Double-A stars headline Prospect Team of the Week

May 9th, 2022

With the first full week of May games in the rearview mirror, some familiar names and some newcomers arrive on the latest edition of the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week.

A new name emerges at the catcher spot for the first time since mid-April while a returnee pops up at shortstop as he continues his blazing hot offensive campaign. Only one organization claims multiple honorees this week with a pair of Rangers prospects among the position-player group. The hottest debate among selections was in the outfield, where a Mets youngster edged out a D-backs star in the making. To be eligible for the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week, Minor League players must be ranked among their club's Top 30 prospects on Pipeline's lists. (Those in the Majors do not qualify.)

This is the Prospect Team of the Week for May 2-8:

Catcher: Sam Huff, Round Rock Express (Triple-A)
Rangers No. 11

.333/.500/1.133, 4 G, 5-for-15, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 4 K

For just the second time this season, a catcher not named Shea Langeliers nabs our weekly honor, and this week it goes to Texas prospect Huff, who played just four games but crushed for Triple-A Round Rock. After returning from his first big league game of the season on April 30, Huff was behind the plate twice and served as the Express' designated hitter twice. In just 15 at-bats and 20 total plate appearances, Huff reached base 10 times, with four of his five hits leaving the ballpark. After cranking a three-run homer and adding a walk on Tuesday at Reno, Huff homered twice more and drove in four on Wednesday, then went 2-for-4 with yet another long ball on Thursday. Friday night, the only game of the award period in which he didn’t reach via a hit, Huff walked twice. The backstop had a rough 2021 after a knee injury suffered during Spring Training limited him to just first base and DH duties following two months out of action. Through 19 games this season with the Express, Huff is now batting .260/.349/.575.

1B: Jordan Diaz, Midland RockHounds (Double-A)
Athletics No. 13

.348/.400/.913, 6 G, 8-for-23, 4 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Though he’s listed as a third baseman on his Athletics Top 30 Prospects page, Diaz hasn’t played at the hot corner yet this season. Instead, he’s making himself at home across the diamond at first, as well as in left field. The versatile Colombian slugger surged during his team’s series at Amarillo last week with hits in the first five contests of the six-game set, and he saved his best performance for last. After notching a single hit in each of Midland’s first four games at Amarillo, including homers on Wednesday and Thursday, Diaz went off on Saturday night. The 21-year-old headlined his team’s 12-11 win with a 4-for-5 showing, featuring a homer, two doubles and six RBIs, a new career high. Diaz owned a slash line of just .235/.297/.368 for the season entering the series opener and exited the week boasting marks of .264/.323/.505 through 23 games this year.

2B: Ezequiel Duran, Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A)
Rangers No. 4, MLB No. 81

.462/.462/.846, 6 G, 12-for-26, 2 HR, 4 2B, 8 RBI, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 SB

Duran didn’t work a walk last week, probably because when you’re swinging a bat as hot as he was, there’s no need. Texas’ second base prospect scorched his way through Frisco’s six-game series against visiting Arkansas with hits in each game and multihit games is his final four. The most blistering stretch of Duran’s hot week came from Thursday through Saturday when the 22-year-old went 8-for-13 with a homer, four doubles and five RBIs. In addition to recording hits in all six games of the week, Duran had at least one RBI in the final five, including three contests with two driven in. Like Diaz, Duran’s numbers were pedestrian entering the week (.225/.279/.375) and much more impressive coming out of it (.283/.321/.491 through 25 games).

3B: Lenyn Sosa, Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
White Sox No. 21

.423/.464/.808, 6 G, 11-for-26, 2 HR, 1 3B, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 7 R, 1 BB, 3 K

After making the jump to Double-A last year at just 21 -- and posting a paltry .522 OPS in 33 games -- Sosa is showing he’s ready for the level in his age-22 season. Last week was just the latest impressive stretch in a season that’s seen the infielder play second, third and shortstop all while registering a .350/.433/.553 slash line through 26 games. Against visiting Tennessee, Sosa put up four straight multihit contests and hits in each of his last five games of the week. The Venezuela native started his streak with a 2-for-5 game, featuring a double and RBI, on Wednesday and popped off the next two days. Sosa went a combined 6-for-11 on Thursday and Friday with two homers, a double, five RBIs and three runs scored. Though he notched only one hit on Sunday, it was his first triple since June 6, 2021.

SS: Jacob Amaya, Tulsa Drillers (Double-A)
Dodgers No. 19

.533/.632/1.067, 5 G, 8-for-15, 1 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 SB

Following a week hiatus, Amaya is back on the Prospect Team of the Week roster for the second time this season thanks to yet another eye-popping series at the dish. Amaya tallied hits in all five games he played at Wichita, with five of his eight total knocks going for extra bases. The shortstop’s three doubles for the week all came on Saturday night when he scored and drove in a run. Amaya was also in the lineup for both doubleheaders in a sodden week that saw the Drillers and Wind Surge rained out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In twin bills on Friday and Sunday, Amaya went a combined 5-for-10 with a homer and a triple, both on the series’ final day. In 22 Double-A games this season, Amaya has batted .351/.473/.797 with 17 extra-base hits, including seven homers, among his 26 total hits. The 23-year-old has driven in 15 runs and showcased an impressive command of the strike zone with 15 walks against 12 strikeouts for the campaign.

OF: Dominic Fletcher, Amarillo Sod Poodles (Double-A)
D-backs No. 18

.444/.474/1.278, 4 G, 8-for-18, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Opposite Diaz and Midland in an offense-heavy series in Amarillo, Fletcher helped lead the Sod Poodles to a six-game split. Like Diaz, he finished with a flourish. Fletcher had a good series entering Sunday, going 4-for-12 with three homers and three RBIs in his first three games. On Sunday, he pushed it from good to great. Fletcher went 4-for-6 with two homers, a career-best seven RBIs -- he’d never had more than four in a game previously -- and three runs scored. That line sparked Amarillo to an 18-run, 21-hit outburst that featured three multihomer performances. Arizona’s No. 2 prospect and MLB’s No. 19 overall Corbin Carroll belted a pair, as did D-backs No. 24 Blaze Alexander. The four-hit day ran Fletcher’s hitting streak to 11 straight games, a stretch that has pushed his season slash line to .316/.377/.568.

OF: JJ Bleday, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Triple-A)
Marlins No. 6, MLB No. 67

.429/.556/.952, 6 G, 9-for-21, 3 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 7 R, 6 BB, 4 K

After struggling through his first 18 games of the season, Bleday is figuring out the Triple-A level. The fourth overall pick in the 2019 Draft saw a nine-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday in Jacksonville’s series finale at Memphis but still has busted out of his early -season growing pains. Bleday kicked off the award period by doubling on a two-hit Tuesday, then 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in his next two games, homering in the latter. In the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, the outfielder homered, doubled, walked, drove in two runs and scored two and finished the night with his first three-hit game since last Sept. 8. While Bleday’s overall slash line sits at an already solid .240/.382/.470 in 28 games, his numbers since the start of his hitting streak are even more impressive. In his last 10 games, dating back to April 28, the Vanderbilt product has slashed .378/.489/.784 with four homers, 10 RBIs and eight walks against eight strikeouts.

OF: Alex Ramirez, St. Lucie Mets (Low-A)
Mets No. 6

.536/.552/.893, 6 G, 15-for-28, 1 HR, 2 3B, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 SB

The final spot on this week’s outfield trio was the most hotly contested with Ramirez edging out Arizona’s Carroll. While Carroll surged at the end of the week with four homers over his final two games and was undoubtedly impressive with a 1.408 OPS in six games, the sheer volume of Ramirez’s hitting performance gave him the nod. The Mets prospect more than doubled Carroll’s hit total (six) for the award period and had four games with three hits or more. Ramirez went 7-for-10 in his first two games of the week with a pair of doubles. Then, after going 0-for-5 on Thursday in his lone blip for the week, refocused himself to go 8-for-13 with a homer, two triples and a double over his final three contests, driving in five. Ramirez is back in St. Lucie after spending 2021 there at just 18 years old. Last season, he slashed .258/.326/.384 in 76 games. In 24 contests this season, he’s conquering the level with a .385/.423/.606 line.

Also receiving votes: Corbin Carroll (D-backs)

LHP: Ken Waldichuk, Somerset Patriots (Double-A)
Yankees No. 6

1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K, 0.60 WHIP

Waldichuk had pitched into or through the fifth in all of his four terrific April starts but hadn’t shown anything quite as dominant as his first outing of May. The southpaw struck out a new career-high 12 -- as many as his previous two starts combined -- over five hitless frames against New Hampshire in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader to help lift Somerset to a split of the twin bill after back-to-back days of rainouts. Waldichuk walked three and faced two over the minimum but kept Fisher Cats hitters guessing over his 83 pitches (49 strikes). The Saint Mary’s product reached double figures in strikeouts six times last year for Somerset and High-A Hudson Valley, topping out at 11 over 6 1/3 innings on July 13 at Richmond. Through his five starts this year, Waldichuk is now 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .127 opponents’ average against and 40 strikeouts against nine walks in 23 2/3 innings pitched, good for a 44.9 strikeout percentage, up from 31.8 percent in his 16 games (14 starts) at Double-A last year.

RHP: Taj Bradley, Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A)
Rays No. 3, MLB No. 72

0-0, 0.90 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 0.30 WHIP

In the Minor Leagues’ new era of, generally, one start per week for rotation members, Bradley got the ball twice during our award period and made the most of his time on the hill Tuesday and Sunday against visiting Biloxi. In his first outing of the week, the righty yielded one run on one hit, a solo homer by MLB’s No. 96 overall prospect, Milwaukee’s Joey Wiemer. Otherwise, Bradley was nearly perfect, issuing a walk and striking out seven. Five days later, he was even better. Bradley surrendered just one single in five scoreless innings, striking out five without a walk. The 2018 fifth-round pick’s week came as a strong rebound from his lone rough outing of the season so far. After giving up just two runs on 10 hits over 14 innings through his first three starts, Bradley was touched up for six tallies (five earned) on six hits over four innings on April 27 against Mississippi. His two starts against the Shuckers dropped Bradley’s ERA to 2.57 through six appearances this year.

RP: Adrian Hernandez, Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A)
Blue Jays No. 18

1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.33 WHIP

Called on for action in the second game of a Wednesday doubleheader and again on Friday night, Hernandez was perfect for Buffalo against visiting Durham. Over two innings in his first appearance of the week, the right-hander struck out three to bridge the starting effort of Jeremy Beasley (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) and the closing performance of Kyle Johnston (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K). Hernandez threw 18 of his 25 pitches for strikes and earned his first win of the season in Buffalo’s 5-0 victory, contributing to a two-hit shutout for his staff. Two days later, Hernandez fired nine strikes in 16 pitches to retire the only three batters he faced, two via strikeouts, and hold the line as the Bisons walked off with a 5-4 victory. Hernandez started the season with three appearances for Double-A New Hampshire. Since being promoted to Buffalo in mid-April, the righty from Mexico has thrown six hitless innings in six appearances, striking out 10 against two walks and facing just two over the minimum.