Minor League Pitcher and Hitter of the Month: May 2024

The Pirates have another uber-talented pitching prospect working through the ranks, while a Rays masher was the best hitter in MiLB in May.

BRADENTON, FLORIDA - MARCH 14: Braxton Ashcraft #65 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at LECOM Park on March 14, 2024 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

April showers have brought May flowers, which is not a slight on all of the strong performances in the first month of the year. In fact, in this instance, this reference represents a beautiful garden of flowers (talented prospects) continuing to flourish (absolutely dominate) with more water (opportunities) and fertilizer (development).

All of the hype that April brought us, and what the Minor League Baseball season had the potential of becoming, has come to fruition after another strong month of production across every level of the Minor Leagues. We have had our fair share of big-name prospects continue to stand out, but the best part is we have also had an incredible amount of “pop-up” prospects truly show out across a large sample size.

This series should highlight to all of the Just Baseball fans that, and I will continue to push this in every article, the future of Major League Baseball is bright. No matter what organization you find yourself supporting, there are multiple standouts in their farm system that should have you excited for what’s to come.

Now, the best part about this article in particular is that the new Top-100 Prospect list has officially debuted and I can assure you there will be meteoric rises, as well as new names, that are now going to make waves across the industry.

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For more information on the Top Prospects that find themselves on Just Baseball’s Top 100, you can find that list here.

Pitcher of the Month: Braxton Ashcraft (RHP) – Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona Curve)

April Stats: 6 GS 32.1 IP, 26 H, 6 BB, 39 K, 1.95 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 10.9 K/9

When you find yourself conversing about Pirates pitching prospects, you likely end up discussing Paul Skenes. No one can fault you for that.

All of a sudden, the Pirates find themselves with a staple of young high-upside arms that look to fill out their rotation for quite some time. However, what you see in Pittsburgh right now may only be the beginning.

Braxton Ashcraft, the Pirates number eight prospect per Just Baseball’s team rankings, is going to highlight the May Player of the Month after what was a dominant month in Double-A Altoona. Ashcraft has overcome a gluttony of injuries since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2018 and now, for the first time, he is pitching without any limitations.

Each of his three-pitch arsenal ranks as above-average pitches. The fastball hovers in the high 90s, a big traditional curveball, and a hybrid slider that has cutter-like tendencies depending on the grip he uses in certain situations.

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The best part about Ashcraft’s game is that is not afraid to pound the zone, throwing a strike nearly 70% of the time. Now that he no longer has any pitch or innings limitations, I would not be surprised to see Ashcraft make his way to Indianapolis shortly.

Hitter of the Month: Xavier Isaac (1B) – Tampa Bay Rays (High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods)

April Stats: 100 PAs – .337/.420/.674 (1.094 OPS), 6 HR, 24 RBI, .337 ISO, 198 wRC+

Stop me if you have heard this before: the Tampa Bay Rays farm system is loaded.

After Carson Williams highlighted the Player of the Month in April, his league mate, and first repeater of this series, is Rays first base prospect Xavier Isaac.

The slugging first baseman has been on another level lately. As a matter of fact, the entire month of May has been. Not only has the power been there for him, but he is also drawing a walk at a 13% rate. He entered this season as Just Baseball’s number four prospect in the Rays system, but it surely to rise once the update does come out.

What’s most impressive is that he has raised his line drive percentage by almost 20% when you compare 2023 to 2024, which has in turn cut his GB% by 10% and is likely the reason he has had so much success as this season has progressed. His ability to evenly spray the ball to all fields is something you do not typically see with a hitter of Isaac’s profile, which makes him the tantalizing prospect that he is, and has all of us here at Just Baseball excited to see where he goes from here.

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Honorable Mentions:

Pitcher: Spencer Giesting (LHP) – Arizona Diamondbacks (High-A Hillsboro Hops):
April Stats: 5 GS, 32.0 IP, 19 H, 7 BB, 40 K, 1.41 ERA, 2.05 FIP, 11.3 K/9

Pitcher: Mason Adams (LHP) – Chicago White Sox (Double-A Birmingham Barons):
April Stats: 5 GS, 29.2 IP, 18 H, 6 BB, 29 K, 0.91 ERA, 25.7% K%, .178 BAA

Hitter: Kevin McGonigle (SS/2B) – Detroit Tigers (Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers):
April Stats: 105 PAs – .330/.413/.489, 8 XBH, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .424 wOBA, 157 wRC+

Hitter: Luke Keaschall (2B) – Minessota Twins (Double-A Wichita Wind Surge):
April Stats: 104 PAs – .375/.468/.596 (1.064 OPS), 5 HR, 16 RBI, .481 wOBA, 194 wRC+