MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Hitters at Every Minor League Level
Chicago Cubs top prospect Javier Baez made a splash last year during his full-season debut, posting an .888 OPS with 16 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 80 games between both Class-A levels. But after struggling with High-A Dayton in the Florida State League (.644 OPS, 21 K in 23 games) over the final month of the season, the organization assigned Baez back to the Class-A level to begin the 2013 season.
Although he endured his share of rough stretches, the 20-year-old demonstrated the ability to make smoother adjustments while sustaining his usual robust production. And after batting .275/.338/.535 with 19 doubles and 17 home runs in 76 games, the organization rewarded Baez with a promotion to Double-A Tennessee.
After a slow start at the more advanced level, Baez has been on an absolute tear over his last seven games, batting .258 with six home runs and 11 RBI. While the approach and plate discipline still leaves something to be desired with 111 strikeouts and only 28 walks this season, Baez has the makings of an impact hitter at the highest level and is on pace to arrive at some point next year.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest hitters at every minor league level.
Avery Romero, 3B, Miami Marlins
.362/.427/.511, 51 H, 17 XBH, 20/14 K/BB (39 G)
Romero’s potential plus hit tool has been on display this season in the New York-Penn League.
Jose Rondon, SS, Los Angeles Angels
.364/.436/.492, 14 XBH, 8 SB, 16/20 K/BB (33 G)
Nineteen-year-old shortstop’s prospect stock is on the rise; last 10 games: .459/.532/.649, 17 H, 5 XBH, 3/8 K/BB.
Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
.325/.379/.566, 10 XBH (3 HR), 18 RBI, 28/7 K/BB (21 G)
The No. 5 overall pick from the 2013 draft has enjoyed a great start to his professional career; expect him to receive a full-season assignment in 2014.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
.367/.457/.481, 29 H, 6 XBH, 8 SB, 14/13 K/BB (21 G)
The No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Crawford has made a strong impression with his all-around consistency this season in the Gulf Coast League.
Christian Arroyo, SS, San Francisco Giants
.303/.363/.475, 25 R, 13 XBH (10 2B), 23 RBI, 18/13 K/BB (24 G)
I admittedly wasn’t a fan of the Giants saving money by taking Arroyo in the first round, but so far the 18-year-old has been really, really good in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Last 10 games: .364/.396/.614, 11 R, 16 H, 8 2B, HR, 12 RBI, 9/3 K/BB.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
.182/.237/.455, 5 XBH 92 HR), 9 RBI, 9/3 K/BB (9 G)
After an ugly debut with Short-Season Boise in which he went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts (yes, a platinum sombrero), Bryant has started to settle in and has two home runs and seven RBI over his last four games.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
.308/.383/.517, 30 XBH (11 HR), 9 SB, 56/31 K/BB (71 G)
Seager is one of my favorite prospects in the game; regardless of whether he sticks at shortstop or moves the third base, the bat is going to be a plus and the power better than expected. Last three games: 6-for-13, 3 HR, 7 RBI.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
.321/.366/.532, 129 H, 41 2B, 12 HR, 63/27 K/BB (101 G)
Twenty-year-old could be a huge steal as the throw-in player in the Justin Upton deal; recently asked someone in the organization about Drury and was told “he’s a big leaguer.”
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs
.290/.364/.463, 19 2B, 16 HR, 66/49 K/BB (101 G)
After hitting a lull in May and June, the first base-only slugger has really picked up the pace over the last month: .333/.411/.511, 8 XBH (4 HR), 18 RBI, 12/14 K/BB in 25 games.
Rosell Herrera, SS-3B, Colorado Rockies
.363/.440/.571, 47 XBH (16 HR), 20 SB, 76/52 K/BB (101 G)
The 20-year-old is having an impressive bounce-back season, though I’m curious to see how his production holds up outside of Asheville.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers
.273/.323/.390, 12 XBH (4 HR), 26 RBI, 26/11 K/BB (48 G)
Eighteen-year-old got off to an impressive start at Low-A Hickory but has only two hits in his last 25 at-bats.
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
.223/.330/.391, 37 XBH (12 HR), 105/57 K/BB (102 G)
Disappointing season after he posted an .873 OPS last season during his professional debut. Last 10 games: .081/.244/.135, 11 K.
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
.322/.403/.533, 87 R, 127 H, 17 2B, 15 3B, 12 HR, 38 SB, 89/55 K/BB (97 G)
After hitting a rough patch at High-A Fort Myers, Buxton has been on an absolute tear over his last seven games: 12-for-30, 8 R, 3 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 9/5 K/BB.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
.268/.347/.483, 27 2B, 8 3B, 9 HR, 12 SB, 93/36 K/BB (79 G)
Some people are down on him this season, but I’m not one of them. In fact, in my eyes, his stock has only improved. The 19-year-old recently returned to action after missing roughly two weeks with a bruised right thumb.
Travis Jankowski, OF, San Diego Padres
.284/.354/.359, 75 R, 23 XBH (6 3B), 61 SB, 80/46 K/BB (104 G)
Quietly having an impressive first full season in the hitter-friendly California League.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
.340/.407/.501, 89 R, 21 2B, 13 3B, 6 HR, 71 SB, 80/42 K/BB (99 G)
Currently leading the minor leagues with 71 stolen bases—yes, he has more stolen bases than both Jankowski and Billy Hamilton. Since midseason promotion to High-A Winston-Salem: .333/.353/.414, 6 XBH, 10 SB, 13/2 K/BB in 22 games.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
.309/.373/.461, 42 XBH (33 2B), 27 SB, 67/26 K/BB (96 G)
One of the youngest everyday players at the High-A level, the 19-year-old is probably my favorite prospect in the Rangers’ system; impressive combination of above-average raw skill and plus speed.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
.256/.314/.429, 21 2B, 13 HR, 65/28 K/BB (89 G)
Yankees’ top prospect has really struggled as of late, batting .175/.175/.200 with eight strikeouts over his last 10 games.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox
.188/.257/.454, 31 XBH (18 HR), 123/21 K/BB (70 G)
The plus raw power is impressive, but the excessive swing-and-miss to his game is simply ridiculous. Not sure why he’s been allowed to remain at the level.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
.282/.336/.443, 34 XBH (13 HR), 66/32 K/BB (103 G)
The 21-year-old left-handed hitter has come into his own this season at Double-A Arkansas, showcasing a hit tool with above-average potential and emerging power.
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
.262/.326/.551, 53 XBH (27 HR), 12 SB, 111/28 K/BB (97 G)
After a slow start following a promotion to Double-A Tennessee, Baez has been a monster over his last seven games: 8-for-31, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 13/4 K/BB.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
.294/.393/.618, 51 XBH (26 HR), 101/51 K/BB (94 G)
Like Baez, Sano initially struggled to adjust to the new level following a midseason promotion, but he has found his groove over the last 10 games: .306/.432/.694, 2 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 10/8 K/BB.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
.325/.365/.581, 131 H, 54 XBH (23 HR), 52/24 K/BB (99 G)
Unlike the aforementioned Baez and Sano, Franco made a seamless transition to Double-A and has batted .374/.396/.590 with 14 extra-base hits (seven home runs), 26 RBI and 13 strike outs/four walks in 34 games.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.299/.372/.451, 103 H, 33 XBH (9 HR), 31 SB, 54/39 K/BB (92 G)
Besides posting a .798 OPS with seven stolen bases in 35 games since reaching Double-A, Polanco has also amassed more walks (23) than strikeouts (17) at the more advanced level.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals
.254/.351/.399, 31 XBH (9 HR), 18 SB, 109/53 K/BB (104 G)
Overall, he’s having a solid season back at Double-A, but the lack of consistency has his prospect stock on the decline.
Keenyn Walker, OF, Chicago White Sox
.199/.322/.275, 19 XBH (13 2B), 35 SB, 118/55 K/BB (97 G)
The 22-year-old has posted a sub-.600 OPS in all but one month this season.
Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles
.305/.371/.508, 18 XBH (9 HR), 35/16 K/BB (48 G)
Schoop missed more than two months with a stress fracture in his back, but he has returned to action at the right time. He went 3-for-4 with a home run in his third game back at Triple-A Norfolk and could be an option for the Orioles down the stretch.
Cody Asche, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
.295/.352/.485, 43 XBH (15 HR), 11 SB, 95/35 K/BB (104 G)
Coming off a torrid 10-game stretch (1.219 OPS, 5 HR, 12 RBI), Asche has officially been promoted to the major leagues.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
.314/.413/.620, 82 R, 56 XBH (29 HR), 35 SB, 132/58 K/BB (103 G)
With 29 home runs and 35 stolen bases, Springer is one dinger away from a 30-30 season.
Xander Bogaerts, SS-3B, Boston Red Sox
.298/.396/.495, 38 XBH (14 HR), 80/58 K/BB (97 G)
Has started at third base in each of the last six games, suggesting that his arrival in Boston is on the horizon.
Wilmer Flores, 2B, New York Mets
.324/.357/.538, 129 H, 53 XBH (14 HR), 85 RBI, 58/22 K/BB (100 G)
Flores still has some issues with his approach, but his improved consistency and knack for driving in runs could get him to the major leagues later this season.
Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
.280/.349/.443, 44 XBH (13 HR), 79/48 K/BB (110 G)
After posting a 1.024 OPS with 14 extra-base hits and 13 strikeouts/18 walks in 28 June games, Castellanos has fallen off this month with a .566 OPS and 21 strikeouts/six walks in 26 games.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
.218/.328/.406, 19 XBH (9 HR), 82/35 K/BB (59 G)
After serving a 50-game suspension for a second positive test for a drug of abuse, Singleton has struggled mightily since reaching Triple-A Oklahoma City: .196/.298/.315, 9 XBH, 61/22 K/BB in 42 games.