MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Hitters at Every Minor League Level
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Having reached the halfway point of the 2013 minor league season, it’s not surprising that many of the game’s top young hitters have recently received a promotion to a more advanced level.
This list of promoted prospects features high-profile names such as Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, Miguel Sano, George Springer, Eddie Rosario and Gregory Polanco. However, the most impressive player has been Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco.
After posting a .925 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to open the season, Franco, 20, was promoted to Double-A Reading late last week and is now 11-for-21 (.524) with two home runs and five RBI through his first five games.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest hitters at every minor league level.
Courtesy of alskor (BullpenBanter.com)
Avery Romero, 2B, Miami Marlins
.385/.429/.423, 5 R, 4/2 K/BB (7 G)
The 2012 third-rounder should receive a majority of his reps at second base, where his potential above-average hit tool is a clean fit.
Gosuke Katoh, 2B, New York Yankees
.222/.364/.889, 2 HR, 3/1 K/BB (3 G)
The Yankees’ second-round draft pick homered in back-to-back games to begin his professional career.
Travis Demeritte, SS, Texas Rangers
.286/.444/.500, HR, 6/4 K/BB (4 G)
The toolsy infielder collected five hits—including a home run—in his first three games.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies
.400/.500/.667, 3 XBH, SB, 2/3 K/BB (4 G)
A 6’2” left-handed-hitting third baseman, McMahon could be one of the better prep hitters to emerge from the 2013 draft class.
Phillip Ervin, OF, Cincinnati Reds
.412/.474/.588, HR, 2 SB, 4/1 K/BB (4 G)
The Samford outfielder wasted no time making an impact, as he’s hit safely in four consecutive games to begin his career.
Trey Michalczewski, 3B, Chicago White Sox
.429/.636/.571, 2B, 1/4 K/BB (3 G)
The switch-hitting third baseman has collected three hits and four walks through three games.
*Since the rookie and short-season levels just started, I have omitted the coldest hitters from both levels.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies
.321/.403/.658, 40 R, 34 XBH (14 HR), 58/20 K/BB (51 G)
The 2012 third-rounder is punishing younger pitching in the South Atlantic League, as he should given his age (22), though the high strikeout total is somewhat concerning.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
.341/.422/.527, 69 R, 31 XBH (6 HR), 57 SB, 63/37 K/BB (71 G)
Johnson’s prospect stock is on the rise thanks to a more consistent hit tool and improved secondary skills. He leads all minor league players with 57 stolen bases. His last 10 games: .415/.478/.707, 17 H (6 XBH), 7 SB, 12/4 K/BB.
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
.222/.302/.372, 20 XBH (7 HR), 9 SB, 77/23 K/BB (65 G)
It’s been a disappointing full-season debut for Bubba, though he has shown more consistency as of late; during his current six-game hitting streak, he was: 11-for-23 (.478), 4 2B, 5 RBI, 6/1 K/BB. Here's some game footage I shot of Starling in early May.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
.293/.355/.513, 16 XBH (7 HR), 7 SB, 35/13 K/BB (41 G)
One of my favorite prospects in the minor leagues, Seager has a potential impact bat and may stick at shortstop longer than expected. He's on an absolute tear over his last 10 games: .421/.463/.895, 16 H (4 HR), 14 RBI, 2 SB, 6/2 K/BB.
Travis Harrison, 3B, Minnesota Twins
.276/.370/.508, 34 XBH (12 HR), 65/29 K/BB (71 G)
The 20-year-old has some swing-and-miss to his game, but the plus power potential is very, very real. His last 10 games: .343/.489/.743, 10 R, 8 XBH (3 HR), 9 RBI, 8/8 K/BB.
Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.293/.359/.474, 50 R, 31 XBH (8 HR), 48 RBI, 58/29 K/BB (68 G)
After a slow start to the season, Bell, a 2011 second-round bonus baby, has been on fire since the beginning of June: .365/.394/.540, 8 XBH in 16 G.
Devon Travis, 2B, Detroit Tigers
.349/.428/.487, 24 XBH (6 HR), 10 SB, 32/33 K/BB (73 G)
After Byron Buxton’s promotion to the Florida State League, Travis is now the leading hitter in the Midwest League.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
.321/.407/.444, 43 R, 19 XBH (4 HR), 45 RBI, 7 SB, 49/32 K/BB (59 G)
Correa is doing things that an 18-year-old should not be capable of in a full-season debut. His last 10 games: .488/.532/.561, 10 R, 20 H, 8/5 K/BB. He also has collected multiple hits in seven of those games.
Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
.361/.388/.509, 11 XBH (2 HR), 3 SB, 18/5 K/BB (26 G)
A broken hamate sidelined Almora until the end of May, but he’s certainly made up for lost time with a red-hot start for Low-A Kane County.
Larry Greene, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
.207/.313/.285, 11 XBH, 69/28 K/BB (51 G)
Personally, I’ll never understand the Phillies’ selection of Greene in the first round of the 2011 draft.
Cito Culver, SS, New York Yankees
.210/.303/.333, 17 XBH (6 HR), 9 SB, 82/33 K/BB (61 G)
Now in his second tour of the South Atlantic League, things aren’t getting better for the 2010 first-round draft pick; 17 strikeouts in his last 42 at-bats.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
.280/.381/.385, 12 XBH (5 3B), 57/25 K/BB (47 G)
After a hot start to the season, Nimmo has cooled off considerably over the last month. His last 10 games: .179/.298/.282, 16 K.
Dante Bichette, 3B, New York Yankees
.204/.285/.289, 14 XBH (4 HR), 73/26 K/BB (69 G)
Bichette posted a .947 OPS during his professional debut in 2011, but has steadily fallen off over the last two seasons.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs
.262/.331/.433, 25 XBH (11 HR), 45 RBI, 53/30 K/BB (70 G)
After posting an .848 OPS in April, Vogelbach has followed with a .732 OPS in May and a .710 OPS in June.
Rich Pilling/Getty Images
Robby Hefflinger, OF, Atlanta Braves
.286/.340/.580, 38 XBH (20 HR), 67/21 K/BB (71 G)
Hefflinger is old for the level at 23, but has made impressive developmental strides over the last two seasons; he currently leads all Carolina League hitters with a .920 OPS.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
.259/.338/.502, 43 R, 35 XBH (9 HR), 9 SB, 71/28 K/BB (60 G)
After batting .224 in April and .208 in May, Russell has come on strong over the last month and is finally producing as many expected headed into the season. Last 10 games: .425/.432/.900, 10 R, 10 XBH (3 HR), 2 SB, 10/1 K/BB.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
.293/.365/.452, 29 XBH (4 HR), 21 SB, 50/19 K/BB (69 G)
Odor is one of the more underappreciated infield prospects in the game, but shouldn’t be for much longer given his power-speed combo from the left side of the plate. Oh yeah, he doesn’t turn 20 until next February.
Jason Martinson, SS, Washington Nationals
.266/.372/.484, 27 XBH (12 HR), 14 SB, 88/38 K/BB (72 G)
The 24-year-old shortstop is well behind the age curve, though the athleticism and tools still give something to dream on. Last 10 games: .452/.550/.839, 11 R, 4 HR, 4 SB, 9/7 K/BB.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
.308/.379/.414, 21 XBH (5 3B), 18 SB, 30/30 K/BB (69 G)
Besides hitting for average—and the plus-plus defense at shortstop—the 19-year-old has demonstrated outstanding plate discipline this season in the Carolina League.
Michael Perez, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
.178/.221/.320, 14 XBH (5 HR), 73/9 K/BB (44 G)
After posting a .900 OPS last season in the Pioneer League, Perez has struggled mightily this season while making the jump to the California League.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
.206/.279/.328, 20 XBH (5 HR), 11 SB, 100/22 K/BB (68 G)
After showing sings of breaking out of his early-season funk, Story has fallen into another offensive rut. Last 10 games: .602 OPS, 19 K.
Jake Skole, OF, Texas Rangers
.198/.302/.292, 13 XBH, 56/29 K/BB (60 G)
The 2010 first-rounder has continued to disappoint after an encouraging full-season debut in 2011.
3B Maikel Franco // Courtesy of BaseballInstinct.com
Henry Urrutia, OF, Baltimore Orioles
.356/.427/.553, 23 XBH (7 HR), 33/23 K/BB (49 G)
The 6’5”, left-handed-hitting outfielder could be in store for a promotion to Triple-A in the near future. Last 10 games: .405/.500/.622, 15 H (4 XBH), 3/7 K/BB.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
.348/.466/.547, 46 R, 29 XBH (5 HR), 15 SB, 38/46 K/BB (67 G)
After mastering the Carolina League, Cecchini recently received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Portland. First four games at the new level: 5-for-16 (.313), 4/3 K/BB.
Trayce Thompson, OF, Chicago White Sox
.268/.371/.435, 52 R, 25 XBH (9 HR), 13 SB, 77/39 K/BB (73 G)
The definition of a raw but toolsy prospect, Thompson has gradually heated up over the last two months after batting .187 in April. Last 10 games: .381/.400/.667, 16 H (6 XBH), 2 SB, 14/1 K/BB.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
.316/.363/.604, 44 XBH (18 HR), 39/21 K/BB (70 G)
After posting a .925 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to open the season, Franco, 20, was promoted to Double-A Reading late last week. First five games: 11-for-21 (.524), 2 HR, 5 RBI.
Ronnie Rodriguez, SS, Cleveland Indians
.293/.313/.435, 25 XBH (4 HR), 9 SB, 42/8 K/BB (69 G)
Although his lack of plate discipline is still an issue, Rodriguez has been swinging a hot bat since the beginning of June: .392/.405/.532, 15 R, 9 XBH, 4 SB, 9/3 K/BB (18 G).
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.312/.365/.476, 26 XBH (7 HR), 27 SB, 42/19 K/BB (65 G)
Since promotion to Double-A Altoona: .313/.371/.500, 3 XBH, 3 SB, 5/3 K/BB (8 G).
Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins
.288/.350/.525, 21 XBH (9 HR), 10 SB, 46/9 K/BB (44 G)
Marisnick continues to improve since returning from the disabled list (broken hand) in early May; he’s posted a 1.082 OPS with 28 RBI when batting with runners in scoring position.
Jared Mitchell, OF, Chicago White Sox
.171/.314/.257, 6 XBH, 10 SB, 62/30 K/BB (45 G)
Having already received a demotion from Triple-A to Double-A earlier in the season, Mitchell continues to move in the wrong direction; he’s either going to reach the major leagues or be designated for assignment by the end of the season.
Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees
.237/.307/.361, 19 XBH (4 HR), 7 SB (6 CS), 72/25 K/BB (64 G)
I questioned the organization’s decision to bump him to Double-A for the 2013 season; he’s shown glimpses of putting it all together, but continues to be over-matched at the more advanced level.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
.294/.378/.500, 53 R, 31 XBH (11 HR), 21 SB, 67/35 K/BB (74 G)
After a torrid start to the season at Double-A Chattanooga, Pederson has finally cooled off (to an extent) in June: 23/9 K/BB in 21 games this month.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
.216/.279/.320, 17 XBH (5 HR), 7 SB, 64/24 K/BB (72 G)
Coming off a breakout season in 2012 between both Class-A levels, it’s been a disappointing follow-up campaign for the 21-year-old third baseman.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
.299/.376/.481, 55 R, 35 XBH (10 HR), 57/39 K/BB (79 G)
Considering the improvement in his plate discipline and developing power, it shouldn’t be long until he’s promoted to the major leagues.
Brad Miller, SS, Seattle Mariners
.317/.399/.514, 52 R, 25 XBH (11 HR), 6 SB, 46/35 K/BB (66 G)
Miller has been raking since his promotion to Triple-A Tacoma in late May: .354/.430/.583, 25 R, 34 H (11 XBH), 27 RBI, 16/15 K/BB (24 G).
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
.297/.399/.579, 56 R, 39 XBH (19 HR), 23 SB, 96/42 K/BB (73 G)
After legitimizing his prospect stock with an excellent first half at Double-A Corpus Christi, Springer was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City and will make his debut tonight.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
.294/.389/.489, 27 XBH (9 HR), 6 SB, 62/40 K/BB (67 G)
Since his recent promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket: 9-for-43 (.209), 3 HR, 11/5 K/BB.
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
.360/.380/.494, 65 R, 30 XBH (7 HR), 52 RBI, 12 SB, 66/10 K/BB (78 G)
Owings is having a monster season for Triple-A Reno, but is blocked at the major league level at both middle-infield positions.
Wilmer Flores, 2B, New York Mets
.313/.351/.503, 36 XBH (8 HR), 59 RBI, 39/17 K/BB (74 G)
Flores is currently enjoying the most productive month of his 2013 season: .367/.389/.589, 33 H (10 XBH), 21 RBI, 15/3 K/BB (22 G).
Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
.316/.366/.467, 86 H, 25 XBH (6 3B), 11 SB, 39/22 K/BB (68 G)
Wong is having a very consistent season for Triple-A Memphis, but remains blocked by Matt Carpenter in the major leagues.
Christian Colon, 2B, Kansas City Royals
.226/.279/.317, 12 XBH (5 HR), 5 SB, 29/19 K/BB (68 G)
After posting a .790 OPS in 85 games across three levels last season, Colon has struggled to get going in 2013 and is currently batting .186 through 23 June contests.
Carlos Sanchez, 2B, Chicago White Sox
.233/.294/.279, 11 XBH, 11 SB, 46/21 K/BB (68 G)
Coming off a breakout season in which he batted .323/.378/.403 with 26 stolen bases across three levels, Sanchez has struggled this year in his first extended exposure at Triple-A. He could still reach the major leagues during the second half if the White Sox trade either Alexei Ramirez or Gordon Beckham.