Prospect Hot Sheet (April 26): Jesse Biddle’s 16 Strikeouts Stand Out

Each Friday, the Prospect Hot Sheet examines which prospects had the best week, weighing raw performance, prospect status, age compared to level and the environment in which they play. This week’s Hot Sheet covers games from April 19-25.

Jesse Biddle1. Jesse Biddle, lhp, Phillies

Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)

Age: 21.

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00. 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 SO; also 2-for-3 with 2 2B, 1 R

The Scoop: It’s not often that a pitcher has feel and command for all of his pitches, but when it happens, it can be a very special day.

Reds lefthander Tony Cingrani had one of those moments on Opening Day, which earned him the top spot of the season’s first Hot Sheet. Biddle was even better on Monday night. He struck out 16 batters in seven scoreless innings, carrying a perfect game into the seventh before losing it on a walk and single.

The performance was easily the best game of Biddle’s career, topping a pair of 12-strikeout games he had at high Class A Clearwater last year. Biddle’s game is also one of the best strikeout performances we’ve seen in the minors in the last seven years. His 16 strikeouts equals the highest total in a minor league game since Ian Snell’s 17 strikeouts in 2009.

15 OR MORE STRIKEOUTS IN A MINOR LEAGUE GAME SINCE 2007
Player Team League Date Age IP H R ER BB SO
David Hernandez Frederick CAR 9/2/07 22 9.0 3 1 1 0 18
Ian Snell Indianapolis IL 6/28/09 28 7.0 2 1 0 1 17
Les Walrond Lehigh Valley IL 7/6/08 32 9.0 5 0 0 1 17
Dallas Braden Sacramento PCL 8/27/07 24 9.0 3 0 0 0 17
David Francis Danville APP 7/22/08 20 6.0 0 0 0 2 16
Jesse Biddle Reading EL 4/22/13 22 7.0 1 0 0 2 16
Lance Lynn Memphis PCL 9/10/10 23 7.0 3 1 1 0 16
Chris Devenski Lexington SAL 9/1/12 22 9.0 0 0 0 1 16
Paul Oseguera San Jose CAL 8/27/09 26 9.0 3 0 0 0 15
Adam Warren Trenton EL 8/18/10 23 7.0 2 0 0 1 15
Joel Carreno Dunedin FSL 7/11/10 23 6.0 7 2 2 1 15
Mike Tonkin Twins GCL 7/16/09 20 7.0 2 0 0 0 15
Homer Bailey Louisville IL 4/26/09 23 6.3 4 2 2 2 15
Tony Cingrani Pensacola SL 6/27/12 23 8.0 3 0 0 1 15
Dan Straily Midland TL 5/18/12 23 7.0 3 1 1 1 15

Everything was working for Biddle on Monday, but it was his curveball that was especially nasty. He used to struggle to throw it for strikes, but it’s now turned into a true weapon for the lefty.

But if we needed any further sign that Biddle was in the zone on Monday, just look at what he did at the plate—2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. On Monday, Harrisburg didn’t have a chance.

Jesse Biddle’s Statistics

Xander Bogaerts2. Xander Bogaerts, ss, Red Sox

Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .440/.548/.720 (11-for-25), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 3B, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 8 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: A 20-year-old in Double-A, Bogaerts took about 10 games to get going, but he’s been scorching the ball lately, with at least one hit in eight of his last nine games and five multi-hit games in that stretch. The strikeouts (24 in 18 games) are a touch high and the over-the-fence power isn’t showing up in games yet, but give it time. By the all-star break you’re going to be wondering when Boston will promote him to Triple-A.

 Xander Bogaerts’ Statistics 

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano

3. Miguel Sano, 3b, Twins

Team: high Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .348/.375/.783 (8-for-23), 3 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBIs, 6 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: With a peak Hot Sheet chart position of No. 1 (last week) and two other top-10 finishes (including No. 3 this week), Sano is the top  hitmaker in the minors. His eight-hit, three-homer week bumped his season batting line to .377/.430/.753 through 77 at-bats, and he now owns at least a share of the Florida State League lead for home runs (eight), RBIs (20), runs (17), slugging and extra-base hits (13). Oh, and despite being a teenager in a pitcher’s league, Sano is tied with Max Muncy (Athletics) and Scott Van Slyke (Dodgers) for most home runs in the minors.

Miguel Sano’s Statistics

 Wil Myers4. Wil Myers, rf, Rays

Team: Triple-A Durham (International)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .444/.565/.889 (8-for-18), 2 HR, 2 2B, 3 RBIs, 4 R, 4 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Myers gave the denizens of “Wilville,” the North Carolina native’s cheering section at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, something to celebrate by connecting for his first two homers of the season this week. With the Rays’ offense not exactly lighting it up while Myers is hitting .338 and riding a nine-game hitting streak in Triple-A, his stay in his home state might be brief.

Wil Myers’ Statistics
George Springer

5. George Springer, cf, Astros

Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .375/.444/.833 (9-for-24), 3 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBIs, 6 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Though he’s one of the top power-speed threats among the prospect ranks, Springer’s power and speed only play (on offense) when he puts the ball in play. So while three in 10 trips to the plate result in strikeouts (31.8 SO%), Springer has maximized his raw tools during those other seven plate appearances, this week smacking five extra-base hits and stealing two bases. He leads the Texas League with six homers and also 28 strikeouts.

George Springer’s Statistics

Chad Bettis6. Chad Bettis, rhp, Rockies

Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.35, 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: A strained shoulder muscle shelved Bettis for the entirety of last season, but he’s come out firing in his return to the mound with Double-A Tulsa. He gave up four runs in five innings in his season debut but has allowed just three in three starts since while racking up a 26-2 K-BB ratio.

Chad Bettis’ Statistics

Rock Shoulders7. Rock Shoulders, 1b/lf, Cubs

Team: low Class A Kane County (Midwest)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .533/.650/1.067 (8-for-15), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Shoulders was solid in short-season Boise last year, but this season he’s showing he’s more than just a minor league slugger with a superhero name. Shoulders has reached base in 16 of his 17 games and is hitting .406/.486/.656 with four home runs. His best tool is power, but he’s also showing signs of improvement with his contact frequency, which was one of the question marks on him coming into the year.

Rock Shoulders’ Statistics

Michael-Wacha-2013-mug8. Michael Wacha, rhp, Cardinals

Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 6 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: You never get a second chance to make a first impression, went the old shampoo-commercial slogan. If that’s the case, then few 2012 draft picks have set a more positive early tone than Wacha. The 19th pick last June, he has quickly adapted to the speed of the Triple-A game, going 3-0, 1.96 with a .175 opponent average through four starts. In an encouraging sign, he struck out a season-high six batters on Tuesday.

Michael Wacha’s Statistics

 Nate Karns9. Nate Karns, rhp, Nationals

Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)

Age: 25

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Karns’ career was held back by a torn labrum in 2010 but he was one of 2012’s breakout prospects, showing the makings of two plus pitches while dominating Class A. He got a rough introduction to Double-A, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings on April 8, but has dominated in two starts since, culminating with his career-high 13-punchout performance last Saturday against Altoona.

Nate Karns’ Statistics

Rafael DePaula10. Rafael DePaula, rhp, Yankees

Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)

Age: 22.

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Charleston fans: Get out to the ballpark and get a look at DePaula while you can. Considering his long wait to get to the U.S.—he first caught scouts’ eyes in 2009, but age and identity discrepancies meant he made his U.S. debut this year—could induce the Yankees to move him up to high Class A pretty quickly, especially if he keeps pitching like this.

Rafael DePaula’s Statistics

 Mark Sappington11. Mark Sappington, rhp, Angels

Team: high Class A Inland Empire (California)

Age: 22.

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.73, 2 GS, 12 1/3 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: After posting a 5.15 ERA in the Pioneer League, Sappington was expected to take his all elbows-and-knees delivery to the Midwest League. Instead the Angels challenged him with a spot in the California League and he’s responded by showing he can control his plus stuff, which includes a mid-90s fastball with good sink.

Mark Sappington’s Statistics

Jorge Bonifacio12. Jorge Bonifacio, rf, Royals

Team: high Class A Wilmington (Carolina)

Age: 20.

Why He’s Here: .440/.533/.680 (11-for-25), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: A first look at the solidly-built Bonifacio suggests that he would be a prototypical power-hitting corner outfielder. But that’s not really his game. Bonifacio is working on pulling the ball more, but his swing and his approach is much more suited to lining balls into gaps, especially the right-center field gap. He has no home runs this year—he plays half his games in the top pitcher’s park in the Carolina League—but he’s slugging nearly .500 because of his seven doubles.

Jorge Bonifacio’s Statistics

Aaron Altherr13. Aaron Altherr, cf, Phillies

Team: high Class A Clearwater (Florida State)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .522/.593/.739 (12-for-23), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 4 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Altherr has been one of many physical, toolsy prospects the Phillies have collected in the draft in recent years, but since signing as a ninth-round pick in 2009 he’s never been able to fully translate those tools into skills. That may be changing. Altherr is hitting .372/.437/.551 in 20 games to rank third in the Florida State League in hitting, while tying teammate Maikel Franco for the league lead with nine doubles.

Aaron Altherr’s Statistics

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Corey Adamson, of, Padres: It’s taken a while for Adamson to get going since the Padres signed him out of Australia five years ago, but the 21-year-old is hitting .321/.441/.482 in 15 games for low Class A Fort Wayne with more walks (11) than strikeouts (10) while going 6-for-6 stealing bases.

Rafael Montero, rhp, Mets: The rules of the game allow for New York to put off a 40-man decision on the 22-year-old Montero until after the 2014 season. Necessity may dictate a callup this season, given the way that Montero has pitched at Double-A Binghamton. After dealing six shutout innings at New Hampshire on Saturday, Montero has allowed four runs in four starts, going 3-0, 1.59 with an incredible 27-1 K-BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings.

Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox: Owens posted a 4.87 ERA in low Class A Greenville last year, but he still ranked as Boston’s No. 5 prospect. Now scouts say he’s taken a leap forward and the results for high Class A Salem reflect that: In 21 innings, the 20-year-old has a 1.71 ERA, 22 strikeouts and six walks.

Marcell Ozuna, rf, Marlins. With Ozuna and Christian Yelich back in action, the Marlins’ much anticipated Double-A outfield is finally coming together. The 22-year-old Ozuna led the charge in his first week back, going 9-for-29 (.310) with three homers, two doubles and eight RBIs.

Domingo Tapia, rhp, Mets: The strong-armed Tapia started striking batters out last season in the South Atlantic League, and he apparently remembered to pack those whiffs for his assignment to high Class A St. Lucie this season. The 21-year-old ranks third in the Florida State League with 23 punchouts after recording 11 in 12 2/3 innings this week and allowing two earned runs in two starts.

Taijuan Walker, rhp, Mariners. Double-A hitters haven’t been able to touch Walker when he shows some semblance of control. He’s allowed just 15 hits in 29 innings and is tied for the Southern League lead in strikeouts (32), but he’s also allowed the most walks in the league (18). The 19-year-old’s two starts this week followed that script to a T, as he allowed just two runs three hits in 13 innings, struck out 13 and walked eight.

Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Royals: After lasting just three innings is his previous start, Zimmer failed to get out of the fifth this week in his lone start for high Class A Wilmington. But it was an extremely impressive 4 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old picked up 11 of the 14 outs he recorded by strikeout. He’s now striking out 14 batters per nine innings.

 NOT HOT

Lewis Brinson, cf, Rangers. Refining one’s swing is not the type of adjustment many players can make in a month of play. It may not even be reasonable to expect results in an entire season. That’s where the 18-year-old Brinson, Texas’ first-round selection last June, is at with low Class A Hickory. After beginning the year on an 11-for-35 (.314) tear, he has gone 8-for-52 (.154) with 21 strikeouts in his last 13 games. The Crawdads leadoff hitter now leads the Sally League with 35 whiffs.

Matt Davidson, 3b, Diamondbacks: There are better places in the world to hit than Reno, but don’t tell that to the 22-year-old Davidson. Half of Davidson’s games this week were at home, but even in Reno, you can’t get hits if you don’t put the ball in play. Davidson struck out 11 times as he went 1-for-20 with a lone single.

Ethan Martin, rhp, Phillies: Last year, Martin seemed to take a step toward conquering the control problems that have held him back since the Dodgers made him a first-round pick 2008, but the early returns this year haven’t been good. Martin, 23, has walked 16 in 17 1/3 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, including 10 in eight innings this week, during which he also allowed 11 earned runs on 11 hits.

Austin Schotts, cf, Tigers: After signing as a third-round pick last year, Schotts had an encouraging debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and ranked as Detroit’s No. 5 prospect. Now he just looks completely overmatched. Off to a 5-for-51 start in low Class A West Michigan, Schotts has posted an unsightly .098/.217/.118 line with 26 strikeouts and only one extra-base hit.

PROMOTE HIM

Dan Straily, rhp, Athletics: In his first start of the season this year, Straily struck out 11 Houston batters. Sure, it was the Astros, but a solid 6 2/3-inning outing and the win is usually enough to get you another big league start. Instead, the 24-year-old has been a victim of the Oakland’s pitching depth. Sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, Straily has allowed just two runs in three starts. His 3-0, 0.96 record (which includes a start in Las Vegas) makes it quite clear he’s ready and waiting while Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker try to work through issues in the big leagues.

HELIUM

Teoscar Hernandez, cf, Astros: A $20,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Hernandez first appeared on the prospect radar two years ago when he ranked among the Top 20 prospects in the Dominican Summer League. He immediately showed a projectable 6-foot-2 frame, good bat speed, power potential and a strong arm, but his pitch recognition and game skills were still raw when he arrived in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year. There’s still a bit of crudeness to his game, but the 20-year-old Hernandez is hitting .286/.329/.443 in 16 games for low Class A Quad Cities and showing signs that a breakout could be on the horizon.