Image credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

Welcome to The Heat Check, a report running every other week encompassing players across the minor leagues who are lighting their league on fire or who have been doused in cold water. The stats encompass the players last 10 games.



Nick Loftin, SS, Kansas City Royals (Triple-A Omaha): .429 (9-21), 4 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 K.
Loftin spent the offseason adding good weight with the hope of being more prepared physically to handle the rigors of a long season. It affected him in 2022 when, after a hot start to the year, the power numbers waned the last two months of the year. The early results are promising as he’s impacting the ball with more frequency, all while maintaining his contact ability. With the Royals floundering at the bottom of the AL Central and Loftin not required to be placed on the 40-man until this winter, it’s likely he spends the year at Omaha. But a good season there should put him in play to make the 2024 opening day roster. 

Mason Miller, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A Las Vegas): 8.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 19 K.
There’s been a lot of adversity for Miller in his baseball career. He’s gone from learning how to deal with diabetes while pitching at a DIII school to almost quitting baseball during the pandemic, losing most of his first full pro season to a rotator cuff strain, to now being on the cusp of a major league call-up. He features power stuff, with a heater that can touch 102, a cutter, and a nasty slider all while maintaining above-average command. His short professional track record means there’s more seasoning needed in the PCL but with Oakland virtually eliminated before the end of April, he does give A’s fans something to dream on. 

Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets (Triple-A Syracuse): .343 (12-35), 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K, 2 SB.
Mark Vientos, 3B, New York Mets (Triple-A Syracuse): .394 (13-33), 9 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K. 


Kameron Misner, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): .167 (5-30), 4 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 19 K.
Jeff Criswell, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Triple-A Albuquerque): 5.1 IP, 14 H, 15 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.



Hunter Goodman, C, Colorado Rockies (Double-A Hartford): .313 (10-32), 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K.
Goodman was a breakout performer last year, posting eye-popping power numbers over three levels before being named the Rockies Minor League player of the year. Most of the pop came in the hitter-friendly environments of Fresno and Spokane, but was somewhat muted when promoted to the Eastern League. Was it end of the year fatigue or a return to reality once he wasn’t hitting in a launchpad? The early returns suggest it might have been the case of a young player at the end of a marathon season, because he’s off to a blistering start in Hartford. There was a focused effort this offseason to improve the swing decisions and so far the walk rate is up and strikeouts are down. While it’s almost assured he moves down the defensive spectrum, he’s showing us that the bat is strong enough to handle wherever he lands on the diamond. 

Owen Caissie, OF, Chicago Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): .303 (10-33), 7 R, 2 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB, 20 K.
It’s not often we include someone on the Heat Check with a strikeout rate at 57%, but here we are with Caissie and we’re going to overlook it for now due to the power he’s shown early. It’s easy to forget that he’s not even old enough to do the free tasting at the Old Tennessee Distilling Company in town. and while most 20-year-olds are still in Low-A, he’s been getting to his plus raw power against the more advanced pitching of the Southern League. It’s likely there will always be some swing-and-miss to his game, but if he can get it down to a more manageable level it’s not hard to envision him becoming a slugging run producer in the heart of a near-future Cubs’ lineup.

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie): .314 (11-35), 11 R, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K, 3 SB.
Andrew Abbott, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Double-A Chattanooga): 10.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 25 K. 


Daniel Vellojin, C, Cincinnati Reds (Double-A Chattanooga): .048 (1-21), R, 2B, RBI, 3 BB, 9 K.
Spencer Arrighetti, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 6.2 IP, 11 H, 11 ER, 5 BB, 10 K.



Loidel Chapelli, 2B, Chicago White Sox (High-A Winston-Salem): 500 (9-18), 6 R, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, BB, 4 K, SB.
Signed by Chicago for $500,000 after defecting from Cuba, Chapelli is showing that his strong DSL slashline last year was not just a product of playing against younger competition. He’s in the more age appropriate Sally League now to begin his stateside career, and High-A pitchers are finding him to be an extremely tough out. He possesses a simple, left-handed swing, and despite being listed at just 5-foot-8 has enough physical strength and bat speed to produce some sneaky pop. The power is likely to play as fringe-average at the big league level but his loud contact and plus speed should make for plenty of extra base hits. A lack of arm strength limits him defensively but his strong offensive game could help him carve out a role as a top of the order spark plug on the South Side. 

Spencer Jones, OF, New York Yankees (High-A Hudson Valley): .344 (11-32), 6 R, 5 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, 2 SB.
Stanley Consuegra, OF, New York Mets (High-A Brooklyn): .306 (11-36), 4 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 10 K.
Noah Cameron, LHP, Kansas City Royals (High-A Quad Cities): 9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K. 


Jordan Beck, OF, Colorado Rockies (High-A Spokane): .000 (0-18), 2 R, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K.
It has not been an ideal start to the year for Beck, but there are still some positive signs. The swing-and-miss concerns that drove him down some draft boards appear to have been remedied by adjustments to the approach since joining the organization. Even in this prolonged slump, the strikeout rate is still sitting below 20%. It’s been a little bit of bad luck combined with some poor quality of contact. If both can improve, Beck should get back on track to becoming a power hitting corner outfielder. 

Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals (High-A Peoria): 7 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 11 K. 



Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles (Low-A Delmarva): .355 (11-31), 7 R, 5 2B, 3B, 9 RBI, 8 BB, 5 K, 2 SB.
Holliday looked good post-draft last year but has been even more impressive to begin 2023. He’s showing a precocious approach at the plate, looking to do damage in hitters’ counts but also able to fight back when he falls behind. The power is going to take the form of a mountain of doubles for now but eventually will start leaving the yard more as he matures. He’s no slouch in the field either, giving him a well-rounded tool set that makes him an elite prospect. He’s still a teenager and there’s no need for Baltimore to rush the development. Instead, he’ll continue to mature as a player, getting consistent at-bats as he climbs the organizational ladder.

Maddux Bruns, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Low-A Rancho Cucamonga): 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 13 K.
As a prep arm with wicked stuff and extreme control issues, Bruns couldn’t have asked for a better situation than being drafted by the Dodgers in 2021. It didn’t really come together last year, as he still struggled with command and saw the walk rate go north of nine per nine innings of work. The offseason was spent trying to smooth out the delivery, and his first two starts of the year are encouraging. If it comes together, his mid-90s fastball, hammer curve, and sweeping slider could give him the same kind of prospect boost seen last year in organization mates Nick Nastrini and Emmet Sheehan

Gabriel Gonzalez, Seattle Mariners (Low-A Modesto): .385 (15-39), 5 R, 5 2B, 3B, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 SB.
Cole Young, SS, Seattle Mariners (Low-A Modesto): .382 (13-34), 9 R, 6 2B, 3B, 6 BB, 11 K, 6 SB., 


Jace Avina, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (Low-A Carolina): .067 (1-15), 5 R, 6 BB, 11 K.
Ben Kudrna, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Low-A Columbia): 7 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. 

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As intriguing as this Mason Miller story is I'm a bit pessimistic about his potential 2023 impact. How many innings can we realistically expect from him in 2023?
He only threw 16 innings last year and 98 innings in 2021.

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