MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

April 15th, 2019

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 on our Prospect Watch is eligible. For the season's first edition, we included the first 11 days of the Minor League season, which began April 4.

There were plenty of big-name prospects making noise during the first week-plus of the Minor League season, but perhaps no player impressed quite as much as Luis Robert.

The No. 38 overall prospect has been unstoppable so far this season, hitting for both average (.475) and power (5 HR, 10 XBH) while showcasing his speed on a daily basis in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. It’s the type of performance that has seemed inevitable given Robert’s off-the-charts tools.

Overall, Robert was one of four players from MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list to earn PTOW honors. Yordan Alvarez (No. 42) actually hit more home runs than Robert during the period, thanks largely to a three-homer performance, and Nolan Gorman (No. 59) has already gone deep four times this season after leading all 2018 draftees with 17 home runs last summer in his pro debut.

On the mound, lefty MacKenzie Gore (No. 15 overall), the No. 3 overall pick from the 2017 Draft, looked as sharp as ever during his two scoreless starts in the California League. One level down, 2018 first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez racked up 20 strikeouts during his two scoreless starts for Class A Delmarva.

Here’s the complete Prospect Team of the Week for games of April 4 through April 14.

C: Tres Barrera, Harrisburg Senators (Double-A)
(Nationals’ No. 21 prospect)
7 G, .538/.586/.846, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HBP

Hitting safely in each of his first seven games, Barrera posted the highest average among Top 30 backstops. Along the way, the 24-year-old enjoyed his second career multi-homer game, going deep twice while reaching base five times against Hartford on April 10. Also revered for his defense, Barrera has thrown 4-of-7 attempted basestealers so far.

1B: Will Craig, Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A)
(Pirates’ No. 15 prospect)
10 G, .308/.438/.795, 9 R, 1 2B, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 10 K, 1 SB, 1 CS, 2 HBP

The ball has been jumping out of the yard for Craig, who’s tied for the Minor League home run lead after going deep six times in his first 10 contests. He homered in back-to-back games to begin the season, then hit four more in six games last week. The 2016 first-rounder eight home runs over 186 games between his first two seasons before erupting for a 20-homer, 102-RBI campaign last year in Double-A.

2B: Cavan Biggio, Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A)
(Blue Jays’ No. 10 prospect)
10 G, .394/.500/.667, 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K, 2 SB

A hot start in Double-A last year did wonders for Biggio’s prospect stock, and he’s gotten off to a strong start again this year at the Minors’ highest level. The 24-year-old has reached base in exactly half of his first 40 plate appearances so far, tallying 13 hits and seven walks through 10 games.

3B: Nolan Gorman, Peoria Chiefs (Class A)
(Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect/No. 59 overall)
10 G, .395/.442/.868, 10 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 11 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP

After posting eight hits including three doubles across his first four games, Gorman entered the home-run column in 2019 with a pair of impressive shots -- he went deep in the eighth and ninth innings, too -- on April 8. He closed out his week Saturday with a solo homer as part of a 1-for-3 performance, giving him hits in nine of 10 games. Overall, Gorman led all Top 30 third-base prospects in hits, homers, extra-base hits, total bases, runs and RBIs.

SS: Anderson Tejeda, Down East Wood Ducks (Class A Adv)
(Rangers’ No. 4 prospect)
10 G, .395/.452/.658, 3 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 10 K, 5 SB, 3 CS

Tejeda collected multiple hits in three of his final four games last week, including a pair of three-hit efforts. Both of his hits on Sunday left the park, as the 20-year-old recorded his third career multi-homer game while driving in three. He finished tied for the highest average and most RBIs among Top 30 shortstops and ranked second in total bases (25).

OF: Luis Robert, Winston-Salem Dash (Class A Adv)
(White Sox No. 4 prospect/No. 38 overall)
9 G, .475/.512/1.025, 13 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 1 BB, 9 K, 2 HBP, 3 SB, 1 CS

Robert perhaps has been the most electric player in the Minors so far, collecting multiple hits in eight of his first nine games during his return to the Carolina League. The power that everyone knew would show up has arrived in a hurry this season, as the 21-year-old went deep twice on MiLB Opening Day en route to five home runs in his first nine games. For context, Robert had hit three home runs in 78 pro games -- 0 HR in 50 games last year -- heading into 2019. Altogether, he led all Top 30 outfielders in the three triple-slash categories and paced all qualified Top 30 prospects in total bases (41), hits (19) and RBIs (tied).

OF: Yordan Alvarez, Round Rock Express (Triple-A)
(Astros’ No. 3 prospect/No. 42 overall)
10 G, .344/.488/.969, 9 R, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 7 K

Speaking of powerful starts, Alvarez homered in his first three at-bats in his second game of the season before finishing the period tied for the Minor League home run lead. It marked his first career three-homer game and his third multi-homer performance in 204 games. The 21-year-old masher is well on his way towards surpassing his career-high total of 20 home runs, which he achieved last season in just 88 games between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

OF: Buddy Reed, Amarillo Sod Poodles (Double-A)
(Padres’ No. 17 prospect)
11 G, .244/.327/.644, 10 R, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 5 BB, 1 IBB, 16 K

Reed, 23, struggled in his first taste of Double-A last season, hitting .179 with 63 strikeouts in 43 games, but the tooled-up outfielder is putting that behind him with his hot start for the Sod Poodles. After starting the season 1-for-17, Reed hit .357/.424/1.000 over his next seven games en route to PTOW honors. He showed plenty of power in the process, too, hitting each of his six homers in that seven-game span, highlighted by an inside-the-park home run as part of his second career two-homer game on April 11.

LHP: MacKenzie Gore, Lake Elsinore Storm (Class A Adv)
(Padres’ No. 2 prospect/No. 15 overall)
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 15 K, 0.80 WHIP

After being limited by a recurring blister issue in his first full season, Gore has been lights-out in his sophomore campaign, registering back-to-back scoreless starts in the hitter-friendly California League to begin the year. The 20-year-old southpaw was particularly good in his most recent turn, striking out seven in five innings while facing three over the minimum.

RHP: Grayson Rodriguez, Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A)
(Orioles’ No. 5 prospect)
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 11 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 20 K, 0.73 WHIP

The Orioles’ 2018 first-round pick has been the definition of dominant at the outset of his first full season, posting consecutive 10-strikeout performances during which he’s allowed just three hits (all singles) across 11 innings. His 20 strikeouts matched the total from his 19 1/3-inning pro debut and were tied for the most among Top 30 hurlers during the first PTOW period.

RP: James Karinchak, Akron RubberDucks (Double-A)
(Indians’ No. 30 prospect)
0-0, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 4 G, 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.27 WHIP

Karinchak proved unhittable as he struck out 11 of 13 batters across his first four outings. He struck out the side in his first three appearances before earning his first Double-A save on Saturday, when he fanned the only two batters he faced. Strikeouts have been a theme for the 23-year-old right-hander, who has racked up 123 in 75 2/3 innings (14.6 K/9) as a pro.