Prospects of the Week: May 8 – May 14

Matt McLain, Louisville Bats, May 7, 2023. Photo credit Minda Haas Kuhlmann, @minda33 on Twitter, and @minda.haas on Instagram

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: Tyler Fitzgerald, SS (Giants #46)
Sacramento River Cats (6 G, .435/.536/1.043/1.579, 10 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 5 BB, 3 SB)
Pacific Coast League Player of the Week!
Fitzgerald started 2023 ranked as an intriguing prospect who had power, could steal a base, and was an above average defender in the middle infield, who could easily shoot up prospect rankings with the right development. It turns out that improving his BB% from a below average 7.1% to an above average 10.8% might be exactly the type of developmental improvement he needed in order to find himself in San Francisco this year. While the Giants may finally have found an excellent defensive quartet with Crawford, Estrada, Davis, and the addition of Casey Schmitt; Fitzgerald is still a player who can make an impact. If he can sustain this production for another month or two he may well turn out to be the 2022 version of Schmitt, a middle infielder from the lower ranks who breaks into the top tier of Giants prospects who the front office will have to fold into their future plans. (@LeyCastaway)

Honorable Mentions:
Matt McLain, SS/2B (Reds #6)
Louisville Bats (6 G, .429/.600/.952/1.552, 9 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 7 BB, 2 SB)
Matt “McShow” McLain is coming up everyone! He was off to an amazing start in AAA and was just confirmed to get called up to the Show. The Reds have seen enough of the disaster at short this season known as Barrero and Newman. Barrero, known more for his defense, has even struggled there, while hitting slightly better. Newman has just been a disaster. And now that the team is pseudo-competing in a winnable division, they are making the move. McLain was hitting .348/.474/.710 with 12 homers for a 193 wrc+. He had nothing left to show in AAA. He should provide solid defense at short as well. I saw him live on Saturday turn a great double play and his bat will provide some pop in the Reds lineup. (@darylhauck)
Elly De La Cruz, SS (Reds #1)
Louisville Bats (6 G, .350/.581/.900/1.481, 7 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 10 BB, 2 SB)
Elly may not be far behind. He is hitting .278/.369/.589 after his 1-21 start. His walk rate has started to climb lately as well now up to 11.7% while maintaining his k rate. The k rate is still a concern, but when he is making contact he is just destroying baseballs. The Reds could call up Elly, but with McLain now up they will have to figure out where all these guys will play. Elly was at third when I saw him on Saturday. I wasn’t able to see him really make a play, but the guy runs so smoothly and his strides are so long. I imagine he could play in the OF, but the Reds have yet to try him there. (@darylhauck)
Colton Cowser, OF (Orioles #4)
Norfolk Tides (6 G, .500/.613/.864/1.477, 11 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 8 BB, SB)
International League Player of the Week!
Ronny Mauricio, SS (Mets #3)
Syracuse Mets (6 G, .444/.483/.815/1.298, 12 H, 7 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB, 2 SB)

PITCHER: Evan McKendry, RHP (Rays NR)
Durham Bulls (1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K)
International League Pitcher of the Week!
McKendry spun a gem this week, working seven scoreless innings in Charlotte while only allowing two hits and walks, respectively. The strong outing, which included a stretch of retiring 15 straight hitters, follows a good performance last week, and he’s now gone 12.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. After pitching in a relief role for Durham in his first four outings this season, McKendry has started three of his last four appearances at the highest level of the Minors and looks to be building momentum towards being a potential contributor for the Major league club in the future. (@GatorSosa)

Honorable Mentions:
Ben Brown, RHP (Cubs #13)
Iowa Cubs (1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K)
Cody Bradford, LHP (Rangers #36)
Round Rock Express (1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K)
It has maybe gone under the radar just how good Bradford has been this year. Through 7 starts (39.2 IP), he is 5-1 with a 0.91 ERA & 0.86 WHIP. This is Bradford’s third POTW appearance already this year and likely his last as his next start will come today against the Braves in his MLB debut.
Anderson Espinoza, RHP (Padres #28)
El Paso Chihuahuas (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K)


HITTER: Yunior Severino, 3B (Twins #21)
Wichita Wind Surge (6 G, .500/.577/1.136/1.713, 11 H, 2 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB, SB)
Texas League Player of the Week!
Yunior Severino entered this season as a 23-year old with a ton of raw power, but also with an average hit tool. He got promoted to Double-A in 2022 and has followed that up with ten home runs already. This past week alone, he had eleven hits in six games, with seven of them going for extra bases. While he needs to work on keeping his strikeout rate down, Severino might be finally figuring things out. (@sportz_nutt51)

Honorable Mentions:
Cesar Prieto, SS (Orioles #23)
Bowie Baysox (5 G, .524/.545/.857/1.402, 11 H, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB)
Jose Peroza, 3B (Mets #38)
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (7 G, .407/.419/.926/1.345, 11 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 7 R, BB)
Eastern League Player of the Week!
Orelvis Martinez, SS (Blue Jays #2)
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (6 G, .304/.360/1.000/1.360, 7 H, 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, BB)
Ryan Bliss, SS (Diamondbacks #21)
Amarillo Sod Poodles (6 G, .500/.538/.917/1.455, 12 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 2 BB, 3 SB)

PITCHER: Bryan Woo, RHP (Mariners #12)
Arkansas Travelers (1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Texas League Pitcher of the Week!
Woo hasn’t seem phased by Double-A hitters in the hitter friendly Texas League so far. A 5.7% walk rate, 37.1% strikeout rate, and 15.8% line drive rate are all highly encouraging for a pitcher getting his first taste at the level. In last weeks start, he didn’t allow a base runner until the seventh inning and looked dominant against the Northwest Arkansas lineup. Seattle might soon have another stud for their rotation.

Honorable Mentions:
Tobias Myers, RHP (Brewers NR)
Biloxi Shuckers (1 GS, 6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K)
Southern League Pitcher of the Week!
Mike Vasil, RHP (Mets #12)
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (1 GS, 8 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Efrain Contreras, RHP (Padres #49)
San Antonio Missions (1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K)
Cade Povich, LHP (Orioles #18)
Bowie Baysox (1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K)
Eastern League Pitcher of the Week!
Ty Madden, RHP (Tigers #4)
Erie SeaWolves (1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K)


HITTER: Yanquiel Fernandez, OF (Rockies #8)
Spokane Indians (6 G, .538/.517/1.038/1.555, 14 H, 2 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 7 R, BB)
Northwest League Player of the Week!
Our #8 Rockies prospect Yanquiel Fernandez slugged his way to a monster week, slashing to the tune of .538/.517/1.038. The exciting 20-year old left-handed slugger belted 3 HR’s while driving in 12 runs. Fernandez’s stellar week, also consisted of hitting for the cycle on Friday May 11 vs. Hillsboro. (@100percent3G)

Honorable Mentions:
James Wood, OF (Nationals #1)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (7 G, .346/.433/7.69/1.202, 9 H, 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB)
South Atlantic League Player of the Week!
Justice Bigbie, 1B (Tigers NR)
West Michigan Whitecaps (7 G, .619/.680/1.095/1.775, 13 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB)
Midwest League Player of the Week!
Dalton Rushing, C (Dodgers #8)
Great Lakes Loons (6 G, .318/.467/.818/1.285, 7 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, SB)
Victor Bericoto, OF (Giants NR)
Eugene Emeralds (5 G, .409/.409/1.045/1.454, 9 H, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R)
Spencer Jones, OF (Yankees #6)
Hudson Valley Renegades (3 G, .571/.600/1.071/1.671, 8 H, 4 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, BB, 2 SB)

Hunter Riggins, RHP (Braves NR)
Rome Braves (1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week!
Recent results have been excellent for the solid-framed righty out of Delta State. He punched out 7 over 5 shutout innings against Asheville this week. In his last 4 outings (2 starts), he’s only allowed 1 ER, with a 15/3 K/BB ratio and 5 hits over 13.2 IP. (@MKelley_ND)
Trenton Wallace, LHP (Blue Jays #42)
Vancouver Canadians (1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Northwest League Pitcher of the Week!
The former Iowa Hawkeye is starting out 2023 at the same level that he finished at in 2022. While maintaining a solid strikeout rate (31.6%), he has lowered his walk rate significantly (4.2% versus 18% in 2022). His 4-1 record and 1.80 ERA are a reflection of the improvement. His last two starts have been particularly impressive (10 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K).
Honorable Mentions:
Alex Pham, RHP (Orioles NR)
Aberdeen IronBirds (1 GS, 5 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 11 K)
Gabriel Hughes, RHP (Rockies #5)
Spokane Indians (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K)
Edinson Batista, RHP (Astros NR)
Asheville Tourists (1 GS, 5 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K)
Andry Lara, RHP (Nationals #13)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K)


HITTER: Otto Kemp, 3B (Phillies NR)
Clearwater Threshers (5 G, .417/.440/.917/1.357, 10 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, BB, 2 SB)
Florida State League Player of the Week!
Kemp, an “old for the level” 23-year-old infielder had quite the week and drastically improved his season numbers in the process. He raised his average 50 points, increased his HR total from one to four, and doubled his RBI total. He is not a prospect to get overly excited about, but deserves credit this week all the same.

Honorable Mentions:
Abimelec Ortiz, OF (Rangers NR)
Down East Wood Ducks (4 G, .400/.526/1.200/1.726, 6 H, 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 4 BB)
David McCabe, 3B (Braves #21)
Augusta GreenJackets (4 G, .440/.500/.720/1.220, 11 H, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB)
Thomas Gavello, C (Giants NR)
San Jose Giants (5 G, .467/.652/1.200/1.852, 7 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB)
California League Player of the Week!
Nate Furman, 2B (Guardians NR)
Lynchburg Hillcats (6 G, .500/.655/.500/1.155, 9 H, 3 RBI, 7 R, 8 BB, 8 SB)

PITCHER: Parker Messick, LHP (Guardians #19)
Lynchburg Hillcats (1 GS, 7 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Carolina League Pitcher of the Week!
Messick, an advanced college pitcher, is unsurprisingly shutting down Single-A hitters. This week he set a career high in IP and strikeouts and a career low in hits allowed. His challenge will come as he moves up the ladder and faces more advanced hitters. Guardians correspondent Sean Clancy (@Clancy1Sean) had this to say about Messick in his preseason Top-50, “Messick projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He hides the ball well in his wind-up and throws a devastating change-up. He fills the strike zone while also causing a lot of weak contact.”

Honorable Mentions:
Pete Hansen, LHP (Cardinals #20)
Palm Beach Cardinals (1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K)
The last of three straight lefties taken by the Cardinals atop last years draft has had success to start this season. Averaging over a strikeout per inning and posting a 1.19 WHIP.  When he is on his game, as he was this week against Jupiter, he limits hard contact and racks up the K’s.
Connor McCullough, RHP (White Sox NR)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Tyler Schweitzer, LHP (White Sox #33)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K)
In the 2022 MLB draft, Tyler Schweitzer was signing scout Justin Wechsler’s “gut feel” guy. At which time he shared, “He’s an upside left-hander, with four pitches, I think he’s a late bloomer, he’s starting to gain some strength. He’s just scratching the surface and he throws strikes. It’s going to be interesting when he gets information, data and analytics. I think he’s going to take off.” The early results have been excellent as Schweitzer has limited opposing hitters to a .192 batting average. Last week, his stellar start against Fayetteville produced an absurd 18 swinging strikes. The 22 YO possesses the ceiling of a backend starting pitcher. (@slydanno70)
Shane Murphy, LHP (White Sox NR)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K)
Cory Lewis, RHP (Twins NR)
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (1 GS, 5.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Florida State League Pitcher of the Week!
Lewis was the starter for Sunday’s 28 out no-hitter against Tampa.

Special Mention of the Week

Ceddanne Rafaela, OF (Red Sox #3)
Portland Sea Dogs (Saturday/Sunday, 4-7, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 SB)
How can you not be included in a Prospects of the Week column when you have 9 stolen bases? It should have been 10. Rafaela was credited with 7 swipes in Portland’s May 13th game, but then later the official scorer deemed one of them to be defensive indifference. Sox Nation has no doubt this exciting prospect will be roaming Worcester’s Polar Park outfield in short time, with an outside shot at seeing the majors later this season. (@Scotty_Ballgame)

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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