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Minor League Roundup - Who's Hot and Who's Not? (Week 5)

In last week’s edition of “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not”, I mentioned Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka. After dominating Triple-A to start the season, Soroka was promoted to the Major Leagues on Tuesday, and made his big league debut. Soroka promptly dazzled with six innings of one-run ball.

Dane Dunning was also mentioned in last week’s piece, and the pitcher immediately got promoted to Double-A. This weekly piece won’t necessarily yield the same quick returns all the time, but you can count on some newsworthy developments from some of the game’s best, young talent.

Let's check out the first May edition of our minor league roundup with some big-name prospects that are making a case for promotions of their own.

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Who’s Hot?

Yordan Alvarez, 1B, Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez isn’t putting up out-of-the world numbers (yet), but coming into Tuesday, he’s been a very steady .280/.368/.500 almost a month in to the Double-A season. Alvarez has a modest five-game hitting streak, and he’s put up six doubles and four HR thus far. The left-handed hitting first baseman has also shown a knack for hitting left-handed pitching, picking up 11 hits in 27 AB versus southpaws.

Alvarez is the first baseman of the future for the Astros, and that is a future that could possibly come to fruition this season. Yulieski Gurriel has been struggling to start the season, although it’s still very early, but a team with championship aspirations (again) will not be able to tolerate anemic production from him all season. If Gurriel’s struggles continue halfway through this campaign, you can bet the Astros’ trigger finger will get rather itchy when it comes to giving Alvarez the call.

Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Jesus Luzardo is gaining traction as one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. The A’s acquired him from the Nationals last summer, and the early results have been great.

The hard-throwing lefty is currently 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in Single-A/Double-A. At just 20 years old, Luzardo could be on the fast track to the show, as he has already reached Double-A. He’s piled up strikeouts to the tune of 13.49 K/9, and he has an impressive 37/7 K/BB in 24 2/3 IP. Luzardo was not thought to be an option for Oakland this season, but he might just force their hand this season. If that happens, he could provide the A’s with a lethal 1-2 lefty combination along with Sean Manaea.

Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves have shown the propensity to call some of their top prospects up early, and Austin Riley could be next in line for a promotion. The Braves are giving Jose Bautista a chance to play third base, but that obviously isn’t the long-term solution for the team.

Riley is hitting .310/.363/.619 in Double-A coming into Tuesday, and he also hit .315/.389/.511 at that level last season. The 21-year-old is carrying a bit of an 0-for-9 stretch, but the overall body of work at the level has been stellar. A call to Triple-A isn’t that far away for the young slugger, and if Bautista struggles like he did the last couple of years in Toronto, then Riley will be up to the big leagues very soon.


Who’s Not?

Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees

Chance Adams has exceeded the expectations of a fifth-round pick. The right-hander has dominated most levels throughout the minor leagues since he was selected by the Yankees in 2015. Adams has hit his first real rough patch in the minors this season, battling to a 5.11 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in five starts. In 24 2/3 IP, he has a 26/11 K/BB ratio.

Control has been a bit of a problem for Adams, even when he is dominating. In 337 2/3 minor league innings, he has a 3.12 BB/9, including 4.01 this season. If Adams hopes to sustain any success at the big-league level, then he is going to have to get that in check. If he can, then the 23-year-old can be a vital piece for the Yankees’ pitching staff (either as a starter or reliever) down the stretch this season.

Jorge Mateo, IF, Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A’s traded for Jorge Mateo in last season’s Sonny Gray trade. The speedy middle infielder hit .296 with eight HR in Double-A in 2017, and he added 24 stolen bases. He added another four HR and 28 steals in Single-A.

Mateo’s first taste of Triple-A has not been a success. He is hitting just .159/.195/.220, with a 4/25 BB/K ratio and four steals in six attempts. It was thought that the 22-year-old would get an opportunity with the big league club at some point this season. If the bat doesn’t catch fire, that may still happen; but it could only be in the context of a late-inning pinch-runner come September. Mateo still has some upside, and has improved his power numbers over the years, but this season’s value has definitely taken an early hit.

Mickey Moniak, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Two years is not a large enough sample size to call a first overall pick a bust, but Mickey Moniak is certainly trending in that direction. The Phillies made him pick 1.1 in 2016, but Moniak has been a disappointment, for lack of a better word.

Moniak is getting his first taste of High-A ball, and he’s hitting just .213/.228/.258 heading into Tuesday. He has zero HR in 89 AB and has a 2/22 BB/K ratio. The soon-to-be 20-year-old has been better of late, but his struggles overall, as well as his subpar season last summer are great deals of concern. As a first-overall pick, Moniak will be given every opportunity to excel. That said, he is going to have to start producing soon.


More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis