Prospects of the Week – July 31 thru August 6

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 31 – August 6, 2017:

AAA

Hitter: Christian Walker (Diamondbacks – unranked)

1B – Reno Aces

Walker was the #22 ranked prospect in the Orioles system before moving to the Diamondbacks this season. He had an outstanding week in the PCL for Reno, hitting safely in every game. Walker also hit 4 home runs, drove in 6, and scored another 6, displayed plenty of power. He has now hit 28 home runs and boasts a .977 OPS this season.

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty (Cardinals #8)

RHP – Memphis Redbirds

The Cardinals have a ton of good pitching prospects, and this week was Flaherty’s time to show off. He won both of his starts this week, going deep (6.2 innings, 7 innings) in each outing for the Redbirds. He flashed plenty of dominance as well, striking out 16 batters combined in the 2 starts while only issuing 3 walks and 7 hits. This 21 year-old has an impressive line across AA and AAA this season: 11-3, 2.11 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a 127:29 K:BB ratio.

AA

Hitter: Samir Duenez (Royals #6)

1B – Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Another Venezuelan prospect earns POTW honors coming out of the Texas League this week. Duenez had a couple of big games for the Naturals this week, showing off his potential as a 21-year-old who looks like a professional hitter. Duenez went 4-for-4 with 2 runs scored and a home run on August 2. Then, on August 6, he went 3-for-6 with 2 more home runs and 3 RBIs. He’s got an intriguing power/speed profile, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 9 bases on the season.

Pitcher: Michael Kopech (Prospects1500 overall #22, White Sox #5)

RHP – Birmingham Barons

Back-to-back POTW honors for this flamethrower. Kopech was brilliant again this week. He went 7 innings in both starts he pitched this week, allowing 8 hits, 1 earned run, only permitting 1 walk, and striking out 19 batters. Southern League hitters will be happy to see this guy go. There is a chance Kopech gets moved up to AAA Charlotte if Reynaldo Lopez gets called up for his White Sox pitching debut later this week. Kopech could be challenging for a starting rotation spot out of spring training next year, he’s been that good this season. 3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 145 Ks in 112 innings, and he’s still only 21.

A-Advanced

Hitter: Rod Boykin (Padres – unranked)

LF – Lake Elsinore Storm

A multi-tool athlete, Boykin had a stat stuffing week for the Storm in the California League. Boykin hit safely in 5 of 6 games, with 4 multi-hit efforts en route to a .434 batting average on the week. Boykin also flashed the kind of power/speed potential that makes fantasy owners drool. He hit 2 home runs and stole 3 bags on his way to scoring 7 runs on the week. He’s now got an .855 OPS to go with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases across all levels this season.

Pitcher: Caleb Ferguson (Dodgers – unranked)

LHP – Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

I had to really fight back my White Sox homer instincts this week, as Winston-Salem’s Dane Dunning and Alec Hansen were both fantastic this week. But I got rid of my bias, hopped on the straight talk express, and went with Caleb Ferguson who had a great week for the Quakes. Ferguson was unlucky in not earning a win in either of his dominant starts this week. He pitched a total of 13 innings, only allowing 3 earned runs, and striking out an impressive 21 batters. Ferguson now has his season ERA down to 2.82.

A-Full Season

Hitter: Bradley Keller (Braves – unranked)

LF – Rome Braves

This 2015 15th round draft pick had multi-hit efforts in 4 of the 5 games he played in this week, leading all of the minors in the past week with 29 total bases. Keller also hit 3 home runs this week, driving in 8 runs total. He hit for a .600 average and 1.450 slugging percentage on the week. He just got moved up to the Sally League from Rookie ball, and he’s posted an impressive .997 OPS on the season.

Pitcher: Chris Mathewson (Dodgers – unranked)

LHP – Great Lakes Loons

This lefty has a name evocative of one of baseball’s all-time greats, Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, and he pitched well this week to earn POTW honors. Mathewson made two starts for the Loons this week, racking up 15 strikeouts over 13 innings of work. Mathewson displayed excellent control as well, only walking 2 batters on the week.

A-Short Season

Hitter: Evan Mendoza (Cardinals – unranked)

3B – State College Spikes

2017’s 11th round draft pick is off to a roaring start in the New York-Penn League, bringing his batting average up to .373 on the season after another hot week. Mendoza batted .481 this week, with 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, and 6 runs scored. He hit safely in all 7 games this week. A nice late round find by the Cardinals organization.

Pitcher: Scooter Hightower (Pirates – unranked)

RHP – West Virginia Black Bears

Hightower impressed in a two-start performance for WV this week. While he failed to pick up a win in either outing, Scooter pitched 6 strong innings in each start. He also racked up a combined 13 strikeouts while only allowing 1 walk and 3 earned runs. His ERA is now down to 2.52 in 10 starts for the Black Bears this season.

Rookie

Hitter: Luis Bandes (Cardinals – unranked)

1B – Johnson City Cardinals

Followers of the POTW know how much we love our Venezuelan prospects, and Bandes was the top Venezuelan in the minors this week. Bandes torched Appy League pitching this week, recording 2 hits in each of the 5 games he played. Bandes also launched 4 home runs, drove in 9 runs, and ended the week with a 1.047 slugging percentage. He’s now hit 7 home runs in 32 Rookie-level games this season.

Pitcher: Jacob Schlesener (Cardinals – unranked)

LHP – Johnson City Cardinals

Schlesener rounds out a nice week of performances for Cardinals prospects. He got beat up in 0.2 innings of work in a start on August 1, but bounced back to earn POTW honors with a dominant outing on August 5 against the Princeton Rays. Schlesinger threw a gem, tossing 6 innings of hitless baseball and striking out a career high 13 batters. 2017 is his 3rd season in Rookie ball, but he seems to be figuring things out as he’s posted a 2.67 ERA in 8 starts for Johnson City.

 

Article featured image of Caleb Ferguson (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) – courtesy BaseballCensus.com

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