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Prospect Roundup: Games of July 9

Albertos strong in Eugene debut; Burnes lowers ERA to 1.06
Jose Albertos has allowed two earned runs on eight hits over 14 innings in his last three starts. (Bill Mitchell)
July 10, 2017

Twins RHP Kohl Stewart, Double-A Chattanooga: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 87 pitches, 58 strikes -- The Twins' No. 6 prospect continues to look strong after returning from left knee tendinitis that held him out for nearly two months. Stewart struck out a

Twins RHP Kohl Stewart, Double-A Chattanooga: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 87 pitches, 58 strikes -- The Twins' No. 6 prospect continues to look strong after returning from left knee tendinitis that held him out for nearly two months. Stewart struck out a season-high six and tossed his second quality start over three outings since coming off the disabled list. In those three starts, he's allowed only two earned runs with nine strikeouts and three walks while holding opposing batters to a .183 average over 17 innings. This run must come as a massive relief for Minnesota, not just because of Stewart's health. The right-hander was generally ineffective before the DL stint, posting a 5.63 ERA with a rough 14/22 K/BB ratio through his first six starts (24 innings). The fourth overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Stewart has the four-pitch mix -- including a plus fastball and above-average slider -- to work as a starter but has struggled with his control and hasn't generated as many swings and misses during his career as his profile would suggest. But this latest stretch could be a big step in what still is his age-22 season.

Brewers RHP Corbin Burnes, Double-A Biloxi: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 93 pitches, 59 strikes -- No matter the level, it seems there's no stopping Burnes and his dominant 2017. Following this latest gem, which extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings, the Brewers' No. 20 prospect sports a 1.06 ERA over 42 1/3 innings at Double-A that is nearly equal to the 1.05 he posted in 60 frames at Class A Advanced earlier in the year. His 1.06 ERA in 2017 leads all full-season hurlers, while his 0.83 WHIP ranks second and his .178 average-against is sixth. Taken in the fourth round out of St. Mary's last year, Burnes is surging through the Brewers system, thanks to impressive command that's the result of what he called a "more squared-up approach." If Double-A hitters were supposed to challenge him, they haven't really done it yet, and a path to the Majors as early as next season seems more possible with each outing.
Astros RHP Forrest Whitley, Class A Advanced Buies Creek: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP, 71 pitches, 50 strikes -- The Astros' No. 5 prospect is another hurler who doesn't seem to be having any issues transitioning to a new level in his first full season. Whitley followed up the five no-hit frames he threw in his first Carolina League outing last Monday with another solid start Sunday. After being promoted at the start of the month, the 19-year-old has allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while fanning 14 over his first 10 innings with Buies Creek. The 17th overall pick in last year's Draft has moved two levels above some of his first-round, prep-arm peers after posting a 2.91 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings at Class A Quad Cities. The Astros are taking it carefully with Whitley, who's pitched more than five innings only once in 14 appearances and has yet to last more than 88 pitches. But the organization wanted to see him test his four-pitch mix against Class A Advanced bats, and he's met the challenge head-on. Among pitchers with at least 50 Minor League innings this season, the 6-foot-7 right-hander, who is's No. 71 overall prospect, sports above-average offerings in his fastball, slider, curve and changeup, ranks third with a 35.2 percent strikeout rate.
Cubs RHP Jose Albertos, Class A Short Season Eugene: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 81 pitches, 51 strikes -- The No. 7 Cubs prospect hit the ground running in his first start outside the complexes in Arizona. He allowed just one hit -- a line-drive single in the fourth -- and struck out four over five innings in his Class A Short Season debut, a 2-1 win over Tri-City. The 18-year-old right-hander has been hyped as an impressive arm with a plus fastball and a special changeup since he signed for $1.5 million out of Mexico two years ago. However, it's taken some time for him to get into games stateside. He made one start in the Rookie-level Arizona League last season before being shut down with forearm tightness. He pitched some in extended spring training this year before making two starts back in the AZL on June 26 and July 3 and was promoted to the Northwest League last week. The Cubs will understandably continue to be cautious with the teenager, but he certainly has the stuff to dominate the lower levels in shorter spurts. Should he finish the season fully healthy, he could be in the discussion with Dylan Cease, Chicago's No. 2 prospect, as the most exciting arm in the Cubs' system.
Dodgers OF Starling Heredia, Rookie-level Ogden: 3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB, K -- Heredia's first season stateside continues to be a smashing success. The Dodgers' No. 11 prospect notched his first career two-homer game Sunday in a 10-1 win at Grand Junction. Signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015, Heredia spent last season in the Dominican Summer League but is making a big splash since moving to the Rookie-level Arizona League at the end of June. He went 12-for-28 (.429) with two homers, two triples, two doubles and nine RBIs over seven games before getting the bump to the Pioneer League last Wednesday. He's remained hot there as well, going 9-for-19 with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs in four games for the Raptors. We're still well within small-sample territory for the 18-year-old, who's played all three outfield spots this season, but it's worth pointing out that among short-season hitters, only Ogden teammate Luis Paz has more extra-base hits or total bases than Heredia since he debuted on June 24.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.