3 Top 100 prospects lead Team of the Week
MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any Minor Leaguer currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list in our Prospect Rankings is eligible.
The whole point of being a Top 100 prospect is possessing the talent to dominate any given night. Or, in this case, any given week. So it’s no surprise that three such prospects are becoming familiar faces in these parts.
No. 5 overall prospect Bobby Witt Jr., No. 37 Zac Veen and No. 81 Noelvi Marte all cracked MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week for the second time in 2021 for their Minor League performances from the stretch of Aug. 2-8. Witt at least found a new spot on the PTOW at third base, having made his debut at the position last Thursday while still standing out at the plate.
The other eight representatives on this week’s team are all PTOW newcomers for 2021.
This is the latest Prospect Team of the Week:
C: Drew Romo, Fresno Grizzlies (Low-A)
(Rockies No. 10)
.400/.455/.600, 5 G, 8-for-20, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
Romo was known primarily for his defensive work when Colorado took him 35th overall last year, but he’s handled himself well at the plate in his first full season too. The switch-hitter has hits in 16 straight games, during which he is batting .375 with a strikeout rate of only 11.8 percent. After a rough opening month of May, he has produced a .359/.390/.516 line with 15 extra-base hits and 12 stolen bases over 38 games since June 1. The backstop turns 20 on Aug. 29 and already has a solid foundation on which to build his pro career.
1B: Lawrence Butler, Stockton Ports (Low-A)
(Athletics No. 30)
.400/.480/.750, 5 G, 8-for-20, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 4 SB
The 2018 sixth-rounder has played his way into Top 30 consideration this season by showing an above-average power tool and above-average speed, both of which were on display this week at Low-A West. The left-handed slugger’s standout performance came Saturday when he went 4-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and two steals in an 11-10 win over Modesto. Butler is hitting .264/.368/.515 with 16 homers and 21 thefts in 78 games with the Ports. He’ll need to keep putting up similar numbers if he is going to stick at first base, though he does have some corner outfield experience as well.
2B: Nick Yorke, Salem Red Sox (Low-A)
(Red Sox No. 8)
.500/.625/1.056, 5 G, 9-for-18, 3 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 4 BB, K, SB
Boston raised a lot of eyebrows by taking Yorke 17th overall last year, but the organization was always a big believer in the California native’s bat. That view is looking prescient the deeper Yorke gets into his first full season. He is riding an 18-game hitting streak, during which he owns a .366 average and 1.050 OPS with more extra-base hits (eight) than strikeouts (six). Even during that run, his performance last week might have been his best, given the way he collected hits in exactly half of his at-bats. It’s odd to say about a first-round pick, but put an up arrow next to Yorke three months into his Minor League career.
3B: Bobby Witt Jr., Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
(Royals No. 1/MLB No. 5)
.296/.387/.815, 6 G, 8-for-27, 4 HR, 2 2B, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, SB
Witt got three starts at the hot corner in his first professional week at the position, so we’re counting him for this spot. He certainly slugged his way into PTOW consideration with four homers over the six-game series at Columbus. The 2019 second overall pick has lived up to his considerable hype in 2021 with a .294/.364/.583 line between Double-A and Triple-A in his age-21 season. His 23 homers are tied for fourth-most in the Minors.
SS: Noelvi Marte, Modesto Nuts (Low-A)
(Mariners No. 4/MLB No. 81)
.455/.538/1.182, 5 G, 10-for-22, 5 HR, 2B, 13 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 3 SB
Following two hot months of May and June, Marte endured a cold snap in July, hitting just .219/.270/.316 over 26 games. That didn’t last long into August. The 19-year-old shortstop got right back to his slugging ways, beginning with a three-homer, nine-RBI performance last Tuesday at Stockton. He added additional dingers on Friday and Saturday, and his 13 RBIs were tied for the most among all Minor Leaguers last week. Despite having not played above the Dominican Summer League prior to 2021, Marte has taken well to stateside ball with a .279/.363/.491 line, 17 homers and 17 steals through 78 games at Low-A West.
OF: Peyton Burdick, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Double-A)
(Marlins No. 11)
.571/.667/1.286, 6 G, 12-for-21, 4 HR, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, 3 K
Few prospects needed a hot week like Burdick. Few prospects had as hot a week as Burdick. Prior to this stretch, Burdick’s last multihit game came on July 3. He had five last week alone, including a two-homer game on Wednesday at Biloxi. The 24-year-old outfielder improved his season average from .193 to .221 and his slugging percentage from .420 to .484 with this week alone, and that jump could give him the necessary momentum to end 2021 strong after a weaker first three months.
OF: Zac Veen, Fresno Grizzlies (Low-A)
(Rockies No. 1/MLB No. 37)
.545/.583/1.045, 5 G, 12-for-22, 2 HR, 3B, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 SB
The 2020 ninth overall pick keeps growing into the pro game and has become a more and more difficult out in Low-A West. He picked up multiple hits in each of his five games last week with the Grizzlies, and five of his 12 knocks went for extra bases. The 6-foot-4 outfielder is still hit over power with a .298/.398/.522 line and 13 homers in 78 games this season, but it’s not difficult to see how he projects to be above-average in either offensive category as he matures in the Minors.
OF: James Outman, Tulsa Drillers (Double-A)
(Dodgers No. 27)
.462/.533/.962, 6 G, 12-for-26, 3 HR, 4 2B, 4 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB, 4 K
A seventh-round pick in 2018, Outman was primarily known for his plus speed and solid defensive skills in the outfield, but he has shown enough offensive improvement in 2021 to become a viable bat as well. That was on full display last week during a run that included a two-homer game on Wednesday and two separate three-hit contests. The 24-year-old outfielder joined Double-A Tulsa on July 23 and has had no issue with the transition so far with a .371/.466/.677 line in 15 games with the Drillers.
LHP: Aaron Ashby, Nashville Sounds (Triple-A)
(Brewers No. 7)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.33 WHIP
Milwaukee seems to be trying to find the right role for Ashby down the stretch. Since a rough Major League debut on June 30, the 23-year-old left-hander has worked as a late reliever, opener and (like he did last Thursday) a full-blown starter. He showed he could handle multiple times through the lineup by fanning 11 Toledo batters, tying his season high for K’s first set back on June 4. Ashby has the requisite three pitches to start with his fastball, slider and changeup all receiving above-average grades, but the breaking ball is easily the best of the bunch and gets plenty of swing-and-miss on its own. The southpaw should have already been considered as an option for the Major League club in any role down the stretch, and this gem helps that case.
RHP: Randy Vasquez, Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A)
(Yankees No. 25)
1-0, 0.77 ERA, 2 GS, 11 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 21 K, 0.86 WHIP
It’s rare to see pitchers make two starts in a week under the current six-game-series format, and it’s even more rare to see them dominate like Vasquez did when facing the same competition twice. The 22-year-old right-hander fanned double-digit Brooklyn batters in both of his outings on Tuesday and Saturday. The former was the better start, during which he struck out 11 and allowed only one hit and two walks over six scoreless frames, but he fell just one out shy of a quality start five days later as well. The Dominican Republic native owns a 2.47 ERA with 96 punchouts over 73 innings between Hudson Valley and Low-A Tampa in 2021.
RP: Jacob Wallace, Greenville Drive (High-A)
(Red Sox No. 28)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 0 GS, 1 SV, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.25 WHIP
The Red Sox picked up Wallace in last year’s Kevin Pillar trade with the Rockies in what was a New England homecoming of sorts for the former UConn closer. With a 7.07 ERA at High-A, it’s been far from a standout year for the 2019 third-rounder, but he showed flashes of what’s made him a relief prospect in the past with a pair of dominant appearances out of the Drive bullpen last week. He fanned nine of the 13 Rome batters he faced and only allowed one to reach on a walk during his two-inning save on Sunday. The save was his first since June 1.