Prospects of the Week: May 15 – May 21

Luis Lara, Carolina Mudcats, May 2023. Photo credit Dan Victor, @slydanno70 on Twitter

Each week during the Minor League Baseball season we pick the hitting and pitching prospects from each level (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Single-A) who, in our opinion, had the best week. The team awards the Prospects of the Week hitters and pitchers for each level, while also presenting other names at each level that are just as deserving of POTW honors. Feel free to reply in the comments with any player who deserves to be mentioned that may not have made our cut.

Any issues with this week’s POTW? Did we miss anyone deserving? Hit us up and set us straight! As always, tweet us @Prospects1500 when you see a great performance that warrants consideration for Prospect of the Week. Enjoy, and make sure you’re keeping an eye out for these prospects in your dynasty leagues.


HITTER: Drew Waters, OF (Royals NR)
Omaha Storm Chasers (6 G, .423/.500/.923/1.423, 11 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 2 SB)
With an oblique injury that foiled his chances at an opening day roster spot, Waters has returned after a setback and has begun laying waste to Triple-A pitching. This should surprise no one, and with Royals CF production flailing (a 35 wRC+, folks!), Waters should get the call to Kansas City in about 45 minutes. (@adamhalpin)

Honorable Mentions:
Estevan Florial, OF (Yankees #18)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (5 G, .429/.556/1.143/1.699, 9 H, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 6 BB, SB)
Zach DeLoach, OF (Mariners #21)
Tacoma Rainiers (6 G, .500/.500/.708/1.208, 12 H, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R)
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B (Reds #9)
Louisville Bats (6 G, .435/.440/.783/1.223, 10 H, 5 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, BB)
Encarnacion-Strand is becoming a regular in these posts. Over his last 10 games he is hitting .329/.341/.646 with 6 homers. That does come with 25 k’s and only 2 walks but the offensive starved major league team needs that bat. One issue is where does he play in the majors. He’s been playing first and third pretty evenly. I saw him live last week and he made an amazing defensive play at first. The Reds need to figure out what to do to get him up. He is hot right now and has nothing left to prove in Louisville. (@darylhauck)

PITCHER: Evan McKendry, RHP (Rays NR)
Durham Bulls (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K)
For the second week in a row, Evan McKendry has rightfully earned recognition as Triple-A Pitcher of the Week. McKendry was dominant in his most recent outing, hurling six scoreless innings and a season-high 8 strikeouts. He is now riding a 19.1 scoreless innings pitched streak and has really turned up the heat in May, allowing a minuscule .117 BAA across his three appearances this month. McKendry has continued to perform at a high level for Triple-A Durham over his last several outings, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make his major league debut this season if he can keep the momentum going. (@GatorSosa)

Honorable Mentions:
Reese Olson, RHP (Tigers #10)
Toledo Mud Hens (1 GS, 5 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K)
After breaking the Double-A Erie strikeout record (168 K) in 2022, Olson has found the hitters in the International League to be more difficult to sit down to start this season. Reese had a great start this week, K’ing 9 in 5 IP vs Omaha; something to build momentum off of. (@DET_Guru_Kurt)
Bobby Miller, RHP (Dodgers #2)
Oklahoma City Dodgers (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 6 K – just promoted to the majors!)
Quinn Priester, RHP (Pirates #5)
Indianapolis Indians (2 GS, 12 IP, 10 H, R, 3 BB, 11 K)
Chase Lee, RHP (Rangers #40)
Round Rock Express (3 G, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, SV)
Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week!


HITTER: Colt Keith, 3B (Tigers #5)
Erie SeaWolves (6 G, .520/.600/1.160/1.760, 13 H, 2 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB)
Eastern League Player of the Week!
What hasn’t been said about Colt Keith, our #5 Tigers prospect entering the season? ‘Power’ ‘Strength’ ‘Command’ ‘Patience’ ‘Impressive’ ‘Consistent’. All apply to Keith’s week at the plate last week. A CYCLE with a 6-6 night against Harrisburg that included 2 HR’s and 7 RBI’s showed the baseball world how high the ceiling is on Keith. (@DET_Guru_Kurt)

Honorable Mentions:
Noelvi Marte, SS/3B (Reds #2)
Chattanooga Lookouts (6 G, .400/.464/.880/1.344, 10 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 3 BB, 2 SB)
Southern League Player of the Week!
Marte had himself a week. He started out the season pretty slowly, but in his last 10 games he is hitting .358/.419/.746 with 7 homers. What may be even more impressive is that came with 10 k’s and 6 walks For the season he is at .284/.369/.528 with 8 homers. Here is what is amazing about what he is doing. The league is hitting .224/.329/.375. It took him a minute but Marte seems to have figured out Double-A. After seeing the promotion of McLain and the imminent promotion of De La Cruz, Marte could be seeing a promotion to Triple-A soon. (@darylhauck)
Liover Peguero, SS (Pirates #6)
Altoona Curve (6 G, .462/.500/.885/1.385, 12 H, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 2 BB, 3 SB)
Jeferson Quero, C (Brewers #7)
Biloxi Shuckers (5 G, .318/.348/1.000/1.348, 7 H, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R, BB)
Mike Antico, OF (Cardinals #22)
Springfield Cardinals (6 G, .400/.500/.680/1.180, 10 H, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 5 BB, 6 SB)
The “Spring Birds” speedy centerfield had himself a week getting on base at a .500 clip and stealing 6 bases.

PITCHER: Julio Robaina, LHP (Astros NR)
Corpus Christi Hooks (1 GS, 6.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K)
Texas League Pitcher of the Week!
In by far his best outing of the year, Robaina dominated a really good Tulsa Drillers lineup last Wednesday night allowing only a single baserunner in his 6.1 innings of work. He set the tone right out of the gate with back-to-back-to-back strikeouts of Eddys Leonard, Jorbit Vivas, and Jose Ramos in the top of the first inning. Let’s see if he can build off this performance.

Honorable Mentions:
Wilfredo Pereira, RHP (Cardinals NR)
Springfield Cardinals (1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K)
The Northwest Arkansas lineup found hits tough to come by against Pereira last Saturday only mustering up singles in the first and third innings. He doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters, but if he continues to keep the walks down, he could carve out a nice bullpen role in the future.
Chad Dallas, RHP (Blue Jays #39)
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K)
Eastern League Pitcher of the Week!
In his Double-A debut it was more of the same from Dallas. His name is popping up with regularity in these articles. Time to get him on your watch list.
Jack Kochanowicz, RHP (Angels #39)
Rocket City Trash Pandas (1 GS, 9 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 5 K)
Jack Kochanowicz was stellar this past Saturday pitching a Maddox throwing only 88 pitches!! Kochanowicz sat 96-98 mph and terrorized the Barons with his slider! (@A_Rhodes77)
Emmet Sheehan, RHP (Dodgers #11)
Tulsa Drillers (1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K)
Anthony Molina, RHP (Rays NR)
Montgomery Biscuits (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Southern League Pitcher of the Week!


Jackson Holliday, SS (Orioles #3)
Aberdeen IronBirds (5 G, .619/.667/1.333/2.000, 13 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 9 R, 3 BB, 2 SB)
South Atlantic League Player of the Week!
The debate over GM Mike Elias choosing Jackson Holliday #1 overall in 2022 has gotten really quiet in 2023. Holliday has been electric thus far, already earning a promotion to Aberdeen where he has not slowed down at all, producing a slash like of .395/.513/.701 over 93 plate appearances. That line though, pales in comparison to the week Holliday had in Winston-Salem, where he was hotter than hot. Over the first 2 games of the series, Holliday went 8 for his first 9 with 6 runs, 2 doubles, 3 triples, a stolen base, a home run and 11 RBI. At this rate, it may not be long until Holliday forces his way to Double A Bowie, with his sights set on a debut in Baltimore before anyone could have projected. (@RyanJames5)

Gavin Cross, OF (Royals #1)
Quad Cities River Bandits (6 G, .375/.500/1.167/1.667, 9 H, 4 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R, 6 BB, 2 SB)
Midwest League Player of the Week!
My top Royals prospect heading into the season was Cross, who up until this past week has struggled mightily in his first exposure to High-A. He hit .180/.255/.311 with a 32.8%K rate over his first 31 games, good (bad) for a 61 wRC+. Technically he caught fire last Sunday, but for the purposes of our POTW article let’s say this past week, Cross appears to have turned a corner with this impressive power display. His wRC+ now sits at 109 for the season. (@adamhalpin)

Honorable Mentions:
Jordan Beck, OF (Rockies #16)
Spokane Indians (6 G, .429/.414/.929/1.343, 12 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 6 R)
Northwest League Player of the Week!
Yanquiel Fernandez, OF (Rockies #8)
Spokane Indians (6 G, .455/.586/1.000/1.586, 10 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 11 R, 7 BB)
Ryan Clifford, OF (Astros #12)
Asheville Tourists (6 G, .435/.440/.913/1.353, 10 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R, BB, SB)
Damon Keith, OF (Dodgers NR)
Great Lakes Loons (6 G, .375/.444/.875/1.319, 9 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB)

PITCHER: Jairo Iriarte, RHP (Padres #21)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 8 K)
Midwest League Pitcher of the Week!
With a 13.50 k/9 on the season, Iriarte has shown encouraging growth in 2023. His biggest obstacle is curtailing his walks, and this week he did just that, issuing only 1 free pass while striking out 8 in his appearance. With an interesting 3-pitch mix, Iriarte is making his case for one of the top pitching prospects in the system. (@Alex_W_Sanchez)

Honorable Mentions:
Ian Mejia, RHP (Braves NR)
Rome Braves (1 GS, 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K)
Julian Aguiar, RHP (Reds #35)
Dayton Dragons (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 6 K)
Julian Aguiar is a name to follow. The 2021 12th round draftee has gotten off to a hot start in High-A. He’s made 7 starts this year, totaling over 33 innings with a 1.62 ERA and an incredible 0.78 WHIP. He’s at 10.26 k/9 and is keeping his walks and homers to a minimum. He is a fastball, changeup, slider pitcher and can throw all 3 for strikes. He will most likely be available in any dynasty leagues you are in so he is a guy to keep an eye on. (@darylhauck)
Josh Stephan, RHP (Rangers #28)
Hickory Crawdads (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K)
Jean Pinto, RHP (Orioles #45)
Aberdeen IronBirds (2 GS, 8.1 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 15 K)
Leonardo Taveras, RHP (Cardinals NR)
Peoria Chiefs (2 G, 5.2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K)
The right-handed reliever continues to strikeout hitters at a high rate (2 per inning), but is limiting baserunners better in the early going (0.95 WHIP). That is a recipe for continued success. He had a Win and a Save this week.


HITTER: Ryan Ritter, SS (Rockies #41)
Fresno Grizzlies (6 G, .500/.536/1.000/1.536, 12 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB)
California League Player of the Week!
Fresno Grizzlies shortstop red hot Ryan Ritter reaked havoc facing the Modesto Nuts, slashing to a .500/.536/1.000 line. The 2022 4th round pick out of Kentucky, rapped out 12 hits, while walking 3 times in 6 games. Ritter continues to hit for power, clubbing 3 home runs along with 3 doubles. As of 5/21, Ritter is 3rd in the California League with 10 home runs. Known for glove work–Ritter earned the collegiate version of the Gold Glove in ’22–Ritter owns a whopping OPS of 1.069 in May. Our #41 ranked prospect, the 22 year-old is certainly a “riser” in the Rockies organization. (@100percent3G)

Honorable Mentions:
Chris Newell, OF (Dodgers NR)
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (6 G, .333/.379/.852/1.231, 9 H, 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 2 BB)
Chandler Simpson, IF (Rays #26)
Charleston RiverDogs (6 G, .409/.458/.455/.913, 9 H, 2B, 2 RBI, 7 R, 2 BB, 7 SB)
Bryan Rincon, SS (Phillies NR)
Clearwater Threshers (5 G, .421/.500/.789/1.289, 8 H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB)
Florida State League Player of the Week!
Carter Howell, OF (Giants NR)
San Jose Giants (5 G, .393/.393/.679/1.072, 11 H, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB)
Luis Lara, OF (Brewers #14)
Carolina Mudcats (7 G, .385/.500/.500/1.000, 10 H, HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, 4 SB)

PITCHER: Connor McCullough, RHP (White Sox NR)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K)
Carolina League Pitcher of the Week!
Signed for $50K as a undrafted free agent, Connor McCullough made history last week by throwing the first no-hitter in Kannapolis Cannon Ballers team history. His signing scout Torreon Woods shares, “He’s an even keeled guy, doesn’t get too high or too low on his accomplishments and failures and I believe that serves him well on the mound when facing a sense of adversity. He has a very competitive mindset with a will and drive to win. He’s the guy you want on the mound when you want to win a game.” So far, so good as McCullough has posted an ERA of 1.67 for the season. In 32 innings he’s allowed only 19 hits while striking out 39 and walking six. (@slydanno70)

Honorable Mentions:
Nolan DeVos, RHP (Astros #39)
Fayetteville Woodpeckers (1 GS, 6.1 IP, 2 H, R, 0 BB, 12 K)
Frank Mozzicato, LHP (Royals #6)
Columbia Fireflies (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K)
Seven starts into his age-20 season, the pride of East Catholic High School in Hartford continues to baffle A-ball hitters, carrying a 39% K rate, a sparkling 2.04 ERA (3.30 FIP, 3.24 xFIP) and .143 BAA. The walk rate’s at 15%, which will need to continue its trend downward, but both the tea leaves and my crystal ball are prognosticating a promotion by the time my kid graduates Kindergarten next month. (@adamhalpin)
J.P. Massey, RHP (Pirates NR)
Bradenton Marauders (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K)
Florida State League Pitcher of the Week!

Jeremy covers the St Louis organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, he is a lifelong fan of the Birds on the Bat. You can follow him on Twitter @JMahyfam for more baseball content.

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too." -Yogi Berra

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