Prospect Roundup: Games of May 1

Bucs' Tucker takes MiLB lead in thefts; Lucchesi, Buehler duel

A first-round pick in 2014, Cole Tucker has stolen 61 bases over 224 Minor League games. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | May 2, 2017 1:10 PM

Cardinals SS/3B Paul DeJong, Triple-A Memphis: 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, K -- Normally this stat line wouldn't be particularly noteworthy, but the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect now has five homers on the season and four in his last five games. DeJong went deep twice Sunday and carried that momentum into Monday's 4-1 win over Round Rock. The 23-year-old infielder put his power on display last season when he went deep 22 times in 132 games for Double-A Springfield in his first full campaign. But even then, it took him until May 1 to hit his first homer, so he's already ahead of the game in his first foray into Triple-A. After playing mostly third base in the Texas League, DeJong has made 17 of his 20 starts at shortstop, and if he can prove adequate there defensively, his bat should deliver plenty of value.

Video: Memphis' DeJong homers to center in the eighth

Orioles OF D.J. Stewart, Double-A Bowie: 3-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB -- The 25th overall pick in 2015, Stewart's stock tumbled in his first full season as he hit .254/.377/.399 with 10 homers and 26 steals at Class A and Class A Advanced while showing his defensive abilities may limit him to left field. He's dropped to No. 23 in the Baltimore system as a result, but the good news is that he's off to a solid start at the plate in his first month at Double-A. Following Monday's showing, the 23-year-old owns a .275/.341/.563 line with five homers, a triple, six doubles and four steals in 21 games and is already halfway to his 2016 output for long balls with four months left to play. It's possible that Double-A arms could figure out Stewart as they get to know him more, but with nine hits over his last five games, he could also just be heating up.

Video: 5-1-17 Stewart Solo Home Run

Padres LHP Joey Lucchesi, Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 94 pitches, 58 strikes -- The Padres' No. 20 prospect was named California League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after he struck out eight and allowed four hits over six scoreless innings against Visalia. He celebrated with another gem Monday that set career highs for strikeouts and innings pitched. Beyond just one week, it's not hard to make a case that the 23-year-old has been the league's best pitcher through the first month of the season. At 0.96, he's the only qualified pitcher in the circuit with an ERA below 1.00, and his 36 strikeouts over 28 innings are also tops. Lucchesi, who sports three above-average pitches in his fastball, curve and changeup, isn't new to the K after fanning 149 over 111 frames during his senior season at Southeast Missouri State and 56 in 42 innings in his first taste of pro ball last season. It seems weird to say, but Lucchesi is showing signs -- namely keeping the ball out of play and making the circuit's favorable offensive conditions a nonfactor -- that he might need a bigger challenge than the Cal League.

Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler, Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga: 3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 65 pitches, 40 strikes -- Based on Draft position and prospect ranking, Buehler was the more high-profile hurler to take the mound in Monday's game between Lake Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga, and MLB.com's No. 86 overall prospect held up his end of the bargain. The 22-year-old right-hander matched a season high with eight strikeouts and threw more than 53 pitches for the first time in 2017. The Dodgers are being cautious with their 2015 first-rounder, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2015, but he's doing his best to stand out with a 1.10 ERA, 27 strikeouts and five walks in 16 1/3 innings for the Quakes. With three above-average pitches in his fastball, curve and slider and impressive control, the only thing holding Buehler back from a quick ascent to Chavez Ravine might be concerns about the toll on his elbow.

Pirates SS Cole Tucker, Class A Advanced Bradenton: 2-for-3, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, K, 4 SB -- The Pirates' No. 6 prospect separated himself from the Minor League pack with a career-high four stolen bases Monday. He now leads the Minors with 17 thefts on the season, four more than Tampa's Jorge Mateo and Rome's Randy Ventura. Tucker has always had plus speed but went from 25 steals over 73 games in 2015 to only six in 13 attempts over 80 games last season, perhaps out of an abundance of caution following shoulder surgery in his first full campaign. The green light is back on now, however, and the 20-year-old is taking advantage with 20 attempts in 23 games. He's also earning plenty of free passes with a 13.2 percent walk rate and .343 OBP, but the Bucs hope the bat (.244 average, three extra-base hits) will be the next tool to make some progress.

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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