Braves, Tribe, Phils dominate Prospect Team of the Week
By Mike Rosenbaum
MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, excluding big leaguers.
The latest edition of MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week (May 8-14) is highlighted by a trio of Braves, including a pair of Double-A Mississippi standouts in Ronald Acuna and Travis Demeritte. Acuna, meanwhile, is also one of four Top 100 Prospects to make this week's team after he and Demeritte helped power the M-Braves to five wins in seven games.
Caratini opened last week with back-to-back four-hit games for Iowa as he went on to pace all backstops with 12 hits while batting an even .500 in six games. The 23-year-old catcher owns a .347 average through 33 games this season, with 13 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs.
Walker, 26, hit for the cycle on Saturday night, making him just the third player in Aces franchise history to accomplish the feat. Five of his eight hits last week went for extra bases, while his 12 RBIs were tied for the most among Top 30 prospects. Overall, Walker leads the Pacific Coast League with 42 RBIs and ranks second with 10 home runs.
Demeritte hit safely in six of his seven games for Mississippi en route to 11 hits for the week, tied for the most among second basemen, and he was one of two Top 30 prospects to hit four home runs. By hitting .393 for the week, the 22-year-old improved his overall average to .273 from .240.
A strong finish to Ruiz's week helped him make this team, as the 22-year-old went 5-for-9 with two doubles, one triple and three RBIs for Gwinnett over the weekend. He finished with the most hits (11), doubles (four) and total bases (20) among Top 30 third basemen, while his season average jumped to .264 from .228 with the big week.
Rodgers had four multi-hit games for Lancaster last week including a 4-for-4 performance on Sunday in which he stole home and finished a double short of hitting for the cycle. He batted .560 with eight extra-base hits and nine RBIs in six games, also accruing 27 total bases to tie for the most among Top 30 prospects. Though a hand injury delayed the start of Rodgers' season until late April, the 20-year-old shortstop has made up for lost time by hitting .418 with a .684 slugging percentage, 14 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs in 19 games.
Acuna homered on the first pitch in his first at-bat with the M-Braves last Tuesday, and, as an encore, he went deep in his first at-bat the following day. Thanks to five multi-hit efforts in his first six Double-A games, the 19-year-old outfielder paced all Top 30 prospects with 16 hits and finished tied for first in RBIs and total bases (27). Overall, Acuna's hit .336 with 15 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases in 34 games between Class A Advanced Florida and Mississippi.
Cozens' four-homer week included two walk-off shots in extra innings within a three-game span for Lehigh Valley. He ranked second among all outfielders with 24 total bases in what was the best stretch of the season so far for the 22-year-old slugger, who lifted his average from .172 to .220 by hitting .393 for the week.
Zimmer, 24, tallied five mutli-hit performances last week while hitting safely in all seven contests for Columbus. His 12 hits ranked second among outfielders, and he also finished among the leaders with seven runs (tied-fourth) and 20 total bases (tied-fourth). He's hitting .326/.442/.558 in 11 games this month.
In his lone start for Lakewood last week, Romero carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning before finishing allowing one hit in eight scoreless frames. It was the longest pro outing for the 20-year-old southpaw, who also notched a career-high eight strikeouts as well as 12 ground-ball outs in the performance. Romero has pitched to a 1.26 ERA across his past five starts totaling 28 2/3 innings after he was tagged for four runs in four innings in his season debut.
McKenzie was dominant in his start for Lynchburg as he struck out 14 of the 19 batters he faced in six scoreless innings. The 19-year-old struck out the side in three of his six frames in the outing, ultimately allowing one hit and one walk before departing the game. Though he won't turn 20 until August, McKenzie sports a 1.95 ERA this season, with 44 strikeouts and a .174 opponents batting average in 32 1/3 innings.
After he was optioned by the Indians at the beginning of the week, Armstrong returned to Columbus to go 3-for-3 in save opportunities while recording eight strikeouts in four innings. He has four saves in as many chances overall, with 16 strikeouts and just four hits allowed in 9 1/3 innings (eight appearances).
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.