Welcome to the sixth installment of our Weekly Hot Prospects Report ranking the top minor-league performances from the week of May 15th through 21st:
1. Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles (High-A Aberdeen)
Holliday did it all last week and then some. The 19-year-old went 13-for-21 (.619) with 3 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers and 2 steals, even drawing more walks (3) than strikeouts (1). Last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick is laying waste to High-A pitching with a 1.229 OPS, 4 homers and 8 steals in 21 games after demolishing Low-A with a 1.190 OPS, 2 homers and 3 steals in 13 games. Holliday should be in Double-A any day now and he doesn’t turn 20 until December. Look out Elly De La Cruz, Holliday is coming for your No. 1 spot atop the RotoProspects Top 500 Rankings.
2. Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers (Double-A Erie)
Keith would have taken the top spot in just about any other week with his performance in the last seven days. The 21-year-old started the week with an epic performance, hitting for the cycle with 2 homers, 2 singles, 7 RBIs and 15 total bases on Tuesday. He cooled to go just 1-for-10 before piling up 6 more hits and 2 homers over the weekend. For the week, Keith was 13-for-25 (.520) with a 1.760 OPS, 4 homers and 10 RBIs. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound slugger has a .956 OPS with 9 homers on the season and should be heading to Triple-A soon.
3. Drew Waters, OF, Royals (Triple-A Omaha)
Waters began the season on the IL with a strained oblique, then started his rehab assignment by going 1-for-22 before blowing up the rest of last week, finishing with a 2-homer game on Sunday. The 24-year-old put up a 1.423 OPS with 2 homers and 2 steals on the week, including piling up 13 total bases in the final game. The Royals acquired Waters from the Braves last July in a three-prospect package for the 35th overall pick in last year’s draft, used by Atlanta to select pitcher JR Ritchie out of high school. Waters had floundered in Triple-A for the Braves, putting up a .710 OPS in 2021 and a .698 OPS in 49 games repeating the level last year. He tore it up in Triple-A after the trade, posting a .940 OPS with 7 homers and 13 steals in 31 games. Waters demonstrated power in his 32-game taste of the majors last season with five homers, so he could be a pretty interesting fantasy asset this year if he can keep up the power and bring the steals that he’s managed for Omaha (15 steals in 42 games over the last two years).
4. Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers (Double-A Biloxi)
Quero entered last week with just one homer on the season, but blew up for three dingers on Tuesday. The 20-year-old then went 2-for-11 before a two-homer outburst on Sunday, making his totals for the week a 1.348 OPS with 5 homers and 10 RBIs. Quero is an elite defensive catcher who is supposed to have a decent bat, so this power breakout is making him a heckuva lot more interesting in a hurry for fantasy. He’s up to an .885 OPS with 8 homers on the season, and did we mention he’s just 20? The Brewers are the best in the business as transforming subpar defensive catchers into stalwarts. They’re doing it again this year with William Contreras, so it’s not a surprise that they’ve developed the best defensive catcher prospect. That defense should help Quero get playing time in the majors in the near future, so we’ll have to see if this new-found power sticks.
5. Gavin Cross, OF, Royals (High-A Quad Cities)
Cross entered the week batting just .180, mired in a 12-for-90 slump, then proceeded to go 9-for-24 and hit homers in five of six games. All 9 hits went for extra bases, giving the 22-year-old a 1.167 slugging percentage for the week. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound slugger raised his season numbers to a .751 OPS, 7 homers and 9 steals. Taken 9th overall in last year’s draft out of Virginia Tech, Cross has plus tools across the board and is the centerpiece of the Royals’ latest rebuilding effort.
6. Noelvi Marte, SS/3B, Reds (Double-A Chattanooga)
Marte entered May with just a .656 OPS and 1 homer, but boy has the 21-year-old caught fire. Last week, Marte had a 1.344 OPS with 3 homers and 2 steals, giving him May totals of a 1.165 OPS with 7 homers and 3 steals. With Matt McLain getting the call to Cincinnati last week and Elly De La Cruz looking like he could join him there before long, Marte could be headed to Triple-A Louisville soon. The 6-foot, 216-pounder has begun playing more third base, which is his most likely long-term position. If he can maintain the speed to steal bases despite his thick build, Marte could be a fantasy monster playing half his games in Great American Ballpark.
7. Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Florial flexed his muscles last week with 5 homers in 5 games, posting a 1.699 OPS with a steal to boot. The 25-year-old is still striking out a lot like always (31.1 K%), but he drew 6 walks last week and has a 18.9% walk rate. Judging by the fact that Florial cleared waivers after failing to make the big team in spring training and that the Yankees just acquired journeyman outfielder Greg Allen last week, his future may not be in New York. If the Yankees trade him somewhere that he can get some playing time, Florial has a fantasy-friendly skillset – as evidenced by a 1.044 OPS, 9 homers and 9 steals.
8. Royce Lewis, SS/3B, Twins (Triple-A St. Paul)
Lewis is on a rehab assignment as he comes back from a second torn ACL in his right knee in the last two years, so he played in just four games last week – but it was enough to appear on this list as the 23-year-old went 6-for-16 with 3 homers and a steal. Lewis looks like he wants to show that his knee is fine, stealing bases in each of his Double-A games before joining St. Paul and immediately pilfering another bag on Tuesday. He then had a two-homer game on Friday, showing that the knee isn’t affecting his power either. Lewis isn’t eligible to return from the 60-day IL until May 29, but he should quickly take over at third base in Minnesota and could provide across-the-board contributions.
9. Emmet Sheehan, SP, Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa)
Sheehan kept up his run of dominance with another gem last week – 10 strikeouts in 5 scoreless innings with no walks and just two hits allowed against Corpus Christi on Wednesday. The 23-year-old now has a whopping 58 strikeouts in 34 innings with a 1.85 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound flame-thrower could become an option for a spot in the Dodgers rotation soon at the rate that he’s going and that pitchers are hitting the IL in Los Angeles.
10. Jairo Iriarte, SP, Padres (High-A Fort Wane)
Iriarte tossed 6 hitless innings with 8 strikeouts and just one walk against Dayton on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander is breaking out with a 1.73 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a 39-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 21-year-old has an explosive mid-90s fastball with good carry through the top of the zone. Iriarte will be moving into our next weekly-updated RotoProspects Top 500 Rankings.
11. Tekoah Roby, SP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): 0-0, 1.74 ERA, 10.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0.39 WHIP
12. Quinn Priester, SP, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis): 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 12 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 SO, 1.08 WHIP
13. Connor Phillips, SP, Reds (Double-A Chattanooga): 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO, 0.80 WHIP
14. Niko Kavadas, 1B, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 6-for-19 (.316), 5 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, .400 OBP, 1.000 SLG, 1.400 OPS
15. Jordan Beck, OF, Rockies (High-A Spokane): 10-for-22 (.455), 11 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 7 BB, 7 SO, .586 OBP, 1.000 SLG, 1.586 OPS
16. Yanquiel Fernandez, OF, Rockies (High-A Spokane): 12-for-28 (.429), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, .414 OBP, .929 SLG, 1.343 OPS
17. Ryan Ritter, SS, Rockies (Low-A Fresno): 12-for-24 (.500), 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, .536 OBP, 1.000 SLG, 1.536 OPS
18. Noah Cameron, SP, Royals (Double-A Biloxi): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0.83 WHIP
19. Austin Wells, C, Yankees (Double-A Somerset): 8-for-22 (.364), 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, .440 OBP, .773 SLG, 1.213 OPS
20. Ryan Clifford, OF, Astros (High-A Asheville): 10-for-23 (.435), 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB, .440 OBP, .913 SLG, 1.353 OPS