MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minor Leagues from the previous week. Any player on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible.
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Moving to June in the calendar seems to be working for a lot of prospects in the Minors. This week's Prospect Team of the Week features several players who began the year a bit slowly but are starting to figure things out.
In addition to hitters improving their season stat lines considerably, the start of the Dominican Summer League season brings a pair of newcomers to the squad. There are also two members who, at least initially, are enjoying promotions to new levels.
Here is the latest addition of Prospect Team of the Week, for the week of June 4-10.
C: Deon Stafford, West Virginia Power (Class A)
(Pirates' No. 30 prospect)
5 G, .526/.526/.789, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 K
Stafford now has an eight-game hitting streak going, thanks to five two-hit games this past week. He homered and drove in three runs Wednesday. The backstop has hit in every game he's played this month, raising his batting average 30 points to .293, to go along with a .346 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage in his first full season of pro ball.
2018 Prospect Teams of the Week
1B: Ryan Noda, Lansing Lugnuts (Class A)
(Blue Jays' No. 17 prospect)
5 G, .500/.632/1.429, 4 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K
Noda started off the year slowly, but he now has a nine-game hitting streak going and hit four of his five home runs on the year in the past week. Two of Noda's homers came Thursday, and he then hit one out Friday and Saturday. His five walks vs. four strikeouts should come as no surprise as he has more BB (56) than K's (50) on the season, and his .456 OBP easily leads the Midwest League.
2B: Isan Diaz, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Double-A)
(Marlins' No. 7 prospect)
7 G, .565/.667/.739, 5 R, 4 2B, RBI, 6 BB, 4 K, 3 SB
Diaz began the week with back-to-back three-hit games -- and picked up at least one hit in the other five -- to raise his average 46 points. After struggling over the first two months of the season, Diaz has hit .467/.568/.600 in nine June contests, perhaps a sign of things to come.
3B: Taylor Ward, Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A)
(Angels' No. 13 prospect)
6 G, .400/.385/.640, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 5 K, 2 SB
The move to third base continues to suit Ward, a former catching prospect. He's now hit in seven of eight games since getting promoted to Triple-A. After his lone hitless game with Salt Lake on Tuesday, Ward picked up his first PCL homer and drove in four Wednesday, then finished the week off with a pair of three-hit performances. He's hitting a combined .348/.439/.525 for the year.
SS: Miguel Hiraldo, DSL Blue Jays (Rookie)
(Blue Jays' No. 12 prospect)
6 G, .481/.517/.926, 8 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K
Signed last July for $750,000, Hiraldo certainly is making a very strong first impression during his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League. The 17-year-old infielder had two four-hit games last week and one three-hit performance. He drove in four runs Wednesday and then blasted his first two professional homers in one game on Saturday.
OF: Brennon Lund, Mobile BayBears (Double-A)
(Angels' No. 19 prospect)
7 G, .438/.486/.688, 10 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 5 SB
No prospect eligible for PTOW had more hits, runs or RBIs than Lund, and he finished second with his five steals for the week. He began the week with three straight three-hit games and finished it with a home run, allowing the career .301 hitter to raise his average more than 20 points in the process. Lund is now fourth in the Southern League with 14 steals.
OF: Pedro Gonzalez, Hickory Crawdads (Class A)
(Rangers' No. 9 prospect)
7 G, .360/.429/.880, 6 R, 4 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 SB
The 20-year-old Gonzalez began his week with three hits, including a home run and five RBIs. He had two more multihit games, both with homers included, doubling his long-ball output for the year. Gonzalez has upped his average for the season 25 points as a result and is hitting .333/.385/.722 in 10 June contests.
Video: Top Prospects: Pedro Gonzalez, OF, Rangers
OF: Julio Pablo Martinez, DSL Rangers1 (Rookie)
(Rangers' No. 3 prospect/MLB No. 60)
5 G, .533/.708/.933, 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 8 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
It's looking like Martinez, who signed with the Rangers for $2.8 million in March, is going to need a greater challenge soon. The 22-year-old Cuban began his week by going 1-for-1 with four walks and finished it with three straight multihit games. He picked up his first career home run Saturday -- along with two RBIs -- after driving in his first run Friday.
LHP: Ranger Suarez, Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A)
(Phillies' No. 9 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.43 WHIP
After feeling his way through his first two months in Double-A, Suarez has turned it up a notch in June. His second gem of the month came this week in Altoona. Granted, Suarez is pitching better on the road (2.25 ERA) than in the bandbox he calls home in Reading (4.70), but his previous start at home on June 2 was also a seven-inning outing in which he gave up just one run. He's now fifth in the Eastern Leaegue with his 1.07 WHIP.
RHP: Justin Dunn, St. Lucie Mets/Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Class A Advanced/Double-A)
(Mets' No. 3 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 14 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 19 K, 0.64 WHIP
Dunn began the week on Monday with seven innings of shutout ball and 10 strikeouts with St. Lucie. That gave him a 2.36 ERA in nine Florida State League starts, so the Mets felt it was time to challenge him with a move to Double-A. The right-hander was up to it, with another seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts (albeit with four walks) to get a win in his Eastern League debut.
RP: Ty Buttrey, Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A)
Red Sox's No. 28 prospect
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 G, 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.64 WHIP
Buttrey hasn't given up a run since May 22, a span of seven outings. He had a pair of two-inning outings this week, striking out four in the second one on Saturday. The right-hander has held opposing hitters to a .215 batting average for the year to go along with a 2.36 ERA and a robust 14.5 K/9 rate.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.