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.
We're just seven weeks into the Minor League season, and already guys have matched the records for the most Prospect Team of the Week mentions in a single year by a position player and a pitcher.
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Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- heard of him? -- has made the PTOW four times in 2018, all in the last five weeks. He equals A.J. Reed (2015), Kyle Schwarber (2015), Gary Sanchez (2016) and Brendan Rodgers (2017) as the only four-time honorees since we started picking the team three years ago. Guerrero also has earned PTOW acclaim three weeks in a row, something previously accomplished only by Lewis Brinson (2015).
Orioles left-hander Zac Lowther isn't nearly as famous as Guerrero but he has been just as dominant on the mound. He's a three-time PTOWer this year, joining Thomas Szapucki (2016) as the only pitcher to make that claim. While all of the past PTOW hitters mentioned in the preceding paragraph have reached the big leagues, Szapucki currently is recuperating from Tommy John surgery as a Mets farmhand.
2018 Prospect Teams of the Week
Here's our complete PTOW for games of May 21-27:
C: Tom Murphy, Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A)
(Rockies' No. 11 prospect)
.333/.429/.750, 7 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 9 SO
No stranger to the PTOW either, Murphy made it three times in 2016 and might have taken over as the Rockies' big league catcher last year had he not fractured his forearm in Spring Training. He homered twice last week to give him 13 in 41 games in 2018 (tied for third in the Pacific Coast League) and 43 in 192 career Triple-A contests. He's batting .306/.375/.669 overall.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Murphy goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2091362683
1B: Jake Gatewood, Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A)
(Brewers' No. 17 prospect)
.375/.444/.917, 6 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 9 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO
Gatewood batted just .167/.250/.333 in April but is hitting .309/.350/.564 in May. He tied for the Minor League lead with seven extra-base hits last week, including three doubles on Monday and two homers on Sunday. His season slash line now stands at .242/.302/.455 in 48 games, and his nine homers are one shy of the Southern League lead.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Gatewood's 2nd homer of the game - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2091311683
2B: Keston Hiura, Carolina Mudcats (high Class A)
(Brewers' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 50)
.414/.469/.655, 7 G, 29 AB, 5 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 2 CS
Hiura is another Brewer who has shrugged off a cold April (.238/.301/.333) with a hot May (.349/.408/.606). Considered the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft, where Milwaukee selected him ninth overall, he had five multihit games last week. He's batting .301/.362/.487 in 47 games and tops the Carolina League with 15 doubles and 23 extra-base hits.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Hiura hits walk-off - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2083266683
3B: Vladimir Guerrero, New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A)
(Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 2)
.500/.542/.818, 6 G, 22 AB, 6 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO
Guerrero had four multihit games in six tries last week, extended his on-base streak to all 35 games and boosted his season stats to .431/.480/.713 with 10 homers. He leads the entire Minor Leagues in batting, hits (75) and total bases (124) and tops the Eastern League in those categories plus doubles (17), extra-base hits (28), RBI (49), slugging and OPS (1.193). All that at age 19.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Vlad Jr. sends one out - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2079842183
SS: Jonathan Arauz, Quad Cities River Bandits (low Class A)
(Astros' No. 21 prospect)
.519/.567/.741, 7 G, 27 AB, 5 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS
After batting just .220/.331/.276 in 36 games while getting his first taste of low Class A last year, Arauz has looked like a different hitter in his return to the Midwest League. He recorded five multihit games last week to improve to .293/.392/.483 in 47 games. He tripled twice and ranks second in the Minors with six three-base hits.
OF: Daz Cameron, Lakeland Flying Tigers (high Class A)
(Tigers' No. 9 prospect)
.423/.483/.846, 7 G, 26 AB, 7 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 SB
The son of former all-star Mike Cameron and part of the Justin Verlander trade with the Astros last August, Cameron is enjoying his best season as a pro. He homered twice on Wednesday and is riding a 12-game hitting streak while batting .302/.388/.440 with 14 extra-base hits and seven steals in 42 games.
OF: Eloy Jimenez, Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
(White Sox No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 3)
.360/.448/.760, 6 G, 25 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 8 SO
If it weren't for Guerrero, we'd be hailing Jimenez as the best prospect in the Minors. After missing the first two weeks of the season with a left pectoral strain and taking two weeks to get his timing back, he's batting .384/.431/.667 in May. Four multihit games last week raised his line to .336/.379/.623 with nine homers in 36 contests, and he paces the Southern League in slugging.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Eloy belts grand slam - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2087754483
OF: Cedric Mullins, Bowie Baysox (Double-A)
(Orioles' No. 6 prospect)
.560/.607/.680, 6 G, 25 AB, 9 R, 14 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 3 SB
A steal as a 13th-rounder out of Campbell in 2015, Mullins can do a little bit of everything and showed that last week with two three-hit games, a four-hit contest, two extra-base knocks and three steals. He has a .972 OPS in May and is batting .319/.368/.521 with six homers and eight steals in 46 games.
LHP: Zac Lowther, Delmarva Shorebirds (low Class A)
(Orioles' No. 15 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, 0.67 WHIP
Thanks to the life, command, extension and deception with his fastball, Lowther was a strikeout machine in college at Xavier and continues to be one in pro ball. Last week he recorded his third scoreless outing and third with double-digit whiffs in six starts this year, boosting his record to 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA, 51/9 K/BB ratio and .115 opponent average in 31 innings.
RHP: Shane Bieber, Columbus Clippers (Triple-A)
(Indians' No. 3 prospect/MLB No. 100)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 1 CG, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 0.00 WHIP
Since signing as a fourth-rounder out of UC Santa Barbara in 2016, Bieber has pounded the strike zone and dominated everywhere he has gone. He turned in the best outing of his pro career on Friday, tossing a seven-inning no-hitter while needing just 80 pitches (61 strikes) and facing the minimum 21 batters. He missed out on a perfect game only because his shortstop made an error.
Bieber has gone 5-1 with a 1.10 ERA in 10 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this year, and he leads the Minors in WHIP (0.70), K/BB ratio (61/3 in 65 1/3 innings) and walk rate (0.4 per nine innings). His career record as a pro is 15-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 244 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 262 2/3 innings.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Bieber fans 7 in no-no - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2083455383
RP: Seth Elledge, Modesto Nuts (high Class A)
(Mariners' No. 18 prospect)
0.00 ERA, 3 G, 1 SV, 2 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0.37 WHIP
Elledge struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced last week allowing no hits and one walk while improving to 6-for-6 in save opportunities this spring. He's 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA, 32 strikeouts and a .125 opponent average in 21 innings.