Welcome to the 11th installment of our Weekly Hot Prospects Report ranking the top minor-league performances from the week of June 26th through July 2nd:
1. Sebastian Walcott, SS, Rangers (Arizona Complex League)
Walcott came into the week with just one game of experience in the Arizona Fall League, albeit an explosive one with a 109-mph homer, but he filled up the stat sheet by going 7-for-13 with a double, a triple, 2 homers, 6 RBIs, a walk and a steal. The 17-year-old put up a triple-slash of .538/.571/1.231 and is showing why he was our third-ranked prospect in this year’s international signing class behind just Ethan Salas and Felin Celesten. Walcott wasn’t hitting much in the Dominican Summer League with a .161 average and no homers in 9 games, but he wasn’t getting many pitches to hit as evidenced by his 10 walks, so the Rangers pushed him to Arizona. In 5 games in the desert, Walcott has posted a 1.550 OPS with 3 homers, so he could reach Low-A like Salas sometime this summer.
2. Tyler Hardman, 1B, Yankees (Double-A Somerset)
Hardman (pictured above) started the week with a 2-homer game on Wednesday and capped it off with a 3-homer effort on Saturday at Bowie. The 24-year-old put up a .467/.579/1.533 triple-slash with 5 homers on the week. Hardman has 8 dingers in his past 11 games to give him the Eastern League lead in home runs with 19. A fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft out of Oklahoma, Hardman has a .918 OPS on the season and could find himself in Triple-A soon.
3. Josh Stephan, SP, Rangers (High-A Hickory)
Stephan tossed 5 perfect innings on Wednesday with 10 strikeouts against Greensboro. The 21-year-old has a 2.17 ERA with a 0.80 WHIP and 73 strikeouts to 12 walks in 62 1/3 innings on the season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder signed as a non-drafted free agent after the shortened five-round 2020 draft, getting bought out of a commitment to Stephen F. Austin. He uses a low arm angle and release height to make his two low-90s fastballs play up and looks ready for Double-A.
4. Mason Black, SP, Giants (Double-A Richmond)
Black matched Stephan with 5 perfect innings of his own on Saturday in the hitter’s haven of Reading, striking out 8. The 23-year-old lowered his ERA to 3.66 with a 1.05 WHIP and 74-20 K-BB in 59 innings. A third-rounder out of Lehigh in 2021, Black appears ready for Triple-A with his mid-90s fastball and plus slider.
5. Jesse Franklin V, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi)
Franklin V went 3-for-4 with a homer on Friday and followed it with a monstrous 3-homer, 2-steal outburst on Saturday. He was 0-for-11 in his other three games of the week, finishing with a triple-slash of .368/455/1.053. The 24-year-old returned on May 6 after missing a year recovering from Tommy John surgery. A third-round pick out of Michigan in 2020, Franklin is up to a .781 OPS with 9 homers and 5 steals on the season.
6. Ryan Ritter, SS, Rockies (Low-A Fresno)
Ritter compiled an amazing triple-slash of .600/.692/1.250 on the week with 4 homers and 2 steals. The 22-year-old is up to a 1.011 OPS with 18 homers and 6 steals on the season. A fourth-round pick out of Kentucky in 2022, Ritter really should be in High-A by now, so get with it Rockies!
7. Zack Gelof, 2B, Athletics (Triple-A Las Vegas)
Gelof finished the week in style with homers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, putting up a 1.650 OPS with 3 homers and 2 steals in total. The 23-year-old has a .918 OPS with 10 homers and 19 steals on the season. A second-round pick out of Virginia in 2021, Gelof should make his Oakland debut this summer.
8. Jonathan Aranda, 2B, Rays (Triple-A Durham)
Aranda had two multi-homer games last week and finished with a 1.462 OPS and 8 RBIs. The 25-year-old is again putting up big numbers for Durham with a 1.061 OPS and 16 homers after recording a .915 OPS with 18 dingers last year. The Rays’ lineup is so loaded that there hasn’t been a spot for Aranda yet this season, but he may force his way up at this rate.
9. Joshua Baez, OF, Cardinals (Low-A Palm Beach)
Baez stumbled into last week with just 3 homers and a .211 average on the season, but broke out with two combo meals and finished with 3 dingers, 7 RBIs and 3 steals in 5 games. The 20-year-old raised his OPS to .800 with 11 steals on the season. A second-round pick in 2021 out of a Massachusetts high school, Baez has immense raw power that he’s beginning to tap into.
10. Luis Perales, SP, Red Sox (Low-A Salem)
Perales entered July already on a roll, having posted a 2.37 ERA and 0.74 WHIP over four June starts, then racked up 12 strikeouts in 5 scoreless innings on Sunday. The 20-year-old allowed 2 hits and 2 walks while lowering his ERA to 3.54 with a 1.26 WHIP on the season. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Venezuelan has an upper-90s fastball and a plus slider that he should be bringing to High-A any day now.
11. Abimelec Oritz, OF, Rangers (High-A Hickory): 7-for-16 (.438), 6 R, 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, .571 OBP, 1.125 SLG, 1.696 OPS
12. Cade Marlowe, OF, Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma): 6-for-15 (.400), 6 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 7 BB, 6 SO, 3 SB, .591 OBP, .867 SLG, 1.458 OPS
13. Ryan Bliss, 2B, Diamondbacks (Double-A Amarillo): 6-for-18 (.333), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO, 5 SB, .455 OBP, ..667 SLG, 1.122 OPS
14. Blade Tidwell, SP, Mets (High-A Brooklyn): 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO, 0.43 WHIP
15. Yu-Min Lin, SP, Diamondbacks (High-A Hillsboro): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0.71 WHIP
16. Wikelman Gonzalez, SP, Red Sox (High-A Greenville): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, 0.71 WHIP
17. Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 7-for-17 (.412), 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .524 OBP, .765 SLG, 1.289 OPS
18. Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles (Double-A Bowie): 7-for-22 (.318), 3 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, .375 OBP, .818 SLG, 1.193 OPS
19. Mason Montgomery, SP, Rays (Double-A Montgomery): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0.33 WHIP
20. Christian Scott, SP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0.57 WHIP