The hot start. Every player wants to get off to one and nobody wants to run into one on the opposite end. Sometimes a blazing start can portend a breakout season. Other times it's just a hot streak that may end up being the best stretch of the year for that particular player.
It's still mid-April and most leagues haven't even gotten ten games into their schedules. That's still not too early to take a look at the numbers. We've all heard of the "small sample size" caveat and we're going to use the hell out of it today. Its only 30 to 40 at bats so a lot of things can change from here to the end of the season. I mean, we aren't even 10% done with the season!
That being said, let's begin our matinee edition of Small Sample Size Theatre: The Early Performers.
International and Pacific Coast Leagues
SS Trea Turner - Washington Nationals
The 20th overall prospect according to our own John Sickels, Turner is off to an incredible start to the 2016 season. Through his first seven games, Turner is 11 for 24 with a pair of doubles, two stolen bases, and a .458/.567/.542 triple slash to go with six walks and four strike outs. He's crossed the plate six times and sports a robust 241 wRC+.
3B Joey Gallo - Texas Rangers
We all pretty much know what kind of player Gallo is, and that is one that punishes baseballs with reckless abandon. After nine games, the hulking third baseman has launched four into the stratosphere, hit a pair of doubles, a triple, he's knocked in 11, and has scored 11 times as well. He's gone 11 for 33 with 10 punch outs, six walks, and has a .333/.425/.818 slash line in the early going along with a 224 wRC+.
3B Rio Ruiz - Atlanta Braves
Photo courtesy of Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal Constitution
The 22 year old third baseman has bounced back impressively after falling flat on his face in AA last year. Going into Saturday night's action he has gone 11 for 31 this year with a pair of doubles, one home run, four runs batted in and seven runs scored. This translates to a .355/.429/.516 line and 188 wRC+ while also giving hope to us Braves fans that there may be more offense coming to help the hapless parent club.
SS Hak-Ju Lee - San Francisco Giants
Remember this guy? After being a hot commodity earlier in his career, Hak-Ju signed with the Giants as a minor league free agent this winter and has shown more promise with the stick in the early going than ever before. The 25 year old infielder has gone 9 for 27 in the early going with three doubles, a triple and a long ball. He's only driven home two but has crossed the dish nine times and sports a .333/.400/.630 triple slash, a 186 wRC+, and has drawn three walks to nine strike outs.
RHP Austin Pruitt - Tampa Bay Rays
The unheralded 26 year old righty gets by on guts and command rather than pure stuff, and right now his command is on point. Pruitt has only made two starts this year, but they were some beauties as he mixed his high 80's fastball, 12-6 curve, and change up like a season vet. He's accumulated 13 innings in those two starts with only six hits allowed, zero walks, and an incredible 22 strike outs. The only two runs he's allowed have been on a pair of solo home runs, and he's also hit a batter.
LHP Jonathan Dziedzic - Kansas City Royals
Photo courtesy of Andy Shupe/Arkansas Online
A member of the 2014 Helium Tank in the Minor League Ball Gameday spreadsheet, Dziedzic has been lights out in his first two trips to the mound. In 12 innings of work, the 25 year old southpaw has struck out 14 and surrendered just one free pass while allowing only five base hits. He's a finesse lefty with a fastball that bounces between the high 80's and low 90's, a good hook, and an equally solid change up that has succeeded at every level so far.
Eastern, Southern, and Texas Leagues
3B Hunter Dozier - Kansas City Royals
Somewhat of a forgotten prospect outside Royals fandom, Dozier has kind of fell off the map in recent years. The 24 year old former first rounder has turned it up to 11 to start the 2016 campaign. He's 9 for 24 so far this season with a pair of homers, three doubles, and a stolen base. He's drawn three walks to five K's, he's scored four runs and driven four in while posting a .375/.464/.750 triple slash and 256 wRC+. Dozier is squaring the ball up and using that line drive stroke of his well.
SS Raul Mondesi - Kansas City Royals
Precocious young short stop Raul Mondesi has teamed up with Hunter Dozier to provide quite the formidable left side of the infield for the Royals AA affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Still just 20 years old, Mondesi has gone 11 for 32 on the young season with a pair of doubles, a triple, and three long balls to go with two steals as well. He's crossed the plate six times with 5 RBI, three walks, six punch outs, and a .344/.400/.750 line with a 237 wRC+. The early power surge is welcomed even if it's unsustainable.
SS Alex Bregman - Houston Astros
It was predicted that Alex Bregman would make quick work of the minor leagues, but not many would have though the 22 year old would open his first full season in AA. The former second overall pick has picked up 11 base knocks in his first 32 at bats, launching four home runs while plating nine and scoring nine runs as well. He's walked as many times as he's gone down with a K, three, and has a 236 wRC+ with a .344/.417/.719 batting line.
CF Guillermo Heredia - Seattle Mariners
Video courtesy of MiLB.com - Heredia Grand Slam off Brett Marshall
Cuban imports usually need some time to shake off the rust once they come stateside. Nobody told Guillermo Heredia this. The 25 year old has gone 13 for 29 to start the year, hitting .448/.455/.621 with a 214 wRC+. Heredia has knocked a pair of doubles and a home run, striking out four times to two walks with nine runs batted in and four scored. He's known for his high level of defense so this kind of offensive output is encouraging, especially since he hasn't played competitively since 2014.
RHP Daniel Mengden - Oakland Athletics
Acquired in 2015 from Houston alongside Jacob Nottingham for Scott Kazmir, the 23 year old right hander has been lights out to start the year. Whether its the intimidation of his mustache or he's just plain dealing, Mengden has thrown 12 innings in his first two starts, allowing just four base hits with six free passes and 16 strike outs. The former fourth round pick has used his heavy low to mid 90's fastball, average secondaries, and funky delivery to keep Texas League hitters flummoxed. I will give a caveat here that Mengden has faced the Angels AA squad both times, which is known to be pretty light on the impact talent side.
RHP Edwin Diaz - Seattle Mariners
The most promising pitching prospect in the Mariners organization, Edwin Diaz started the year with a bang and has kept it up so far. Through 11 innings of work, the 22 year old Boriqua has punched out 16 to just one walk with only six hits allowed. He's allowed two earned runs for a 1.64 ERA, and he has also surrendered one homer so far. He can run his fastball up to 98 mph but sits 93-96 with a plus slider and average change up. If he's taken a step forward with his control, watch out.
RHP Jacob Faria - Tampa Bay Rays
Photo courtesy of Jacob Faria's Twitter - @JDFaria36
Jacob Faria is potentially the next under the radar Rays pitcher to make an impact. A 2014 Sleeper Alert of John's, Faria has tallies 12.2 innings on the mound with just five hits allowed, four runs, three walks, and 15 punchies. This is good for a 0.63 WHIP and 2.84 ERA. He does this with a low to mid 90's fastball, and two above average secondaries in his change up and curve. He's got solid control of those three pitches and is another player that has succeeded no matter where he's been assigned. Just 22 years old, Faria has been a mid season all-start the last two years and broke into John's Top 100 as the 94th best prospect.