This is the first installment of our Weekly Hot Prospects Report ranking the top minor-league performances from the week of April 10-16:
1. Mason Miller, RHP, Athletics (AAA Las Vegas)
In his Triple-A debut on Friday, Miller (above) made the most of his only start of the week by striking out 11 in 5 no-hit, no-walk innings against Salt Lake in the hitter’s paradise of Las Vegas. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder averaged 100.4 mph on his fastball, looking ready for the majors after just 11 games in the minors. The 97th overall pick out of Gardner-Webb in the 2021 draft, Miller spent most of last season working his way back from a shoulder strain before getting into six games. Combining his Triple-A start with his one appearance in Double-A. Miller has a 19-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 8.2 innings with a 0.23 WHIP. At 24 years old and with teams usually not wanting to expose premium pitching to too much of the PCL, the A’s may want to give their fans something to get excited about with an early-season call-up.
2. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds (AA Chattanooga)
Abbott came up with quite the encore to his 11-strikeout, hitless 4.2-inning season debut, recording a whopping 14 strikeouts with no walks in 6 scoreless innings against Mississippi on Thursday in his lone start of the week. The 53rd overall pick out of Virginia in the 2021 draft, Abbott has an amazing 25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 10.2 innings with a 0.28 WHIP on the season. The 23-year-old looks ready for Triple-A and could force his way to Cincinnati sooner than later if he keeps this up.
3. Zach Neto, SS, Angels (AA Rocket City)
It’s one heckuva week when you can force your way to the majors from Double-A with a four-game binge like Neto had – going 9-for-18 with 3 homers and 3 steals before getting the call on Saturday. The 13th overall pick in the 2022 draft out of Campbell, Neto took just 44 games to go from playing for the Fighting Camels in college to starting alongside Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in Fenway Park. Don’t let the cartoonishly-high leg kick throw you off, Neto can flat rake, has the full array of tools to stick in L.A. to become a serious fantasy contributor right out of the gate, and the Angels certainly need him!
4. Andres Chaparro, 3B, Yankees (AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Chaparro started the season in a 1-for-31 hole, but busted out by going 10-for-24 with 5 homers and a steal last week. The 23-year-old Venezuelan opened eyes in spring training by batting .324 with 5 homers on the heels of breaking out with 19 homers in 64 games in Double-A last year. With Josh Donaldson already on the shelf with a hamstring strain, there could be an opportunity for Chaparro to make a name for himself in New York this summer.
5. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles (AA Bowie)
It took exactly two years for the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 draft to make his pro debut last June after overcoming myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and a hamstring injury, but Kjerstad is making up for lost time now. Last week, the, 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefty swinger hit four homers and put up a .348/.444/.957 triple-slash. Since last season ended, Kjerstad was the Arizona Fall League MVP by batting .357 with 5 homers in 22 games, then hit .381 with 4 homers in 23 spring training games. At 24 years old, Kjerstad could knock the door down to Baltimore this summer.
6. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Rangers (High-A Hickory)
Making his pro debut coming off struggling in the Arizona Fall League (12 walks in 14 innings with a 4.50 ERA), Rocker silenced his critics last week by combining for 12 strikeouts and just 1 walk in 8 innings over 2 starts. Rocker gained national prominence with a 19-strikeout no-hitter in the 2019 NCAA Super Regionals for Vanderbilt, then was drafted 10th overall in the 2021 draft but failed to sign with the Mets amid whispers about poor medical reports. The Rangers popped Rocker with the 3rd overall pick in the 2022 draft despite reports that he had undergone shoulder surgery last September. If the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder is healthy and regaining his old form, Rocker could find his way to Texas this summer whether it be as a starter or in the bullpen to limit his innings.
7. Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets (AAA Syracuse)
Mets fans have been clamoring for the promotions of a trio of hot-hitting Triple-A prospects in Mauricio, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos – and got one of them recalled on Sunday in Baty. Mauricio continues to make his case, hitting 3 homers last week with 2 steals and a .348/.400/.870 triple-slash. The 22-year-old Dominican has a 1.192 OPS and 6 homers on the season. With Francisco Lindor entrenched at shortstop and 2022 NL batting champ Jeff McNeil at second base, it may take an injury for Mauricio to get the call before September.
8. Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians (AAA Columbus)
Just a 5th-rounder in the 2021 draft out of Cal State Fullerton, Bibee keeps getting better at every level as the 6-foot-2, 205-pound righty allowed just 1 hit in 6 scoreless innings on Thursday against Worcester with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. The 24-year-old is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings over his first 2 starts in Triple-A. He had a 2.59 ERA in High-A last year and followed it with a 1.83 ERA in Double-A, combining for a 167-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With a fastball that reached 99 mph in his last start and elite command, Bibee could be getting the call to Cleveland soon to possibly become this year’s George Kirby.
9. Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Rockies (High-A Spokane)
The 10th overall pick in the 2022 draft out of Gonzaga impressed in his season debut on Tuesday, tossing 5 perfect innings with 6 strikeouts against Eugene. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righty has allowed just 2 baserunners in his pro career, going 3 scoreless innings last year for Low-A Fresno. If Hughes wasn’t with the Rockies, he would be one of the most sought-after pitching prospects in fantasy. Alas, he’ll be saddled with pitching half his games in Coors Field maybe as soon as late this summer, but we’ll be moving him into our next weekly-updated RotoProspects Top 500 Rankings.
10. Jacob Miller, RHP, Marlins (Low-A Jupiter)
Another player who will be moving into our next Top 500, Miller twirled 6 perfect innings on Saturday against St. Lucie, posting 8 strikeouts. The 46th overall pick in the 2022 draft out of Liberty Union High School in Ohio, Miller has a 0.00 ERA with a 0.27 WHIP through his first 2 starts this season, so he could be headed to High-A soon. Just 19 years old with high spin rates, excellent command and mid-90s velocity, Miller has become a pitcher to watch in the lower levels of the minors.