Here's our latest Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week

August 1st, 2022

Back after an extended layoff, this edition of the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week is our biggest yet.

The Major League All-Star break brought a break for Minor Leaguers this year, too, with prospects getting July 18-21 off from game action. This week’s Prospect Team of the Week selections combine their stats from the first weekend after the break with last week’s return to a normal schedule.

Among this edition’s selections is White Sox outfield prospect , who makes his first appearance. Colas is one of the most interesting prospect stories in the Minor Leagues. A veteran of three Serie Nacional seasons in his native Cuba, he also spent parts of three seasons with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ minor league affiliate in Japan’s Western League and got seven games with the big club in the Pacific League in 2019.

Declared a free agent in December 2020, following a lost season due to the pandemic, Colas skipped the entire 2021 season in order to sign with the White Sox in January of this year when their international bonus pool was big enough to bring him in. The outfielder cited the White Sox Cuban pipeline of players like José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert in the Majors and prospects Yoelqui Céspedes, Norge Vera and Bryan Ramos as part of his draw to the South Siders. After two years away from competition, Colas is rounding into form in Double-A.

To be eligible for the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week, Minor League players must be ranked among their club's Top 30 prospects on Pipeline's lists. (Those in the Majors do not qualify.)

This is the Prospect Team of the Week for July 8-July 30:

Catcher: Endy Rodriguez, Greensboro Grasshoppers (High-A)
Pirates No. 5
.467/.595/1.067, 9 G, 14-for-30, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 14 R, 10 BB, 3 K, 1 SB

More headlines might go to the 2021 first overall pick, Henry Davis, but Rodriguez has pieced together a terrific season for Greensboro. The backstop finished the award period with a .295/.390/.533 slash line over 84 games this season thanks to a terrific nine-game stretch, which included three starts at second base in addition to his work behind the plate. Rodriguez pieced together hits in seven straight over the period, which started with five homers among seven hits in his first three games of the streak. His six home runs over a five-game span represent over a third of his total 15 dingers for the year.

1B: Kyle Manzardo, Bowling Green Hot Rods (High-A)
Rays No. 23
.478/.520/1.130, 6 G, 11-for-23, 4 HR, 3 2B, 9 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Playing his first full season, Manzardo has been a breakout prospect in the Rays system this year. A second-round pick in the 2021 Draft, Manzardo crushed the ball in three games against Asheville and three at Greenville. The Washington State product notched hits in all six of his games played with at least one RBI in five and a homer in four. Manzardo put up his second three-hit day of the month, doubling and driving in a pair, on July 23. The following day, he matched a personal high with four RBIs while homering and adding a walk on a 2-for-4 night. Through 59 games this season, Manzardo is batting .321/.421/.623 with 16 homers, 15 doubles, a triple and 51 RBIs. His strike zone command has also been impressive, with the 22-year-old striking out just 45 times this year and earning 39 walks.

2B: Brainer Bonaci, Salem Red Sox (Single-A)
Red Sox No. 20
.467/.528/.933, 8 G, 14-for-30, 2 HR, 2 3B, 4 2B, 12 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 SB

Bonaci finished last season at Salem, batting just .224/.269/.327 in 13 games there. This year, he’s taken that headstart and built on it, boosting his season numbers to .265/.395/.378 through 80 games played. Home against Lynchburg for three games and on the road at Fredericksburg for five more, Bonaci notched at least one hit in his first seven of eight games played over the award period. His most impressive game of the season came on Tuesday, when he went 3-for-7 with his first two homers of the season and seven RBIs, the first multihomer game of his career and three more RBIs than his previous single-game best effort. Bonaci’s 1.029 OPS in 23 games played in July was 124 points higher than his previous best mark for a month this season (.905 in 11 April games).

3B: Dariel Lopez, Greensboro Grasshoppers (High-A)
Pirates No. 30
.400/.455/.925, 9 G, 16-for-40, 6 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 11 R, 4 BB, 11 K

Up the third-base line from catcher Rodriguez, Lopez has been on fire as the summer has heated up. The infielder has been held hitless just once since the start of a 13-game hit streak on June 25. When that one ended, he started his current 14-gamer that carried him through the award period with 16 hits in 40 at-bats over nine contests against visiting Hickory and Winston-Salem. Lopez’s power has started to blossom with six homers -- a third of his total for the season -- over the last nine games, including a pair of two-homer affairs on July 22 and 31, both three-hit contests. Lopez had five multihit games over his last two series and has driven in multiple runs in four games.

SS: Joseph Ortiz, Bowie Baysox (Double-A)
Orioles No. 13
.500/.548/.921, 9 G, 19-for-38, 3 HR, 1 3B, 5 2B, 13 RBI, 11 R, 4 BB, 6 K

Like catcher Rodriguez, Ortiz may be overshadowed by more highly ranked prospects at his position in his system, such as Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg. The 24-year-old is coming alive with Double-A Bowie this season after limited game play in his first two pro campaigns. Drafted in the fourth round in 2019, Ortiz played 56 games with then-Class A Short Season Aberdeen that year but was limited to just 35 between High-A Aberdeen and Bowie last season due to shoulder surgery. This year, he’s gotten better as the season has progressed. After entering July with a .206/.271/.325 slash line in 64 games played, Ortiz took off last month, batting .404/.438/.674 in 23 contests. The shortstop had hits in all nine games over the award period with six multihit contests that featured three games with three or more knocks. Twice, he finished a triple away from the cycle with a homer and two doubles on a 4-for-5 day on July 27 and a 3-for-5 day that likewise featured a homer and double on July 31.

OF: Alex Ramirez, Brooklyn Cyclones (High-A)
Mets No. 4, MLB No. 85
.417/.476/.889, 9 G, 15-for-36, 5 HR, 2 2B, 17 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 SB

Only a handful of prospects have seen their stock climb like Ramirez’s has this year. The outfielder continued to show why as his first three weeks with High-A Brooklyn came to a close on a stretch of hits in nine of 10 games played. Ramirez posted multiple knocks in his final two games before the award period and continued that roll with three more multihit games coming out of it, including a 4-for-5 performance, a double and five RBIs on July 22. The following night, he again homered -- a go-ahead grand slam -- and drove in five as part of a two-hit game. Ramirez added another dinger on Thursday and finished the award period with a two-homer, three-RBI game on Sunday. In his first eight High-A games, Ramirez went just 5-for-32 with a .156/.206/.313 slash line. Since then, he’s hit an eye-popping .442/.500/.837 with five homers and 18 RBIs over his last 11 contests.

OF: Oscar Colas, Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
White Sox No. 2
.393/.485/.929, 9 G, 11-for-28, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 10 R, 3 BB, 9 K

After a fantastic first 59 games of the year with High-A Winston-Salem, the second-ranked Southside prospect made the climb one step closer to Chicago. Colas is off to a roaring start in Double-A, thanks in part to a couple of monster performances over the Prospect Team of the Week award period, fresh back from the All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles. Colas kicked off his nine-game stretch with five hits, including three homers, over seven at-bats between July 23-24, driving in five runs, scoring three and adding a walk. On Wednesday, Colas had his best game of the week, going 4-for-5 with two more homers, three RBIs and three runs scored. Through his first 11 Southern League games, the 23-year-old is batting .390/.468/.805 with five homers and 11 RBIs.

OF: James Wood, Lake Elsinore Storm (Single-A)
Padres No. 3, MLB No. 88
.394/.487/.788, 9 G, 13-for-33, 3 HR, 4 2B, 9 RBI, 10 R, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 SB

Last year’s 62nd overall pick in the Draft, Wood is cruising through his first full professional season. The 19-year-old tallied hits in seven of his nine games played over his last two series at Inland Empire and home against Stockton and finished with a flourish, going 8-for-11 with a homer, three doubles and six RBIs over his last three games against the Ports. The outfielder spent much of May on the injured list with a right wrist injury but has rebounded extremely well since coming off of it. After hitting .340/.429/.547 in 13 June games upon his return to Lake Elsinore, the outfielder was even better in July, posting a .356/.463/.656 line in 23 July contests.

LHP: Mitchell Parker, Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A)
Nationals No. 15
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 13 K, 0.83 WHIP

For the first time this season, all three pitching honorees on this edition of the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week made multiple appearances on the hill. All three dazzled, led by Parker. The southpaw has been one of High-A Wilmington’s most reliable arms this year and showcased why against Hudson Valley on July 22 and Jersey Shore on Thursday. Parker allowed one unearned run on two hits over six innings in the former, striking out six with two walks, and was even better in the latter, throwing shutout ball on three hits over six innings with seven strikeouts against three walks. In four starts in July, Parker went 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA, yielding one earned run over 18 2/3 innings. For the season, he’s 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 17 starts, boasting 93 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings.

RHP: Darius Vines, Mississippi Braves (Double-A)
Braves No. 11

1-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 0.67 WHIP

With the exception of one terrific start of seven scoreless innings, Vines struggled in June, posting a 7.83 ERA across five outings. His July was a tremendous rebound. In five starts, the right-hander put up a 3-0 record and 1.17 ERA and was his best in his final two appearances. Vines’ best outing came on July 23, when he allowed just one hit and struck out 10 against one walk over six scoreless innings at Montgomery. Six days later, he scattered six hits over six innings and picked up the win by allowing just one run at Pensacola, striking out four without issuing a walk. Vines dropped his season ERA from 5.45 at the end of June to 4.14 by the end of July.

RP: Cristian Hernandez, Jersey Shore BlueClaws (High-A)
Phillies No. 24

1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.33 WHIP

Since an injury robbed him of the 2019 season and the pandemic did the same in 2020, Hernandez has been making up for lost time in the Phillies system. Having made 17 of his 20 appearances as a starter last year, the righty has been a reliever more this year, coming out of the bullpen for 10 of his 19 games and for all but one of his last 10. The (relatively) new role seems to be agreeing with Hernandez, who has posted a 2.61 ERA in 10 games out of the ’pen compared to a 6.10 mark in nine starts. The 21-year-old pitched on Tuesday and Thursday at Wilmington and was stellar, pitching a perfect frame with a strikeout in the former and allowing one hit in two innings with four K’s in the latter. Opponents are batting just .221 against Hernandez when he enters in relief, compared with a .292 mark against him as a starter.