cubs’ top prospect. Last 10 games: .171/.205/.341, 4 XBH, 16/1 K/BB.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
.171/.302/.343, 10 XBH (3 HR), 38/20 K/BB (27 G)
Despite his slow start, the 19-year-old shortstop is still showcasing a solid approach and coaxing his share of walks. That said, I’m still confident he’ll come around sometime soon.
Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals
.224/.296/.378, 13 XBH (4 HR), 26 RBI, 10 SB, 38/13 K/BB (36 G)
He’s showing more power (and his usual speed) this season while repeating High-A Potomac, but that’s about it. Last 10 games: .171/.205/.293, 8/2 K/BB.
Michael Perez, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
.194/.229/.379, 9 XBH (5 HR), 39/5 K/BB (25 G)
Perez posted a .900 OPS with 10 home runs in the Pioneer League last season, but is struggling mightily to adjust to an aggressive promotion to High-A Visalia. Last 10 games: .114/.114/.182, 13/0 K/BB.
Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees
.234/.333/.343, 20 R, 10 XBH, 25/20 K/BB (34 G)
He’s been streaky thus far, but I’m more concerned about the possibility of him dogging it on both sides of the ball.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
.302/.394/.655, 32 R, 23 XBH (13 HR), 10 SB, 49/18 K/BB (27 G)
Springer recently became the first minor leaguer to reach the 10 HR/10 SB mark this season. Last 10 games: .333/.395/.769, 12 R, 5 HR, 5 SB, 13/3 K/BB.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
.348/.571/.730, 31 R, 19 XBH (8 HR), 11 SB, 26/17 K/BB (37 G)
Pederson may be one of the younger everyday players (21) at the Double-A level this season, but that only makes his early-season performance all the more impressive. Last 10 games: .514/.571/.730, 19 H, 4 XBH, 4 SB, 6/5 K/BB.
Mike O’Neill, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
.330/.479/.393, 27 R, 5 SB, 6/33 K/BB (35 G)
The diminutive outfielder has recorded 33 walks while fanning only six times! Wait… What? Is that even possible?
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
.356/.496/.609, 14 XBH (4 HR), 18/23 K/BB (25 G)
Rendon has been on fire since his demotion from the major leagues back to Double-A; possesses arguably the best combination of hit tool and plate discipline in the minor leagues. Last 10 games: 1.374 OPS, 17 H, 8 XBH, 7/8 K/BB.
Brad Miller, SS, Seattle Mariners
.305/.395/.484, 24 R, 12 XBH (5 HR), 27/18 K/BB (25 G)
Whenever Nick Franklin receives a promotion to the major leagues, expect Miller to move up to Triple-A. Last 10 games: .389/.463/.528, 3 XBH, 9 RBI, 6/5 K/BB.
Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees
.205/.278/.286, 6 XBH, 4 SB, 33/12 K/BB (29 G)
Heathcott will show signs of putting things together at the plate, but his inconsistent and immature approach has been exploited in the early going of his Double-A debut.
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
.165/.228/.174, 2B, 25/9 K/BB (37 G)
After amassing 36 doubles last season in the Carolina League, Ahmed has mustered only one extra-base hit through 37 games.
Travis Witherspoon, OF, Los Angeles Angels
.181/.255/.354, 11 XBH (4 HR), 6 SB, 31/13 K/BB (36 G)
Witherspoon posted a .637 OPS in 54 last games season at Double-A Arkansas, and has seen his struggles spill over into his 2013 campaign.
Ronny Rodriguez, SS, Cleveland Indians
.220/.240/.312, 8 XBH, 5 SB, 25/3 K/BB (37 G)
Poor approach and pitch recognition has led to a slow start this season, and could be facing a demotion in the near future with Francisco Lindor’s strong performance in High-A.
Keenyn Walker, OF, Chicago White Sox
.195/.323/.256, 25 R, 15 SB, 45/21 K/BB (35 G)
The toolsy outfielder has struggled to make adjustments at the more advanced level, though he’s still coaxing walks and swiping bags.
Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics
.300/.409/.514, 31 R, 14 XBH (8 HR), 32/24 K/BB (37 G)
If the A’s outfield wasn’t overcrowded, Choice may already be in the major leagues. The team could still turn to him to replace Josh Reddick’s power if the right fielder needs wrist surgery. Last four games: 8-for-14, 7 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3/5 K/BB.
Nick Franklin, SS/2B, Seattle Mariners
.339/.459/.523, 12 XBH (4 HR), 5 SB, 16/24 K/BB (30 G)
I can’t decide what’s more impressive about Franklin’s torrid start to the 2013 season: his vastly improved plate discipline with more walks (24) than strikeouts (16), or his new-found success from his natural right side (.435/.519/.522).
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
.234/.288/.338, 9 XBH, 21 SB, 26/11 K/BB (35 G)
Although he had maintained his success on the basepaths, the switch-hitter’s bat is starting to heat up over his last seven contests: 13-for-34 (.382), 11 R, 4 SB.
Josh Phegley, C, Chicago White Sox
.330/.395/.670, 18 XBH (9 HR), 23 RBI, 18/8 K/BB (28 G)
Phegley’s bat will have to carry him to the major leagues, because he’s not much of a defender. Last 10 games: .415/.419/.902, 10 XBH (5 HR), 13 RBI.
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
.229/.304/.505, 16 XBH (6 HR), 31 RBI, 38/10 K/BB (28 G)
After a red-hot start, Zunino has been mired in an ongoing slump. The good news is that the Mariners’ future backstop appears to be turning the corner; last five games: 8-for-22 (.364), 5 XBH, 15/0 K/BB.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
.261/.354/.403, 10 XBH (4 HR), 47/19 K/BB (35 G)
Myers has fallen on hard times at Triple-A Durham with an uncomfortably high strikeout total (47) through his first 35 games. It’s been especially rough for the Rays’ top prospect over his last 10 contests: .194/.302/.306, 13/5 K/BB.
Christian Colon, SS/2B, Kansas City Royals
.226/.263/.306, 4 XBH, 18/6 K/BB (30 G)
Despite missing nearly half of the 2012 season, Colon turned in a breakout campaign and was moved up the organizational ladder aggressively. Last 10 games: .195/.244/.293, 5 K.
Joe Benson, OF, Minnesota Twins
.192/.245/.292, 9 XBH, 44/6 K/BB (36 G)
Benson reached the major leagues in late 2011 and flashed his power-speed potential, but since then he’s battled numerous injuries and seemingly fallen out of the Twins’ long-term plan.
Todd Cunningham, OF, Atlanta Braves
.219/.301/.270, 5 XBH, 8 SB, 24/13 K/BB (38 G)
After batting .309/.364/.403 last season for Double-A Mississippi, Cunningham has been inconsistent this season and striking out more than usual. Last 10 games: .358 OPS, 7 K.
Stefen Romero, 2B/3B, Seattle Mariners
.263/.318/.463, 9 XBH, 21/6 K/BB (20 G)
He’s still showing consistent power, but Romero is also on pace to a set a career-high strikeout total this season.