Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats: .396/.423/.667, 4 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB, 2 BB, 10 K (12 games)
Guerrero—yes, he’s Vladimir’s nephew—has shown more consistent power this season at High-A High Desert, though that was to be expected playing in the California League. Headed into Tuesday’s game, the 20-year-old outfielder is among the league leaders in several categories, as he ranks fifth in OPS (1.090) and is tied for second and third in RBI (14) and total bases (32), respectively.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: .360/.418/.580, 6 2B, 3B, HR, 9 SB, 5 BB, 19 K (12 games)
After a dismal showing at High-A Modesto last season, Story appears to be back on track this year in his second tour of the California League. The 21-year-old shortstop has already tallied eight extra-base hits and nine steals through 12 games, but Story’s 19-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span is slightly concerning, especially after his 183-to-45 ratio at the level last season.
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Houston Astros
2014 Stats: .356/.420/.511, 4 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K (11 games)
One of the more underrated hitters below the Double-A level, Ruiz batted .260/.335/.430 with 33 doubles, 12 home runs and a 92-to-50 strikeout-to-walk ratio last year in 114 games for Low-A Quad Cities, and there’s a strong chance the 19-year-old will put even better power numbers this season in the hitter-friendly California League. In his last four games, Ruiz is batting .526 with a home run, three doubles and seven RBI.
Chad Pinder, SS, Oakland Athletics
2014 Stats: .378/.429/.844, 4 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K (11 games)
Pinder, the No. 71 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech, struggled mightily last summer in his professional debut, batting .200/.286/.293 with 41 strikeouts in 161 plate appearances for short-season Vermont. Therefore, it was surprising when the A’s promoted the 22-year-old directly to High-A Stockton this season. Yet Pinder has handled the advanced level just fine so far, amassing 10 extra-base hits (five home runs) and 13 RBI in 11 games.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
2014 Stats: .343/.447/.800, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 12 K (11 games)
Gallo led all minor league hitters last season with 40 home runs (38 of which came while playing for Low-A Hickory) but was kept in the park for the first six games of the season. However, in his last five contests, Gallo is batting .533 with five home runs, 10 RBI, nine runs and 4-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Classic Joey Gallo. Amirite?
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox
2014 Stats: .333/.370/.643, 4 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 3 BB, 14 K (11 games)
Hawkins’ early-season performance at High-A Winston-Salem is quickly making people forget about his disastrous 2013 campaign, as the 20-year-old outfielder owns a 1.012 OPS through 11 games and currently leads the Carolina League with 15 RBI. Still, Hawkins has also posted a 14-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span, which obviously leaves something to be desired.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
2014 Stats: .381/.480/.524, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 11 K (11 games)
Nimmo, 21, has been impressive this season at High-A St. Lucie, batting .381 with four-extra base hits and a 11-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 games. The outfielder is also in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .400 with eight runs and four RBI.
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
2014 Stats: .182/.321/.273, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 16 K (11 games)
Olson, a supplemental first-round pick in 2012, showed huge power last season at Low-A Beloit, hitting 32 doubles and 23 home runs in 134 games, but it came at the cost of 148 strikeouts. In his defense, Olson has a “Three True Outcome” profile and therefore also collects his share of walks. However, it’s hard to see the power translating as consistently at higher levels without eliminating some of the swing-and-miss from his game.
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
2014 Stats: .103/.239/.231, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 15 K (10 games)
Starling posted a .727 OPS with 38 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases last season in his full-season debut, but he also struck out 128 times in 498 plate appearances. So far this season it’s been more of the same, as the 21-year-old has three extra-base hits and 15 strikeouts in 46 plate appearances.
Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals
2014 Stats: .167/.271/.238, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K (11 games)
The Royals selected Dozier with the No. 8 overall pick last June so as to save money to sign left-hander Sean Manaea in the second round. In his professional debut last summer, the 22-year-old posted an .892 OPS with 37 extra-base hits (seven home runs), 52 RBI and a 37-to-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69 games between Rookie-level Idaho Falls and Low-A Lexington. Dozier has started slowly this season and has now fanned in six of his last 10 at-bats, but his mature approach bat-to-ball skills will allow him to adjust to Carolina League pitching.