Prospect Hot Sheet: April 16

Welcome to the first Prospect Hot Sheet for 2007. It’s been a weird beginning to the season with all the bizarre weather across the country–from rain and snow in the East and Midwest, to the 50-mph wind gusts in the California League, pitching has been relatively dominant.

Pitchers claim 11 of our top 20 spots on the list, but hitters, especially of the power variety, are beginning to spring to life.

And that starts with Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun, who tops the sheet.

Remember, this is not a rewrite of our Top 100 prospects list. This is simply a snapshot of which prospects are currently riding the biggest hot streaks.

If you have any comments, e-mail chriskline@baseballamerica.com. Or subscribers can comment over at the Baseball America Prospect Blog.

1. Ryan Braun, 3b, Triple-A Nashville (Brewers)
Hitting .353/.405/.912 with five home runs in spring training was just the tip of the iceberg for the 23-year-old Braun. And if it weren’t for the errors, he probably would’ve spent more than 11 games in big league camp. Undeterred, Braun has gone to Nashville and mashed, hitting .343/.425/.886 with a minor league-leading five homers and nine extra-base hits. Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino have been the Brewers’ regular third basemen, but you can expect that to change if Braun keeps this up for a few months.
2. Chase Wright, lhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)
19 strikeouts in 14 innings has Wright poised for a callup before Philip Hughes.
3. Jamie D’Antona, inf, Triple-A Tucson (Diamondbacks)
How good has he been? D’Antona, 24, is hitting .563/.595/.969 with nine extra-base hits. All figures lead the minors–except OBP, which is 11 points off the pace.
4. Dewon Day, rhp, Double-A Birmingham (White Sox)
Bow to the altar of numbers: 16 K, 5 2/3 innings; now has fastball command to go along with a plus-plus slider.
5. Jeff Manship, rhp, low Class A Beloit (Twins)
14th-rounder last year has 16 K’s over his first 11 innings . . . and no walks.
6. Will Inman, rhp, high Class A Brevard County (Brewers)
Striking out 15 batters through his first 11 innings, Inman has put together a 0.84 ERA through his first two starts.
7. Tim Lincecum, rhp, Triple-A Fresno (Giants)
No earned runs in his first go-round in the PCL to go with 2-0 record, but “just” 17-5 K-BB in 12 innings.
8. Jason Hammel, rhp, Triple-A Durham (Devil Rays)
He’s quickly atoning for a so-so IL campaign last season. Hammel has gone 1-0, 0.54 with 18-3 K-BB in 16 2/3 innings.
9. Carlos Gomez, of, Triple-A New Orleans (Mets)
No sense in waiting until the second half this year. The precocious Gomez is hitting .375/.405/.575 and leads the PCL with six doubles and six triples.
10. Brad James, rhp, high Class A Salem (Astros)
Sinker/slider righthander is a ground ball machine, and his velocity has been up to 92 mph . . . 2-0, 0.00 in 13 innings.
11. Sean Rodriguez, ss, Double-A Arkansas (Angels)
Hitting .387 with a pair of homers, Rodriguez has shown excellent plate discipline as well.
12. Scott Elbert, lhp, Double-A Jacksonville (Dodgers)
Elbert struck out nine in five no-hit innings his last time out, and he has only walked three batters through 11 innings.
13. Dan Smith, lhp, Double-A Mississippi (Braves)
Unheralded lefty is 1-1, 0.90 with a 13-2 K-BB ratio in 10 innings.
14. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c, Double-A Mississippi (Braves)
Bouncing back . . . Salty already has three bombs and is hitting .333.
15. John Raynor, of, low Class A Greensboro (Marlins)
Making a run for best pure hitter in the Marlins’ system . . . hitting .472 with a home run over 36 at-bats.
16. Aaron Cunningham, of, high Class A Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Leadoff hitter with presence hitting .419 with emerging power as a 20-year-old in high Class A.
17. Devern Hansack, rhp, Triple-A Pawtucket (Red Sox)
So what if he’s 29? Hansack will be in the Sox’ bullpen in no time if he keeps pitching like this: 1-0, 0.84 with 20-3 K-BB in 10 2/3 innings.
18. Brian Bocock, ss, low Class A Augusta (Giants)
On top of reaching base 46 percent of the time, Bockock has already stolen 12 bases in 13 attempts.
19. Nolan Reimold, of, Double-A Bowie (Orioles)
Slugging .767 with three homers, including one off Indians lefthander Chuck Lofgren over the weekend.
20. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Double-A Arkansas (Angels)
More than holding his own in Double-A with 2-0, 0.79 numbers in 11 innings.
NOT-SO HOT
Daniel Bard, rhp, high Class A Lancaster (Red Sox)
It’s a long way from Omaha to the jet-stream that blows out at Lancaster. The Red Sox first-rounder has been touched up for eight hits and seven walks in 4 1/3 IP. More troubling is his lack of strikeouts (2). His 14.54 ERA would rank second-worst in the minors, but he’s been knocked out too quickly in both starts to qualify.
Edinson Volquez, rhp, high Class A Bakersfield (Rangers)
The “V” in the once-vaunted “DVD” trio is finding it hard to turn things around in high Class A. Sent there to regain his command, Volquez leads the minors with a 15.75 ERA in two starts. Opponents are hitting .303 against him and he’s walked eight batters in eight innings.
Anthony Swarzak, rhp, Double-A New Britain (Twins)
It took Swarzak a year and a half in high Class A to earn his way to Double-A. Hitters are treating him like they’ve been waiting for his promotion. Swarzak has lasted 5 2/3 innings in his first two outings, going 0-2, 11.12.
Andrew McCutchen, of, Double-A Altoona (Pirates)
McCutchen handled a late season jump to Altoona with little problem last year. It’s been tougher going early this spring. He’s gone hitless in five of his six games and is hitting .130/.231/.174.
Justin Upton, of, high Class A Visalia (Diamondbacks)
Upton has impressed during major league spring training each of the past two seasons, but that hot hitting has not carried over to April in the minors. Upton is hitting .152/.310/.242 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts in 33 at-bats. If you’re looking for a bright side, pitchers are respecting him–he’s walked seven times already.
HELIUM WATCH
Elvis Hernandez, rhp, low Class A Quad Cities (Cardinals)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Hernandez has been exceptional in the start to his first full season. Nicknamed ‘The Mosquito,” the 21-year-old is 2-0, 0.00 with an 11-2 strikeout-walk ratio in eight innings.
Francisco Lizarraga, inf, low Class A Great Lakes (Dodgers)
Now batting solely from the right side, the 21-year-old Mexico native is hitting .409 with a .435 on-base percentage and a pair of steals over his first six games.
Angelo Morales, rhp, low Class A Burlington (Royals)
A 20-year-old Panamanian signed in 2002, this is Morales’ first full season also. He’s delivered over his first two starts, going 2-0, 0.82 with 14 strikeouts and no walks in 11 innings.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Rodney Choy Foo, inf, Double-A Akron (Indians)
An 26th-round pick in 2000, Choy Foo spent the bulk of the last four seasons in high Class A. The 25-year-old Hawaii native lost his brother in a car accident in the offseason, and came into spring training with newfound drive, battling for a Triple-A job before being bumped down to the Aeros roster. Choy Foo has carried his all-out aggressive approach into the regular season, hitting .524/.583/.952.
Bubba Bell, of, high Class A Lancaster (Red Sox)
Not exactly a true Blast From The Past candidate as a 39th-round pick two years ago, but as a 24-year-old in high Class A, Bell is playing beyond the competition in the Cal League. Bell has driven in 21 runs in 11 games, hit five home runs and is hitting .396.

Minors | #2007 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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