Each week we pick the hitting prospect and pitching prospect from each level (AAA, AA, A-Advanced, A-Full, A-Short, and Rookie ball) who, in our opinion, had the best week. We are always on the lookout for candidates, so tweet us (@Prospects1500 or @PhilOfSports) when you see a great performance.
We’d also like to give a shout-out to Chip Bourne (@ccbournejr) who compiles weekly MiLB stats on his site, which we use to help compile our POTW list: Hitters and Pitchers.
Here are our Prospects of the Week for the week of July 24 – July 30, 2017:
Hitter: Ronald Acuña (Prospects1500 overall #68, Braves #2)
OF – Gwinnett Braves
This 19 year-old has shot like a rocket up the prospect rankings this season, and is now swinging a hot bat at the AAA level in the International League. This Venezuelan 5-tool prospect stood out with 2 big games this week. On July 24th against Lehigh Valley, Acuña went 4-for-5, scoring 2, driving in 2, and hitting a home run. Then, on July 29 against Syracuse, Acuña posted another 4-for-5 effort on the week, hitting another home run as well. He’s looked as good at AAA so far as he has at every level this season, posting a .300/.380/.571 slash line which would be excellent for any hitter, let alone a 19 year old!
Photo credit – Scott Greene, Futures Game July 9, Miami
Pitcher: Yonny Chirinos (Rays – unranked)
RHP – Durham Bulls
A Venezuelan pitcher joined Venezuelan hitter Ronald Acuña in earning this week’s POTW honors. Chirinos had a nice 2-start week for Durham, going 6.2 and 6.0 innings in the starts and striking out 7 batters in each outing. Chirinos picked up the win on the 24th and was unfortunate in getting a no-decision on the 29th, as he only allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits and 0 walks. Chirinos now has a fantastic AAA line of 11-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.
Hitter: Tim Locastro (Dodgers #48)
SS – Tulsa Drillers
A glove first contact hitter, Locastro had a nice week for the Drillers en route to earning POTW honors. This 2013 13th round draft pick hit safely in every game this week, finishing the week with at .413 batting average. Although he doesn’t show a ton of pop, Locastro went deep twice this week. He also swiped 2 bags, bringing his season total up to 23 stolen bases.
Pitcher: Michael Kopech (Prospects1500 overall #22, White Sox #5)
RHP – Birmingham Barons
Every White Sox fan’s favorite flamethrower, Kopech dominated yet again in an outstanding start at Chattanooga on the 26th. Kopech racked up 12 strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work. He also flashed great control, only allowing 2 hits and 2 walks. The 12 strikeouts were his career high (so far). Kopech is now 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA since coming back from his Futures Game trip to Miami. The big question for me now is whether this 21 year-old phenom will make the big club out of spring training next year.
Kopech blowing a fastball by White Sox teammate Yoan Moncada at the Futures Game this past July 9 in Miami. Photo credit Scott Greene.
Hitter: Lucas Erceg (Brewers #9)
3B – Carolina Mudcats
A fine week for this Mudcats batter propelled him to POTW honors. Erceg hit safely in 6 of 7 games this week, with 4 multi-hit performances during that span. He also went on a small power tear, hitting a home run in three straight games, including a 5 RBI effort on July 26 at Myrtle Beach. Erceg seems to be making strides in the Carolina League this year.
Pitcher: Shao-Ching Chiang (Indians – unranked)
RHP – Lynchburg Hillcats
This Taiwanese hurler easily earned POTW honors with his 9 inning no-hitter against Winston-Salem on July 29th. Chiang impressed against a Dash lineup that boasts some offensive firepower in Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins, and Luis A. Basabe. Chiang cruised through the 9 innings, needing only 106 pitches, 76 of which went for strikes. He struck out 7 batters, and his only blemish on the night was a single walk.
Hitter: Jose Siri (Reds – unranked)
RF – Dayton Dragons
He’s the hottest bat in the Minors right now. This week, Siri extended his hitting streak to 35 games. He’s now tied the 40 year-old record for longest hitting streak in the history of the Midwest League. He’s hitting .350 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs during his streak. This week, Siri had 3 multi-hit games, including a 2 home run outing against Lansing on the 26th. In that game, Siri also drove in 4 runs, scored twice, and walked. His season slash line is now up to .297/.341/.537.
Pitcher: Alfred Gutierrez (Tigers – unranked)
RHP – West Michigan Whitecaps
The third Venezuelan player to earn POTW honors this week, Gutierrez had a strong start for the Whitecaps on July 27 against Fort Wayne. A lanky righty, Gutierrez flashed strong strikeout potential in punching out 10 batters over 7 innings of work. He gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. He’s now 8-5 on the season with a 3.58 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Hitter: Michael Cruz (Cubs – unranked)
C – Eugene Emeralds
A 7th round pick in the 2016 draft, Cruz had a fantastic week against Northwest League pitching for the Emeralds. Cruz flashed a lot of power this week, putting up 5 home runs in 7 games, including a 2 home run effort on the 25th. This 21 year-old Puerto Rican backstop had a tough time in the Midwest League earlier this season, but is off to a solid start in the Northwest. For a depleted Cubs minor league system, developing bats like Cruz will be crucial.
Pitcher: Luis Carrasco (Phillies – unranked)
RHP – Williamsport Crosscutters
The 4th and final Venezuelan on this week’s list. Carrasco had a fantastic outing for Williamsport in the New York-Penn League this week. He pitched 6 strong innings, fanning 9 batters while only allowing 2 earned runs en route to picking up the victory. He’s pitched well in 5 Short Season A-Level starts this summer.
Hitter: Jeyson Sanchez (Angels – unranked)
1B – Orem Owlz
Sanchez gave Pioneer League pitching fits this week. This 23 year-old Dominican prospect flashed some power potential this week, hitting a home run on the 28th at Idaho Falls, then hitting 2 more home runs on the 29th. He finished the week with 9 RBIs, and his Pioneer league batting average is up to .395 this year.
Pitcher: MacKenzie Gore (Padres – unranked)
LHP – AZL Padres
The Padres 2017 top draft pick was dominant in his appearance for the AZL Padres this week in the desert. Gore struck out 6 of the 8 batters he faced, flashing the potential that made him a first round pick in this year’s draft. Gore has only allowed 2 hits in 2 professional appearances so far this season.
Featured image of Ronald Acuña – courtesy @Scotty_Ballgame, Prospects1500