Prospects of the Week: September 12 – September 18

Connor Norby, Aberdeen Ironbirds, June 23, 2022. Photo credit Zele Photography, @zelephotography 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.

Triple-A

HITTER: Jordan Westburg, 3B (Orioles #6)
Norfolk Tides (6 G, .429/.484/.857/1.341, 12 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 3 BB, 2 SB)
Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson were the 1st and 42nd overall picks in the 2019 draft and have already paid dividends for the Orioles this year. Jordan Westburg was drafted the following year as the 30th overall pick and doesn’t look to be far from joining them in Baltimore. The 23-year-old Westburg started the year off in AA before being promoted to AAA Norfolk and lowering his K% from 27.3% to 22%. Listed at 6’3 205, Westburg has hit consistently all year and is an extremely projectable right handed bat. All he did this past week was hit .429 in 28 at bats adding 3 doubles, 3 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases while helping Norfolk go 5-1. (@Prospect_Tilt)

Honorable Mentions:
Esteury Ruiz, OF (Brewers, Padres #3)
Nashville Sounds (6 G, .478/.556/.696/1.252, 11 H, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 9 SB)
That is not a typo, nine stolen bases in one week! Five were in one game! That brings his total to 80 on the year. That is the kind of speed that should make dynasty owners drool.
Dairon Blanco, IF (Royals NR)
Omaha Storm Chasers (5 G, .545/.583/.909/1.492, 12 H, 5 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, BB, 2 SB)
Corey Joyce, IF (Tigers NR)
Toledo Mud Hens (5 G, .692/.789/1.308/2.097, 9 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 5 BB, SB)
International League Player of the Week!
Michael Busch, 2B (Dodgers #4)
Oklahoma City Dodgers (6 G, .360/.407/.720/1.127, 9 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 2 BB)

PITCHER: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (Twins #4)
St. Paul Saints (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K)
SWR is knocking on the door in Minnesota after having a really solid season across the highest levels of the minors. His K/9 dropped a bit this year to just under 10, but more importantly so did his BB/9 (5.74 in ’21, 3.02 in “22). He is not likely to ever be a huge strikeout guy which limits his dynasty ceiling, but I think he could be a really good middle-of-the-rotation guy. He possesses a really good four-pitch mix that can limit hard contact, and with the improvements he made this year, he is looking like he will command that arsenal well.

Honorable Mentions:
Jay Groome, LHP (Padres, Red Sox #7)
El Paso Chihuahuas (1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K)
Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week!
Tim Herrin, LHP (Guardians NR)
Columbus Clippers (2 G, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K)
Austin Cox, LHP (Royals #26)
Omaha Storm Chasers (1 GS, 7 IP, 5 H, R, 0 BB, 3 K)
Caleb Boushley, RHP (Brewers #37)
Nashville Sounds (1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K)

Double-A

HITTER: Thomas Saggese, SS (Rangers #31)
Frisco RoughRiders (5 G, .381/.409/.857/1.266, 8 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, HR, 9 RBI, 5 R, BB, SB)
Texas League Player of the Week!
Have yourself a debut in AA Frisco! In 5 games, the 2020 5th round selection has slashed .381/.409/.857 with 9 RBI to boot. Having just turned 20 years of age in April, Saggese will likely start next season at Frisco as well and is positioning himself as another really nice piece in the Rangers’ much-improved farm system. (@byrontx)

Honorable Mentions:
Connor Norby, 2B (Orioles #11)
Bowie Baysox (6 G, .350/.552/.750/1.302, 7 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R, 8 BB)
Matt McLain, 2B (Reds #3)
Chattanooga Lookouts (6 G, .286/.516/.667/1.183, 6 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 10 BB, 3 SB)
Evan Carter, OF (Rangers #7)
Frisco RoughRiders (6 G, .429/.536/.714/1.250, 9 H, 3 2B, HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 5 BB, 2 SB)


David Hamilton, SS (Red Sox #28)
Portland Sea Dogs (5 G, .455/.478/.500/.978, 10 H, 2B, 2 RBI, 5 R, BB, 4 SB)

PITCHER: Gordon Graceffo, RHP (Cardinals #10)
Springfield Cardinals (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K)
Texas League Pitcher of the Week!
With Springfield being eliminated from playoff contention, last Thursday night’s outing against Tulsa was likely Graceffo’s last for the year. And did he ever finish with an exclamation point. He retired the first seventeen Drillers he faced and took a perfect game into the sixth inning. He finished the night only allowing one hit and matching his season high in strikeouts with nine. In one season Graceffo has gone from a virtually unknown pitcher to someone who could be a serious contender for a roster spot with St. Louis out of spring. He has made a believer out of me.

Honorable Mentions:
Brett Kerry, RHP (Angels #38)
Rocket City Trash Pandas (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K)
Southern League Pitcher of the Week!
Wilmer Flores, RHP (Tigers #17)
Erie SeaWolves (1  GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K)
Eastern League Pitcher of the Week!
Andrew Abbott, LHP (Reds #5)
Chattanooga Lookouts (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K)
Mason Montgomery, LHP (Rays #16)
Montgomery Biscuits (1 GS, 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K)

High-A Playoffs

HITTER: Dasan Brown, OF (Blue Jays #31)
Vancouver Canadians (3 G, .467/.500/1.200/1.700, 7 H, 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, BB, 2 SB)
The speedy center fielder came off of a good regular season across both levels of A ball where he hit .283/.383/.420 with 28 XBH and 24 stolen bases. He carried that success over into the Northwest League Divisional Series. In three games he hit three home runs, scored four runs, and drove in four more. His speed on the bases and in centerfield is legit and if he adds more pop it could be a game changer. He will need to improve his discipline at the plate as he climbs the ladder or more advanced pitching could expose him.

Honorable Mentions:
Johan Lopez, IF (Rays NR)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (4 G, .467/.500/1.067/1.567, 7 H, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, SB)
Yordys Valdes, 2B (Guardians NR)
Lake County Captains (4 G, .529/.529/.882/1.411, 9 H, 4 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 5 R)
Jose Peroza, 2B (Mets #33)
Brooklyn Cyclones (3 G, .500/.583/1.100/1.683, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB)
Luis Toribio, 1B (Giants #47)
Eugene Emeralds (3 G, .333/.385/.750/1.135, 4 H, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, BB)

PITCHER: David Festa, RHP (Twins #27)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K)
The South Bend Cubs took the Midwest League Divisional Series from the Kernels two games to one but Festa did his best in game one to control the series. He stifled a really good Cubs lineup for 6 innings giving up only two weakly hit singles while striking out ten. He left with the lead, but the Kernels were not able to hold on late. That outing put a wrap on a very solid season for the former 13th round draft pick out of Seaton Hall. Get him on your radar heading into the offseason.

Honorable Mentions:
Daniel Palencia, RHP (Cubs #22)
South Bend Cubs (1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K)
Logan Workman, RHP (Rays NR)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (2 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K)
Tommy Mace, RHP (Guardians #32)
Lake County Captains (1 GS, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K)
Luis Moreno, RHP (Mets NR)
Brooklyn Cyclones (1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 7 K)

Single-A Playoffs

HITTER: Jackson Merrill, SS (Padres #10)
Lake Elsinore Storm (3 G, .692/.733/1.00/1.733, 9 H, 4 2B, 7 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 SB)
Merrill topped off his week with a 4 hit performance that encapsulates the potential that the former first-round draft pick has. His hit tool was on full display, showing great power to the opposite field and doing it off both lefties and righties. With the departure of nearly all the top prospects in San Diego, Merrill is making a strong case to be the organization’s top prospect heading into the 2023 season (@Alex_W_Sanchez)

Honorable Mentions:
Griffin Doersching, 1B (Padres NR)
Lake Elsinore Storm (3 G, .538/.571/1.077/1.648, 7 H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, BB)
Ben Ross, OF (Twins NR)
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (3 G, .500/.583/.900/1.483, 5 H, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, SB)
Yanquiel Fernandez, OF (Rockies #17)
Fresno Grizzlies (3 G, .533/.533/.733/1.266, 8 H, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R)
Willy Vasquez, 2B (Rays #26)
Charleston River Dogs (3 G, .545/.615/818/1.433, 6 H, HR, 56 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB)

PITCHER: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (Nationals #9)
Fredericksburg Nationals (1 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K)
Rutledge pitched eight shutout innings during his playoff start this week, collecting six strikeouts en route to a win. The former first-rounder has struggled to get off the ground as a pro, but he took some positive steps forward in 2022. If he can start limiting runs as well as he did this past week on a consistent basis, he could be a fast riser in 2023. (@douglasotto)

Honorable Mentions:
Joel Diaz, RHP (Mets #10)
St. Lucie Mets (1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 11 K)
Ryan Webb, LHP (Guardians NR)
Lynchburg Hillcats (1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K)
Tink Hence, RHP (Cardinals #8)
Palm Beach Cardinals (1 GS, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K)
Lazaro Estrada, RHP (Blue Jays NR)
Dunedin Blue Jays (1 GS, 4 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)

Jeremy covers the Oakland organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, as a lifelong baseball fan he is passionate about the game from Little League to the Big Leagues. 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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