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Tuesday's top prospect performers

@wboor
March 10, 2020

It’s no secret that Nico Hoerner can hit and the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect continues to prove it.

It’s no secret that Nico Hoerner can hit and the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect continues to prove it.

Hoerner, who is a career .297 hitter in the Minors, hit .282 in 20 Major League games last year and has continued to impress offensively in Spring Training.

Yes, Spring Training stats aren’t exactly the best measuring stick for regular-season success, but it’s certainly preferable to have a prospect perform well in spring and Hoerner has done exactly that. The No. 51 overall prospect was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate against the Giants on Tuesday, while also drawing a walk and scoring a pair of runs. Hoerner has hit .310 through 12 games and has also walked more times (five) than he’s struck out (four).

Here's a look at how other top prospects fared on Tuesday:

Royce Lewis, SS, Twins No. 1, No. 9 in MLB
Lewis can do a bit of everything and showed as much in the Twins loss to the Phillies. The 20-year-old, who finished 1-for-3, provided the Twins’ lone run of the game with a solo blast out to left in the third inning. The homer, Lewis’ second of Spring Training, however, was just one of two impressive plays the shortstop made. Lewis also showed off his defensive skillset in the fourth inning when he fielded a ball in the hole and made a jump-throw across the diamond to retire Adam Haseley. Alex Kirilloff, the Twins’ No. 2 prospect, continued his hot spring with a 1-for-3 afternoon. Kirilloff turned in his second double of the year and is batting .474 (9-for-19) through nine games.

Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox No. 3, No. 20 in MLB
Kopech is back. The hard-throwing right-hander, appearing in his first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, threw a scoreless inning and reached triple digits with several of his pitches. Kopech got the first two batters he faced to ground out and then finished his outing with a strikeout.

Logan Gilbert, RHP, Mariners No. 3, No. 38 in MLB
Gilbert cruised through two scoreless frames and struck out three of the six batters he faced. The 22-year-old, a first-round pick from the 2018 Draft, hasn’t given up a run yet this spring (four innings pitched) and has held opponents to a .077 batting average. Gilbert, who has a chance to reach Seattle late in 2020, is coming off a strong first full season as he posted a 2.13 ERA over 26 starts and worked his way up to Double-A Arkansas.

Santiago Espinal, 2B/SS, Blue Jays No. 22
It’s hard to have a bigger impact on a game than hitting a two-run, go-ahead homer in the ninth inning and that’s exactly what Espinal did in Toronto’s win over the Yankees. Espinal has hit well all spring, batting .350 (7-for-20) through 11 games. What’s even more impressive is the fact that five of his seven hits have gone for extra bases.

Sterling Sharp, RHP, Marlins No. 28
Sharp has pitched well all spring and that trend continued with two scoreless innings against the Nationals, the organization that originally drafted him back in 2016. Sharp, 24, retired the side in order in the fifth and then showed his ability to work out of trouble in the sixth. After the first two batters reached via a walk and an error, Sharp notched a strikeout and induced a ground-ball double play to escape the frame. Overall, Sharp has pitched to a 1.00 ERA through five games and has fanned 11 over nine innings.

James Bourque, RHP, Nationals No. 23
Simply put, Bourque was unhittable against the Marlins. The 26-year-old, who made his big league debut last May, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out three of the four batters he faced. Bourque has pitched in six games this spring (6 1/3 innings), given up two runs and struck out 11.

Jose Garcia, SS, Reds No. 5
Garcia put the Reds on the board and jump-started a four-run fifth inning with a leadoff homer. Garcia, 21, has homered four times in 13 spring games after going deep eight times in 104 games with Class A Advanced Daytona last season. Alfredo Rodriguez, the Reds’ No. 17 prospect, also contributed in the fifth inning as he smacked his second homer of the year, a pinch-hit, two-run blast out to left.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.