Andrew Velazquez, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: .306/.386/.461, 32 XBH (6 HR), 40 RBI, 40 SB, 46 BB, 88 K (90 G)
Beyond his breakout performance this season at High-A Visalia, Velazquez, 20, set a new minor league record on Sunday when he extended his on-base streak to 72 games. Kevin Millar (1997) and Kevin Youkilis (2003) shared the previous record of 71 games. Velazquez then pushed his record to 73 games on Monday with a walk.
Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .276/.300/.395, 24 XBH (6 HR), 47 RBI, 6 SB, 11 BB, 42 K (82 G)
Almora struggled during the first half of the season, batting only .245/.266/.325 with two home runs and six walks through his first 59 games. Since then, however, Almora has quickly made up for the slow start by batting .350/.381/.560 with 35 hits (11 extra-base hits) over his last 23 contests. The 20-year-old also had a night to remember on Monday for Daytona, going 5-for-7 with four runs scored and five RBI while hitting for the cycle.
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Houston Astros
2014 Stats: .307/.399/.460, 36 XBH (8 HR), 59 RBI, 56 BB, 66 K (88 G)
Ruiz is one of the best hitters in the minor leagues no one is talking about. The 20-year-old third baseman is already an extra-base machine with excellent plate discipline and an advanced approach, and it’s only a matter of time until some of those doubles begin to clear fences.
Austin Voth, RHP, Washington Nationals
2014 Stats: 95.2 IP, 1.88 ERA, .179 BAA (2 HR), 26 BB, 102 K (17 GS)
Voth, 22, has been a beast since a promotion to Potomac last month, as he's allowed just one run (0.35 ERA) and nine hits while posting a 28-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 26 innings over four starts. The 2013 fifth-round draft pick was moved up after posting a 2.45 ERA and 74-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69.2 innings at Low-A Hagerstown.
Between both stops, Voth has allowed just two home runs and held opposing hitters to a paltry .179 batting average in 95.2 innings.
Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: 88.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, .222 BAA, 21 BB, 98 K (18 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 Tampa 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. The 20-year-old owns a 1.31 ERA and 28-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20.2 innings spanning four starts since joining Tampa.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats: 86.2 IP, 5.09 ERA, .284 BAA (10 HR), 46 BB, 97 K (19 G/18 GS)
Anderson has a durable build and power arsenal, and he knows how to miss bats, evidenced by his 97 strikeouts in 86.2 innings this season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, but his lack of fastball command and tendency to pitch up in the zone will need to be straightened out before moving up to Double-A.
Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
2014 Stats: 36.2 IP, 9.57 ERA, .376 BAA (9 HR), 10 BB, 31 K (10 GS)
Appel’s disappointing season continued last week with another horrendous start for High-A Lancaster, as the 2013 No. 1 overall pick allowed seven runs on a career-high 13 hits while lasting only 4.1 innings. And while it recently was reported that the 23-year-old right-hander is dealing with a right wrist issue, per Evan Drellich (via Twitter), it could very well be another excuse for his poor showing this season.