Ranking The 20 Hottest MLB Prospects | Hot Sheet (4/23/24) — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects - Baseball America (2024)

Baseball America’s Hot Sheet ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers how minor league players performed through April 22. Contributing this week were Baseball America staffers Josh Norris, Geoff Pontes, J.J. Cooper and Matt Eddy.

This simply recognizes how the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of theBaseball America Top 100 Prospects.

Why He’s Here: .357/.419/.929 (10-for-28), 8 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBIs, 3 BB, 8 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: The Columbus Clippers pitching staff was likely extremely pleased to know Martinez had left the building after this past week’s series. The Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect slugged five home runs over the course of the series and drove in 13 RBIs. The highlight of the week came on Wednesday when he hit a 469-foot go-ahead grand slam in the top of the 10th. Dating back to last week, Martinez has six home runs in his last seven games. He’s in the midst of a 15-game hitting streak and is hitting .333/.392/.681 through 18 games. (GP)

2. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Guardians

Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .400/.483/.880 (10-for-25), 8 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: Cleveland’s system is not typically littered with big boppers, so Manzardo might be just what the doctor ordered. The 2023 trade import from the Rays clubbed three home runs this past week, giving him four for the season and 10 in 39 games (not counting his performance in the Arizona Fall League) since changing organizations. He’s also continued to show his signature dose of patience at the plate, with nearly as many walks (12) as strikeouts (14) so far this season. (JN)

3. Ben Rice, C, Yankees

Team: Double-A Somerset (Eastern)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .375/.423/.917 (9-for-24), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: After a breakout season in 2023, Rice enters a “prove it” year. Entering Somerset’s home series with Hartford this week, Rice was 7-for-35 with 11 strikeouts to four walks over eight games. Those memories were left in the dust this week as Rice ran off four consecutive multi-hit games, homering in each contest. From Wednesday to Saturday, Rice scored seven times, drove in seven runs and reached base 11 times. Rice struggled with breaking balls and offspeed to open the year, but looks like he’s turned a corner this week. Rice brings solid plate skills with strength-driven power. (GP)

4. Caden Dana, RHP, Angels

Team: Double-A Rocket City (Southern)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.66, 13.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO, 1 HR

The Scoop: After just 11 starts in High-A in 2023, Dana jumped to Double-A Rocket City in 2024 and has had no trouble adjusting. The righthander drew the two-start slate this past week and dominated Pensacola on both occasions, finishing with a dozen strikeouts over 13.2 innings, including seven innings of two-hit shutout ball to conclude the series on Sunday. The second-youngest pitcher in Double-A (Padres prospect Robby Snelling has him by two days) pairs a mid-90s fastball with a filthy slider and has 19 strikeouts in 18.1 innings so far this season. (JN)

5. Johnathan Rodriguez, OF, Guardians

Team: Triple-A Columbus
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .370/.414/.778 (10-for-27), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Rodriguez has been one of the most consistent sluggers in the minors over the past few years. From the beginning of the 2022 season to now, his 59 home runs are eighth most in the minors (Hunter Goodman’s 76 home runs leads that list). When Rodriguez gets his arms extended, the ball flies. His profile is somewhat limited because he’s a corner outfielder whose value is based largely around his power, but the power is legit. (JC)

6. Jeral Perez, 2B, Dodgers

Team: Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .360/.467/.800 (9-for-25), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: If you read Dylan White’s weekly RoboScout article on Monday, then you already know about the arrow pointing up on Perez. He’s been one of the best ball-strikers in the minors in the early going, posting an average exit velocity of 91.2 mph, which is the same figure fellow Hot Sheeter Orelvis Martinez has produced so far this season. The power should come as no surprise, given that his 11 home runs in the Arizona Complex League in 2023 were tied with Rangers prospect Echedry Vargas for the most on the circuit. (JN)

7. Cam Collier, 3B, Reds

Team: High-A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .292/.346/.833 (7-for-24) 7 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO.

The Scoop: Last year, Collier showed an ability to hit the ball hard, but an inability to pull the ball in the air. His swing led to a lot of hard ground balls, which isn’t ideal for a power hitter. It’s early, but there are very encouraging signs that Collier is learning how to better drive the ball in the air to his pull side. He’s already matched his 2023 home run total, and that doesn’t count another home run he was robbed of by a great over-the-fence catch by Cedar Rapids’ Gabriel Gonzalez. Collier still has some less-than-ideal swings, but these are encouraging signs that Collier is figuring out how to more consistently tap into his power. (JC)

8. Gregory Barrios, SS, Brewers

Team: High-A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .722/.762/1.056 (13-for-18), 4 R, 6 2B, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Barrios led all minor league hitters with 13 hits and six doubles last week. It was an encouraging sign of growth for a player who scuffled mightily at Low-A Carolina last season as a teenager. The Brewers signed Barrios out of Venezuela in 2021 on the strength of his shortstop glove and line-drive bat. Those attributes have been on display in the early stages of the season in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. (ME)

9. Blade Tidwell, RHP, Mets

Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 3.00, 9 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: Tidwell played to his strengths in a pair of home appearances at Double-A versus Reading last week. In both he piggybacked with a rehabbing Max Kranick. Tidwell struck out 13 of 35 batters faced, walked four and didn’t allow a home run. In his first appearance last week, Tidwell generated 14 whiffs on his way to 10 strikeouts. He has consistently shown swing-and-miss stuff since the Mets drafted him out of Tennessee in the second round in 2022. (ME)

10. Addison Barger, SS, Blue Jays

Team: Triple-A Buffalo (International)
Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .364/.481/.818 (8-for-22), 5 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-0 SB

The Scoop: If the Blue Jays have any need for reinforcements in their infield, Buffalo’s current lineup offers a dynamic duo in the aforementioned Orelvis Martinez and Barger. The versatile Barger has seen time in right field and his native third base this season and has shown an excellent combination of plate skills and power in the early going. Last week in Columbus, Barger reached base in five out of six contests and reached base six times on Saturday and Sunday. Barger had six total extra-base hits in the series versus Columbus and is now slugging .586 on the season. (GP)

11. Frederick Bencosme, SS, Orioles

Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .391/.391/.783 (9-for-23), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: After a down year in 2023 at High-A Aberdeen, Bencosme has found Double-A Bowie much more to his liking. The biggest change in his game appears to be that he’s getting the ball in the air much more often. In 2023, Bencosme’s flyball rate was 31%. This year, in an obviously short sample, that mark is up to 41.3%. He doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard and his impact is almost exclusively to the pull side, but now his balls in play—in addition to being more evenly spread around the diamond—are going over infielders’ heads instead of into their gloves. He also has bunted for two hits this season. (JN)

12. Kevin Alcantara, OF, Cubs

Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .476/.500/.810 (10-for-21), 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Few prospects are as easy to dream on as Alcantara, a 6-foot-6 center fielder with plus power and speed. After a tough opening seven games that saw Alcantara go 0-for-26, the 21-year-old snapped out of his funk last week going 10-for-21. Alcantara collected hits in all five games he started, including three multi-hit games in the series against Montgomery. In Thursday’s game, Alcantara went 4-for-4 his first four-hit game in Double-A. Alcantara has shown big power and improving plate skills over the last few seasons. After a slow start, Alcantara looks to be headed in the right direction. (GP)

13. Tyler Black, 1B, Brewers

Team: Triple-A Nashville (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .304/.360/.739 (7-for-23), 5 R, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Not many minor league hitters reach base more often than Black. He carries a .414 on-base percentage through four pro seasons, and he has an exemplary 11-to-12 walk-to-strikeout ratio through 19 Triple-A games this season. Black has played second base and center field in the past but is strictly a corner infielder this season, with all but one start coming at first base or DH. (ME)

14. Heston Kjerstad, 1B, Orioles

Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .320/.414/.680 (8-for-25), 7 R, 3 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Kjerstad had another one of his big weeks thanks to a couple of big games. He had his third two-home run game of the young season this past week. Kjerstad just missed a fourth home run on a long fly ball that easily cleared the fence but fell a few feet foul of the left field foul pole. But he also managed to hit a 327-foot home run just over the low right field fence just a few feet inside the foul pole at 121 Financial Ballpark. Kjerstad’s frequency in using the opposite field is notable. If a righthander tries to work down and in on him, he’ll drop the bat head and yank a ball down the line, but otherwise he has an up-the-middle approach that leads to a lot of long fly balls to center and left field. He’s now expected to bring that approach to Baltimore, as the Orioles reportedly plan to recall Kjerstad on Tuesday. (JC)

15. Owen Murphy, RHP, Braves

Team: High-A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3.60, 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: Pitching in Asheville is never easy, but Murphy showed that you can succeed if you just keep hitters from ever making contact. He struck out the side in the first. Murphy gave up a solo homer to Cam Fisher to start the second, but then struck out the next three batters. He struck out the first batter of the third as well, which meant he’d picked up seven strikeouts in his first seven outs. Murphy slowed down on the whiff rate over the final half of his outing, but he once again looked largely unhittable. He’s posted a 40% strikeout rate so far this season, and has been one of the bright spots of the Braves’ farm system so far. (JC)

16. Carson Palmquist, LHP, Rockies

Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 HR

The Scoop: In a time when high-velocity throwers come with an expiration date, Carson Palmquist offers a different approach. He’s a sidearming lefthander that sits 91-93 mph on his fastball mixing a slider at 76-77 mph as his primary secondary. Palmquist has had a tremendous start to the season, as he’s one of nine qualified pitchers who’s yet to allow an earned run in 2024. In his start this week at Somerset, Palmquist was one half of arguably the best pitching dual of 2024. While Somerset’s starter Trystan Vrieling spun 7.2 hitless innings, Palmquist hung toe-to-toe, striking out 10 over six scoreless innings. Palmquist generated 13 swinging strikes primarily between his fastball and slider. Palmquist’s fastball has a release height of under four feet creating a flat vertical approach angle and a lot of deception for opposing batters. (GP)

17. Dylan Beavers, OF, Orioles

Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .444/.500/.889 (8-for-18), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Beavers went homerless in his first two series before erupting for two bombs and 16 total bases in a six-game set versus Altoona last week. The Orioles drafted the lefthanded-hitting outfielder out of California in the supplemental first round in 2022 and have helped him make higher quality contact. As a pro, Beavers has shown a balance of bat-to-ball skill, power, discipline and speed while rotating around the outfield positions and first base. Beavers appears to be straight out of Orioles central casting when it comes to drafting college outfielders. (ME)

18. Ricardo Cabrera, 3B, Reds

Team: Low-A Daytona (Florida State)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .500/.565/.800 (10-for-20), 7 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS.

The Scoop: Ricardo Cabrera can hit. Cabrera hit .350 in the Arizona Complex League. This year, he’s hitting .357 for Low-A Daytona. His .348 batting average in 2023-2024 is eighth best among MiLB hitters with 250+ plate appearances. He already has five multi-hit games in the 12 he’s played this year. Cabrera is being asked to focus almost full-time on third base this year (he has one game at shortstop so far), and his skill set seems better suited for that spot long term. He has good short-order quickness and a strong arm, but his semi-stocky frame projects better at third base than shortstop. (JC)

19. Victor Mesa Jr., OF, Marlins

Team: Triple-A Jacksonville (International)
Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .360/.407/.640 (9-for-25), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 0 SO

The Scoop: Slowly but surely, Mesa is grinding his way to the big leagues. The Cuban outfielder has been solid at the upper levels over the past two seasons and has a blend of skills that should one day help him reach Miami. This past week he made a ton of contact—he is the only hitter on this list without a strikeout on his ledger—and for the season he’s struck out just eight times in 65 plate appearances, good for a 12.3% mark. (JN)

20. Everson Pereira, OF, Yankees

Team: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (International)
Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .375/.412/1.000 (6-for-16), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After taking his lumps in the big leagues in 2023, Pereira has returned to Triple-A for more experience this season. So far, he’s making the grade. The outfielder already has six home runs in 2024, exactly one-third of the total he compiled a year ago. Pereira had just six hits this week, but he produced plenty of impact on contact given that five of those hits went for extra bases. (JN)


Winston Santos, RHP, Rangers

For years, Santos has been an intriguing piece of the Rangers’ system. He had an excellent fastball in the mid 90s, which is always a good start, but didn’t have a reliable offspeed as a complement. His breaking ball was especially lacking. Early this season, that no longer seems to be as much of an issue. Santos has changed the grip on his slider into a gyro version and has seen intriguing results. He struck out a dozen Greensboro hitters in his last start and showed a breaking ball that was far better than its previous iterations. His changeup worked at times as well. All three pitches in concert produced 17 swings and misses over the course of five innings. If he can continue sharpening his offspeeds throughout the summer, he should move up the system’s ranks. (JN)

Trystan Vrieling, RHP, Yankees

The best pitching performance of the season might belong to Vrieling, who pitched 7.2 no-hit innings against a talented Hartford lineup on Friday. The Yankees drafted the Gonzaga product in 2022, but he missed all of 2023 with an elbow fracture. Vrieling struggled in his return to the mound in the Arizona Fall League. This spring, Vrieling was a helium name on the backfields and was then aggressively assigned to Double-A Somerset despite zero affiliated innings. Over his first three starts Vrieling’s numbers speak for themselves. He’s 2-0 with a single earned run and five hits allowed over 18.2 innings. Vrieling has showed a solid four pitch mix, with a four-seam fastball at 92-94 mph, a mid-to-high-80s cutter, a gyro slider at 84-86 mph, a curveball and changeup. Vrieling’s rapid ascent hints at a early 2025 ETA. He’s showing starter traits and the early returns are excellent. (GP)

Ranking The 20 Hottest MLB Prospects | Hot Sheet (4/23/24) — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects - Baseball America (2024)
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