The calendar has struck May, the first full month of the Minor League Baseball season. Through the final week of April, players across the Minors got a chance to tweak and refine their games as the grind of the summer approaches.
In the latest installment of the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week, a catcher returns to our squad while organizational teammates battled for recognition at shortstop, a club’s top prospect reigned in the outfield, and a converted starter made waves by continuing his dominant work out of the bullpen. To be eligible for the Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week, Minor League players must be ranked among their club’s Top 30 prospects on Pipeline’s lists. (Those in the Majors do not qualify.)
This is the Prospect Team of the Week for April 25-May 1:
For the second straight week, Langeliers claims the catcher spot on the Prospect of the Week squad, and his performance during this period may have been even more impressive than his last. The backstop doubled his home run total from a week ago and more than doubled his RBIs as Las Vegas took four out of six, including the last three, from visiting Tacoma. After going 0-for-4 in the opener, Langeliers notched a single hit in his next three days, homering twice, and then posted back-to-back two-hit performances on Saturday and Sunday, belting a pair of homers in the former. Entering play on April 19, the 24-year-old was the owner of a .226/.333/.548 slash line. Since then, Langeliers has bumped his numbers to .316/.422/.711 through 21 contests, mashing nine homers and driving in 21.
1B: Juan Yepez, Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)
Cardinals No. 6
.429/.520/1.000, 5 G, 9-for-21, 3 HR, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 5 K
Versatility is one of Yepez’s calling cards with the ability to play both corner infield spots and in the outfield, but his bat speaks just as loudly. Playing three of his five contests for the week at first base, Yepez put up multiple hits in four of them including a pair of three-hit showings. The 24-year-old started the week with a 3-for-4 day featuring a double, a run scored and two walks on Tuesday and wrapped it up with another 3-for-4 performance headlined by a pair of solo homers on the 30th. Through 21 games this season, the slugger now boasts a .280/.326/.634 slash line with eight homers and 23 RBIs. Signed by the Cardinals in 2014, Yepez has played at five levels over seven seasons, reaching Triple-A for the first time last year. In 92 games with Memphis a season ago, Yepez impressed with a .289/.382/.589 slash line, belting 22 homers and driving in 63.
2B: Curtis Mead, Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A)
Rays No. 6
.500/.625/.889, 6 G, 9-for-18, 1 HR, 4 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 1 K
The Rays’ breakout infield prospect from Australia keeps making the baseball world take notice. Mead put up hits in his first five games of the award period, with two knocks in four of those. The Adelaide, South Australia product started the week with two doubles before adding a double and homer two nights later. Nearly as impressive as the hits he registered was his command of the strike zone, which resulted in walks in his first three games of the week and a two-walk game on Saturday. Mead has now walked more times this season (nine) than he’s struck out (eight) and boasts a season-long on-base percentage of .427 to go along with his .323 average and .613 slugging percentage. Mead rose through three levels last year, playing at Single-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green while also making a four-game cameo with Triple-A Durham. Altogether, he batted .321/.378/.533 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs in 104 games.
3B: Coby Mayo, Aberdeen IronBirds (High-A)
Orioles No. 7
.333/.364/.905, 5 G, 7-for-21, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 7 K
It was a big swinging week for Mayo, who may have whiffed a lot but more than made up for it with tons of loud contact and lots of runs produced. Mayo did his damage in the first three of his five games played, going 7-for-14 with all four of his homers, all 10 of his RBIs and five of his runs scored. When coupled with three straight two-hit games he had from April 19-21, the third baseman had an eight-game stretch during which he batted .371/.421/.829. Mayo’s strong last two weeks have lifted him from a slow early-season start that had him hitting just .200/.275/.400 after April 17. A fourth-round pick of the Orioles in the pandemic-shortened 2020 Draft, Mayo played at two Rookie-level stops last year and also spent 27 games with Low-A Delmarva. Over 53 total contests, the Floridian batted .319/.426/.555 with nine homers and 41 RBIs.
SS: Ezequiel Tovar, Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A)
Rockies No. 6
.478/.556/.913, 6 G, 11-for-23, 2 HR, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 4 SB
It was a tight race for this nod between Tovar and his Rockies organizational teammate, Adael Amador. In the end, Tovar’s week won out due in part to his ability to do just about everything. Notching hits in nearly half his at-bats during the award period, Tovar put up multiple knocks in five of his six games played, including a 3-for-4 day with a homer and a triple on Saturday. The shortstop flashed his speed on the bases after hits, too, swiping three bags on Wednesday and adding another steal three games later. Just 20 years old at Double-A, Tovar has impressed this season through 20 games, batting .342/.600/1.000 with five homers, 14 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
Also receiving votes: Adael Amador (Rockies)
OF: Alexander Canario, South Bend Cubs (High-A)
Cubs No. 18
.500/.536/1.000, 6 G, 13-for-26, 4 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 7 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
Last week, it was Canario’s organizational teammate Nelson Velazquez who earned a spot in our Prospect Team of the Week outfield for his work with Double-A Tennessee. A step down the Cubs’ ladder, it’s Canario this week after his power-packed stretch. With five extra-base hits among his 13 total knocks, Canario was the brightest offensive spot of his team’s trip to Quad Cities. The outfielder registered five multihit affairs including a trio of three-hit games and homered twice in the series opener, once on Saturday and once more on Sunday. Prior to the series, Canario had not recorded a multihit game all season and was batting just .176/.263/.333. Following Sunday’s finale, his slash line had jumped to .286/.353/.558.
Atlanta’s top prospect has been authoring a terrific season since Opening Day but put together one of his best strings last week. Harris helped lead Mississippi to a six-game series win on the road at Montgomery by tallying hits in all six affairs, with at least one run scored in five and at least one RBI in four. The 21-year-old also swiped three bases, second-most among honorees for the week. Harris wrapped up the week by contributing to Mississippi’s extra-innings Sunday victory, belting a pair of solo home runs, including one as part of his squad’s six-run 10th. Just 21, Harris has been one of the best performers in the Southern League this season, batting .333/.396/.586 with four homers, 19 RBIs, 16 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
OF: Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge (Double-A)
Twins No. 11
.368/.500/.895, 6 G, 7-for-19, 3 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 8 K
After his team dropped its series opener on Tuesday, Wallner helped lead the way as Wichita grabbed five straight victories to wrap the week. The Southern Miss product put up his biggest performance on Saturday when he hammered two homers, drove in three and scored three runs in the Wind Surge’s 9-4 win at Arkansas. The 39th overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Wallner’s power has started to surface over the last 10 days. The outfielder started the season mired in a 3-for-41 slump but has been on a tear over his last seven games, going 9-for-23 with all but one of his extra-base hits for the year. He’s also started to command the strike zone better, working five walks from Wednesday through Friday while striking out just three times in those games.
LHP: Ricky Tiedemann, Dunedin Blue Jays (Single-A)
Blue Jays No. 6
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 0.00 WHIP
It would’ve been hard for Tiedemann to improve on his April 22 outing, when he went five hitless innings with eight strikeouts and four walks against visiting Fort Myers. Somehow, he did it. The southpaw was spectacular at Bradenton on the 29th, dealing five perfect frames with nine strikeouts and needing only 58 pitches (41 strikes) to do so. Tiedemann didn’t pitch competitively after being drafted in the third round last year but is dominating in his first pro action. Through four starts, he now sports a 3-0 record and 0.90 ERA with an eyebrow-raising 33 strikeouts against 10 walks in 20 innings pitched. Opponents are mustering a paltry .081 average against him with only five hits and two runs scored, none since April 15.
Pérez scuffled through his first three starts of the year but put everything together in his fourth. The righty set a new career high with 12 strikeouts over five scoreless frames on the road at Biloxi, yielding just one hit and two hit batsmen to face just three over the minimum. Pérez dealt 56 strikes of his 84 pitches and struck out the first five batters he faced along with six of the last eight. The 19-year-old signed with the Marlins in July of 2019 and posted an impressive debut season with Single-A Jupiter and High-A Beloit last year, putting up a 1.96 ERA in 20 starts, striking out 108 batters against just 26 walks in 78 innings. His effort on Friday night dropped his ERA from 7.50 to 5.29 and put him in the win column for the first time in 2022.
RP: Francisco Morales, Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A)
Phillies No. 10
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 0 GS, 3 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 0.27 WHIP
Twice, New Hampshire hitters got a look at Morales out of Reading’s bullpen last week, and twice, they failed to solve the right-hander. His shift to a relief role seems to be working extremely well. Morales struck out five batters over two perfect innings on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader, then came back on May 1 to fan four more in 1 2/3 frames, allowing just one hit. The Venezuelan has been nearly untouchable so far this season, his first as a reliever, giving up just two hits in 13 1/3 innings and striking out 22 against five walks. His WHIP stands at 0.53 while opponents have managed a .049 batting average against him. The start to Morales’ 2022 is perhaps even more encouraging for the Phillies when juxtaposed with his 2021 at Reading, where he struggled to a 6.94 ERA in 22 games (20 starts)