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MiLB Player & Pitcher of the Week: April 17-23

Looking at the best performances from MiLB's second week of the season.

With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the renamed Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), keeping up with minor league performances can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a breakout prospect may no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet of a new highlight. But fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager: Welcome to Pitcher List’s MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Week!

This is a weekly column where I’ll select one hitter and one pitcher who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands.

 

Player of the Week: 2B Michael Busch, LAD, AA

Stats: (5 games) 9-for-23, 4 HR, 7 RBI

You’ll start to notice a pattern with Player of the Week: if you’re a top prospect and you’re hitting a lot of homers, you’re probably gonna be in the running. This week Busch was going up and out in multiple games and continuing his torrid start to the season. Overall Busch’s triple slash so far is .321/.479/.755 with 7HRs. It’s as easy as 1,2,3,4 or should I say 1.234 as in his OPS. When does he get the call, where do the Dodgers play him? Zero idea. As a man from Baltimore once said, it sounds like one of those good problems.

Busch works himself to a hitter’s count at 3-1 and gets a fastball away. Not a terrible location from the pitcher but the game power of Busch plus his above-average barrel control allows him to stay back and drive it opposite field for a no-doubter. Busch’s bat was always his carrying tool and so far this season, he’s pushing his way into the big league conversation.

Honorable Mention: SS Cesar Prieto, BAL, A+

Stats: (5 games) 7-for-15, 4 HR, 9 RBI

Sure, Prieto has significant pro experience as a former Cuban national player, however, there were still questions about his ceiling and how his game would adapt in the US. So far, it would have to be measured as a success. Prieto has shown off sure-handed defense along with a contact-heavy approach and some added pop. I’d imagine he’s only in Aberdeen until June at this pace and then the real test will begin at AA Bowie. If he’s somehow still available, Prieto is poised to be a great high floor add to your roster. The O’s have a few candidates to take the reigns in their middle infield but he’s as good a candidate as any.

 

Pitcher of the Week: SP Daniel Espino, CLE, AA

Stats: (1 start) 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 hits, 0 BB, 14 Ks

I was sure that Grayson had this week locked up after his start on Monday. To the point that I didn’t even really pay attention to other pitching lines…until Saturday.

Near immaculate first inning? ✔️

Consecutive strikeouts? ✔️ (11)

A CSW over 50% on 66 pitches? ✔️ (53% to be exact)

It was pure dominance and, at this point, Espino is in pole position as the best pitching prospect for ’23 (assuming Rodriguez and Max Meyer get called up sometime this season).

Unfortunately, Bowie remains with one of the less optimal camera setups for pitching but we can see here the overall heat that Espino brings to the table. 99MPH on the black is tough at any level. Espino is becoming appointment television already in AA…imagine him at 24, 25 years old when he really knows how to pitch.

 

Honorable Mention: P Grayson Rodriguez, BAL, AAA

Stats: (1 start) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 1 BB, 8 K

The aforementioned Rodriguez gets the silver medal this week. Honorable Mentions don’t typically merit their own GIF but I mean:


C’mon, who doesn’t want to watch that on repeat?

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

LaMar Gibson

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan that still hasn't forgiven Jeffrey Maier, Tony Fernandez, the 2014 Royals, or Edwin Encarnacion...and has no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. You can read more of LaMar's thoughts by subscribing to his free monthly newsletter, Inside Fastball, for all things prospects.

  • Barry says:

    Great read Lamar! Call up question. If you had to stash one of either Grayson or Meyer who would you pick and why?

    Thanks,

    Subscriber Barry

    • LaMar Gibson says:

      Barry, thanks for reading! But why’d you have to ask me such a tough question? Lol. I thought about your question for awhile for awhile and I’m gonna say GrayRod…by a hair.
      It really came down to two things for me, Rodriguez’s body has matured in a way that, barring freak injury, I think will allow him to maintain a consistent workload. Secondly, his overall pitch offerings (four to five pitchers depending on reports) all of which he’s developed into above average at minimum, give him a decided margin for error in sequencing and effectiveness on a nightly basis.
      I think Mayer probably has more “OMG, he struck out 13, 14 tonight” type of moments but Rodriguez seems to be consistently good to the point of maybe even being “boring”.
      Great question!

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