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.
Hitter: Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees #1
3B – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Gleyber Torres started 6 games last week and had multi-hit efforts in 4 of those appearances. Torres is starting to play at 3B for the first time since his injury. It seems the Yankees are willing to do anything to get him into a struggling big league lineup.
The spark is there in the kid who is starting off the year with a .389 average and four extra-base hits. Call-up time is nigh with Gleyber, and he is tearing through AAA to get to where he deserves. There were plenty of options to give this award to but Torres being close to the majors makes me think this is the only opportunity I will get to put him in this piece for 2018.
He is doing everything we want to see and making extremely hard contact right now.
Pitcher: Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers #14
SP – Colorado Springs Sky Sox
Peralta is starting off the PCL season hot as ever. This week he made two starts and only gave up a few solid pieces of contact including doubles to Major League hitter Tommy Joseph and future stud Willie Calhoun. Other than that, Peralta struck out 14 batters over 11 innings.
He is young for his level, turning 22 on June 4th, and has some nasty strikeout stuff despite being undersized and sitting around 91-92 with the fastball. He shows an ability to get tons of whiffs and is continuing to show that skill this year as he did piling up 169 K in only 120 innings last season.
The PCL should provide him with a challenge due to the hitter’s nature of the league. However, if Peralta can keep up his hot start, he could be used as a relief option or even a starter in the Brewers desolate rotation. It’s getting hard to ignore the legitimacy of the repertoire.
Hitter: Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres #16
1B – San Antonio Missions
My mentions on Twitter have been blowing up to add Josh Naylor into this piece. There was nobody else that came close to his performance last week. Gathering 10 hits in 24 at-bats, 4 of which were bombs, also stealing a base and walking 4 times, Naylor was an absolute animal. The big boy has been in the front of everyone’s minds since the video of his triple went viral last season.
He is an entertaining player to watch and can mash with the best of them. He is lighting up AA to start the year and is still only 21-years-old. The raw power is unreal, and the speed is surprising which could turn into some slick baserunning ability in the bigs without a substantial stolen base ceiling. The approach is attractive in this big-bodied slugger as he does not strike out as much as you would think out of a young, raw power type of player.
So far that skill has continued to start 2018 as he has more walks than strikeouts in the early-going.
Editor’s Note: Check out Baseball Census for some nice videos and writeup on Naylor from mid-summer last year
Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians #5
SP – Akron RubberDucks
Bieber was dominant again in his start against the Binghamton Rumple Ponies this week. I already wrote about his fantastic command in the first piece of the season. That skill was on display again this week as he walked another total of 0 batters and allowed only 3 singles in the game. Peter Alonso, who is also red-hot to start, was able to tag Bieber for a double for his first extra-base hit allowed all season.
His stuff has looked unbelievable so far, and he was able to strikeout another 8 batters bringing his total up to 17 in 13 innings. This number is a far cry from his decent, but not dominating, strikeout ability shown in 2017. Shane Bieber should be shooting up prospect lists by the time mid-season rolls around.
Hitter: Khalil Lee, Kansas City Royals #1
OF – Wilmington Blue Rocks
Here is the second week in a row we find a Royals prospect on this list. The tooled up stud was able to mash 6 hits in 5 games while walking 4 times and stealing 2 bases. He showcased all of his talents by going deep and ripping 2 doubles, including one off Billy Strode who was able to achieve four strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work that same night.
Swing and miss is still a big part of Lee’s game so, along with Seuly Matias, I will be watching this season to see if the approach begins to match the tools. Either way, Lee displayed the massive ceiling this week while striking out 7 times in those 5 games.
Pitcher: Dane Dunning, Chicago White Sox #6
SP – Winston-Salem Dash
Dunning had a phenomenal start this week against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, posting a ratio of 8 strikeouts to 3 baserunners over the course of 6.1 IP. He has been nothing less than stellar since being drafted in the first round out of Florida.Everything is there for Dunning who threw 62 out of 92 pitches for strikes in this start.
The command combined with strikeout stuff makes his groundball rates and ability to force weak contact even stronger. Limiting baserunners will be a strong skill for Dunning moving forward, and he had it all working for him this week.
I expect his name to come up in this piece multiple times this year at all different levels. The 23-year-old who threw 118 innings in A+ last year should only need a few starts before he makes the jump.
Hitter: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals #2
OF – Hagerstown Suns
Oh boy. Juan Soto had himself quite the week. He didn’t do much other than getting on base 64% of the time while smashing 2 bombs and 3 other extra-base hits. Soto was able to draw 6 walks with only 2 strikeouts which gave him an incredible OBP for the week and displayed one of his best tools.
The approach is impressive with this 19-year-old. Injuries plagued his career thus far, but the numbers are what suggest the talent is exceptional. He tallied an RBI in every game except 2 on this short season and picked up 12 in the last week. Soto leads a top-heavy class of young Nationals prospects waiting to replace or play, with Bryce Harper at some point.
Pitcher: Tommy Romero, Seattle Mariners #42
SP – Clinton LumberKings
Romero is a younger college arm out of Eastern Florida State who has done nothing but impress since his debut. The 20-year-old was impressive last year in the Arizona Rookie League as mentioned in his blurb as the 42nd prospect in the Mariners weak system.
Going back to the college numbers, Romero accrued fantastic strikeout numbers. Achieving 136 Ks to only 14 walks in 88 innings, he has continued that command in the pros. Romero’s start this week was stunning. Facing a tough Cedar Rapids lineup that includes Royce Lewis, Akil Baddoo, and Alex Kiriloff, Tommy was able to strike out 8 while allowing only 3 baserunners through 6 innings. He threw 60 out of 83 pitches for strikes showcasing that spectacular command.
His sample in this start is enough to generate some buzz when combined with his past success.
Featured Image Credit: Baseball Census