Yesterday's hot-hitting prospect is today's thriving big leaguer.
This year, we've been highlighting the position players who have done the most damage over the last month in each farm system. Our May edition included Michael Harris II, who has sparked the defending World Series champion Braves with his bat and center-field defense; catcher Gabriel Moreno, who hit .391 in his first six starts for the Blue Jays; and third baseman Ezequiel Duran, who batted .291 and slammed a pair of homers in his initial 14 games with the Rangers.
Who's next? We present 30 candidates below.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS (No. 6)
Get promoted up a level? No problem! Westburg has hit .351/.413/.628 with five homers over the last 30 days, as the move up to Triple-A actually got his bat going even more. In his first 10 games with Norfolk, the infielder has hit .405/.444/.810 with nine extra-base hits, as he and fellow infielder Gunnar Henderson have made the transition to the highest level of the Minors seamlessly thus far.
Red Sox: Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS (No. 27)
Signed for just $10,000 out of Curacao in 2017, Rafaela is the most versatile player in Boston's system and also one of its best hitters. Listed at 5-foot-8, he has batted .355/.384/.699 with four homers and as many steals in his last 22 games between High-A and Double-A. He's hitting .329/.366/.626 overall, leading all Red Sox farmhands in batting, slugging and OPS (.992), while ranking second in homers (13) and steals (15) through 57 contests.
Yankees: Jasson Dominguez, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 52)
One of the most hyped international prospects ever, Dominguez is enjoying the most torrid stretch of his young career. Signed for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic amid comparisons to Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout, he has hit .291/.446/.512 with four homers in his last 26 games. He's batting .259/.361/.435 with seven homers and 13 steals in 57 Single-A games at age 19, and he tops the Florida State League in runs (42) and doubles (15).
Rays: Curtis Mead, 3B/2B/1B (No. 4/MLB No. 90)
Tampa Bay officials always suggested that more power was coming from Mead following his breakout 2021 season, and that has certainly been true in June. Mead is slugging .705 over 70 plate appearances this month for Double-A Montgomery, and he’s more than doubled his 2022 homer output with six homers in the last three weeks alone. Mead’s season slash line has jumped from a solid .286/.387/.492 at the start of the month to an even more robust .305/.396/.562 now, solidifying the 21-year-old infielder’s place as a Top 100 talent.
Blue Jays: Spencer Horwitz, 1B (No. 30)
The 2019 24th-rounder vaulted into Toronto's Top 30 thanks to good plate discipline last year at High-A Vancouver and a solid Arizona Fall League campaign. Now at Double-A New Hampshire, the 24-year-old is hitting his stride once again with a .324/.457/.563 slash line, four homers and a near-even 19/18 K/BB ratio over his last 30 days (92 plate appearances). Horwitz had split time between first base and left field to begin the season, but he has been first base-only in June, heightening the need for him to hit. He’s ticking that box of late for the Fisher Cats.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS (No. 1)
A two-sport star who would have had the opportunity to walk on Indiana's basketball team had he gone to college, Montgomery instead decided to focus on baseball after the White Sox drafted him 22nd overall last July. He's raking in Single-A, including .325/.436/.507 with a pair of homers in his last 22 games and .312/.416/.478 with four bombs in 42 contests overall.
Guardians: George Valera, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 41)
One of the best hitters in the 2017 international class, Valera signed for $1.3 million out of the Dominican Republic and is having a breakout season in Double-A at age 21. He has hit .315/.398/.584 with six homers in his last 24 games and .284/.395/.510 with 11 homers in 58 contests overall.
Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 18)
Meadows’ athleticism helped him stay in the Tigers’ Top 30 ranks heading into the season, but serious questions about his bat put the 2018 second-rounder on shaky ground. He’s done plenty to steady himself recently in his first turn at Double-A Erie. Meadows is hitting .282/.333/.529 with four homers, two triples and five doubles over 93 plate appearances in the last month. He’s starting to get the ball off the ground more often in '22, and as a result, his eight homers on the season already match his career high with half a season remaining. The left-handed slugger has decent raw pop already, and anything he can do to tap into it more often will be welcome by all parties.
Royals: Diego Hernandez, OF (No. 30)
The 21-year-old outfielder is riding a 27-game on-base streak for Quad Cities, tying him with two others for the longest such stretch in High-A ball this season. (Entering Tuesday, his was the only active streak of the three.) He’s hitting .365/.441/.538 with 11 extra-base hits and 13 steals in those 27 games -- numbers that helped push him into the Royals’ Top 30 when MJ Melendez graduated. Hernandez is a plus-plus runner and gifted defender in center, so if these offensive improvements hold at the upper levels, he has a chance to be a valuable fourth Major League outfielder at the least.
Twins: Matt Wallner, OF (No. 9)
This is the second “hot hitter” nod for Wallner in a row as the left-handed slugger is putting together a very solid 2022 campaign with Double-A Wichita. Over the last 30 days, Wallner has a .294/.464/.576 slash line with six homers. There’s always going to be a bunch of strikeouts, but he’s drawing a ton of walks as well, which has helped him slug .530 with 13 homers overall for the year.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Astros: Colin Barber, OF (No. 5)
The Astros invested a 2019 fourth-round choice and a $1 million bonus in Barber because they liked his combination of power and speed, but the pandemic and labrum surgery on his non-throwing shoulder limited his availability before this season. He's making up for lost time by hitting .382/.482/.721 with six homers in his last 20 games to boost his overall line in High-A to .318/.429/.513 with seven roundtrippers and four steals in 45 contests.
Angels: Edgar Quero, C (No. 8)
A 19-year-old switch-hitting catcher, Quero has made some good adjustments in his first year of full season ball in 2022. He hit just .214 with a .671 OPS in April, but he has really shown what he’s capable of at the plate over the past 30 days. He’s hit .346/.465/.580 in that span, smashing five of the seven homers he has for the season, while walking more than he struck out.
A’s: Jordan Diaz, 1B/3B (No. 13)
Diaz was just added to our Top 10 1B Prospects list, and for good reason. The 21-year-old infielder has a solid .306/.347/.563 slash line with 12 homers and 40 RBIs with Double-A Midland for the season. His .313 average and .576 slugging over the last month is right in line with what he’s done most of the year, and that consistency is why he’s the A’s “hot hitter” two times in a row.
Mariners: Jonatan Clase, OF (No. 19)
We knew Clase’s 70-grade speed would play during his full-season debut, and it has, with 23 steals. He’s also hit, with a .275/.354/.450 slash line that has certainly been helped by his .310/.380/.535 work in the past month. He’s had eight extra-base hits in this period, continuing to show more pop than anticipated, leading to him landing in this spot in two out of the three editions so far this season.
Rangers: Luisangel Acuña, SS (No. 10)
The younger brother of Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., Luisangel missed nearly a month after straining his hamstring on Opening Day, but he has returned to bat .333/.429/.583 with five homers and 10 steals during his last 19 games in High-A. Signed for $425,000 out of Venezuela in 2018, he's hitting .316/.409/.561 with seven homers and 15 steals in 30 contests.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Vaughn Grissom, SS (No. 6)
Tip of the cap to two-time “hot hitter” Harris II, who has continued to swing the bat well in the big leagues, but since we are focusing on performers in the Minors, we have no problem shining a light on what Grissom has done over the last month. The shortstop had a .333/.395/.556 slash line in that time period with five homers and 23 RBIs -- 17 of which came last week -- earning him a spot on our Prospect Team of the Week.
Marlins: Troy Johnston, 1B (No. 23)
A 17th-round pick from Gonzaga in 2019, Johnston led the Marlins' system in several categories during his first full pro season last year and is putting up even better numbers in '22. He's sizzling with a .404/.439/.731 slash line and seven homers in his last 24 games in Double-A and is batting .305/.368/.482 overall with eight homers in 56 contests.
Mets: Francisco Álvarez, C (No. 1/MLB No. 7)
The Mets’ top prospect has hit 15 homers for Double-A Binghamton this season; 11 of them have come over his last 21 games. Álvarez leads all Double-A batters in homers, slugging percentage (.852) and OPS (1.276) over 92 plate appearances in that timeframe. The 20-year-old backstop was tied as the third-youngest player on a Double-A roster to begin the season -- he and Orelvis Martinez share a birthday -- and while it’s taken a little time for him to show off his trademark pop, he’s certainly caught up and even surpassed the level of play in the Eastern League.
Phillies: Logan O’Hoppe, C (No. 3/MLB No. 100)
O’Hoppe’s last month -- a .924 OPS with six homers and nearly the same amount of walks as strikeouts -- certainly sounds impressive. But it’s nothing new, as he’s been the Phillies' rep on this list two times in a row now and has a season OPS of .954 with 14 homers, all while continuing to do an excellent job behind the plate.
Nationals: Armando Cruz, SS (No. 8)
Cruz made his stateside debut when the Florida Complex League began two weeks ago, and he’s been solid offensively ever since. The 18-year-old shortstop already has three multihit performances through his first eight games and enters Tuesday 12-for-33 (.364) with a homer, a double and three steals in that span. The Dominican Republic native has been considered a Gold Glove-caliber defender at short ever since signing for $3.9 million in January 2021, so he doesn’t need to hit a ton to provide value. The Nats will still take this start in the FCL.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cubs: Kevin Alcantara, OF (No. 7)
Part of the Anthony Rizzo trade with the Yankees last July, the athletic Alcantara already has emerged as one of the best prospects in the Cubs' system. He's on a .330/.393/.617 tear over his last 25 games in Single-A and is hitting .282/.366/.521 with 10 homers, six steals and a Carolina League-best 47 RBIs in 56 contests.
Reds: Elly De La Cruz, 3B/SS (No. 2/MLB No. 67)
De La Cruz jumped firmly on the prospect radar by playing his way from rookie ball to full season Daytona last year. The Reds were so impressed with his progress they challenged the 20-year old with a jump to High-A Dayton in 2022, and after hitting a pedestrian .254 in April, he's been raking ever since. That includes a .337/.380/.693 line with seven homers and eight steals over the past month.
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 99)
No one in Minor League Baseball has as much helium this season as Chourio. The outfielder turned 18 in March, skipped right over the Arizona Complex League and joined Single-A Carolina on May 3; thus far, it hasn’t been hard to see why Milwaukee got aggressive with him. Over the last month, Chourio hit .371/.416/.686 with six homers, four triples and seven doubles over 113 plate appearances. His 17 extra-base hits, 39 total knocks and 72 total bases over that 26-game span lead all Single-A batters in that timeframe, and again, he’s doing this at the same age as many American high school seniors.
Pirates: Matt Gorski, OF (No. 30)
The raw tools have long been there, especially in the power-speed department, but Gorski had struggled to hit enough to get to them consistently. Then he hit 17 homers in 37 High-A games to earn a bump to Double-A. He’s adjusted well there, with a .530 slugging, five homers and six steals in 22 games. Over the last 30 days, Gorski has a .286/.356/.615 slash line with eight homers and six steals. He’s tied for the Minor League lead with 22 homers and is already just five steals shy of a 20-20 season.
Cardinals: Alec Burleson, OF (No. 9)
Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan all began the season with Burleson in Triple-A Memphis and have become solid contributors for St. Louis. Burleson might not be too far behind them, given his recent performance. The 23-year-old outfielder is batting .374/.402/.578 with five homers and two doubles over his last 20 games in the International League. What’s more, he’s fanned only 10 times over 92 plate appearances in that span for a 10.9 percent K rate. That's a lot of contact -- and a lot of good contact -- for the 70th overall pick in the 2020 Draft.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Dominic Fletcher, OF (No. 18)
We could go with Corbin Carroll here for a third straight time, but we’ll turn to another Arizona outfielder who is as scorching as the desert sun. Fletcher has multiple hits in five of his last eight games for Triple-A Reno and is hitting .483/.553/.793 with an even 7/7 K/BB ratio over 38 plate appearances in that stretch. Since Fletcher was promoted to the Pacific Coast League on May 19, the 24-year-old outfielder owns a .363/.438/.588 line in 26 games with the Aces.
Rockies: Hunter Goodman, C (No. 20)
The Rockies’ fourth-round pick from last year's Draft, Goodman’s carrying tool coming out of Memphis was his power, and it's definitely shown up in his first full season of pro ball. In the last 30 days, he hit nine homers and slugged .649 en route to a 1.047 OPS. His 18 home runs for the season leads all 2021 draftees and tops the Single-A California League, a circuit you have to think he’ll move up from soon.
Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 1/MLB No. 24)
MLB Pipeline's top-rated player in the 2018 international crop, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela and has pounded pro pitchers ever since. He has batted .304/.478/.580 with thee homers in his last 20 games between Single-A and High-A, and is hitting .279/.422/.564 overall with 11 blasts in 46 contests.
Padres: Esteury Ruiz, OF (No. 29)
The 23-year-old crashed out of the San Diego Top 30 heading into the season, but he has surged back with improved swing decisions and some of the best Minor League baserunning in recent memory. After hitting .344/.474/.611 in 49 games with Double-A San Antonio to begin the season, Ruiz made his Triple-A El Paso debut on June 7 and has put up an even better .422/.527/.733 slash line through his first 11 games with the Chihuahuas. The center fielder leads all full-season Minor Leaguers with a .360 average and 48 stolen bases through 60 games on the season, and his 13 homers already represent a new career high.
Giants: Jairo Pomares, OF (No. 6)
The Giants landed an impressive international class in 2018, including two Top 100 Prospects in Marco Luciano and Luis Matos, as well as signing Pomares for $975,000 after he left Cuba. He has heated up after an uncharacteristically slow start, batting .325/.398/.687 with eight homers in his last 23 games (mostly in High-A) to improve his season line to .253/.323/.506 with 11 homers in 49 contests.