C Francisco Mejia, Cleveland - A+, Lynchburg
The switch-hitting backstop parlayed a scorching .429/.461/.714 June into a promotion to the Carolina League. Mejia rolled into Lynchburg carrying a lofty hit streak, and his strong start for the Hillcats has it up to 29 games.
The 20-year-old was seen as a pure upside play before the season, but has busted out in a way few could have predicted. Mejia's first half was unlike anything he'd previously produced, but the tools are omnipresent and the defense behind the dish is said to be sound. Mejia might need to show a touch more plate discipline as he advances, but the goods he's shown in 2016 already elevate him into the thin top tier of catching prospects.
1B D.J. Peterson, Seattle - AAA, Tacoma
Peterson's first PCL stay didn't take, an ill-timed promotion in the middle of a nightmarish 2015 campaign.
He's back in Tacoma after rebuilding his stock in the first half and revamping some of his hitting mechanics. A noise reduction in his load looks to give him a more direct path to make hard contact, and the resuscitated slash line and power stroke are signs it's working for him.
To expound on recent 'Gameday' chatter, Peterson could be used as trade bait by Dipoto and the new regime. Kyle Seager has the hot corner locked down in Seattle through at least 2021, leaving D.J.'s future value somewhat muted to the M's as a 1B/DH. Dipoto and crew seem likely to be in the market for minor upgrades this July, and making Peterson available over the younger trio of O'Neill/Neidert/Alex Jackson could be preferable.
2B Max Schrock, Washington - A+, Potomac
Hagerstown's 1-2 of Robles and Schrock got the bump to high-A on the same day, and have picked up where they left off at the top of Potomac's order.
Shrock knocked 84 hits in a smoking .327/.379/.459 first half in the Sally League, showing elite contact skills, efficient basethieving, and more walks than strikeouts. He seems comfortable at his new club, with multi-hit games in his first five CAR League contests.
In January, Carson at FanGraphs ran some SEC numbers to determine who compared most favorably to AL MVP Josh Donaldson. That his cockamamie experiment spit out the name of Max Schrock was an accident at the time, but now it doesn't seem so outlandish.
3B Nick Senzel, Cincinnati - A, Dayton
This June's #2 overall pick needed only 10 games at Rookie-League Billings to get his first bump. Senzel's plate discipline and defense could see him on the fast track, especially with the Reds utterly bereft of farm talent at the hot corner. His next stops would be FSL's Daytona Tortugas and Southern League Pensacola, if the Cincy contingency is planning their summer of Senzel. One could easily slot him within the team's top 10 prospects, and perhaps as high as 4 or 5 by the end of the season.
SS Alex Bregman, Houston - AAA, Fresno
Last year's #2 overall pick has been a dynamo early on, ripping 14 longballs in the Texas League to go with a shiny 26-42 K:BB that tells of his advanced plate recognition.
Bregman debuted with a bang in the PCL, notching four hits for Fresno in a 23-run explosion. He's climbed to his fourth level in his first calendar year of pro ball, and the damage he does in a hitter's league may see him in the majors before the end of the season. Bregman saw 11 games at the hot corner in Corpus Christi, hinting that he could factor in over Houston's Luis Valbuena down the stretch.
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Houston - AAA, Fresno
Teoscar appears to be tapping into his upside, raising his walk rate and cutting down a grotesque K-rate in his second turn through the Texas League. Plate discipline has always been his bugaboo, so the strides he's made here earn him the PCL promo and also put him back on the map as a viable five-tool centerfielder.
Hernandez has shown reverse platoon splits throughout most of his young career, and that jibes with scouting reports painting him as a pull-happy, dead-red hitter that struggles with breaking stuff away. Teoscar's batted ball profile hints that he's enhanced this facet of his game, with as many balls in play to RF (42) in 2016 as all of last season. If he can apply those refinements against southpaws and continue whittling the whiff rate, he'll have no problem cracking the Astros' Top 10 prospects.
OF Victor Robles, Washington - A+, Potomac
What can one say about Victor Robles that hasn't already been the title of a Michael Jackson album? The five-tool teenager is an Off the Wall Thriller; Invincible and Dangerous enough to be Bad (1987) and make an impact anywhere on the diamond. Robles won't turn 20 until next May, but gets the call to high-A this week along with partner-in-crime Max Schrock.
Baseball America's Ben Badler earned the Perseverance Award last year in his thorough write-up of the Nats' outfielder. Poor Ben took a weekend trip to Norwich, CT for the express purpose of seeing what the buzz was all about, but only got six innings of Robles between a day off, an injury, and a rainout. BA's venerable scribe toughed it out and threw down over 2,000 words, covering all bases on a breakout player that the public needed to know more about.
OF Bubba Starling, Kansas City - AAA, Omaha
The Royals cleverly reset Bubba's horrific .185/.221/.322 batting line in the Texas League with a move to Omaha. Starling somehow bottomed out by every conceivable metric in the first half, and one figures it'll be mathematically impossible for him to fare worse in the PCL.
The team is clearly hoping a change of scenery will spark Starling, who's still 23 and has tools to work with. Omaha hitting coach Tommy Gregg won minor league batting titles 10 years apart in his playing days, and he'll have his hands full in trying to curb Bubba's whiff-centric approach. KC's 2011 first-round pick is off to a strong start with his new team, doubling and homering in his first two AAA at-bats on Sunday.
Other notable promos from the week of 6/26
RHP Lucas Giolito, Washington - MLB
RHP Mauricio Cabrera, Atlanta - MLB
RHP Reynaldo Lopez, Washington - AAA Syracuse
RHP Jacob Faria, Tampa Bay - AAA Durham
LHP Kyle Freeland, Colorado - AAA Albuquerque
RHP Yonny Chirinos, Tampa Bay - AA Montgomery
RHP Rodolfo Martinez, San Francisco - AA Richmond
RHP Tyler Herb, Seattle - AA Jackson
RHP Matthew Grimes, Baltimore - AA Bowie
C Mike Zunino, Seattle - MLB
OF Brandon Nimmo, New York (NL) - MLB
3B Jeimer Candelario, Chicago (NL) - MLB
OF David Dahl, Colorado - AAA Albuquerque
OF Chantz Mack, Seattle - AA Jackson
1B Chris Shaw, San Francisco - AA Richmond
SS C.J. Hinojosa, San Francisco - AA Richmond
C Will Smith, Los Angeles (NL) - A Great Lakes
C Chris Okey, Cincinnati - A Dayton