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.
When the White Sox traded Jose Quintana to the Cubs last July, they acquired not one but two Top 100 Prospects as part of a four-player package. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez monopolizes the headlines and ranks as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, though right-hander Dylan Cease is climbing the charts and sits at No. 45.
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Cease might have been a first-round pick as a Georgia high schooler in 2014, but a right elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery derailed those plans. He has been brought along slowly since signing for $1.5 million as a sixth-rounder, not topping 100 innings in a season until this season.
Cease has a 94-98 mph fastball that reaches triple digits as well as one of the best curveballs in the Minors, and both pitches were working on Wednesday. He recorded his best start of the season, retiring the first 20 batters while striking out 12 in seven shutout innings. That earned Cease his second Prospect Team of the Week acclaim of the year and improved his overall record to 11-2 with a 2.87 ERA, 124 strikeouts and a .199 opponent average in 100 1/3 innings between high Class A and Double-A.
2018 Prospect Teams of the Week
The complete PTOW, based on games from July 23-29:
C: Joey Bart, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (short-season)
(Giants' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 36)
.444/.522/1.000, 5 G, 18 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB
The No. 2 overall choice in the 2018 Draft and recipient of the largest up-front bonus ($7.025 million) ever for a position player, Bart has made an easy transition to pro ball. He homered twice on Friday and didn't strike out all week, boosting his season totals to .324/.374/.695 with nine homers in 26 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Salem-Keizer.
1B: Brent Rooker, Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A)
(Twins' No. 7 prospect)
.500/.606/.923, 7 G, 26 AB, 5 R, 13 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 BB, 3 SO
After joining Rafael Palmeiro as the only players to win the Southeastern Conference Triple Crown, Rooker has an outside chance to accomplish the feat in the Southern League. He had three homers and five multihit games last week and ranks first in the SL in RBI (67), second in homers (20) and sixth in batting (.277). Rooker is hitting .277/.343/.522 overall and .313/.398/.627 in the past two months.
2B: Tyler Frank, Hudson Valley Renegades (short-season)
(Rays' No. 30 prospect)
.533/.682/.800, 5 G, 15 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB
One of the best offensive middle infielders in the 2018 college class, Frank has lived up to that reputation since signing as a second-rounder. He hit safely in each of his five games and reached base a total of 15 times last week. That gave Frank a debut line of .325/.466/.491 in 33 games and the New York-Penn League lead in on-base percentage and OPS (.957).
3B: Mark Vientos, Kingsport Mets (Rookie)
(Mets' No. 10 prospect )
.375/.500/.833, 7 G, 24 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 BB, 2 SO
Inconsistency dogged Vientos during his high school senior season in 2018, ending his first-round aspirations, and through much of his first two pro summers. He heated up last week, however, and had the best game of his pro career on Friday when he slammed two homers and drove in seven runs. Vientos is batting .262/.341/.467 with six homers in 31 games.
SS: Jeremiah Jackson, AZL Angels (Rookie)
(Angels' No. 15 prospect)
.435/.536/1.087, 6 G, 23 AB, 8 R, 10 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB
Similar to Frank, Jackson was one of the best offensive middle infielders in this year's high school class and also went in the second round. He homered four times last week, including twice on Friday, while hitting safely in all six games. Jackson is now batting .333/.391/.628 with five homers and six steals in 20 contests.
OF: Dylan Cozens, Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A)
(Phillies' No. 16 prospect)
.476/.577/1.238, 6 G, 21 AB, 6 R, 10 H, 4 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 5 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB
Cozens hasn't been able to parlay topping the Minors with 40 homers in 2016 into a role with Philadelphia, so he keeps bashing away. He homered four times last week, including twice in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader, to tie for the International League lead with 18 and claim his second PTOW honor of the year. Cozens also had four multi-RBI games and is now batting .251/.351/.545 in 67 contests.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Cozens crushes homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2306619983
OF: Alex Kirilloff, Fort Myers Miracle (high Class A)
(Twins' No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 31)
.556/.581/.889, 7 G, 27 AB, 9 R, 15 H, 6 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
Kirilloff continued his strong comeback after missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery, leading all Minor Leaguers with 15 hits while earning his second PTOW accolade of the year. He had five multihit games, extended his hitting streak to 13 contests and raised his season line to .350/.396/.596 with 16 homers in 99 contests between two Class A stops.
OF: Ramon Laureano, Nashville Sounds (Triple-A)
(A's No. 21 prospect)
.560/.633/1.200, 6 G, 25 AB, 9 R, 14 H, 4 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO, 2 SB
Laureano broke a finger when hit by a pitch during Spring Training, costing him the first seven weeks of the season, then didn't do much in May or June. He's starting to heat up, homering in four games last week and recording multiple hits five times. Laureano is batting .365/.443/.683 with eight homers in July and .291/.376/.515 overall with 13 homers in 62 games.
LHP: Trevor Rogers, Greensboro Grasshoppers (low Class A)
(Marlins' No. 10 prospect)
0-0, 1.32 ERA, 2 G, 13 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 19 SO, 0.73 WHIP
The 13th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Rogers didn't pitch professionally last summer and got rocked for a 9.19 ERA in his first six starts this year. He has fared much better in July, logging the best start of his career on Sunday (12 strikeouts, one hit in 7 2/3 shutout innings) and topping all Minor Leaguers with 19 strikeouts last week. Rogers has an overall record of 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA and a 65/20 K/BB ratio in 54 1/3 innings.
RHP: Dylan Cease, Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
(White Sox No. 5 prospect/MLB No. 45)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO, 0.29 WHIP
Cease was leading the high Class A Carolina League in wins (nine) and strikeouts (82) when he was promoted in mid-June. After giving up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in his Double-A debut, he has surrendered a total of just four in four starts since while fanning 35 hitters in 24 innings. Cease and Shane Bieber are the only right-handers to make multiple PTOWs in 2018, doing so twice each.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Cease caps gem with strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2310233083
RP: Richard Lovelady, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
(Royals' No. 14 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 SV, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 WHIP
A revelation since the Royals drafted him in the 10th round two years ago out of Kennesaw State, Lovelady is pushing for a big league promotion after allowing one run in his past 24 innings, including a pair of perfect two-inning outings last week. He's now 3-1 with five saves and a 2.57 ERA in 34 appearances, limiting opponents to a .208 average while striking out 50 in 56 innings.