To celebrate the annual MLB Draft, we have included a number of former top draft picks, who just so happened to have had really good weeks. Royce Lewis and Keston Hiura continue to impress after going number one and number nine overall from last year’s draft and Mickey Moniak, the 2016 number one overall pick makes our list after having a terrific week. Included also in the list is Sixto Sanchez, who is quickly climbing the ranks of the best pitcher in minor league baseball and one of my breakout players this year, Jonathan Loaisiga.
I could go on and on, but why when you can simply read the capsules below.
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Royce Lewis (SS, Min, Low-A) – Royce Lewis took the honor of being selected 1:1 last year and has been making the most of his opportunity this year. Even with a rough start to June, he’s still batting .292 with a .341 OBP while stealing 15 bases and slugging 3 home runs. He’ll likely spend the majority of the year in Low-A as he just turned 20 on Tuesday and is one of the younger positional players in the Midwest League.
Keston Hiura (2B, Mil, Double-A) – After posting a .925 OPS in High-A, the Brewers finally promoted Keston Hiura to Double-A to start the month of June. He picked up right where he left off in High-A, hitting .353 so far in June. We all knew he could hit and that’s playing out and with a little pop and speed, he could see Milwaukee sometime in 2019. The best news is he’s finally playing the field. Since May 16th, he’s seen most of his playing time at second base.
Mickey Moniak (OF, PHI, High-A) – It’s been a tough go so far for Mickey Moniak, the 2016 first overall pick. He struggled mightily last season in Low-A as well as the first part of this season in High-A. But over the past couple of weeks, he’s hit .357 with a home run. Sure, it’s a small sample size and I will admit, a somewhat contrived sample size at that, but hey I wanted to include him in the list; and, he’s been better. Still, there is a lot of work to do. He’s still striking out too much and never walks. In 46 games this year, he has a 49K/6BB strikeout-to-walk ratio. Will he make it? At this point, I’m not sure.
William Contreras (C, ATL, Low-A) – I know this one will play tricks on you, but Willson Contreras has a younger brother and just like the Molina clan, he’s a catcher. William Contreras plays for the Braves and is off to a nice start to the 2018 season and has been red-hot over the past week. He’s showing a nice ability to control the strike zone and while he doesn’t have the same kind of pop as his brother, should develop at least average power. He’s still three years away, but there is a lot to like with the younger Contreras.
Brandon Marsh (OF, LAA, High-A) –Brandon Marsh was promoted in mid-May to High-A and after an adjustment period has been on fire over the past week, going 11 for 26. He’s got size, speed, and power and while the stat line is still kind of ugly, if it all comes together, the tools could make him an all-star.
Braden Bishop (OF, Sea, Double-A) – After batting only .176 in April, Braden Bishop hit .315 in May and a robust .421 through four games in June. He has plus speed but is starting to show some pop this year with six home runs, While the profile is likely a fourth outfielder, if the power continues to develop, he could get regular at-bats at the highest level.
Sixto Sanchez (RHP, PHI, High-A) – Pitching at the ripe age of 19, Sixto Sanchez has pitched extremely well in the Florida State League this year. In eight starts, he’s posted a 2.51 ERA, striking out nearly a batter an inning while limiting his walks to two per nine. The best news is his stuff is nasty. With a fastball that he can run up to the upper nineties and a curveball that continues to improve, he has everything to pitch along with Aaron Nola at the top of the Phillies rotation very soon..
Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, NYY, Double-A) – Somebody asked me who the next Yankees call-up might be once the Domingo German experiment is over. The easy answer is Chance Adams, maybe Josh Rogers who has pitched well, or even the Yankees top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. But, none of those guys are on the 40-man, but you know who is? Jonathan Loaisiga. Sure, he’s only had four starts in Double-A, but in 18 innings, he’s struck out 20 while only walking three. This included a five-inning gem he threw this week where he struck out eight and did not walk anyone. It’s a long shot, but don’t be surprised if you see Loaisiga in the big leagues at some point this year.
Lewis Thorpe (LHP, Min, Double-A) – Lewis Thorpe was my emerging prospect for two years. Once was before TJ Surgery and once was after. He’s now in Double-A and having a nice season. In 10 starts, he’s pitched to a 3.74 ERA, striking out 10 per nine while walking three per nine. Last week, he pitched 11 shutout innings, striking out 14 while walking four.
Hunter Greene (RHP, Cin, Low-A) – I loved Hunter Greene entering last year’s draft – athleticism, great makeup and character, and oh yeah, a fastball that can hit triple-digits. He got off to a rough start to the season but has improved as the season has progressed. His last outing was his best. In five innings, he struck out eight, didn’t give up a walk with only one earned run allowed. Perhaps it’s time to go to a fellow owner and talk up his 6.32 ERA and see if you can get him on the cheap. I know I’m going to give it a shot.