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.
The Indians made Will Benson the 14th overall pick in the 2016 Draft because they loved his size (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) and power/speed combination. He has had trouble living up to the expectations that come with being a first-round pick, however.
In his first three pro seasons, Benson batted a combined .202/.330/.410 with a 32 percent strikeout rate. He did lead the low Class A Midwest League with 22 home runs last season, but his .180 batting average was the second-worst among full-season qualifiers in the Minors.
Benson returned to the Lake County Captains this April and while the season is less than three weeks old, his early returns have been promising. The highlight of his young career came on Thursday, when he hit four homers and drove in eight runs in a 12-6 defeat of the South Bend Cubs. It was the first four-homer game in the Minors since Mike Ford accomplished the feat on May 25, 2014.
For the week, Benson batted .444/.500/1.333 with five homers and 12 RBI in five games, making him the spotlight performer on our Prospect Team of the Week. Below is the complete squad for games of April 15-21:
C: Jake Rogers, C Erie SeaWolves (Double-A)
(Tigers No. 13 prospect)
.556/.647/1.222, 4 G, 9 AB, 5 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB
One of the best defensive catchers in the Minors, Rogers isn't as accomplished offensively and got off to a 3-for-20 start this season. He reversed course last week, with his 1.869 OPS leading all Top 30 Prospects as he reached base 11 times in 17 trips to the plate and had a two-homer game on Tuesday. He's batting .276/.452/.552 with two homers in 10 games -- and he has erased five of the seven basestealers who have tested him.
1B: Ryan Mountcastle, Norfolk Tides (Triple-A)
(Orioles No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 67)
.370/.357/.889, 7 G, 27 AB, 8 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 7 SO
The best all-around hitter in the Orioles system began this season by going 9-for-39 without a homer, but Mountcastle looked more like his normal self last week. He went deep in four different games and drove in a run in six of his seven contests, and now he's hitting .288/.319/.545 with four homers and 17 RBI in 18 games.
2B: Diosbel Arias, Down East Wood Ducks (high Class A)
(Rangers No. 19 prospect)
.444/.484/.667, 7 G, 27 AB, 3 R, 12 H, 4 2B, 1, 3B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 9 SO
After leading the short-season Northwest League in batting (.366) and on-base percentage (.451) in his U.S. debut last summer, Arias is putting up similar numbers after skipping a level to high Class A. He's riding an eight-game hitting streak during which he has batted .484 to raise his season line to .365/.423/.492 with six doubles in 17 contests.
3B: Lucas Erceg, San Antonio Missions (Triple-A)
(Brewers No. 8 prospect)
.409/.458/.818, 6 G, 22 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 9 SO
Erceg hit safely in each of his six games last week after putting together just one streak at least as long (nine games) during a rough 2018 season in Double-A. He's batting .313/.414/.646 overall with four homers in 16 games and looking like the slugging third baseman the Brewers hoped they were getting in the second round of the 2016 Draft.
SS: Omar Estevez, Tulsa Drillers (Double-A)
(Dodgers No. 19 prospect)
.571/.591/.905, 6 G, 21 AB, 4 R, 12 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO
Signed for $6 million (and a matching amount in penalty tax) out of Cuba in November 2015, Estevez had an advanced bat but didn't show it on a consistent basis until the final six weeks of last season, when he batted .340/.418/.547 in high Class A. He has been even hotter in 2019, recording four multi-hit games (including three three-hit performances) in five starts last week. He tops the Texas League in batting (.443), hits (27), doubles (eight), extra-base hits (10) and total bases (41) while ranking second in OPS (1.142) and third in on-base percentage (.470) and slugging (.672).
OF: Yordan Alvarez, Round Rock Express (Triple-A)
(Astros No. 3 prospect/MLB No. 41)
.273/.360/.727, 6 G, 22 AB, 5 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO
Alvarez and Indians reliever James Karinchak (see below) are the only players who have made both of the PTOWs this season. He hit three more home runs last week and is tied with Padres Triple-A infielder Ty France for the Minor League lead with nine, and he hasn't gone more than two games without going deep all season. One of the best offensive prospects in baseball, he's off to the best start on Minor League Baseball's most talented team, batting .315/.439/.870 with 23 RBI in 16 games.
OF: Seth Beer, Fayetteville Woodpeckers (high Class A)
(Astros No. 10 prospect)
.391/.440/.957, 6 G, 23 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 CS
Beer posted loud numbers in three years at Clemson and has done so since the Astros drafted him 28th overall last June. He had a pair of three-hit games last week, each of which included multiple extra-base hits, and is batting .333/.403/.540 with three homers and 17 RBI in 16 games.
OF: Will Benson, Lake County Captains (low Class A)
(Indians No. 25 prospect)
.444/.500/1.333, 5 G, 18 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 1 2B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1 SB
Benson's big week boosted his season line to .340/.426/.830 with six homers in 13 games, though he's still striking out at a 39 percent clip. He tops the Midwest League in runs (14), homers, slugging and OPS (1.256).
LHP: Tarik Skubal, Lakeland Flying Tigers (high Class A)
(Tigers No. 20 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0.50 WHIP
Pitching on the same Lakeland club as 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize, Skubal has been nearly as impressive. He hasn't allowed more than one run in any of his three starts, and he struck out a career-high 10 in six shutout innings last Monday. He ranks second in the Florida State League in opponent average (.135) and WHIP (0.63) and third in ERA (1.13), and he also has a 20/3 K/BB ratio in 16 innings.
RHP: Trey Supak, Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A)
(Brewers No. 11 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 13 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO, 0.46 WHIP
Supak has permitted a run in just one of his four starts this year, including a pair of scoreless outings last week during which he set down 38 of the 44 batters he faced. He's making a case that he's the Brewers' best pitching prospect and is now 1-1 with a 1.52 ERA and a .141 opponent average in 23 2/3 innings.
RP: James Karinchak, Akron RubberDucks (Double-A)
(Indians No. 30 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 G, 2 SV, 3 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0.30 WHIP
Karinchak is now 3-for-3 in save opportunities and 2-for-2 in making the PTOW in 2019. Using a fastball that can reach the upper 90s and a 12-6 curveball, he retired 10 of the 11 batters he faced last week (seven via strikeouts) and has yet to give up a hit this year. His overall season line: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 18 SO.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.