MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Players at Each Minor League Level
As the pennant races heat up at the major league level, every front office around baseball is closely monitoring the progress of prospects in the minors. When contending teams look to acquire impact veterans for the stretch run, future stars could be sacrificed.
Over the next few weeks, it's instructive to take a look at which minor league players are performing the best and which ones are performing the worst. For the red-hot talents, new addresses might arrive before the start of August. For slumping young players, a poor six-week stretch could either move them away from trade talks or cause a forward-thinking executive to negotiate using a buy-low strategy.
Across the four minor league levels—Low-A, High-A, Double-A and Triple-A—here are the hottest and coldest players right now.
Ryan Demmin, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: 9 G, 35.0 IP, 34 H, 3.60 ERA, 27/6 K/BB
Demmin, 26, isn't a typical young, high-ceiling prospect, but he deserves credit for turning around a season that seemed destined for failure. After a demotion from Double-A Reading at the end of May, Demmin has pitched well in the Florida State League, which has included a 12/1 K/BB over his first two Low-A outings in 2014.
Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 13 GS, 55.0 IP, 75 H, 6.55 ERA, 36/29 K/BB
Neverauskas, a, 21-year-old Lithuanian prospect, has been one of the worst—if not the worst—pitchers in the South Atlantic League this season. And as if the raw, unfiltered numbers weren't bad enough, Neverauskas' last two outings yielded 13 runs in just 4.2 innings.
Christian Binford, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2014 Stats: 12 GS, 70.0 IP, 59 H, 2.19 ERA, 79/11 K/BB
For the red-hot Kansas City Royals, a look down to the farm would likely produce mixed reactions, especially in High-A ball. On the pitching front, Wilmington Blue Rocks starter Christian Binford has shined, tossing 13 innings without allowing an earned run over his last two starts. With four separate starts of seven-plus innings, the 21-year-old is showing the ability to go deep into games at a young age.
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
2014 Stats: .184/.278/.291, 3 HR
On the opposite end of the Kansas City system lies Starling. The former first-round pick and highly touted college football recruit has struggled over his last 10 games, producing a .158 batting average and unacceptable .214 on-base percentage in said contests. After hitting .241 in May, Starling has slumped in June.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .355/.458/.702, 22 HR
When it comes to the talent and power of Kris Bryant, the sky is the limit. In just 104 career minor league games dating back to 2013, the Cubs' third baseman of the future has crushed 31 homers and driven in 90 runs. Most recently, Bryant won the Double-A Southern League's Home Run Derby by hitting 16 long balls across three rounds.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats: 13 GS, 70.0 IP, 3.99 ERA, 54 H, 73/13 K/BB
Despite the solid numbers, Stephenson hasn't pitched well enough lately to merit consideration for a roster spot in Cincinnati. Across 12 innings in the month of June, the Reds' right-handed prospect allowed 10 earned runs and put 23 men on base. After posting a 136/35 K/BB last season, Stephenson jumped on the prospect radar, making this recent slide something to monitor.
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats: 13 GS, 74.2 IP, 54 H, 2.77 ERA, 78/29 SO/BB
For baseball fans immersed in the yearly fanfare of Major League Baseball's offseason and hot stove, the Ben Revere-for-Vance Worley trade prior to the 2013 season had an important name attached to the Twins-Phillies transaction: pitching prospect Trevor May.
Now, just over one year later, May is becoming one of the most intriguing prospects in all of baseball. As the Phillies search for reliable starting pitching behind Cole Hamels, Minnesota may soon call on May to boost its chances in the AL postseason race.
The 24-year-old has struck out 24 batters in just 19.2 innings for Rochester in the month of June.
Kyle Drabek, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: 13 GS, 70.2 IP, 84 H, 4.46 ERA, 51/23 SO/BB
Drabek, much like May, is also an ex-Phillies prospect that was sacrificed in a deal to keep a veteran team in contention. Unlike the other names on this list, however, Drabek has already experienced success in the big leagues. Prior to arm issues, Drabek threw 169.1 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, four years after his debut for the current AL East leaders, Drabek owns a 5.29 ERA in June for the Buffalo Bisons of the International League.
Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com or Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted. All stats accurate entering play on June 17.