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Minor League Prospect Report, Week 21: Jordan Lawlar, Jackson Chourio MLB-bound?

We’ve got everything you need to know about the week that was in the Minor Leagues, featuring

Jordan Lawlar of the Amarillo Sod Poodles hits the ball during the game against the Wichita Wind Surge at HODGETOWN Stadium on July 23, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas. Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The trade deadline is officially in the rearview mirror, but there’s still plenty of reason to keep up with what’s happening down on the farm across MLB. The stretch run is in full swing, a 162-game marathon turned into a six-week sprint to the finish and — whether you’re a contender looking for the spark that will help you secure your playoff positioning or a seller just looking to see what you have to build on for the future — some of the game’s best prospects figure to play a big role in how the rest of this season plays out.

Which is where our weekly prospect reports come in. We’ve been keeping you one step ahead of every big call-up all year long, and now we’re here to give you everything you need to know about the players who could be October X-factors or win a job for 2024. Here’s everything that’s happened in the Minors last week.

Prospect report for week of Monday, August 14

Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

I’d held off on including Lawlar — MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 overall prospect and a future star — in these reports, because it felt like he was still at least a year away from the Majors. At this point, though, I’m not so sure: After slashing .263/.366/.474 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs, and 33 steals at Double-A to start the season — including a blistering .309/.400/.544 with nine homers and 20 steals over his last 50 games — Lawlar finally earned a promotion to Triple-A over the weekend. The No. 6 overall pick back in 2021 is a true five-tool prospect, hitting for power and speed while playing a slick shortstop. And as the D-backs’ season continues to circle the drain, the odds increase that we’ll see Lawlar in the Majors at some point over the next few weeks.

Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Speaking of top prospects who may be crashing the MLB party a little earlier than expected: Chourio has hit .284/.340/.471 with 17 homers and 32 steals in his first season at Double-A ... at 19 years old. He’s been even hotter lately, slashing .307/.367/.514 since June 1. Yes, he’s young, and yes, throwing him into the midst of a big-league pennant race would be a bit much. But it’s hard to overstate just how much he’s dominated Double-A this year, and how rare that level of dominance is for someone his age.

The Brewers are in win-now mode, and if they’re worried that they don’t have enough offensive firepower to supplement Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Co. come October, Chourio could get the call. His speed and athleticism are elite, and he’s shown a remarkably advanced approach at the plate that should allow him to handle Major League pitching despite never being a 30-homer slugger.

Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Cleveland Guardians

At this point, I’m increasingly skeptical that we’re going to see Manzardo back on any field this season — let alone in the Majors. The Guardians don’t have much of anything to play for as they continue to slide down the AL Central standings, and we haven’t heard much of anything about Manzardo’s shoulder injury since the trade that sent him to Cleveland in exchange for Aaron Civale. His long-term upside is still very high — think Vinnie Pasquantino — but there’s not a ton to be gained from rushing him back for a few more weeks of reps at Triple-A. He can safely be dropped in just about all redraft leagues.

Colton Cowser, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Another one who can likely be let go: After hitting just .115 with zero home runs and two extra-base hits total in 77 plate appearances, Cowser finds himself back in Triple-A. Again, there’s no reason to be too concerned long-term, as Cowser’s skills should absolutely translate at the highest level (even the best prospects have a learning curve to go through in the Majors, and Cowser tore up the high Minors). But for this season, with the O’s playing in some very high-stakes games down the stretch, he’s almost certainly buried on the depth chart — not just by the returning Cedric Mullins, but also by top outfield prospects like Heston Kjerstad.

Joey Loperfido, OF, Houston Astros

A former seventh-round selection out of Duke, Loperfido just earned a promotion to Triple-A after tearing up two levels of the Minors to the tune of a .293/.383/.546 slash line with 22 doubles, 20 homers and 23 steals. He’s never been on prospect radars, but all he’s done in the pros so far is produce, and his above-average power and speed are a unique combination among first basemen. Left field is a question mark without Michael Brantley, so don’t be surprised if the Astros conclude Loperfido’s meteoric rise with a call to the Majors in September.

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