Pair of elite prospects lead Team of the Week

August 16th, 2021

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any Minor Leaguer currently on an organization's Top 30 Prospects list in our Prospect Rankings is eligible.

The MLB Pipeline prospect ranking updates are right around the corner, and some of the game’s top prospects took one last opportunity to improve their standing with impressive weeks.

Top 100 prospects Francisco Álvarez and Riley Greene -- both of whom will retain such stature after the update -- headline the latest Prospect Team of the Week for Aug. 9-15. This is the second such PTOW honor of the 2021 season for both future stars. Giants outfield prospect Jairo Pomares also makes a second PTOW appearance this season, while Orioles infielder Rylan Bannon used a massive week to crack the team for the third time in his five-year career.

This is the latest Prospect Team of the Week:

C: Francisco Álvarez, Brooklyn Cyclones (High-A)
(Mets No. 1/MLB No. 31)
.368/.391/.842, 5 G, 7-for-19, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Brooklyn’s Maimonides Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the Minors, so Álvarez and his fellow Cyclone hitters should take advantage any time they hit the road, as they did last week in Wilmington. With three blasts, the 19-year-old catcher now has 17 on the season, 12 of which have come in his 61 games at High-A. He owns a solid .245/.340/.534 line in that time with Brooklyn, but his .303/.392/.615 line in 31 contests on the road is even more eye-popping. While Álvarez continues to grow defensively, his hitting ability remains without question one of the best among catching prospects right now.

1B: Aaron Sabato, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Low-A)
(Twins No. 6)
.294/.368/1.059, 4 G, 5-for-17, 4 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K

This is the type of week Minnesota was hoping for when it took the former UNC first baseman in the first round last year. All five of Sabato’s hits went for extra bases, including four that left the yard completely. That’s all the more notable considering he entered the week with only six homers on the season. Sabato has taken his walks at Low-A, but he could certainly use a strong ending in other offensive categories; even after last week, he owns just a .192/.365/.357 line in 79 games with Fort Myers.

2B: Rylan Bannon, Norfolk Tides (Triple-A)
(Orioles No. 20)
.500/.632/1.643, 5 G, 7-for-14, 5 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 2 K

The Memphis Redbirds are probably happy they don’t have to see Bannon again soon. The Norfolk infielder destroyed Memphis pitching, particularly over a four-game stretch from Wednesday to Sunday in which he went 7-for-11 (.636) with five homers, a double and nine RBIs. That doubled Bannon’s 2021 home run output in just a couple days. The 25-year-old infielder could have certainly used the boost; he’s hitting just .152/.264/.359 in 54 Triple-A games this season, even after last week’s tremendous performance.

3B: Miguel Vargas, Tulsa Drillers (Double-A)
(Dodgers No. 9)
.444/.462/.840, 6 G, 11-for-25, 3 HR, 1 2B, 8 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB

You won’t find many doubting Vargas’ offensive potential, and he put that on full display last week against Wichita. His biggest performance of the week came Saturday when he notched his first multihomer game of the season with a pair of solo dingers in a 5-2 win. Playing in his age-21 season, Vargas has handled a midseason jump to Double-A quite well and is hitting .314/.366/.532 with seven homers in 37 games at the Minors’ second-highest level. He still faces questions about an ability to stick to third base, but his bat gives him a decent floor.

SS: Brayan Rocchio, Akron RubberDucks (Double-A)
(Indians No. 7)
.360/.448/.840, 6 G, 9-for-25, 3 HR, 3 2B, 8 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 CS

The Cleveland system is loaded with young position-player depth, but Rocchio -- already at Double-A at just 20 years old -- is doing his best not to get lost in the shuffle. The switch-hitter has hits in seven straight games and finished off last week with his best showing yet in Akron when he went 3-for-6 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs. Rocchio is very much hit-over-power, so any pop he shows feels like a bonus. He owns a .255/.369/.527 line in 14 games since being promoted to Akron at the end of July.

OF: Riley Greene, Erie SeaWolves (Double-A)
(Tigers No. 2/MLB No. 13)
.500/.536/1.154, 6 G, 13-for-26, 4 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 12 RBI, 9 R, 2 BB, 6 K

Consider this a massive parting gift. On Sunday night, the Tigers announced that Greene had been promoted to Triple-A Toledo alongside fellow prospects Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler. The Altoona Curve can certainly attest to Greene’s readiness. The 20-year-old outfielder led all ranked prospects in hits (13) and total bases (30) during a massive goodbye week in Erie. Greene was hitting .397/.444/.810 with 11 extra-base hits in 13 games this month at the time of his promotion and leaves Erie with a .298/.381/.525 line, 16 homers and 12 steals over 84 games on the season as a whole.

OF: Everson Pereira, Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A)
(Yankees No. 13)
.375/.464/.875, 6 G, 9-for-24, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 SB

Rangers fans might recognize Pereira as a prospect who was initially rumored to be headed to Texas in the Joey Gallo swap. Instead, he has remained a Yankee and one who has hit at every level in 2021. Now at High-A in his age-20 season, the outfielder hasn’t slowed down with Hudson Valley, hitting .295/.392/.659 with five homers in 11 games since joining the club on Aug. 3. That power is worth monitoring. Pereira is an above-average runner with good defensive tools from the grass, and if he can keep the pop coming, his profile should only rise the rest of the way this summer.

OF: Jairo Pomares, San Jose Giants (Low-A)
(Giants No. 13)
.435/.444/.826, 6 G, 10-for-23, 2 HR, 3 2B, 8 RBI, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K

Since signing for $975,000 out of Cuba in July 2018, Pomares has shown a knack for hitting in the Giants system, and that has continued this season at Low-A. The left-handed masher strung together back-to-back three-hit games on Friday and Saturday and followed them up with two more knocks on Sunday. A late start to the season has kept him from qualifying for a batting title, but his .372 average, .693 slugging percentage and 1.122 OPS are all tops among Low-A hitters with at least 200 plate appearances at the level this season.

LHP: Ian Seymour, Charleston RiverDogs (Low-A)
(Rays No. 18)
0-0, 1.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 18 K, 0.44 WHIP

A left flexor strain kept the 2020 second-rounder from debuting until July, and even then, the former Virginia Tech left-hander was only sent to Low-A. But as the saying goes, you can only pitch where you are, and Seymour is doing his best to end 2021 on a promising note. He fanned 10 Myrtle Beach batters and allowed no hits and one walk over five scoreless innings last Tuesday and followed that up with eight more strikeouts over four one-run innings on Sunday. Seymour owns a 2.97 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings during his time in Charleston.

RHP: Joey Estes, Augusta GreenJackets (Low-A)
(Braves No. 28)
1-0, 2.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14 K, 0.44 WHIP

Minor League complete games are rare these days, and they’re all the rarer at the lower levels. That makes Estes’ gem on Saturday against Kannapolis all the more special. He fanned 14 Cannon Ballers in the outing, besting his previous career high of 11 K’s established back on June 9. He was also efficient by modern standards and needed only 106 pitches (77 of which were strikes) to complete Augusta’s 8-2 win. The 2019 16th-rounder sits around 93-94 with an average slider, but it helps that he’s able to pitch in the strike zone as well as he does. Estes leads Low-A East qualifiers with a 2.69 ERA and 116 strikeouts through 87 innings.

RP: Alexander Wells, Norfolk Tides (Triple-A)
(Orioles No. 17)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 0 GS, 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

Wells is trying to find his role in Baltimore’s rebuild. He has worked primarily as a starter this season but has experience coming out of the bullpen at both Triple-A and the Majors. Following his move back to Norfolk last week, his latest assignment on Sunday was to pitch in relief as the bulk arm behind a two-inning opener, and he thrived in that setting with 4 2/3 scoreless innings. His six strikeouts tied a Triple-A season high as well. The 24-year-old left-hander’s best asset has always been his ability to fill the strike zone. Even without otherwise standout stuff, he proved last week that at the very least he is an option to eat innings in any situation.