Power seems to be in full supply in the minor leagues this year with several players being on pace to hit 40 or more home runs. Two of them, Dan Vogelbach and Tyler O’Neill make our Hot Prospect list with candidly, Austin Riley not far behind. All three have swing and miss in their game and in Vogelbach’s case, has had three chances to stick in the majors and has yet to turn the corner.
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Dan Vogelbach (1B, Sea) – Since his demotion back to Tacoma, Dan Voglebach has been on fire. In 20 games, he’s posted a 1.187 OPS with eight home runs and nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts. After three less than stellar stints in the major leagues, it’s easy to label him as a Four-A player, but I see more. However, the question is: do the Mariners see that? I’m not sure and that could be a real problem.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL) – Tyler O’Neill has been mashing since the beginning of the season and is now up to 13 home runs with a .333 batting average. He did get called up for a brief 10-day stint where he got a total of seven at-bats, but after only one hit, he was sent packing. The power is real but so is the aggressive approach. It makes for a dicey profile and an uncertain major league career.
Forrest Wall (OF/2B, COL) – Forrest Wall continues to be one of my under-the-radar prospects in the minor leagues. He has an interesting combination of power and speed and a decent approach at the plate. His biggest problem to-date has been staying healthy. Playing only 22 games last season due to a shoulder injury, Wall repeated High-A and has taken full advantage of the hitting environment of Lancaster. He’s hitting .307 with two home runs and 16 stolen bases. He’s struck out 39 times while walking 20 times. Wall has also moved to center field and while his arm is below-average, it should be enough to translate at the highest level.
Garrett Hampson (2B, COL) – Garrett Hampson is having a solid May in Double-A slashing .339/.431/.464 in 14 games. He has double-plus speed with seven bags without being caught stealing in those 14 games. If you combine the seven steals with the 12 he stole in April, it’s easy to get excited about a dynamic top-of-the-order asset.
Austin Riley (3B, ATL) – The Braves are forming a dynamic young team, except at third base where they recently signed the aging Jose Bautista. Austin Riley is doing everything he can to wave his hand to say…”don’t forget about me”. Once Bautista was promoted, Riley took his place at Gwinett and has continued to hit. In eight games, he’s batting .375 with three home runs. There’s going to be swing and miss in his game but he should make enough contact to get to his double-plus raw power. In case you’re wondering, Bautista, is batting .156 through 11 games with a .375 SLG.
Carter Kieboom (SS, WAS) – Carter Kieboom got off to a slow start to the 2018 season, only hitting .198 in April. His fortune changed in May though. In 10 games, he’s hitting .400 with a home run and three stolen bases. He’s currently blocked at shortstop in the Nationals organization but could slide over to second once Washington decides to move on from Daniel Murphy.
Corey Ray (OF, MIL) – When Corey Ray gets hot, he gets hot. Over the past week, he was 11 for 25 with three home runs and a stolen base. His overall stat line for the season is not great, but when you compare it to what he did over the first two years of his minor league career, he’s definitely showing improvement. He has power and speed but still needs to work on controlling the strike zone better.
Griffin Canning (RHP, LAA) – Just a few years ago, the Los Angeles Angles had very little in their farm system, but a couple of good drafts and landing Shohei Ohtani and the farm system looks much, much better. Griffin Canning was drafted last season in the second round but did not pitch in a professional game until this season. After two-starts in High-A, the Angels promoted him to Double-A where he started in a multi-pitcher no-hitter against Birmingham earlier in the week. He has good stuff but doesn’t have the physicality you like to see in a frontline starter in the big leagues. If it all comes together, he profiles as a mid-rotation starter.
Kolby Allard (LHP, ATL) – The Braves minor league factory is working overtime and the next guy to pop-out could be lefty Kolby Allard. In seven starts this season, he’s pitched to a 1.71 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 13 walks. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff but has plus control with excellent pitch sequencing. That was on display earlier in the week when he pitched eight innings of no run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Brendan McKay (LHP, TB) – After six dominant starts in Low-A, the Rays finally promoted Brendan McKay to High-A. The number four overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft clearly had no trouble on the bump, pitching to a 1.09 ERA in six starts with a ridiculous 40K/2BB strikeout-to-walk ratio. I doubt he has little trouble in High-A and could see time late in the season in Double-A. As a hitter, he’s also played well, walking twice as much as he struck out with a home run.