Welcome to the 18th installment of our Weekly Hot Prospects Report ranking the top minor-league performances from the week of Aug. 14th through 20th:
1. Lazaro Montes, OF, Mariners (Low-A Modesto)
Montes already looks like a man among boys in Low-A, both literally and figuratively, blowing up by going 12-for-24 with 4 homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.654 OPS last week. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound slugger has a 1.228 OPS with 6 homers in 15 games for Modesto after putting up a 1.007 OPS with 6 homers in the Arizona Complex League. The 18-year-old Cuban has 70-grade raw power but with a questionable hit tool due to a penchant for striking out. Montes has cut his strikeout rate from 33.2% last year in the Dominican Summer League to 25.3% in the ACL this season to 19.4% so far in Low-A, so the improvements he’s already making are very encouraging. Montes already had us dreaming of 40-homer seasons in his future, but the improved plate discipline hints at a ceiling of an elite middle-of-the-order thumper.
2. Sterlin Thompson, OF, Rockies (Double-A Hartford)
Thompson is having no problems adjusting to Double-A pitching, going 11-for-26 with 4 homers, 2 steals and a 1.349 OPS last week. The 22-year-old has a 1.071 OPS with 5 homers and 3 steals in 12 games for Hartford. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is showing that he could get to plus power to go with his 55-grade hit tool and 50-grade speed. Thompson was taken No. 31 overall in the 2022 MLB draft out of Florida and looks like he could make it to Triple-A a season later.
3. George Valera, OF, Guardians (Triple-A Columbus)
Valera had back-to-back 2-homer games on Thursday and Saturday, going 6-for-18 with a 1.456 OPS on the week. The 22-year-old looks like he might finally be healthy, as he was batting .176 for Columbus around IL stints before putting together three straight multi-hit games to get his average to .200. Valera went 0-for-4 on Sunday to fall back to .195, but he could find himself in Cleveland any day now that he’s heating up in Triple-A considering that he got in 42 games there last year.
4. DJ Herz, SP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg)
Herz dazzled with 10 Ks and no walks in 5 scoreless innings on Wednesday, allowing just 1 hit against Richmond. The 22-year-old has a 3.00 ERA with 18-4 K-BB in 12 innings since coming over from the Cubs in the Jeimer Candelario deal at the trade deadline.
5. Harry Ford, C, Mariners (High-A Everett)
Ford stuffed the stat sheet last week by going 8-for-22 with 3 doubles, 2 homers, 9 RBIs, 6 walks and 3 steals. The 20-year-old is up to a .413 OBP with 14 homers and 23 steals on the season. Ford has a 1.148 OPS with 4 homers and 6 steals in August, so he could get a taste of Double-A down the stretch.
6. Ryan Ritter, SS, Rockies (High-A Spokane)
Ritter posted a 1.632 OPS with 2 homers and 2 steals last week. The 22-year-old is warming up in High-A, getting up to an .817 OPS with 6 homers and 8 steals in 33 games after putting up a 1.011 OPS with 18 dingers in Low-A.
7. Graham Pauley, 2B/3B, Padres (High-A Fort Wayne)
Pauley went 10-for-23 with 3 homers, 2 steals and a 1.371 OPS last week. The 22-year-old has been even better for Fort Wayne with a .987 OPS, 16 homers and 8 steals in 45 games then he was in Low-A with a .887 OPS, 4 dingers and 12 bags in 62 games.
8. Austin Wells, C, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Wells powered up last week with 4 homers, a 1.197 OPS and 11 RBIs. The 24-year-old entered the week with no homers in 20 Triple-A games and got his OPS from .711 up to .830.
9. Sawyer Gipson-Long, SP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo)
Gipson-Long dominated with 12 strikeouts in 6 scoreless innings on Friday against Omaha, allowing just 1 hit and 2 walks. The 25-year-old has lowered his Triple-A ERA from 7.80 to 4.50 with 11 shutout innings over his last two starts after posting a 3.74 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP in Double-A. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has a combined 115 strikeouts in 91 innings between Double- and Triple-A and will be making his debut in the next weekly-updated Top 500 Prospects.
10. Jacob Misiorowski, SP, Brewers (Double-A Biloxi)
Misiorowski got back on track with 12 strikeouts in 6 scoreless innings on Tuesday at Mississippi, allowing just 1 hit and 3 walks. The 6-foot-7 21-year-old lowered his Triple-A ERA from 7.80 to 5.57 with 36 strikeouts in 21 innings, but has issued 16 walks with 11 hit-by-pitches for Biloxi.