Rocchio’s offense lands him on Team of the Week

September 5th, 2022

Happy September!

The first Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week of the final full month of the season features a cycle, a near perfect game and much more. Jeferson Quero has been one of the most impressive catchers in the Minors this year … at just 19 years old. Brayan Rocchio continues to back up his spot on the Top 100 Prospects list, regardless of the level. Cade Marlow refused to be put out last week and Jacob Melton is enjoying as good of a start to his pro career as anyone.

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 Aug. 30-Sep. 4:

C: Jeferson Quero, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (High-A)Brewers No. 7.455/.478/.818, 5 G, 10-for-22, 1 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K

As one of only six qualified teenage catchers to play at a full-season level this year (last week’s backstop Harry Ford is another), Quero’s campaign was already impressive. But the 19-year-old Venezuelan became the first of those six to reach High-A with a promotion in early August and has excelled in the Midwest League. Quero picked up at least two hits in four of his five games last week, reaching merely once in the other. Since the start of June, he’s slashing .314/.368/.486 with seven home runs and seven stolen bases.

1B: Matt Mervis, Iowa Cubs (Triple-A)Cubs No. 21.389/.450/.944, 6 G, 7-for-18, 3 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K

After breaking out with 21 home runs in 80 games between High-A and Double-A, Mervis went through an adjustment period and hit just three through his first 26 games at Triple-A. It’s safe to say that adjustment has been made. Mervis now has six dingers in his last 11 games after homering in three straight last week, the last of which gave him 30 on the year. It’s been a remarkable rise for the 24-year-old former Duke Blue Devil, who was signed after going undrafted in 2020 and hit just .204 with a .676 OPS in 69 games at Single-A last season. Until Alexander Canario reached 30 home runs on Aug. 21, no Cubs Minor Leaguer had hit that mark since Kris Bryant in 2014.

2B: Enmanuel Valdez, Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A)Red Sox No. 19.417/.482/.917, 6 G, 10-for-24, 2 HR, 4 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 8 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 SB

After dominating Double-A in the Astros organization, Valdez was just getting into a groove with Triple-A Sugar Land when he was traded to the Red Sox in a package for Christian V?zquez before the deadline. After hitting .186 through his first 22 games with Worcester, Valdez turned up the heat last week against Buffalo, recording a pair of three-hit efforts and homering in consecutive games for the first time since May. He nearly completed the cycle (keep reading for the prospect who did) on Sunday, completing the hard parts and just missing the single. Valdez’s strong play earned him league Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

3B: Tyler Callihan, Dayton Dragons (High-A)Reds No. 19.458/.500/.917, 6 G, 11-for-24, 2 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 8 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K

The breakout of Elly De La Cruz, the acquisition of Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo and the recent first round selections of Matt McLain and Cam Collier have put the focus in the Reds organization on a group of infielders that makes someone in the next tier like Callihan a luxury. The 2019 third-round pick missed just under a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2021 and has started to find his stroke as 2022 comes to a close. Callihan’s week included his first four-hit, four-RBI game at the High-A level.

SS: Brayan Rocchio, Columbus Clippers (Triple-A)Guardians No. 4.364/.440/.864, 6 G, 8-for-22, 3 HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 3 K

After ending his first full series in the International League with his first home run, Rocchio looked like a seasoned Triple-A pro last week against Iowa. The shortstop matched Mervis dinger for dinger, hitting three and adding a double in two of those games. The 21-year-old Rocchio, the only Top 100 prospect (No. 72) to make this week’s team, had only six plate appearances against younger pitchers in Double-A and has only faced more experienced competition with the Clippers. Already a member of Cleveland’s 40-man roster, he’s in excellent position to compete for a Major League spot as early as next spring.

OF: Cade Marlowe, Arkansas Travelers (Double-A)Mariners No. 22.667/.714/1.042, 6 G, 16-for-24, 1 HR, 4 2B, 1 3B, 8 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 SB

For at least a week, it seemed like there wasn’t anything Marlowe couldn’t do on the field … except hit the ball out of the park, as his 14th homer of the year featured power to the gap and strong speed. Regardless, the Mariners’ 2021 Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year continues to do just that and last week was no exception. Marlowe posted multihit games in all six of his appearances against Midland, recording three hits three times and four hits once. He’s now hitting .282 with an .810 OPS and 35 stolen bases, just two off the Texas League lead.

OF: Matt Wallner, St. Paul Saints (Triple-A)Twins No. 5.435/.552/.913, 6 G, 10-for-23, 1 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI, 7 R, 6 BB, 8 K

Wallner was so locked in on Sep. 1 against Omaha that he didn’t even realize he was a triple shy of the cycle until he hit second base on a ball in the gap and heard his teammates cheering him on from the dugout. He made it to third safely and even added another double in one of the most dominant games in St. Paul’s history, dating back to the franchise’s existence as an independent team. Two days later, the 24-year-old was at it again, posting his second three-hit game of the week — his first two since his mid-July promotion to Triple-A. Now playing in his native Twin Cities, the left-handed slugging Wallner is sporting a season-long OPS of .963 with 26 home runs.

OF: Jacob Melton, Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Single-A)Astros No. 6.429/.571/.857, 6 G, 9-for-21, 2 HR, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, 7 K

Melton isn’t the first 2022 Draft pick to make a Team of the Week, but his performance against Down East was one of the most dominant. The 64th overall pick from Oregon State continued a strong start to his pro career with his third and fourth home runs since joining Fayetteville, in addition to his first four-hit game since turning pro.

LHP: Dax Fulton, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Double-A)Marlins No. 91-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.33 WHIP

At just 20 years old, Fulton has reached Double-A in his second pro season and instantly proved his worth. After striking out five and allowing one earned run over five innings in his Pensacola debut, he was nearly untouchable in his start last week. Facing a Chattanooga lineup that included De La Cruz and McLain, Fulton came out on top, tossing six innings of one-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts. Over his last 13 starts, the southpaw has a 2.71 ERA with 77 strikeouts to 23 walks.

RHP: Chase Silseth, Rocket City Trash Pandas (Double-A)Angels No. 71-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.14 WHIP

Silseth tossed six scoreless innings in his MLB debut earlier this season, but his most dominant start of the year might have come last week. The 2021 11th-round pick was perfect through 6 2/3 innings before a catcher’s interference call snapped the incredible streak of 20 straight retired to start the game. Silseth walked the next batter but recovered to end the inning and his night with 10 strikeouts over seven no-hit frames. The Rocket City bullpen did its job as well, finishing off the first no-hitter in team history.

RP: Jose A. Ferrer, Harrisburg Senators (Double-A)Nationals No. 230-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 WHIP

Ferrer entered 2022 with three seasons of professional experience but none at the full-season level. He’s made up for it this year alone, making the jump from Single-A Fredericksburg to Harrisburg in a matter of months. After allowing two runs in his Double-A debut, Ferrer began last week by striking out the side in a perfect inning and ended it with another spotless frame. In 60 2/3 innings across three levels this season, he has a 2.37 ERA with 72 strikeouts and one Futures Game selection.