This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet covers games from April 17-23. Remember, this feature simply recognizes the hottest prospects in the minors during the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Vince Lara-Cinisomo and Josh Norris.
Team: low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .424/.441/.727 (14-for-33), 8 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: The 2015 season is going to be a key year for Guzman’s prospect status, and so far all of the signs have been encouraging. One of the top prospects on the international market in 2011, Guzman hit well his first year in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2012 and had shown a sound swing with good plate discipline and emerging power. His game came unraveled in 2014, when he slumped his way to a .218/.283/.330 season with low Class A Hickory, constantly making adjustments with his mechanics that only exacerbated his problems. Now, the version of Guzman the Rangers thought they would get when they signed him has returned, with a .309/.348/.491 line in 14 games with three home runs after hitting six in 118 games last year.
Team: high Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: When he’s at his best, Garcia has two plus pitches, with a fastball up to 95 mph and a curveball that can be a swing-and-miss pitch but is still inconsistent. With his ability to throw strikes, a more consistent breaking ball could make him a back-end starter or a middle reliever.
Team; Patomac Nationals (Carolina League)
Why He’s Here: .429/.467/.643 (12-for-28), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 SO, 3-for-4 SB
The Scoop: The 2014 South Atlantic League MVP had more to prove this year than most prospects. As great as he was last year, Difo had been a slow-developing prospect who took five years simply to reach full-season ball. So there was still a little skepticism that his breakthrough was in part the result of an experienced player taking advantage of the less-experienced. So far, Difo’s encore performance is doing a good job of answering those questions. He leads the Carolina League in total bases and ranks among the league leaders in batting average, slugging percentage and home runs. Difo has excellent tools (speed and power in a middle infielder) to go with his impressive production and evaluators love his leadership. Keep this up for the rest of the year and a lot of that skepticism will go away.