Each week we pick the hitting prospect and pitching prospect 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.
Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, #2
Flaherty has been buzzing ever since he took over Spring Training for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. A popular pick to stay in the rotation, Flaherty was sent down to AAA and has done nothing but shut down opposing lineups ever since. This week was no different as he was able to limit the Omaha Storm Chasers to 4 total baserunners over 7 IP with 6 K.
It may be another one of those situations where I am unable to write about this stud again. The fact that Adam Wainwright just hit the DL means Flaherty is, again, creating some chatter amongst prospectors. Jack Flaherty is a prospect of the week, not only for his performance but because murmurs of his call-up are imminent. He should be on everyone’s radars right now, and this performance only adds to the prowess.
Oscar Mercado, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, #18
Oscar Mercado was able to show off a ton of tools this week for the Memphis Redbirds. He is young for the level at 23-years-old and impressed by mashing 2 HR and accumulating 5 SB. Also on display was some excellent plate discipline as he took 5 BB on the week. Mercado is an overlooked piece in the Cardinals system that could see himself gathering hype if the plate discipline and power start to improve.
During the Arizona Fall League, he showed these same skills with a BB:K ratio of 14:18 and 6 SB without being caught. The power was there for him this week so let’s see if he can continue this throughout the season.
Dennis Santana, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, #10
Dennis Santana may seem like an odd pick because he only made one start last week and went 4.1 innings. However, those innings were majestic as he struck out 10 of the 16 batters he faced. He was also able to control the zone by throwing 48 of 73 pitches for strikes. The hitter-turned-pitcher has never shown command since making the conversion, but this year is different.
Santana only has 3 walks so far with a Strike% of 65%. Showing more command to go along with some already devastating strikeout stuff could lead this 22-year-old into a relief role at some point this season. Even if he stays in the minors all year, the development should be very intriguing to follow.
Myles Straw, OF, Houston Astros, #14
Corpus Christi Hooks
The speed demon, Myles Straw, went crazy for the Hooks this week as he hit .450 with 4 BB and 4 K. On the season he now boasts a BB:K of 14:10, which has always been one of his most significant assets. Combining the OBP skills with elite speed is rarely seen throughout the minors and majors. Straw can do both as he showed the past 7 days with 3 steals and a triple on his resume.
I am very interested to see how he progresses throughout the season since he has shown zero power to date. He had 1 home run in both 2016 and 2017, and it still yet to go yard to start. However, the approach and speed should not go ignored as it is a skill set hard to find at any level.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics, #6
Recently Promoted to Midland Rockhounds
Everything about this kid screams stud. The most significant point of the award this week is the 20-year-old hurler’s promotion to AA. The move came on the back of 5 innings of no-hit ball that included only 1 BB and 9 K. He has been nothing short of phenomenal this year. This start was the coup de gras on a year where he has only allowed 2 runs and 10 baserunners in 14.2 IP.
The breaking pitch has looked incredibly filthy, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses at the higher levels. Luzardo is showing everyone exactly why he was a Top 100 prospect before Tommy John with his two breakers and the fastball working together at a near-peak.
Buddy Reed, OF, San Diego Padres, #48
Lake Elsinore Storm
My prospect crush on Buddy Reed began during this offseason’s Australian League play. Reed was able to hit .326 with 10 HR in 31 G while stealing 5 bases and accumulating 12 other XBH. It was a beast of a performance. However, his stateside stats have not looked nearly as promising as what he showed “down undah.” Until this week, when he hit .625 with 4 HR, 5 2B, and 15 hits in 5 games. The plate discipline still looks terrible so this performance plus his Aussie debut are not enough to catapult him onto any top lists.
Also, he is a bit older for his age, but the athleticism is off the charts. When he barrels the ball, it’s going a long way, and as a switch-hitter, there is a ceiling where he is without a platoon. Keep an eye on Buddy Reed this year as this week’s performance shows why he is so exciting and disappointing at the same time.
Kade McClure, SP, Chicago White Sox, #44
The White Sox 2017 draftee is a massive human being. Listed at 6’7″/230 lbs., this imposing figure was able to make 2 starts this week with 13.1 IP, 15 K, 2 W, and 1 HR allowed in the 7th inning on his 3rd time through the order. The beginning of the season has been impressive for the 22-year-old who only pitched in relief during his debut in 2017.
The 2018 season could be a fast-mover for this big-bodied youngster. Last year he was capped at 130 IP and given his success so far this season, we could see him surpass 150-160 IP in preparation for a big league promotion next year. He has not shown any reason to doubt the ability coming out of a big school, Louisville, that played in the CWS last season. I am looking forward to him building off this studly week throughout the year and at multiple levels.
Cal Mitchell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, #15
West Virginia Power
The 19-year-old, 2nd round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates has shown no signs of struggle being promoted to A-ball this season. Last week he had a steal, a homer, 3 2B, and hit for a whopping .437 AVG. So far he has outperformed his Game Power grades given by Fangraphs and some other sites by putting up 3 HR in 17 G in 2018.
His current 20/45 grade gives him room to improve, but his 50/55 Raw Power grade may be what shows more this season. Given the power uptick already, with 5 more XBH last week, Mitchell should be rising up ranks quickly. He is only 19 with an aggressive, yet controlled, approach with all-around tools that can continue to grow with his body. Nothing is off the charts for this solid-bodied teenager, but everything can progress into something special like what we saw from him in this sample.
Featured Image Credit: Dustin Nosler (Flickr)
Paul Martin graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in Political Science and American Studies. After college the drive to become a baseball writer became real when Lenny Melnick asked for a podcast substitute. Ever since late-2017, Paul has been providing content for LennyMelnickFantasySports.com, Razzball, Pitcher List, and now Prospects1500. Living in the Connecticut area there are plenty of options for minor league coverage with the closest team being the Hartford Yard Goats. This die-hard Yankees fan has transitioned into a well-rounded cover of all things fantasy baseball and prospects.