See also: Last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet
It’s not been an easy week for the Hot Sheet here at Baseball America. We moved our offices from downtown Durham, N.C. to South Durham. We are in some nicer diggs, with more room, but it also means we’re working out of boxes right now.
So our normal routine has been thrown just a little bit off. We couldn’t print out our worksheets this week, we had to find the all-important white board in a pile of unpacked stuff, then lean it up against a wall. And the photos of the top 13 Hot Sheeters, as you may notice, are absent—the server that houses them isn’t fully up and running yet.
But don’t think we’re complaining. Anyone who gets paid to debate which top prospects should make a Hot Sheet doesn’t have much to complain about.
Remember as always, this is not a re-ranking of our Top 100 Prospects list. Instead, it’s a snapshot of who are the hottest prospects in baseball right now. And the Why He’s Here line in the writeups refers to each player’s stats for the past week.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, John Manuel, Jim Shonerd and Nathan Rode
|No. 1 MATT LaPORTA, LF||BREWERS|
|Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
Why he’s here:.429/.469/1.036, 12-for-28, 2 2B, 5 HR, 13 RBIs, 7 R, 2 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop:The University of Florida, Helena, West Virginia, Huntsville . . . LaPorta has hit for power wherever he’s been. His incredible raw power and strong plate coverage have enabled him to lead all Southern League batters in home runs (six) and RBIs (22). To some, it seemed like the Brewers reached last year to grab the first baseman—now left fielder—with the seventh overall pick. But with a home run every 10.4 at-bats as a pro, it’s hard to argue now with Milwaukee’s selection. The last college hitter to make such a strong first impression with wood bats was Evan Longoria, but he was a relative slacker when compared with LaPorta. Longoria went deep only once every 16.7 at-bats in the minors through the 2007 season.
|No. 2 TOMMY HANSON, RHP||BRAVES|
|Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why he’s here:2-0, 0.69, 13 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 12 K
The Scoop:This just in, Hanson is human, but he is still pretty hard to hit. He didn’t give up his first earned run until his final inning of work in his most recent start. Though the last two starts haven’t been as dominating as the previous ones, they’re still very good. Hanson has now struck out 38 in 29 innings of work while walking eight and allowing only nine hits. Five games started and still is in single digits in hits allowed . . . that’s Hot Sheet material right there.
|No. 3 SEAN DOOLITTLE, 1B/RF||ATHLETICS|
Team: high Class A Stockton (California)
Why he’s here: .409/.517/.955, 9-for-22, 12 R, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop:In last year’s draft, there were many questions swirling around Doolittle’s bat and whether he would have enough power to be valuable at first base. The A’s took the chance on him and after a slow start in 2007, he’s really turning it on in 2008. He is tied for the lead in home runs in high Class A and is alone at the top with 22 RBIs. He’s also getting to know a new position, with four starts this season in right field.
|No. 4 IAN STEWART, 3B||ROCKIES|
Team: Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)
Why he’s here: .412/.444/1.059, 7-for-17, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 7 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: Stewart played in just four games, but he made them count, driving in a week’s worth of runs and hitting three homers—all of them off fellow lefthanders Philip Barzilla and Ryan Wing. Besides, what could he do about inclement Colorado Springs weather that caused the Sky Sox’ April 18 contest to be snowed out? Stewart did commit his seventh error, however, after making huge strides defensively in each of the past two seasons. And for you split watchers: He’s now hitting .340/.426/.745 away from Colorado Springs, with four of his five homers.
|No. 5 CHRIS CARTER, 1B||ATHLETICS|
Team: high Class A Stockton (California)
Why:.364/.517/1.091, 8-for-22, 5 HR, 12 RBIs, 10 R, 7 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop:Carter’s week was highlighted by his April 19 game against Rancho Cucamonga in which he went 3-for-4 with three home runs and six RBIs. His raw power is real, but keep in mind that he spent two seasons in Rookie ball and that he was traded twice in the offseason, once to the Diamondbacks and again to the A’s. Carter got off to a slow start, but raised his season average by 57 points with his big week.
|No. 6 JAIME GARCIA, RHP||CARDINALS|
Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Why he’s here: 0-1, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: With a shutout in his sights, Garcia’s own eighth-inning error against Northwest Arkansas ended up costing him the shutout—and the game. To make matters worse, that baserunner, the game’s only run, scored without the benefit of a hit. Garcia’s dominance has hardly been isolated to that one start, though. He’s 2-2, 2.35 with a TL-leading 29 strikeouts in 23 innings, and he has yet to allow an extra-base hit this season, just 19 singles, nine walks and two hit batsmen.
|No. 7 ANDREW McCUTCHEN, CF||PIRATES|
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Why he’s here:.333/.379/.593, 9-for-27, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBIs, 3-for-3 SB, 2 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop:A 12-game hitting streak will get you noticed, but more significant than that, McCutchen has hit the ground running in 2008. That’s not to say that he doesn’t know how it feels to start slow. His frigid start last year in the Eastern League included a .189/.247/.311 April before heating up to .230/.307/.407 in May. Most encouragingly, McCutchen hasn’t built his hitting streak on singles alone; he struck five extra-base hits and stole three bases last week.
|No. 8 JAMES ADKINS, RHP||DODGERS|
Team: high Class A Inland Empire (California)
Why: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 11 K
The Scoop: Run scoring is down in the Cal League early this season and Adkins has taken full advantage, dominating High Desert in his last outing with 11 strikeouts. Consider, the average Cal League team scored 5.59 runs per game last year; this year, they’re at 4.97. Average team ERA last year: 4.86 ERA; and this year: 4.28. In 19 innings of work this season, Adkins has allowed just 12 hits and struck out 21.
|No. 9 JESUS MONTERO, C||YANKEES|
Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why he’s here:.387/.387/.613, 12-for-31, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs
The Scoop:Montero is making the Yankees’ investment look good right now. New York spent $2 million on the strapping young catcher in the summer of 2006 (though that was later reduced to $1.6 million), the largest signing bonus of that year’s international free agent class. Montero was rated the No. 2 prospect in the GCL in 2007, after hitting .280/.366/.421 as a 17-year-old, and he’s off to an even better start in low Class A. He turned in four multi-hit games on the week, and is off to a .374/.394/.560 start this year, with 18 RBIs in 21 games.
|No. 10 JOHN JASO, C/DH||RAYS|
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Rays)
Why He’s Here: 10-for-22, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs
|No. 11 COLBY RASMUS, CF||CARDINALS|
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Why he’s here:.320/.414/.600, 8-for-25, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 R, 4 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop:A week after bearing the ignominy of Not-Hot status, Rasums responded with a two-homer, six-RBI week, further illustrating why he’s one of the top talents around. While Rasmus’ overall performance isn’t exactly awe-inspiring (.224/.323/.353), the lefthanded batter has shown no discernable platoon split and remains a smart, high-percentage player, with a 13-17 walk-strikeout mark and two steals in two attempts. Oh, and he’ll be 21 years old for virtually all of this season.
|No. 12 FERNANDO MARTINEZ, CF||METS|
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Why he’s here:.355/.364/.452, 11-for-31, 3 2B, 5 R, 2 RBIs, 1-for-1 SB, 1 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop:What’s the big deal? Many batters hit .350 with three doubles each week and none of them are not on Hot Sheet. Martinez’s story is different for two key reasons: 1) He hit in all seven games last week, four of them two-hit affairs, and 2) He’ll play the entire season at age 19. Experienced lefties have given Martinez fits this season (.194/.244/.278), but he’s more than held his own versus righties (.321/.356/.446) in the early going.
|No. 13 ANTHONY RIZZO, 1B||RED SOX|
Team:low Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Why he’s here: .500/.519/.577, 13-for-26, 2 2B, 6 RBIs
The Scoop: Taken in the sixth round of last year’s draft, Rizzo is still proving his prospect status after signing at the deadline last year. Plus, he faces a large roadblock in the form of Lars Anderson on Boston’s first base prospect depth chart. But the start he’s off to just can’t be overlooked. Rizzo had five multi-hit games this week, and has gotten a knock in 13 of the last 14 games. He also had RBIs in five straight games.
White Sox 1B Brandon Allen hit .381/.435/.952 with three homers this week for high Class A Winston-Salem, though he remains strikeout prone and a bit rough at first base . . . Phillies LHP Antonio Bastardo struck out 12 in a seven-inning outing this week for high Class A Clearwater and is among the top five in the minor leagues in strikeouts, with 34 . . . Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson just keeps mowing ‘em down with high Class A Vero Beach. He threw five innings this week, striking out seven without allowing a run . . . Yankees RHP Zach McAllister (12 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 7 SO) has allowed only 3 earned runs in 24 inning this season for red-hot low Class A Charleston . . . . . . Mariners CF Michael Saunders has gone from British Columbia high school in 2004 to Double-A West Tenn this season, handling his rapid rise with aplomb. The 21-year-old showcased his offensive game last week, batting .348/.464/.652 (8-for-23) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, a steal, four runs and four walks . . . Athletics RF Matt Sulentic hit .455/.538/.636 (10-for-22) for high Class A Stockton last week, not bad for a guy who hadn’t mastered low Class A in two tries . . . If it wasn’t for the four runs Chris Volstad gave up in his April 19 start, he would have definitely been high on the list. The rest of his numbers (14 IP, 7 hits, 4 BB, 15 Ks) were all exceptional, especially the strikeouts as Volstad is not normally a guy who piles up the Ks.
• Jose Tabata, rf, Yankees. One gets the feeling the hits will start falling for Tabata soon, but it’s been a rough April (.214/.323/.250) in Double-A Trenton. The 19-year-old also slugged less than .400 in three of the six months last season, including April and May, so slow starts are nothing new. Still, he hit just .107/.212/.107 (3-for-28) with zero extra-base hits and nine strikeouts last week.
• Beau Mills, 1b, Indians. Mills started hot in his first six games for high Class A Kinston (.391/.531/.609), but in his last seven he’s .107/.194/.143 (3-for-28) with one extra base hit and seven strikeouts.
• Josh Donaldson, c, Cubs. Donaldson (.105/.105/.158 this week) was named the No. 2 prospect in the Northwest League in 2007 after hitting .346/.470/.605 with nine home runs in 49 games for short-season Boise. That success hasn’t carried over into 2008, as Donaldson is hitting only .157/.213/.257 for low Class A Peoria and has only one home run in 18 games. After showing outstanding patience in the NWL in 2007 to the tune of a 37-34 BB-K rate, Donaldson has walked only four times and has struck out 15 times in 2008.
• Daniel Bard, rhp, low Class A Greenville (Red Sox). Bard made regular appearances in the Not-Hot section of last season’s Hot Sheet, and while he still has a let to prove (he’s 22 and in Low A), we felt compelled to give him a nod for the numbers he’s put up this year. Boston’s 2006 first-rounder returned to Greenville to start 2008, and it looks like he may have finally figured out how to get the ball over the plate. After going 3-7, 7.08 and compiling a 47-78 K-BB ratio last year between high Class A and low Class A, Bard has yet to allow a run in 16 innings out of the bullpen this year. And more significantly, he’s put up a 23-3 K-BB rate.
One of Howie Norsetter’s many international finds, Luke Hughes has spent the last five years slowly climbing the ladder in the Twins system. After making a splashy debut by hitting .305/.361/.426 in the Gulf Coast League in 2003, Hughes found he going much more difficult as he faced more advanced pitchers. He started to figure things out in 2007, when he hit .283/.356/.438 and played in the Eastern League all-star game, but none of that prepared anyone for the week that Hughes had this week. The second baseman/third baseman hit .469/.471/1.000 this week with five home runs and seven extra base hits. Hughes had never hit more than nine home runs in a season coming into this year. . . Righthander Luis Marte managed to crack the depth chart in the Prospect Handbook, but that’s nothing to brag about given the condition of the Tigers’ system. And while he profiles as a reliever, Marte is having one heck of a year. In his last 14 innings of work he allowed just one earned run and three hits while striking out 18 and walking four. He’s struck out 28 in 22 innings on the season while allowing just 10 hits.