Prospect Roundup: Games of Aug. 20

Acuna continues to tear up Triple-A; German stars as starter

Ronald Acuna has produced a .920 OPS over 122 games across three levels this season. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | August 21, 2017 12:40 PM

Braves OF Ronald Acuna, Triple-A Gwinnett: 3-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R, K -- What can possibly stop the Braves' top prospect in 2017? Acuna extended his hitting streak to eight games Sunday with his third straight multi-hit performance. Since joining Gwinnett on July 13, the 19-year-old is hitting .355/.417/.618 with eight homers, two triples, 12 doubles and four steals. That slash line is better than the one he produced over 57 games with Double-A Mississippi and 28 games at Class A Advanced Florida, despite the fact that he's the only teenager in Triple-A. (Brayan Hernandez played three games for Tacoma in June.) Acuna's 20 homers and 37 steals on the season make him one of two members of the 20-30 club -- along with No. 23 Reds prospect Jose Siri (20 homers, 40 steals) -- and one of seven in the 20-20 club: Siri, Scott Kingery, Fernando Tatis Jr., Monte Harrison, Kyle Tucker and Daniel Johnson. At No. 8 on MLB.com's top-100 list, Acuna is the highest prospect of that group, and the fact that he's taken so well to the Minors' highest level only solidifies that standing. He's a strong candidate to move to Atlanta before season's end, though he'd have to move to a corner with Ender Inciarte manning center. That would require bumping Matt Kemp (signed through 2019) or Nick Markakis (signed through 2018) out of the lineup, but with the way Acuna has grown, the Braves shouldn't hesitate to make such a move.

Video: Gwinnett's Acuna rips double

Yankees RHP Domingo German, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 102 pitches, 64 strikes -- There is no question German will be back in the Bronx before the Major League season is out. But what will his role be? The Yankees' No. 21 prospecthas made five appearances for New York this season, all out of the bullpen. However, he's continued to thrive as a starter in the Minors this season. His outing Sunday was his longest in terms of innings since May 30. It was also the first time he cracked the 100-pitch mark, an encouraging sign for a pitcher who missed 2015 due to Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old right-hander has allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his last seven appearances for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and owns a 2.91 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 19 walks in 65 innings this season for the International League club. The Yanks might prefer German in relief in the Majors in order to get his plus fastball to play up and limit his innings to help ensure he'll finish 2017 on a healthy note, but he's looking strong enough to get at least one starting nod during the stretch run.

Athletics LHP A.J. Puk, Double-A Midland: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 100 pitches, 64 strikes -- Don't be fooled by his 4.91 ERA over 51 1/3 innings in the Texas League -- this type of outing seemed to be coming from the A's No. 2 prospect. Puk's 2.70 FIP at Double-A speaks more to his abilities and showed that a course correction was due when it came to runs allowed. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed just one run or fewer for the second time in 11 starts with the RockHounds. However, his seven punchouts moved him into a tie for third on the Minor League leaderboard with 166 in 112 1/3 innings over his time with Midland and Class A Advanced Stockton. What's more, his 34.6 percent strikeout rate is tops among full-season hurlers. With a .353 BABIP-against in his 25 starts this season, Puk may have run into some rough batted-ball luck in his first full season, but with his plus velocity and impressive slider, he's got the stuff to get consistent whiffs and keep the ball in the park (three homers allowed in 112 1/3 innings). His control (9.6 percent walk rate) still needs some work, but last year's sixth overall pick remains an impressive prospect, no matter what his ERA says.

Tigers OF Derek Hill, Class A West Michigan: 4-fot-6, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2 K, SB -- Most know about the No. 10 Tigers prospect's defensive prowess in center field. Now with three seasons in the Midwest League, it finally looks like the 2014 first-rounder has tackled the circuit from an offensive standpoint. Hill matched a career high with four hits Sunday, pushing his season slash line to .291/.366/.454 through 34 games with the Whitecaps. That .820 OPS is a significant jump from the .661 he produced over 93 games last season and the .619 in 53 games from 2015. To be fair, the 21-year-old outfielder has missed time in recent years with a slew of injuries. Most recently, Tommy John surgery delayed his 2017 debut until July 12. But this run of success should provide plenty of optimism for both Hill and the Tigers heading into the offseason. 

Rays LHP Brendan McKay, Class A Short Season Hudson Valley: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 38 pitches, 28 strikes -- The Rays No. 3 prospect continued his dominant run on the mound Sunday with three more scoreless innings. McKay has yet to allow a run in his first four appearances with Hudson Valley, striking out 13 while scattering three hits and three walks over 11 frames. He's got the above-average fastball, plus curve and solid control to dominate lower-level batters, especially in the shorter stints he's been facing so far in the New York-Penn League. McKay's experience at the plate hasn't gone quite as well with the first baseman/designated hitter producing a .188/.305/.363 with four homers, two doubles and 24 strikeouts in 23 games. The Rays are still very much in the testing phase of what to do with McKay's two-way potential, and while these short-season results won't tremendously affect their plans, McKay, who looked like a better hitting prospect when he was drafted, is at least making the case that he deserves an extended look as a pitcher. 

Video: Hudson Valley's McKay gets his fourth strikeout

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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