MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Players at Each Minor League Level
We’re now over halfway through the minor league season, and countless prospects continue to open eyes with their performances at each of the four full-season levels. And with the rookie and short-season leagues now underway, we have even more prospects to break down each week. However, we’ll only be looking at just the hottest players from those two levels due to the small sample of games.
With teams having played around 70-plus games since Opening Day on April 3—most starting pitchers have made anywhere from 10 to 16 starts, while everyday players have amassed 300-plus plate appearances—we no longer have to worry about misleading small sample sizes.
As we did in the series’ previous installments, this week’s list of players once again combines reports on both hitters and pitchers in the same article.
Here are the hottest and coldest players at every minor league level.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Dominican Summer League)
2014 Stats: .346/.450/.568, 20 R, 9 XBH (3 HR), 20 RBI, 16 BB, 14 K (21 G)
Devers, who was signed by the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic last summer for $1.5 million, has hit the snot out of the ball this season in the Dominican Summer League and will be promoted to the Gulf Coast League this weekend, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Chase Vallot, C, Kansas City Royals (Appalachian League)
2014 Stats: .318/.360/.591, 4 XBH (HR), 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K (6 G)
Drafted by the Royals with the No. 40 overall pick in this year’s draft and then signed to a $1.35 million bonus, Vallot has hit safely in five of six games to begin his professional career, with four of those knocks going for extra bases.
Blake Taylor, LHP, New York Mets (Gulf Coast League)
2014 Stats: 4 IP, H, 3 BB, 7 K (1 G)
Originally selected by the Pirates with the No. 51 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Taylor came over to the Mets this season as the player to be named later in the Ike Davis trade. The 18-year-old left-hander impressed in his season debut Tuesday, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out seven batters over four shutout frames.
Domingo Leyba, 2B, Detroit Tigers
2014 Stats: .250/.280/.417, 9 R, 6 XBH (HR), 6 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K (11 G)
Despite making the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the New York-Penn League, Leyba, 18, has handled himself well in the early going this season against the best pitching he’s ever seen. The switch-hitter is 8-for-15 with six runs scored, three doubles, one home run and six RBI over his last three games.
Cord Sandberg, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: .358/.393/.547, 11 R, 5 XBH, 9 RBI, 3 SB, 3 BB, 9 K (12 G)
After a disappointing professional debut last summer in the Gulf Coast League, Sandberg, 19, has put together a 12-game hitting streak to begin his season in the New York-Penn League.
Sergio Alcantara, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: .300/.432/.333, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SB, 7 BB, 8 K (8 G)
Alcantara, 17, has the potential to be a special player, as the switch-hitter already shows outstanding bat-to-ball skills and a feel for the zone that’s a rarity for a player his age. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reaches a full-season level by season’s end.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats: 10 IP, 0.90 ERA, .194 BAA, BB, 15 K (2 GS)
After missing the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Bundy has been nothing short of dominant in his first two rehab starts with Aberdeen. In his latest outing, the 21-year-old right-hander allowed two hits while striking out nine batters in five scoreless innings.
Manuel Margot, OF, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats: .276/.345/.425, 20 XBH (6 HR), 27 RBI, 24 SB, 24 BB, 31 K (62 G)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Margot, 19, has showcased a promising blend of power, speed and on-base skills this year in his full-season debut at Low-A Greenville. Statistically, Margot is enjoying his best month of the season with a .317/.388/.533 batting line, seven extra-base hits and seven steals through 16 games.
Phil Ervin, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats: .237/.309/.381, 27 XBH (3 HR), 33 RBI, 18 SB, 26 BB, 64 K (70 G)
After struggling to the tune of a .597 OPS with two home runs in 54 games through the season’s first two months, Ervin appears to have finally settled in at the dish this month with a .328/.414/.656 batting line and 12 extra-base hits in 17 games.
Kyle Schwarber, C, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .513/.565/1.103, 12 R, 10 XBH (6 HR), 13 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K (11 G)
Taking a page out of future teammate Kris Bryant’s book, Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, has opened his career with an 11-game hitting streak and already received a promotion to a full-season level.
It’s also worth noting that the 21-year-old, who was drafted as a catcher despite concerns about his ability to remain at the position, has received three starts in left field compared to just one behind the plate since arriving at Low-A Kane County.
Ian Clarkin, LHP, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: 46.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, .260 BAA, 11 BB, 50 K (10 GS)
Clarkin, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is rewarding the Yankees for allowing him to jump to Low-A Savannah this year after logging only five innings last summer in the Gulf Coast League. After a string of mediocre outings in May, the left-hander has thrown the ball considerably better this month with a 2.37 ERA and 21-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 innings.
Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats: 43 IP, 1.47 ERA, .190 BAA, 12 BB, 40 K (8 GS)
Kaminsky, the No. 28 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is having an impressive full-season debut at Low-A Peoria, as he’s allowed more than one earned run in just one of his eight starts. The 19-year-old southpaw has been particularly sharp in his last two starts, allowing one earned run on six hits in 11.2 innings to go along with a superb 13-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers
2014 Stats: .226/.309/.346, 20 XBH (3 HR), 37 RBI, 25 BB, 56 K (59 G)
Guzman’s repeat of the South Atlantic League this season isn’t going well, as the 19-year-old first baseman already has fanned more than twice as many times (56) than he did in 2013 (27) in a similar number of games. He’s also mired in a 0-for-18 slump with 10 strikeouts over his last five contests.
Ryder Jones, 3B, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats: .243/.293/.361, 20 XBH (5 HR), 36 RBI, 14 BB, 69 K (66 G)
Jones appeared to be turning the corner in May when he posted an .810 OPS to go along with 11 extra-base hits and 18 RBI in 23 games. However, the 20-year-old since has cooled of at the plate and is batting .100 (3-for-30) with no extra-base hits in his last eight contests.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics
2014 Stats: .274/.340/.500, 34 XBH (12 HR), 39 RBI, 21 BB, 59 K (66 G)
Named to his first Futures Game roster on Tuesday, Nunez has made strides offensively at High-A Stockton this season courtesy of a more consistent approach and improved pitch recognition. Specifically, things have really come together this month for the 20-year-old third baseman, as he’s batting .364/.455/.667 with 13 extra-base hits and 13 RBI in 18 games.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats: .355/.407/.626, 50 R, 34 XBH (14 HR), 53 RBI, 5 SB, 20 BB, 61 K (66 G)
As I mentioned in my breakdown of the Futures Game rosters, there’s no reason Seager should still be in the California League, as he’s batted .383/.438/.691 with 22 doubles, 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 46 games at High-A Rancho Cucamonga since the beginning of May. The 20-year-old also has fared better against left-handers than righties this season, with a 1.166 OPS and 15 extra-base hits in 71 plate appearances.
Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: .335/.385/.518, 29 XBH (9 HR), 47 RBI, 22 BB, 38 K (70 G)
Selected to play for the U.S. squad in this year’s Futures Game, Bell is having a monster season at High-A Bradenton, as he’s seemingly in line to receive a promotion to Double-A in the near future. The 21-year-old switch-hitter is currently riding a 16-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .467/.507/.750 with nine extra-base hits, 13 RBI and more walks (five) than strikeouts (three).
Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 71.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, .252 BAA (4 HR), 21 BB, 75 K (12 GS)
Shipley, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has looked sharp in his four starts this month at High-A Visalia, working at least six innings with seven or more strikeouts in each outing. The 22-year-old right-hander is coming off his most dominant start of the season on Sunday, when he struck out 10 batters and scattered five hits over seven shutout innings.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 55.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, .148 BAA, 32 BB, 61 K (11 GS)
Glasnow has been virtually untouchable over his last six starts with a 4-0 record, 0.28 ERA, .096 opponents’ batting average (10 total hits) and 43-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32.2 innings.
Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: 72.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, .245 BAA (2 HR), 16 BB, 78 K (15 GS)
Severino, a 6’0”, 195-pound right-hander, is opening eyes this year in his first full season as a professional, as he’s already received a promotion to High-A after dominating older hitters over 14 starts in the South Atlantic League. If you’re interested in more information on the quick-armed right-hander, then I strongly suggest checking out this glowing scouting report by Mike Newman of ROTOscouting.
Though it’s not included in his above stat line, Severino turned in one of his better starts of the season on Wednesday with six strikeouts in six no-hit frames for High-A Tampa.
Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
2014 Stats: .236/.283/.330, 13 XBH, 12 RBI, 9 SB, 13 BB, 60 K (51 G)
Mondesi, 18, is one of the top up-the-middle prospects in the minor leagues, but the switch-hitter has struggled since the beginning of May with a .195/.219/.271 batting line and 37-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 games.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: .270/.311/.336, 5 XBH (2 HR), 17 RBI, 4 SB, 9 BB, 25 K (35 G)
Herrera, who was selected to play for the World team in this year’s Futures Game, had a few big games in early June after coming off the disabled list, but the 21-year-old switch-hitter has been scuffling lately with a .080 batting average and no extra-base hits over his past seven games.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats: .326/.381/.615, 51 R, 42 XBH (18 HR), 73 RBI, 23 BB, 65 K (65 G)
Peterson appears in the Double-A section this week after receiving a well-deserved promotion from High-A on Tuesday. The 22-year-old is batting .349 with a 1.105 OPS, 36 extra-base hits and 61 RBI in 46 games since the beginning of May, and he’ll make his Double-A debut with a 10-game hitting streak (1.523 OPS, 6 HR, 22 RBI during the streak) on the line.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves
2014 Stats: .354/.377/.476, 54 R, 25 XBH (9 3B), 32 RBI, 37 SB, 11 BB, 33 K (72 G)
Peraza has continued to rake despite moving up to Double-A Mississippi last week, batting .481 with 10 runs scored and at least one hit in each of his six games. The 20-year-old second baseman is also in the midst of an impressive 20-game hitting streak that dates back to June 1, as he’s batted .443/.462/.670 with 39 hits (11 extra-base hits) and 11 stolen bases during that span.
Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats: .248/.290/.350, 12 XBH (4 HR), 22 RBI, 5 SB, 14 BB, 61 K (58 G)
Rodriguez’s bat has come alive this month after he batted just .139 with a .393 OPS and 26-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in May, as the 21-year-old outfielder is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .412 with four extra-base hits and nine RBI.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: 77.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, .204 BAA (2 HR), 22 BB, 95 K (15 GS)
Norris was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire in mid-June after he carved up hitters in the Florida State League through the first two-and-a-half months of the season.
While he’s allowed five earned runs in his first two starts at the more advanced level—he surrendered his only two home runs of the season in his Double-A debut—the 21-year-old left-hander has yielded just seven hits and four walks while piling up 19 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: 78.2 IP, 5.03 ERA, .247 BAA (11 HR), 40 BB, 76 K (15 GS)
Repeating the Double-A level after spending all of 2013 with Reading, Biddle, 22, once again is on pace to walk roughly 80 batters this season and already has allowed more home runs than he did all of last year (10). The left-hander’s performance this month has been especially rough, as he’s 0-4 with a 12.64 ERA and more walks (14) than strikeouts (12) in 15.2 innings spanning four starts.
Peter O’Brien, C/OF/1B, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: .263/.304/.594, 41 XBH (25 HR), 54 RBI, 13 BB, 73 K (73 G)
Yes, O’Brien has shown huge power this season with 25 home runs in 73 games, including 15 in 43 Double-A contests, but the combination of his lack of on-base skills (.304 OBP) and tendency to whiff (73-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio) will make it difficult for the 23-year-old to sustain his current level of production moving forward.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .346/.449/.721, 66 R, 47 XBH (27 HR), 67 RBI, 8 SB, 46 BB, 86 K (74 G)
After posting a gaudy 1.160 OPS with 22 home runs in 68 games at Double-A Tennessee, Bryant, 22, is 5-for-21 (.238) in six games since a promotion to Triple-A Iowa, with all five hits having left the yard. He’s a bad, bad man.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
2014 Stats: .308/.372/.424, 19 XBH (4 HR), 23 RBI, 14 SB (9 CS), 24 BB, 44 K (61 G)
Johnson, 23, isn’t enjoying the same success on the basepaths this season as he did in 2013, when he swiped 84 bags across three levels, but he’s showing a better approach against advanced pitching in the high minors and has trimmed some of the swing-and-miss from his game.
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: .318/.389/.421, 22 XBH (2 HR), 35 RBI, 10 SB, 30 BB, 41 K (75 G)
Ahmed is one of the better defensive shortstops in the minor leagues—dude can flat-out pick it—but his offensive development over the last few years has been disappointing. That said, the 24-year-old has made strides at the plate this season, as he’s tightened his approach and is making more consistent contact at Triple-A Reno.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Stats: .212/.289/.266, 8 XBH (HR), 10 RBI, 10 SB, 20 BB, 43 K (50 G)
Lee missed most of the 2013 season with a knee injury, so it’s not surprising to see the 23-year-old shortstop struggling this season back at Triple-A Durham. The left-handed hitter’s bat has been especially cold lately, as he’s just 2-for-22 over his last five contests.
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats: 89.2 IP, 3.91 ERA, .264 BAA (13 HR), 35 BB, 64 K (15 GS)
After allowing a total of three earned runs over 19.2 innings in his first three starts this month, the 23-year-old left-hander was shelled for eight earned runs on eight hits and five walks in four innings in his latest start against Lehigh Valley.