MLB Prospects Update: Hottest Players at Every Minor League Level
We’re now entering the final stretch of 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 underway, we have even more prospects to break down each week.
With teams in full-season leagues having played over 100 games since Opening Day on April 3—most starting pitchers have made anywhere from 15 to 20 starts, while everyday players have amassed 400-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. However, we’ll only be looking at just the hottest players because, well, there are a lot of them, and they’re all worth mentioning.
Here are the hottest players at every minor league level.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats: .364/.429/.545, 5 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K (11 G)
After spending a month on the disabled list, Bellinger returned to Rookie-level Ogden last week and rattled off four consecutive multihit games in which he tallied four doubles and one home run while scoring nine runs.
Justin Williams, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: .365/.417/.438, 50 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 13 BB, 35 K (34 G)
Williams flashed his hit-tool potential last season in his professional debut, when he batted .351/.397/.452 in 51 games across three levels and finished the year at Low-A South Bend. Well, the 18-year-old has been even more impressive this season in the Pioneer League, with a .373 average and 53 hits through 35 games.
Spencer Adams, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2014 Stats: 17.2 IP, 4.58 ERA, .312 BAA, 2 BB, 23 K (5 GS)
A second-round pick (No. 44 overall) in this year’s draft, Adams has been hit around at times during his first five starts in the Arizona League, but he’s also shown impressive command with a 23-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17.2 innings.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats: .351/.444/.570, 19 XBH (5 HR), 32 RBI, 25 BB, 30 K (41 G)
Seventeen-year-old Rafael Devers, who was signed by the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic last summer for $1.5 million, tore up the Dominican Summer League en route to an ahead-of-schedule promotion to the Gulf Coast League, where he’s batted .383/.442/.638 with seven extra-base hits and 11 RBI through his first 13 games.
Luis Torrens, C, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: .316/.395/.491, 13 XBH (2 HR), 9 RBI, 10 BB, 25 K (32 G)
Torrens went 0-for-4 in his first game with Short Season Staten Island on June 27, but since then the 18-year-old has hit safely in his last 17 games, batting .412/.452/.647 with one home run, three triples and seven doubles during the streak.
Christian Arroyo, SS, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats: .254/.296/.345, 12 XBH, 29 RBI, 4 SB, 14 BB, 33 K (59 G)
Arroyo was overmatched in the South Atlantic League to begin the season, but he’s fared much better since moving down to Short Season Salem-Keizer, with a .319/.373/.429 batting line and seven extra-base hits in 29 games.
Rowan Wick, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats: .378/.475/.815, 23 XBH (14 HR), 38 RBI, 20 BB, 34 K (35 G)
Wick, a 2012 ninth-round pick, currently leads the minor leagues in OPS (1.290), slugging percentage (.815), isolated power (.437), wOBA (.563) and weighted runs created (255 wRC+), per FanGraphs, though it’s over a small sample size of 141 plate appearances.
The 21-year-old spent the first two years of his career as a catcher but was moved to right field before the season, where his plus arm has produced five assists in 33 games.
Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
2014 Stats: .266/.345/.419, 26 XBH (10 HR), 36 RBI, 9 SB, 38 BB, 107 K (83 G)
After scuffling through the first three months of the season, Frazier, 19, has hit a scorching .352/.439/.620 with five home runs and two doubles in July. Though he’s put up solid power numbers, Frazier’s 107 strikeouts in 377 plate appearances (28.4 percent) are hard to ignore. He has 17 in 55 plate appearances in July (30.9 percent).
David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: .305/.345/.501, 49 XBH (33 2B, 6 3B, 10 HR), 41 RBI, 18 SB, 23 BB, 64 K (88 G)
Dahl, 20, has been on a tear since the start of June, with a .339/.370/.483 batting line, 23 extra-base hits, 34 runs and eight steals in his last 40 games. Overall, Dahl, the No. 10 pick in the 2012 draft, has put together an impressive rebound campaign after missing most of 2013 due to injury.
Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers
2014 Stats: .262/.350/.451, 37 XBH (15 HR), 68 RBI, 48 BB, 90 K (96 G)
Mazara, 19, has shown a better approach in his second consecutive season at Low-A Hickory, so it’s not surprising he’s already set new career highs with 15 home runs and 48 walks in only 96 games. The 6’4”, left-handed-hitting outfielder has big-time raw power.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: .330/.387/.456, 31 XBH (6 HR), 59 RBI, 25 SB, 24 BB, 70 K (92 G)
The 20-year-old Tapia is arguably the top breakout player of 2014, as he’s showcased an assortment of loud tools as well as advanced secondary skills this season at Low-A Asheville.
The left-handed-hitting outfielder batted .244 in April but has since batted at least .340 in each of the past three months, and he owns a robust batting line of .376/.457/.486 to go along with 12 doubles and 13 stolen bases over his last 31 games.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats: 82.2 IP, 2.94 ERA, .197 BAA, 32 BB, 101 K (16 GS)
Harvey has shot up the rankings this year thanks to a stellar full-season debut at Low-A Delmarva, as the 19-year-old right-hander has posted an 11.0 strikeouts-per-nine rate in 82.2 innings and held South Atlantic League hitters to a paltry .197 batting average.
Furthermore, Harvey has been dominant in each of his last four starts (after allowing a season-high six earned runs in two innings on June 10), with a 2.42 ERA, .558 opponents’ OPS and 32-6 K/BB ratio in 22.1 innings during that span.
Trea Turner, SS, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats: .266/.359/.355, 23 R, 8 XBH, 13 SB, 16 BB, 22 K (31 G)
Turner, the No. 13 overall pick in this year’s draft, got off to a slow start to begin his career, batting just .228 over 23 games in the Short Season Northwest League. However, the No. 13 overall pick has fared better as of late, following a promotion to Low-A Fort Wayne, with a .375 average, five extra-base hits and four stolen bases in his first eight games.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 82.1 IP, 1.64 ERA, .178 BAA, 41 BB, 97 K (16 GS)
Glasnow’s season at High-A Bradenton is shaping up be a lot like his 2013 full-season debut at Low-A West Virginia, as the 20-year-old right-hander has been incredibly difficult to barrel (.178 opponents’ batting average) while missing bats at a high rate (10.6 K/9).
He’s been especially sharp over his last seven starts, with a 1.36 ERA and 49-13 K/BB ratio in 39.2 innings to go with a pair of double-digit strikeout performances.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics
2014 Stats: .287/.350/.562, 48 XBH (24 HR), 67 RBI, 27 BB, 77 K (88 G)
Nunez, 20, has been on an absolute tear since the beginning of June, batting .340/.412/.712 with 15 home runs, 11 doubles and 41 RBI over his last 40 games. He’s also done a better job controlling the strike zone, with a 31-12 K/BB ratio in 177 plate appearances during that span.
Gabby Guerrero, OF, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats: .306/.347/.442, 31 XBH (10 HR), 66 RBI, 14 SB, 25 BB, 95 K (93 G)
Though he’s benefited from the environments in the California League, Guerrero’s improved power frequency has put him on the big league radar this season, and he’s currently on pace to set new career highs in most offensive categories.
Josh Hader, LHP, Houston Astros
2014 Stats: 95 IP, 2.46 ERA, .203 BAA, 33 BB, 105 K (20 G/14 GS)
Acquired from the Orioles last season in the Bud Norris trade, Hader, 20, has taken a big step forward this year at High-A Lancaster as he’s missing bats and barrels more consistently despite pitching in the hitter-friendly California League. Additionally, Hader has put up impressive numbers at Lancaster’s hitter-friendly home park, with a 2.88 ERA, .211 batting average against and 56 strikeouts in 50 innings.
Taylor Cole, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: 108.2 IP, 2.90 ERA, .233 BAA (3 HR), 29 BB, 134 K (19 G/18 GS)
Cole fanned 12 batters in 6.2 scoreless innings Monday, giving him a minor league-leading 134 strikeouts on the season. The 24-year-old had shown bat-missing ability in previous seasons, but his lack of command prevented him from posting the type of strikeout total he did to begin the week.
Alen Hanson, MIF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: .282/.319/.448, 35 XBH (10 HR), 50 RBI, 18 SB, 20 BB, 69 K (91 G)
Hanson, 21, is enjoying a solid season at Double-A Altoona, hitting for average (.282) and power (.448 slugging, 35 extra-base hits) while continuing to steal bases (18). However, the switch-hitter's pitch recognition and zone discipline has been challenged this year at the more advanced level, which is reflected by his 20 walks and .319 on-base percentage in 91 games.
Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .270/.347/.432, 9 XBH (4 HR), 17 RBI, 5 SB, 12 BB, 23 K (30 G)
Russell had possibly the best game of his young career Sunday, going 2-for-4 with two home runs (including the grand slam in the above video) and six RBI. Meanwhile, his four extra-base hits (three of which left the park) over his last six games are good indications the 20-year-old shortstop is finally settling in at the plate.
Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .405/.500/.798, 19 XBH (7 HR), 27 RBI, 16 BB, 20 K (28 G)
Soler, 22, has quickly made up for lost time at Double-A Tennessee following his return from the disabled list (hamstring), with .459/.553/1.000 batting line, six home runs, 14 RBI and a 15-12 K/BB ratio in 14 games.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves
2014 Stats: .349/.374/.460, 66 R, 30 XBH (10 3B), 48 SB, 15 BB, 41 K (92 G)
Simply put: Peraza has been unreal this year. More importantly, he’s proven that he won’t need much more time in the minor leagues. The 20-year-old second baseman currently leads the minors with 139 hits, and he’s accrued 55 multihit performances in 92 games. Peraza is batting .368/.395/.474 with eight extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in 26 games since his promotion to Double-A Mississippi.
Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: 93.1 IP, 2.41 ERA, .217 BAA, 22 BB, 104 K (19 GS)
Severino, 20, is now at his third level of the season after dominating at both A-ball levels. The flame-throwing right-hander kept on rolling in his Double-A debut Saturday, as he allowed one run on two hits and struck out five batters in five innings. He now has 104 strikeouts and just 22 walks in 93.1 innings between the three levels.
Adrian Sampson, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 2 CG, 122 IP, 2.58 ERA, .230 BAA, 28 BB, 86 K (20 GS)
Sampson, 22, is quietly having a breakout year at Double-A Altoona but doesn’t get much love because he doesn’t miss many bats. The right-hander has logged at least six innings in seven consecutive starts, including back-to-back no-hitters, with the latest being a one-hit shutout against Double-A Bowie.
He’s also enjoying his best month of the season, posting a 1.55 ERA and the two aforementioned complete games in 29 innings spanning four starts.
Javier Baez, MIF, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: .251/.312/.470, 39 XBH (16 HR), 61 RBI, 16 SB, 28 BB, 113 K (89 G)
Don’t look now, but Javy Baez’s OPS is approaching .800. The 21-year-old slugger has been on fire lately with a 15-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .306/.343/.645 with five homers, six doubles and 14 RBI.
Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats: .302/.375/.514, 39 XBH (20 HR), 80 RBI, 44 BB, 89 K (100 G)
The question was never whether Walker would hit; it was whether he’d hit for power. Well, after hitting 11 home runs last year in his full-season debut, Walker has shown more consistent power this season with 20 home runs in 95 Double-A games. The 23-year-old was recently promoted to Triple-A Norfolk, where he’s 5-for-15 with two doubles and six walks over his first five games.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats: .327/.452/.582, 66 R, 36 XBH (19 HR), 24 SB, 69 BB, 105 K (84 G)
Pederson has fully recovered from his shoulder injury and is enjoying his best month of the season since April, with a .394/.565/.697 batting line, five extra-base hits and a 10-12 K/BB ratio in 10 games since coming off the disabled list.
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 116 IP, 2.64 ERA, .239 BAA (4 HR), 31 BB, 87 K (19 GS)
Kingham, 22, has lasted at least six innings in each of his seven starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, as the right-hander has posted a 33-6 K/BB ratio and held opposing to a .205 average over 45 innings.