Francisco Mejia (CLE, #2) – 14 for 26, 3 doubles, 5 HR, 1 SB. I’m going to pull a quote straight from Steve Givarz at Baseball Prospectus because I can’t summarize Mejia any better than he did. “Success [of catching prospects] can exist in two spectrums. You could be the all-star caliber defender and just hope to hit enough (ex. Reese McGuire), or you could be the all-star caliber hitter and just hope to be a capable enough defender (ex. Jorge Alfaro). Mejia has a chance to be both, which is frightening.” Mejia had back-to-back 2 HR games this week and is now hitting .363/.410/.616 on the year in 146 Double-A at bats.
Jorge Alfaro (PHI, #3) – 2 for 18, 8 K. Speaking of Alfaro, he’s now hitting .258/.289/.366 on the year with a 31.9 K% and just 2.0 BB%, which is just awful. I saw a report about Alfaro this week that said he was really struggling with low and away breaking balls. Pitchers recognized it (or had it scouted) and would throw them constantly with 2 strikes. His defense and receiving is also still an issue; he had a passed ball on Saturday that cost his team a run.
Tyler Mahle (CIN, #9) – 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K. I’m beginning to develop a little man crush on Tyler Mahle. He’s bumped the velocity up this year and it has led to a nice bump in K%. His command profile is one of the best in the minors. Big arsenal of average to above average pitches. Ceiling is probably limited to #3 pitcher due to the lack of a true “out” pitch, but I think his floor is incredibly solid. He now has a 1.54 ERA with 84:17 K:BB over 82 innings at AA.
Nick Gordon (MIN, #1) – 12 for 32, 4 XBH, 1 SB. Gordon’s profile is a very interesting one, because the type of player he projects to be varies pretty heavily depending on who you ask. Gordon has a great hit tool, great defensive capabilities, and plus speed, however actual base stealing abilities remains limited due to below average base running skills (only 4 steals this season). He has managed to hit extremely well so far at Double-A, hitting .309 with 27 XBH. His ISO has taken nearly a 100 point jump this season, his walk rate has increased, and he continues to make good contact (2.26% pop-up rate).
Triston McKenzie (CLE, #3) – 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. McKenzie’s stuff is not in question. He stands at 6’5”, has a 93-95 MPH FB, a plus curve that can change shape, and he repeats his delivery well, despite some effort to it. McKenzie’s limiting factor is his weight, which is frequently measured at 165 lbs, and includes incredibly skinny hips. It’s already affecting his ability to hold his fastball velocity over the course of his starts (has dropped as low as 88-89 in the 4th-5th inning in some starts), and we have yet to see how it will affect him with a year’s worth of innings. Nonetheless, McKenzie has looked really good so far with a 2.51 ERA, 84 K, and a 14.1 SwStr% over 64.2 IP this season.
Zack Granite (MIN, #22) – 16 for 33, 5 XBH, 3 SB. Granite has always been a favorite of Chris Mitchell’s KATOH system (2017 #55), thanks to top tier speed, good stolen base efficiency, great glove in center field, and low strikeout rates. His absolute lack of power may be a problem, though, enough to relegate him to a OF4/pinch runner role. But he uses all fields and could get on base enough to be a useful leadoff man. Granite has a .362 OBP and 10 SB in 38 games this season.
Mike Soroka (ATL, #4) – 2 starts, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K. Two magnificent starts for the 19-year-old this week, who dropped his season ERA to 2.45 in 69.2 IP. He has plus control and 3 pitches that flash plus with good command of all of them. His assignment to Double-A was an aggressive one, but he’s showing that he was ready for it. Soroka has easily moved into my Top 100 prospects after missing the cut at the start of the season.
Brendan Rodgers (COL, #1) – 14 for 33, 3 doubles, 3 HR. One scout who recently saw Rodgers said looks heavy footed at the plate and surviving on instinct and strength. That “instinct and strength” has powered Rodgers to a .397/.418/.701 line at High-A this season, so maybe it’s time if that heavy footedness is challenged at Double-A. I’m getting bored of writing him up. Rodgers has a 19 game hitting streak.
Bo Bichette (TOR, #9) – 11 for 29, 6 doubles. Bichette is another guy I’m getting bored of writing up every week. No reports of any mechanical changes to his swing, as there shouldn’t be. Bichette has 25 doubles already this year and his .462 OBP is best in all of the minors.
Michael Chavis (BOS, #10) – 10 for 32, 4 HR. Boston’s 2014 1st round pick has finally come into his own this season and has been a flat out monster. He’s hitting .340/.408/.685 on the year with 16 HR and a decent drop in K%. A promotion to Double-A is well deserved and coming sooner than later. You have to think Chavis will be talked about heavily at the trade deadline, as the Red Sox are convinced that Rafael Devers is their future at 3B. We all know how Dombrowski likes to dispense of top prospects.
Sixto Sanchez (PHI, #7) – 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Back from XST after missing a month with a stiff neck. Clearly felt as sharp as ever. He can hit 100 MPH with his fastball, hold velocity well into the later innings, and has a 90+ MPH Change with good movement (Jarrett Seidler at BP thought was a hard slider). The command is advanced for his age (still just 18). Sixto now has a 3.07 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 32:3 K:BB in 29.1 IP. He needs display durability this season, so let’s hope no for no more injuries.
Jesus Sanchez (TB, #7) – 12 for 27, 2 HR, 1 SB. In his first full season, the 19-year-old is showing why many pegged him as a favorite to have a breakout this year. Great raw power, good bat speed. His hit tool is developing much better/quicker than scouts thought it would, and he owns a .298/.354/.505 line.
Clint Frazier (NYY, #2) – 8 for 24, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 4 SB. Frazier has very quietly had a great year at Triple-A, posting a .263/.355/.507 line with 18 doubles, 11 HR, and 7 SB. His walk rate and strikeout rate are at career bests, and his batted ball profile looks very healthy. With how well the Yankees are doing, rumors have begun to swirl; which prospects are untouchable for the Yankees at the deadline? I think Gleyber Torres is the only one who is truly “untouchable” for the Yankees, but I think Frazier is as close as they come. From what I’ve heard, they’re excited about the thought of Frazier manning CF for many years.
Bryan Mata (BOS, #27) – 2 starts, 12 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K. Even as a Red Sox fan, Mata is a name that I had only recently heard. Signed out of Venezuela in 2016, Mata is creating quite the buzz around Red Sox camp. He stands at 6’3, very skinny, but very projectable also. FB sits 89-92 T93 with lots of movement, but should add a few ticks as he fills out. His curveball has shown promise, and he has a developing change to round out the arsenal. In regards to how quickly Mata will rise through Red Sox prospect ranks, I’ve heard “Espinoza 2.0.” Red Sox director of scouting Ian Cundall says that “His combo of physical projection & potential stuff is unmatched by any RHP in the system.” High risk, low floor prospect, but a very intriguing one. Hopefully Dombrowski lets him stay around awhile.
Jack Flaherty (STL, #5) – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. This was Flaherty’s just 2nd start in Triple-A, and he now has a 1.43 ERA between two levels this season with a 75:14 K:BB. The strikeouts have increased this season, the walks have decreased, and he’s seeing terrific results because of it. Flaherty has a full 4-pitch arsenal and has officially, in my mind, surpassed Luke Weaver as the Cards’ top pitching prospect.
Nick Senzel (CIN, #1) – 9 for 27, 5 XBH, 1 SB. Senzel was the safe college bat from this year’s draft class, and although his .299/.362/.466 line isn’t too shabby, Senzel’s power hasn’t quite been there. He only has 4 HR and his ISO has dropped 75 points from last season’s stint in A-ball. The XBH (including 1 HR) were nice to see this week.
Eric Lauer (SD, #8) – 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K. Lauer has one of the squeakiest clean deliveries you’ll see, and it helps him to locate his pitches well. His 4 pitch arsenal contains a nice changeup and an average curve and slider. I don’t know that there is much of a ceiling here without a massive step forward from one of his two breaking balls, but from what I’ve read, Lauer looks every bit the part of a safe, low strikeout, mid-rotation starter on coattails of a nice FB/CH combo. Lauer hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in a start since his first of the year on April 10th.
Alec Hansen (CWS, #10) – 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. He’s struck out 47 in his last 5 starts (30.2 IP). He isn’t always the most efficient with his starts, but he needs to be promoted; A-ball just isn’t a challenge for his anymore.
Ildemaro Vargas (ARI, #28) – 14 for 35, 5 doubles, 2 HR. Vargas has an interesting profile. He plays a good shortstop, hits well from both sides of the plate (.310+ career hitter since 2015), and has a very good idea of the strike zone (career 8 K%). Vargas has played very well over the last 30 games, hitting .361 with 19 XBH and only 9 strikeouts (PCL, if that matters to you). He can play lot of infield positions and figures to be a utility guy, but perhaps very useful one.
Joey Lucchesi (SD, #20) – 2 starts, 13 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 22 K. Lucchesi was signed underslot in the 4th round in 2016, but I’ve seen scouts throw a #4 projection on him. He has good FB velo, a phenomenal changeup, and a curveball, which is well behind his first two pitches developmentally. He has one of the weirdest delivery you’ll ever see, but it apparently doesn’t affect his ability to command his pitches. JH Schroeder from BP doesn’t think his curveball will ever develop into an effective pitch in its current form, saying “[Lucchesi] may be better served developing a harder, shorter breaking ball like a cutter or slider.” The complete lack of a third pitch may limit his upside. Lucchesi has a 2.43 ERA on the season, but is a 24-year-old college arm in A+, so take his stats with a grain of salt at this level.
Luiz Gohara (ATL, #10) – 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. Braves have been working him back into Double-A action very slowly after an injury (28 and 46 pitches in his first two outings), so Gohara was only allowed 65 pitches, but that’s all he needed to get through 5 innings of work. Good to see him feeling it again.
Yordan Alvarez (HOU, #14) – 7 for 27, 3 HR. Alvarez is a 6’5” lefty with a big, long swing and 70 grade raw power. Like most big dudes with long swings, there’s a lot of power but also a lot of holes in his swing (27.5 K%). He’s hitting .356/.450/.589 with 5 HR in 90 AB, and although I’ve read some positive reports about his hit tool progressing, this is not the type of line Alvarez should become accustomed to. He also still struggles to pick up off-speed stuff at times. Nonetheless, it’s a profile worth monitoring. Still 19, he’s got plenty of time to develop. If he ever develops enough to get to his raw power in-game, look out.
Spencer Adams (CHW, #12) – 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Adams was a second round pick in 2014 and fell out of the organizational Top 10 thanks to a large influx of talent this off-season. Adams is a big, athletic righty with a repeatable delivery. Adams isn’t going to strike a ton of hitters out (18.8 K% this season), even though he can generate some whiffs with his slider and changeup. Fastball is average at best. But Adams throws strikes and a lot of them. His walk rate is a minuscule 2.6%. His body has room to fill out, and some if FB velocity comes with it, he could see the uptick in K% he needs to break a rotation some day.
Willie Calhoun (LAD, #3) – 11 for 40, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 3 HR. Calhoun is a fantasy darling in dynasty formats, thanks to his massive power at second base. Calhoun hasn’t been making consistent, good contact this season (12.5% pop-up rate), but it hasn’t stopped him from hitting .290/.336/.543 with 13 HR and a low K%. I’ve heard his name thrown around as a potential piece that LA moves at the deadline.
Nick Longhi (BOS, #9) – 9 for 21, 6 doubles, 1 HR. Longhi was drafted in the 30th round in 2013 for bonus concerns, despite being a great draft prospect at the time. Since draft day Longhi has been a .280//.341/.382 hitter in the minors while keeping his strikeouts low and even improving in that regard this season. He has a very nice, line drive swing, so the 6 doubles and just 1 HR seem about right. Longhi profiles in RF thanks to a nice arm, but if his speed hinders his ability to play RF, his bat may not play well enough for LF.
Yohander Mendez (TEX, #2) – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Mendez now has a 3.36 ERA and a 62:28 K:BB in 75 IP at Double-A this season. Mendez was moved from A+ through 3 levels last season and even logged 3 IP in the majors. Durability remains a concern. I’m lower on Mendez than most because of his so-so K/BB over the course of his minor league career. He could see time in the majors again soon.
Marcos Molina (NYM, #13) – 2 starts, 13.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 15 K. Molina needed Tommy John surgery near the end of 2015, effectively taking his 2016 season. Molina is 5 (very good) starts into the year now, and although his FB velocity (90-91 T92) hasn’t rebounded quite yet (95 before TJ), he’s been commanding it well, reports say. He has a good changeup and inconsistent slider, but one that has shown promise. Molina’s biggest flaw is mechanics; short, high-effort delivery just screams durability concerns.
Drew Robinson (TEX, #23) – 15 for 34, 3 doubles, 6 HR, 1 SB. Robinson profiles as your typical bench player or organizational depth guy, so I’m not going to get into him, but the week he just had was too incredible to ignore. He also tripled, drove in 14 runs and scored 12 times.
Francis Martes (HOU, #1) – Called up Friday afternoon. For now, Martes is going to be pitching out of the bullpen. Threw 3.2 IP on Friday, allowing 4 runs and walking 2. I wrote last week how Martes need more time in AAA, considering he had an 8.0 BB/9 and a 2.11 WHIP, but I guess Houston disagreed.
Lewis Brinson (MIL, #1) – Called up Saturday but did not play. Brinson was hitting .312/.397/.503 at Colorado Springs before his promotion.
Josh Hader (MIL, #3) – Called up Saturday to pitch out of the bullpen. Pitched 1 scoreless inning, but walked two.
Sean Newcomb (ATL, #5) – Called up to start game 1 of Saturday’s Braves double header. Pitched extremely well, so much so that you would hardly know he’s has control problems. Newcomb pitched 6.1 innings, let up 1 (unearned), and struck out 7. Threw 73% strikes.
Jaime Barria (LAA, #9) – Promoted to AA. Made 2 starts this week, pitched 12.2 IP, allowed 4 runs (2 earned), and struck out 10. Barria is a short right hander who is seemingly maxed out physically with a good command profile. His stuff isn’t all that good, but there’s no denying he’s had good results so far this year; 2.48 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 65+ innings at A+ as a 20-year-old.
Jose de Leon (TB, #3) – Placed on minor league DL with mild lat strain.
Luke Weaver (STL, #3) – Left Sunday’s start with an injury after 2.1 IP. No update yet. Weaver had thrown an absolute gem last Monday, striking out 11 and only allowing 3 base runners through 5 IP.
Photo: Rick Scuteri, USA Today Sports