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The old belief goes that pitchers begin the season ahead of their hitting counterparts, only for the bats to get hotter with the rising temperatures. Well, we’re officially in the dog days of summer, so if that theory holds, it should be even more impressive when a hurler dominates from the hill.
That takes us to the third edition of the Minor Leagues’ hottest pitchers from every farm system, covering the last 30 days. Nine of the 30 arms below have appeared on this list before in 2022, including one Top 100 prospect who has represented his club in all three cases. As the Minors head into the second half and promotions come across the lower levels, the pitchers on this list might just be hitting their strides at the right time.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Red Sox: Brayan Bello, RHP (No. 3/MLB No. 46)
Passed over in the 2015 and ’16 international signing periods and given just a $28,000 bonus in ’17, Bello has blossomed into one of the game’s better pitching prospects, and one capable of displaying three plus offerings. In his last five Triple-A starts, the native of the Dominican Republic has posted a 2.17 ERA with a .196 opponent average and 38/12 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. Not only did that push him to first in the Minors in wins (10) and second in strikeouts (114 in 85 innings), but it also has earned him a spot start with the Red Sox on Wednesday.
Yankees: Luis Medina, RHP (No. 11)
Signed for $280,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Medina can showcase some of the best stuff in the Minors (triple-digits fastball, hammer curveball, devastating changeup) but often struggles to control it. He has been better as of late in Double-A, recording a 3.33 ERA, .134 opponent average and 31/11 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings over his last five starts.
Rays: Taj Bradley, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 35)
Bradley is the aforementioned three-time Hot List honoree, and while it may seem boring to run out the same Tampa Bay prospect every time, there’s no denying that the 21-year-old right-hander’s 0.74 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 25 strikeouts over his last five starts (24 1/3 innings) are worth mentioning here. Bradley ranks second among all Double-A qualifiers with a 1.65 ERA and third with a 0.92 WHIP over 65 1/3 innings. He moved from Single-A to High-A in August last year and could make a similar jump to Triple-A earlier in the calendar with one or two more impressive outings for Montgomery.
Orioles: Jean Pinto, RHP (No. 29)
Acquired by the Orioles from the Angels for Jos? Iglesias in December 2020, Pinto is following up a solid full-season debut last year by starting to figure things out in High-A Aberdeen after a slow start. He gave up just two earned runs over 21 innings (0.86 ERA) in the last 30 days, walking seven and allowing just 12 hits (0.90 WHIP), while striking out 23. That’s brought his season ERA under 4.00 (3.91) and he’s held hitters to a .233 batting average.
Blue Jays: Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (No. 3/MLB No. 65)
The 2021 third-rounder jumped from Single-A Dunedin to High-A Vancouver in mid-May and he’s been just about as dominant at the higher level. Over his last five starts for the Canadians, Tiedemann owns a 1.93 ERA with 34 strikeouts and six walks over 23 1/3 innings. His 36.2 percent K rate ranks 14th among the 242 High-A pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched this season, thanks to his fastball-slider-change mix, and he’s the only teenager to meet that criteria.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Tigers: Ty Madden, RHP (No. 5)
Madden has thrown 23 innings over five starts for High-A Michigan over the last 30 days. He’s allowed only one earned run in that span. That’s a 0.39 ERA. Sometimes, you don’t have to think too hard about who is the hottest. The former Texas hurler fell to the 32nd overall pick last year despite having a solid four-pitch mix and above-average control because of the way his heater typically played down in the zone, rather than high. He’s still found ways to dominate the Midwest League (2.81 ERA, 67 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings) and could be closing in on Double-A Erie before the month is out.
Guardians: Logan Allen, LHP (No. 8)
Though he got roughed up for five runs in two-thirds of an inning in his Triple-A debut, Allen still qualifies as the Guardians’ hottest pitcher because he had struck out 31, while permitting just 12 baserunners in 19 innings during his final three Double-A starts. A 2020 second-round pick from Florida International, he stands out most for his lively changeup and his control.
Royals: Josh Dye, LHP (No. 28)
The 25-year-old left-hander isn’t on the Royals’ 40-man roster, but he’s pitching like someone who should be getting a chance in Kansas City soon. Coming out of the Triple-A Omaha bullpen, Dye has a 1.54 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and only two walks in nine appearances (11 2/3 innings) over this period. He doesn’t feature a ton of velocity out of his lower arm slot, but he has generated ground balls 52.5 percent of the time this season, limiting opposing impact with his sinker and above-average changeup. Lefties, in particular, are batting just .167 against him this season — a sign of where he’d be most dominant in a Major League role.
Twins: David Festa, RHP (No. 29)
The Twins took Festa in the 13th round of the 2021 Draft out of Seton Hall and he has quickly gotten to work moving his way up the ladder, earning a promotion form Single-A to High-A after five starts. He’s been really good in the Midwest League, too, with a 1.99 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in the circuit during this time period. For the year, the right-hander now has a combined 1.94 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and .186 BAA while striking out 10.4 per nine.
White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 10)
Thompson has bounced back from a rough 2021 full-season debut to perform well in High-A, including logging a 3.55 ERA with a 30/5 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings during his last five starts. Signed for an over-slot $2.1 million as a Texas high schooler in the second round of the 2019 Draft, he can push his fastball to 97 mph and unleashes curveballs with power and depth when he’s on.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Astros: Jaime Melendez, RHP (No. 13)
After posting a 7.39 ERA in his first 11 Double-A appearances, Melendez has turned his season around by recording a 1.48 ERA in his last five, along with an .088 opponents’ average and a 35/8 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings. He signed for $195,000 out of Mexico in 2019 and has very good feel for sequencing a four-pitch repertoire, highlighted by a 92-95 mph fastball with nice shape and carry.
Angels: Coleman Crow, RHP (No. 20)
This is Crow’s second straight appearance on this list, thanks to him posting a 2.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over his last five starts, spanning 32 2/3 innings. Just 21 years old, Crow has struck out nearly a batter per inning while walking just 2.2 per nine in Double-A. He’s currently top five in the Southern League in ERA (3.34), WHIP (1.09) and BAA (.221).
A’s: Garrett Acton, RHP (No. 29)
That sound you’re hearing is Acton knocking on the big league door. The reliever got promoted to Triple-A in mid-June and hasn’t allowed an earned run (two unearned) in five outings with Las Vegas, giving him a 1.86 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over the past month while striking out close to 14 per nine. That’s upped his season K rate to 13.4.
Rangers: Mitch Bratt, LHP (No. 22)
Bratt has surrendered a total of three runs in his last four five-inning Single-A starts, stymying opponents to a .174 average with a 24/3 K/BB ratio. A fifth-round pick in last year’s Draft, the Canadian teenager has been carving up hitters with his fastball and curveball and owns a 1.80 career ERA with 64 strikeouts in 45 innings.
Mariners: Taylor Dollard, RHP (No. 13)
Dollard hits the hot pitchers list for the second straight time (1.70 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over 37 innings) and, to be honest, he could have been the choice in all three editions. For the year, the 2020 fifth-rounder now leads the Double-A Texas League in ERA (1.38) and WHIP (0.88), while standing second in BAA (.188).
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Kyle Muller, LHP (No. 3)
Someone sure looks like they’re ready for another chance to help the big league staff out. Over his last five starts — spanning 32 innings — the big lefty had a 2.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, as he allowed just 20 hits and eight walks while striking out 38. He really doesn’t have much left to prove in Triple-A with a 2.99 ERA, .216 BAA and 102/26 K/BB ratio over 14 starts this season. He leads the International League in strikeouts and stands second in ERA and WHIP (1.09) and third in BAA.
Phillies: Griff McGarry, RHP (No. 8)
McGarry’s last four starts (1.93 ERA, 0.94 WHIP) in the last 30 days finished off a run that earned him the Phillies’ organizational Player of the Month honors. He struck out 43 in 23 1/3 IP (16.6 K/9) and was rewarded with a promotion to Double-A, leaving the High-A South Atlantic League with a 15.8 K/9 rate and .199 BAA over 46 2/3 innings.
Mets: Dominic Hamel, RHP (No. 9)
The Mets’ third-round pick last year was promoted from Single-A St. Lucie to High-A Brooklyn on Monday, and it’s not hard to see why. The DBU product posted a 2.11 ERA with 25 strikeouts and five walks in 21 1/3 innings over his last four appearances in the Florida State League. He lasted six or more innings in three of those final four outings. In his final appearance on Sunday, the 23-year-old elicited 21 whiffs in only 86 pitches, and those swings and misses were spread out pretty well across his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup. Expect a bigger and much-needed challenge in Brooklyn.
Marlins: M.D. Johnson, RHP (No. 28)
Armed with a solid fastball and slider, Johnson set a Dallas Baptist record with 29 career wins before turning pro for $17,500 as a sixth-round senior sign in 2019. He has recorded a 2.16 ERA with a .200 opponent average and a 31/3 K/BB ratio in his last four starts and 25 innings, and now ranks among the High-A Midwest League leaders in WHIP (0.94, first), opponents’ average (.203, third) and ERA (2.92, fourth).
Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 4)
The 2019 first-rounder added biceps soreness to his list of professional injuries this spring and has opened the season at Single-A Fredericksburg, where the Nationals are trying to keep him healthy and productive. They should like what they’ve seen of late. Rutledge has thrown three quality starts in his last five appearances and owns a 2.33 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings over that span. He didn’t walk more than one batter in any of those five starts either, a good sign for a pitcher with some control issues. Rutledge, whose fastball and slider can both get plus grades on their best days, should be getting more challenges soon, but any positive results are welcome for the 6-foot-8 hurler.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cubs: Daniel Palencia, RHP (No. 25)
The Cubs targeted Palencia in the Andrew Chafin trade with the Athletics last July because they liked his power arm that can unleash triple-digit four-seam fastballs and mid-80s knuckle-curves. Palencia battled his control and command early in the season, but he has been better lately, with a .215 opponents’ average and 24/8 K/BB ratio, while compiling a 4.64 ERA over 21 1/3 innings in his last five High-A outings.
Reds: Chase Petty, RHP (No. 6)
Petty, the hard-throwing high school right-hander who can throw 100 mph and was taken in the first round last July by the Twins, was traded to the Reds in March in the Sonny Gray deal. He’s being handled carefully in a piggyback system to limit his innings, though he went five innings in three of his last four starts. In the past month, Petty had a 2.78 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out nearly a batter per inning over 22 2/3 IP. His 3.38 ERA for the year would put him fourth in the Florida State League if he had enough innings to qualify.
Pirates: Bubba Chandler, RHP (No. 8)
Chandler, the Pirates’ third-rounder in 2021, is still getting the chance to play both ways, and has hit three homers in 24 at-bats (only as a DH). Pitching in shorter stints for now — he pitched into the fourth inning for the first time on July 2, his fifth outing — but he’s dominated the Florida Complex League. In 11 1/3 shutout innings, he’s allowed just three hits (.081 BAA) and while he’s walked nine, he’s struck out 20.
Brewers: Cam Robinson, RHP (No. 26)
The Brewers promoted the 22-year-old reliever from High-A to Double-A on Monday because he clearly needed a new challenge. Robinson didn’t allow a run in his final 10 appearances for Wisconsin, striking out 18 while scattering six hits and three walks over 11 1/3 innings in that time. Entering Thursday, he leads all of Minor League Baseball with 19 saves. No one else has more than 15 this season. He uses an over-the-top delivery to get right on top of hitters with an above-average fastball and curveball — both of which will be tested in the upper levels for the first time.
Cardinals: Inohan Paniagua, RHP (No. 30)
We just added Paniagua — a 22-year-old with an above-average heater and plus curveball — to the Cardinals’ Top 30 at a good time. He might be Single-A’s most dominant pitcher of late. Since the beginning of June, Paniagua has lasted at least six innings in his last six starts and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of them. His 0.70 WHIP and 44 strikeouts both lead Single-A pitchers since June 1, while his 1.80 ERA ranks fourth. He should see High-A Peoria soon.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Rockies: Joe Rock, LHP (No. 15)
Rock hits this list for the second time this season after posting a 2.79 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in five starts this period. He spanned 29 innings and allowed just 17 hits, while striking out 32. It was a nice turnaround after a rough May, which puts Rock’s season ERA at 3.73 for the year with 78 K’s and a .198 BAA in 72 1/3 IP. He’s in the top four in the High-A Northwest League in strikeouts, BAA and WHIP (1.07), and top seven in ERA.
Dodgers: Gavin Stone, RHP (No. 18)
The second-to-last pick in the 2020 Draft (fifth round), Stone has shown improved stuff as a pro, with his fastball reaching 98 mph from a low release point and his changeup showing flashes of becoming a plus offering that tumbles at the plate. The Central Arkansas product ranks second in the Minors with a 1.46 ERA on the year, and has posted a 2.00 ERA with a .218 opponents’ average and a 39/8 K/BB ratio over 27 innings in his last five Double-A starts.
D-backs: Tommy Henry, LHP (No. 13)
MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert wrote that Henry was a consideration for a Major League start Tuesday as a replacement for the injured Zach Davies. The club went with Tyler Gilbert instead and had Henry start Monday for Triple-A Reno, but don’t sleep on Henry continuing to press the issue. The 24-year-old southpaw has a 4.25 ERA with 30 strikeouts over six starts (36 innings) since the start of June. Those are solid numbers for a pitcher who calls Reno home; in fact, Henry’s ERA on the road this season is 3.07. While he did experience a hiccup Monday, the 2019 74th overall pick, who thrives on good control and solid off-speed stuff, should see the Majors at some point in the second half.
Padres: Robert Gasser, LHP (No. 7)
The 2021 71st overall pick entered his June 8 start for High-A Fort Wayne with a 5.64 ERA. Over five outings since then, he’s owned a 1.17 ERA and 0.85 WHIP with 37 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings. His crowning achievement came on June 19 when he issued a game-opening walk and then retired 21 straight Lansing batters on the road. His 94 strikeouts on the season rank fifth among High-A hurlers.
Giants: Kyle Harrison, LHP (No. 2/MLB No. 27)
Baseball’s best left-handed pitching prospect leads the Minors with 116 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings, including 43 whiffs in 27 frames along with a 2.33 ERA and .133 opponents average in his last five Double-A starts. He can blow hitters away with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph with armside run and also make them look bad with a mid-80s slider.