February 3, 2023

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McClure lands on Prospect Team of the Week

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Breakout performances abound on the latest edition of the Prospect Team of the Week with some previously struggling prospects finding their way with big offensive showings. Two members of last week’s selections are back for another edition while one of the top prospects in all of baseball has etched his name onto a Prospect Team of the Week squad for the first time since 2019.

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 May 23-29:

Catcher: Ronaldo Hernández, Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A)
Red Sox No. 23

.591/.625/1.000, 5 G, 13-for-22, 2 HR, 3 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Few ranked prospects had as tough a start to the season at the plate as Hernández, who was batting just .119/.140/.202 as of the start of play on May 21. After five monster games last week — all multihit performances after Hernández didn’t register a single such game in his first 22 of the season — the catching prospect is rediscovering his form. Hernández busted out in his team’s first game of last week’s series against visiting Lehigh Valley by going 4-for-5 with a homer and a double on Tuesday and bookended the set with another homer as part of a 3-for-5 day on Sunday. In between, Hernández tallied six hits, including a pair of doubles. The backstop drove in runs in four of the five games with four driven home in Sunday’s series finale.

1B: Vinnie Pasquantino, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Royals No. 4
.478/.500/1.174, 6 G, 11-for-23, 4 HR, 1 3B, 2 2B, 11 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Pasquantino returns to the Prospect Team of the Week after capturing the slot at first base last week. The 2019 11th-rounder out of Old Dominion had multiple hits in four of five games two weeks ago and was similarly impressive last week. Pasquantino had knocks in all six of his games played and went off on Wednesday during a 5-for-5 performance in which he homered twice, doubled twice and drove in five runs. The first baseman added homers on Saturday and Sunday and registered a triple on Sunday, as well, to contribute to his four-RBI effort. Pasquantino leads all of Triple-A with 51 RBIs as of Memorial Day and has driven in 34 through 25 May games.

2B: Michael Massey, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A)
Royals No. 21
.482/.516/.704, 6 G, 13-for-27, 1 HR, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 SB

Already authoring a stellar season for the Naturals, Massey put together his best week with multiple hits in his first five games at Midland. The second baseman kicked things off with a 3-for-5 performance that featured a homer and four RBIs on Tuesday and followed with two-hit games on Wednesday and Thursday. Massey then tallied three knocks on Friday and Saturday, doubling twice in the former, while combining to drive in three runs and score three more. Though he finished his series by going 0-for-3 on Sunday to snap a seven-game hit streak, Massey batted .469/.514/.781 over the stretch.

3B: Jonah Bride, Las Vegas Aviators (Triple-A)
Athletics No. 26
.600/.636/1.050, 5 G, 12-for-20, 1 HR, 6 2B, 9 RBI, 7 R, 1 BB, 1 K

It was a busy week for the versatile Bride, who got the call from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Las Vegas where he played a pair of games at third along with one at first and one behind the plate. Between his five games at two levels, the bat shined brightest. Bride left Double-A on a great note, having gone 3-for-5 with three doubles and a pair of RBIs against Northwest Arkansas. He then announced his arrival in the Pacific Coast League impressively with a double in his debut and multihit games in his next three, including three-hit showings on Friday and Sunday. Bride finished his 19-game stint at Double-A as a .315/.402/.603 hitter with four homers and 22 RBIs.

SS: Ezequiel Tovar, Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A)
Rockies No. 6
.417/.533/.792, 6 G, 10-for-24, 2 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 5 K, 4 SB

It was a week highlighted by fives for Tovar, who drove in five, scored five, walked five times, struck out five times and was successful on all but one of his five stolen base attempts. Last week featured four two-hit games and extra-base hits in four of six. Tovar belted homers in the first and last games of the set and raced to his second triple of the season on Thursday. With hits in all six games of the award period the shortstop ran his season-best hitting streak to 11 games, over which he’s batted .413/.491/.804 in road series at Bowie and Richmond. It’s Tovar’s second selection of the season.

OF: Hedbert Perez, Carolina Mudcats (Single-A)
Brewers No. 8
.474/.500/.947, 5 G, 1 HR, 1 3B, 4 2B, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB

Perez didn’t have a game with more than two hits this season and boasted just one multihit game in May until his big week against visiting Kannapolis. The outfielder went off in the Mudcats’ series opener, going 4-for-5 with a homer, three doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. Perez added two hits on Wednesday and Thursday, then went 1-for-3 with a double in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader. Just 19 years old, the outfielder had struggled offensively with a .176/.237/.288 season long slash line through his first 31 games before his breakout stretch.

OF: Rece Hinds, Dayton Dragons (High-A)
Reds No. 8
.500/.609/.833, 5 G, 9-for-18, 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 SB

After playing in just 54 games due to a torn meniscus during his first full season last year, Hinds is establishing himself with an outstanding month at High-A. Hinds kicked off his big week by mitigating his only hitless performance (0-for-2) with three walks on Tuesday, then started in the hit column. The outfielder put up two hits in his next three games with a triple on Thursday and homer on Friday. Hinds finished the Dragons’ series at West Michigan with three hits, including a double, on Sunday afternoon. In 19 May games, the 2019 second-rounder has hit .406/.486/.703 with four homers, two triples, three doubles and 13 RBIs.

OF: Bubba Thompson, Round Rock Express (Triple-A)
Rangers No. 28
.421/.421/.947, 4 G, 8-for-19, 2 HR, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 4 SB

Thompson is enjoying the best season of his career so far with a .331/.341/.488 slash line through 35 games in his first taste of Triple-A. The outfielder only played four games last week at Albuquerque but made the most of them, going 8-for-15 over three contests from Tuesday-Friday. After tripling on Tuesday and Thursday, Thompson connected on a pair of homers Friday as part of a 4-for-5 showing with four RBIs and three runs scored. On the road this season, the 2017 first-round pick has been a force at the plate, batting .372/.389/.558 in 19 games.

LHP: Steve Hajjar, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Single-A)
Twins No. 20
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.53 WHIP

Hajjar returns to the lefty slot on the Prospect Team of the Week for the second straight edition. A week after pitching through the fifth for the first time this year, the southpaw did it again by going 5 2/3 on Thursday at Bradenton. Hajjar took the next step with his strikeout progression, fanning 10 over those 5 2/3 frames while issuing just one walk. The second-round pick out of Michigan in 2021 tossed 82 pitches (56 strikes) against the Marauders and hardly needed the help of his defense with just five outs recorded on balls in play. Over his last three starts, Hajjar has dropped his ERA from 3.77 to 2.17, and over his last two, the lefty has struck out 16 while walking only two.

RHP: Grayson Rodriguez, Norfolk Tides (Triple-A)
Orioles No. 2, MLB No. 3
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.29 WHIP

The first Prospect Team of the Week selection of the year for Rodriguez — and his first since 2019 — comes after the right-hander’s longest and best outing of the season. The righty went seven shutout frames on Friday night against visiting Gwinnett, striking out 10 batters without a walk and utilizing 88 pitches (68 strikes) to do so while improving to 5-1 for the season. Since being roughed up by Gwinnett for five runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings on May 1, Rodriguez has looked like the dominant pitcher deserving of the No. 3 prospect ranking in all of baseball. In his last five starts, the 22-year-old has gone 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA, allowing three runs on 14 hits while striking out 43 against nine walks in 28 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting just .144 against him in that stretch, and Rodriguez’s WHIP checks in at 0.80.

RP: Kade McClure, Charlotte Knights (Triple-A)
White Sox No. 27
0-0, 0.00, 2 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.00 WHIP

McClure worked three perfect innings over his relief appearances on Tuesday and Friday at Durham. The right-hander began the season in the rotation but went 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA in five outings before shifting to the bullpen. There, McClure took big steps forward last week. After posting a 6.57 ERA through his first three relief appearances, the Louisville product retired all nine batters he faced against the Bulls, striking out four in two innings on Tuesday and another in his lone inning on Friday. Between the two games, McClure threw 50 pitches, 32 for strikes.

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