Each week we pick the hitting prospect and pitching prospects from each level (AAA, AA, A+, A, and later in the season Short Season-A and Rookie league) who, in our opinion, had the best week. We are always on the lookout for candidates, so tweet us (@Prospects1500 or @PaulTheMartin) when you see a great performance. Thanks to Keith Lott (@WeTlkFntsySprts) for providing MiLB statistics to assist in our determining the best hitting and pitching performances of the week.
Scott Greene (@Scotty_Ballgame) also presents one other option (or maybe more) for POTW at each level – both hitter and pitcher. That will give you Martin’s 8 picks in addition to Greene’s 8 alternate choices whom could be just as deserving.
Hitter: Kevin Cron, 1B (Arizona Diamondbacks, #29)
Reno Aces [6 G, .357/.357/.929, 10 H, 4 HR, 4 2B, 0:6 BB:K]
Cron needed this week for his season to get going. The brother of Tampa Bay Rays masher C.J. Cron has not been his usual, powerful self. Until this performance, he had one single home run on the year. Ever since the Diamondbacks drafted Cron, he has done nothing but hit for power including 25+ HR in each of his first three full seasons. Last year was a repetition of AA, which Cron utilized by cutting his K% and raising his BB% at the same time. This week was completely void of that plate discipline improvement, but it’s great to see 4 2B and 4 HR at the AAA level. His ISO is now up to a career-high in 106 PA with his lowest K% since his first taste of professional ball in 2014. He has consistently been above .200 ISO for his minor league career. This week he posted an ISO around .550 and was able to bring his season average back up to his norm. Kevin Cron‘s power is now back on the radar within the Diamondbacks system, and he could potentially see some at-bats in a major league lineup that has the least amount of runs scored in the NL West.
Kevin Cron…. BOMB pic.twitter.com/FO7hB9jtSr
— Reno Aces (@Aces) June 3, 2018
Greene’s AAA hitter: David Fletcher, SS (Los Angeles Angels, #12)
Salt Lake Bees [6 G, .423/.464/.692/1.157, 11 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2:2 BB:K]
Pitcher: Adam Plutko, RHP (Cleveland Indians, N/A)
Columbus Clippers [1 GS, 9 IP, NO HITTER, 8:1 K:BB, 9% SwStr%]
Plutko is stunning a lot of people this season. The past week was no different as he no-hit the Syracuse Chiefs. If that sentence isn’t crazy enough, this is coming after he already brought a no-hitter into the 7th inning against the MLB Chicago Cubs. He hasn’t made any drastic improvements in his game. No major pitch mix changes, no huge velocity bump, nothing out of the ordinary besides the performances for Plutko. It is fascinating to see him thriving in this way, perhaps with newfound sequencing or deception, something I haven’t seen to this point. Plutko is one to keep an eye on right now if only to see how he is doing what he is doing. Trying to figure out how he is decimating some lineups, without really improving on anything substantial, is driving me crazy. For now, we can enjoy the performances that he has given us this year.
— Corey Crisan (@cdcrisan) June 3, 2018
Greene’s AAA pitcher: Ryan Helsley, RHP (St. Louis Cardinals, #10)
Memphis Redbirds [2 GS, 1-0, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 13:5 K:BB, 2.79 ERA, 16% SwStr%]
Honorable mention: Blake Taylor, RHP (New York Mets, N/A)
Las Vegas 51s (AAA)/St. Luice Mets (A+) [2 GS, 1-0, 13 IP, 5 H, 13:8 K:BB, 0.69 ERA, 13% SwStr%]
Hitter: Braden Bishop, OF (Seattle Mariners, #4)
Arkansas Travelers [6 G, .516/.545/.903, 16 H, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2:2 BB:K]
It was a monster week from the Seattle Mariners prospect Bishop. He had 4 games in a row with 3 or more hits giving him a batting average of .516 over the last 7 days. Known mostly for his defense and baserunning abilities, he hasn’t been stealing much this season. This change in his game is slightly concerning, but showcasing the stick in this way will alleviate some doubts. This week, Bishop was able to replicate his 2017 season total for homers. The power addition to the hit tool he has shown in his professional career thus far is something that will only make his profile more coveted. Positive defense, speed on the basepaths, double-digit BB% with sub-20% K%, is now being partnered with some home runs. He is pulling the ball less this season too, so the power development seems more gap-to-gap, which makes sense with the plus hit tool he has been showing since his debut. Keep an eye on the University of Washington product as he could rise through the ranks and shock people with a call-up later in the year.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) May 30, 2018
Greene’s AA hitter: Richie Martin, SS (Oakland A’s, #22)
Midland Rockhounds [6 G, .545/.655/.909/1.564, 12 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 5:3 BB:K]
Pitcher: Lewis Thorpe, LHP (Minnesota Twins, #10)
Chattanooga Lookouts [2 GS, 1-0, 11 IP, 14:4 K:BB, 6 H, 19% SwStr%]
Austrailian left-handed prospect Thorpe is known for having upside with huge injury risk. He missed two full seasons with Tommy John surgery and mono. Coming back last season, Thorpe showed promise posting some big strikeout numbers and staying healthy for 16 starts. This year has been somewhat of a struggle for him to start, but Thorpe righted the ship in his last two outings. He was able to strike out 14 batters in 11 innings of work. One of the stats I love to tout is his swinging strike rate for the week, which was nearly 20%. Thorpe has always hovered around 15%, a solid number, but was able to get one out of every five swings to generate a strike in these two starts. He only walked 4 batters and allowed zero runs against a couple of decent lineups for the Mobile Baybears and, more notably, the Birmingham Barons. He gave up only 6 hits, and none were for extra bases. Hopefully, we get a full, healthy season for Lewis Thorpe in 2018 to see his true potential.
Greene’s AA pitcher: Logan Allen, LHP (San Diego Padres, #10) and Cal Quantrill (Padres, #1)
San Antonio Missions
[Allen – 1 GS, 1-0, 7 IP, 0 H, 7:5 K:BB, 0.00 ERA, 18% SWStr%] [Quantrill – 2 GS, 2-0, 12 IP, 8 H, 17:3 K:BB, 0.75 ERA, 15% SWStr%]
Jefry Rodriguez, RHP (Washington Nationals, #32)
Harrisburg Senators [1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 1 H, 9:3 K:BB, 0.00 ERA, 14% SwStr%]
Conor Lillis-White, LHP (Los Angeles Angels, N/A)
Mobile Baybears [2 G, 2-0, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 10:1 K:BB, 0.00 ERA, 27% SwStr%]
Hitter: Rylan Bannon, 3B (Los Angeles Dodgers, #34)
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes [7 G, .458/.581/1.042, 11 H, 4 HR, 2 2B, 7:6 BB:K]
Bannon is crushing baseballs this season. The 8th round pick from last year’s draft now has an ISO of .286 on the season and 24 HR in his first 93 G of professional baseball. Bannon is listed at 5’10″/180 lbs. on Fangraphs, but you would never know by scouting the numbers. On display has also been a superb BB% for a young player. This week alone he was able to take 7 BB while only striking out 6 times. The OBP is now almost back above .400 again as it was for him last season. The power has been phenomenal, and it’s coming along with a profile that shows a lot of upside in the approach. The 22-year-old Xavier product is impressive so far, and this week says all that needs to be said about a profile that does not get much notoriety. Bannon should be on many more watch lists than he is with the talent he is currently showing. If this profile continues to develop at the higher levels, he could even sneak into the back end of some Top 100s for the power and OBP ceiling. It’s bold for someone that we listed as the #34 prospect in the Dodgers system, but the skills have been undeniable.
Greene’s A+ hitter: Ibandel Isabel, 1B (Cincinnati Reds, N/A, was Dodgers #23)
Daytona Tortugas (4 G, .385/.500/1.538/2.038, 5 H, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3:3 BB:K)
Pitcher: Brian Howard, RHP (Oakland Athletics, N/A)
Stockton Ports [1 G, 1-0, 5.1 IP, 10:0 K:BB, 2 H, 16% SwStr%]
Howard is one of my favorite unknown prospects in baseball. The lanky, TCU product shows incredible command for a pitcher his size. None of the stuff is overpowering, but his size creates deception amongst a deep pitch repertoire. This mix has allowed him to blow by the lower levels of the minors including this week. Howard posted 10 K and 0 BB over 5.1 IP this week for the Stockton Ports. He was able to strike out 10 of the 18 batters he faced and allow soft contact all night. I am itching to see him move up some levels. It is time to see what his talent level truly is by facing AA/AAA hitters. Howard is an older prospect who had an extensive collegiate career, so it is odd to see him still making starts in A+. Continuing to roll through opposing lineups as he did this week has to speed up his timeline. This unknown prospect should be known, and loved, by you now. He is on my list for the pedigree, knowledge of the game, and command for a 6’8″ starter.
Greene’s AA pitchers: Sixto Sanchez, RHP (Philadelphia Phillies, #2) and Adonis Medina, RHP (Phillies, #14)
[Sanchez – 1 GS, 1-0, 7 IP, 2 H, 5:2 K:BB, 0.00 ERA, 12% SWStr%] [Medina – 1 GS, 1-0, 7 IP, 3 H, 6:1 K:BB, 0.00 ERA, 14% SWStr%]
Hitter: Vidal Brujan, 2B (Tampa Bay Rays, #48)
Bowling Green Hot Rods [7 G, .520/.600/.680, 13 H, HR, 2B, 4 SB, 5:2 BB:K]
Brujan hits and hits and hits and hits and runs, then sometimes hits some more. In fact, he is a switch-hitter who has shown much more development against RHP. This week it didn’t matter which hand the ball was coming out of because Brujan was getting on base no matter what. He was able to reach base 60% of the time in the 7 games he played and tallied 4 SB and a homer. The Tampa Bay Rays infield prospect now has 22 SB on the season with 26:28 BB:K that results in a .385 OBP. These are the youngsters that get me excited. Brujan is only 20-years-old yet has shown an incredible ability to put the bat on the ball, as well as take a walk. It is reminiscent of a Jose Ramirez, Jose Altuve, Luis Urias profile that includes speed, OBP, and fantastic barrel control. The upside is bright for this kid, and I will be watching the rest of the season to see if he can add any more tools to this already impressive profile.
Greene’s A hitter: Alex Kirilloff, OF (Minnesota Twins, #5)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (7 G, .433/.485/.833/1.318, 13 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3:5 BB:K)
Honorable mention: Ronaldo Hernandez, C (Tampa Bay Rays, #42)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (6 G, .458/.500/.875/1.375, 11 H, 2B, 3 HR, SB, 2:2 BB:K)
Pitcher: Elvin Rodriguez, RHP (Detroit Tigers, #46)
West Michigan Whitecaps [1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 12:0 K:BB, ER, 1.29 ERA, 23% SwStr]
The 20-year-old Tigers prospect has been on fire in his past 3 starts. This week was no different as he was able to silence the Daytona Dragons lineup that includes a streaking Henrik Clementina and top Reds draft picks, Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild. Not only did Rodriguez shut down a decent team, but he was also able to make them look foolish with 12 K, 0 BB, and a 23% SwStr%. The curveball was working during this start and that is when Rodriguez looks his best. The Tigers do have some bright spots as far as pitching prospects go, but being the #46 name in their system can be considered “unknown.” It is one of the weaker systems in the league. Rodriguez is displaying upside in these starts and should be rising the ranks with a continuation of this skills showcase. He is still very young and is only getting started for Detroit. The international signee was a “player to be named later” in the Justin Upton trade, but has much more upside than that moniker. I’m excited to see what this kid does as there have been glowing reports of his character and it’s always nice to see those kids succeed.
— KJC at the bat (@Tiger_Lifer) June 1, 2018
Greene’s A pitcher: Alex Fagalde, RHP (St. Louis Cardinals, N/A)
Peoria Chiefs [2 GS, 1-0, 13.2 IP, 6 H, 19:4 K:BB, 0.66 ERA, 13% SwStr%]
Featured image of Rylan Bannon – via BaseballCensus.com