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.
A strained patellar tendon in his left knee sidelined Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for five weeks, and that's apparently the only way to stop baseball's best prospect from hitting. Since coming back in mid-July, the Blue Jays third baseman has breezed through a four-game rehab assignment, homered three times in seven games when he returned to Double-A and laughed at Triple-A pitching.
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Just 19, Guerrero homered in four straight contests last week, batted .458/.458/1.000 in six games overall and claimed his record fifth Prospect Team of the Week accolade of 2018. That's a single-season record since we started the PTOW in 2015, eclipsing AJ Reed ('15), Kyle Schwarber ('15), Gary Sanchez ('16) and Brendan Rodgers ('17), who each had four mentions.
Guerrero also notched the sixth PTOW honor of his career, leaving him one behind Lewis Brinson, Tyler O'Neill and Rodgers for the most all-time. He leads the Minors in hitting (.400), slugging (.681), OPS (1.135) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.454).
Below is the complete PTOW, based on games from Aug. 6-12:
2018 Prospect Teams of the Week
C: Deon Stafford, West Virginia Power (low Class A)
(Pirates' No. 30 prospect)
.364/.400/.773, 6 G, 22 AB, 8 R, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO
Stafford drove in six runs on Saturday, snapping a 1-1 tie with a two-run double in the eighth inning and then swatting a grand slam in the ninth. His big night propelled him to his second PTOW of the year and improved his season line to .267/.326/.445 with eight homers in 76 games.
1B: Michael Chavis, Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A)
(Red Sox's No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 99)
.560/.593/.880, 6 G, 25 AB, 7 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB
Chavis placed third in the Minors with 68 extra-base hits and fifth with 31 homers in 2017, and he's back slugging after serving an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the offseason. He homered twice on Thursday, topped all Minor Leaguers with 14 hits last week and is batting .309/.404/.556 with five homers in 22 Double-A games.
2B: Bret Boswell, Lancaster JetHawks (Class A Advanced)
(Rockies' No. 29 prospect)
.409/.464/.955, 6 G, 22 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 10 SO, 1 SB
Lancaster might be the most favorable hitting enviroment in the Minors and Boswell has taken advantage since his July 31 promotion, going deep twice on Wednesday and collecting four hits on Thursday. Between two Class A stops, he's batting .295/.338/.526 with 22 homers in 108 games during his first full pro season.
3B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A)
(Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 1)
.458/.458/1.000, 6 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SO
Guerrero is now batting .395/.489/.763 through 12 Triple-A games after hitting .402/.449/.671 in Double-A. He has as many homers as strikeouts (four) in Triple-A and has whiffed in just 9.8 percent of his overall plate appearances -- and remember he's just 19. Guerrero's career line: .333/.417/.534 with 109 extra-base hits, 139 walks and 129 strikeouts in 258 games.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Vlad Jr. goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2373539083
SS: Wander Franco, Princeton Rays (Rookie)
(Rays' No. 4 prospect/MLB No. 40)
.500/.571/.708, 6 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO
The youngest and best of the three brothers named Wander Franco currently playing in the Minors, he was the top international amateur on the 2017 market. Making his pro debut at age 17, he has reached base in 40 consecutive games and collected at least one hit and one RBI in each of his six games last week to make the PTOW for the second time. Franco is the second-youngest regular in the Appalachian League and tops the circuit in batting, hits (65), total bases (108) and RBIs (45) while hitting .367/.421/.610 with eight homers in 44 games.
OF: Austin Dean, New Orleans Baby Cakes (Triple-A)
(Marlins' No. 29 prospect)
.647/.700/1.353, 5 G, 17 AB, 7 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO
Dean was arguably the hottest hitter in the Minors last week, leading everyone in slugging (1.353) and OPS (2.053) while ranking second in batting (.647) and third in on-base percentage (.700). He already has established career highs in most categories this year, posting a combined .346/.412/.514 line with 12 homers in 108 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Dean blasts off - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2361159083
OF: Alek Thomas, Missoula Osprey (Rookie)
(D-backs' No. 6 prospect)
.467/.600/1.000, 4 G, 15 AB, 10 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 4 SO
A second-round pick in June, Thomas hit his first professional home run on Thursday and went deep again on Sunday, part of a week in which he reached bases 12 times in four games and led all Minor Leaguers with 10 runs. He's hitting .348/.417/.484 in 37 games between two Rookie levels.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Thomas rips double - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2371359183
OF: Kyle Tucker, Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A)
(Astros' No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 8)
.471/.471/1.059, 4 G, 17 AB, 8 R, 8 H ,1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SO, 2 SB
Tucker began the week by homering in three consecutive games and finished it in Houston after getting called up to replace the injured Jake Marisnick. His second PTOW mention of 2018 is the sixth of his career, tying him with J.D. Davis, Guerrero and Jordan Patterson for one shy of the all-time lead. Tucker is batting .311/.373/.532 with 17 homers and 17 steals in 89 games, though he's just 7-for-48 (.146) in the big leagues.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Tucker connects on homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2367347683
LHP: Joe Palumbo, Down East Wood Ducks (Class A Advanced)
(Rangers' No. 8 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO, 0.40 WHIP
Palumbo had his best outing since having Tommy John surgery in 2017, striking out 11 of the 18 batters he faced in five scoreless innings on Tuesday. He now has a 3.52 ERA, 40/4 K/BB ratio and .225 opponent average in 30 2/3 innings between Rookie ball and high Class A.
RHP: Deivi Garcia, Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced)
(Yankees' No. 12 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO, 0.00 WHIP
Garcia would have had a perfect game in the nightcap of a doubleheader last Monday, but Tampa couldn't score and lost both the perfecto and the game thanks to an error in the eighth inning. Just 19, he's having no trouble handling Class A hitters, logging a 3.10 ERA, 82/13 K/BB ratio and a .176 opponent average in 52 1/3 innings between two stops.
RP: Jose Ruiz, Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
(White Sox No. 24 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 SV, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 WHIP
The White Sox claimed Ruiz off waivers from the Padres last December and may have gotten a steal. He retired all nine batters he faced last week, four via strikeouts, and has a 3.20 ERA, 70/18 K/BB ratio and .184 opponent average in 50 2/3 innings between high Class A and Double-A.