This week, seven pitchers take top spots in our Prospect Hot Sheet. And for no reason whatsoever, this week’s Hot Sheet is inspired by Weezer. You’ll figure it out.
Remember, this is not a rewrite of our
prospects list. This is simply a snapshot of which prospects
are currently riding the biggest hot streaks.
|1. Tyler Clippard, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)
|Take his picture by the pool–Clippard is the next big thing, if you listen to Yankees fans. He’s been rolling like a celebrity since mid-July, piling up 99 strikeouts and an 8-1, 1.77 record over his last 82 innings. Oh, and he threw a no-hitter last week.|
|2. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Low Class A Lakewood (Phillies)|
|Hitters come undone when facing Carrasco in August, collecting just eight hits over 89 at-bats (.090). That’s just slightly worse than their season mark of .175, and he’s given up only four home runs. He pulls the thread; hitters just walk away.|
|3. Will Venable, of, Low Class A Fort Wayne (Padres)|
|No other hitters stepped into the zone like Venable, who was 13-for-28 on the week with four homers and 14 RBIs while hitting safely in eight games. Just when you thought the best of his days had vanished in the haze (.361 in June), he’s back with a .364 August and four of his nine homers on the season.|
|4. Franklin Morales, lhp, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)|
|Just call him El Scorcho. Morales throws straight cheddar (upper 90s fastball) and has started to harness it, becoming the epitome of California League hitters’ most public enemy. Peep the 35 strikeouts in 20 innings over his last three starts. How cool is that?|
|5. Alex Gordon, 3b, Royals
|This is such a pity–Gordon’s lost his running mate, Billy Butler, who’s off to play for Team USA in the Olympic qualifier. If there’s damage in his heart, it hasn’t shown–he homered twice over the weekend, giving him 26 for the year, and his 1.010 OPS for the year leads the loaded Texas League.|
|6. Sean Gallagher, rhp, Double-A West Tenn (Cubs)|
|Gallagher keeps living the good life for the Diamond Jaxx, striking out 23 and giving up just two runs in his last 19 innings over three starts. He’s an impressive 11-3, 2.37 overall despite his 71 walks in 152 innings, but who’s he got to blame for that?|
Jimmy Barthmeier, rhp, high Class A Salem (Astros)
|After a slow start, Barthmeier’s world has turned and left him here, with a 4-0, 1.48 ERA in August. He’s won his last five starts while giving up three runs or fewer in each of his last 12.|
|8. Troy Tulowitzki, ss, Double-A Tulsa (Rockies)|
|Oh, possibilities . . . The Rockies have options all over the infield, but Tulowitzki figures to take his act all the way to Colorado sooner than later. He’s hitting .346 in August after a 10-for-26 week. Remember when Clint Barmes seemed like an obstacle? Those days are gone, probably to stay.|
|9. Deolis Guerra, rhp, low Class A Hagerstown (Mets)|
|Hope Mets fans enjoyed the show, because Guerra’s cheese smelled so good last week: no hits in five innings, though he walked six and struck out six. This 17-year-old has a 1.15 ERA in August and is 6-7, 2.20 overall with just 59 hits allowed in 82 innings.|
|10. Osbek Castillo, rhp, Rookie-level Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|Since leaving his island in the sun, this Cuban defector has had to sit out, go through the “unblocking” process Cuban players must go through and finally go through the draft. The 987th player picked this year, Castillo struck out 23 and gave up one hit and one walk last week in 12 innings. Seems like he’s just playing and having fun.|
|Brian Anderson and Justin Hedrick, high Class A San Jose (Giants): Two for the price of one. Hedrick is inexplicably repeating the Cal League and dominating–95 whiffs in 75 innings, 1.67 ERA. He struck out 13 in 5 1/3 scoreless frames last week setting up for Anderson, who set a league saves record and has 36. Yes, that’s a fairly meaningless stat, so here are some meaningful ones: 62 IP, 37 H, 16 BB, 77 SO.
|Ryan Braun, 3b, Double-A Huntsville (Brewers): OK, it’s been driven into Ryan Braun’s head that he’s no Alex Gordon. Gordon was college player of the year in 2005, not Braun. Gordon got drafted second overall, Braun fifth. And Gordon’s having a bigger year this year, spending more time in Double-A. But don’t sleep on Braun, who has mashed 11 homers in 180 Double-A at-bats and has made progress defensively at third base.|
|Chris Tillman, rhp, short-season Everett (Mariners): Seattle fans need some good news, right? Well, Mike Hargrove still has his job, but at least Tillman, a second rounder this year, is responding to his promotion to Everett after shoving it in the Arizona League. He struck out 10 in six innings and gave up one hit in last week’s start.
|Jaar Jurrjens, rhp, Double-A Erie (Tigers): Twin scoreless seven-inning outings brought a pair of no-decisions for Jurrjens, but let it be said he’s fully recovered from his late July car wreck. If you’re not going to strike a ton of guys out (107 in 136 IP), don’t walk them either, and Jurrjens has walked just 29 on the year.|
|Jeff Fiorentino, of, Double-A Bowie (Orioles): The former Florida Atlantic star is saving what looked to be a lost season, pushing his average over .250 with a .349 showing in August so far, including a season-long seven-game hitting streak.
|Jake Fox, c, Double-A West Tenn (Cubs): If catcher were a primarily offensive position, Fox would be in line for a big league look soon. He’s hitting .370 in August and .296/.354/.526 overall, with 21 homers in 399 at-bats. He can throw some as well (catching 32 percent of the 104 basestealers he’s faced) but has 20 passed balls and still needs defensive polish. But he can hit.
|Nate Schierholtz, of, Double-A Connecticut (Giants): The Giants knew many of their top hitting prospects would falter in the tough weather and dimensions at Double-A Connecticut, and only Schierholtz has shown an ability to come back from his early struggles. He went 12-for-26 last week with five extra-base hits, bringing his August average to .413 and pushing him into double figures in home runs with a team-best 11.
|Billy Rowell, 3b, Rookie-level Bluefield (Orioles): It’s been a month since the ninth overall pick in the ’06 draft went back-to-back games without a hit, a remarkable run of consistency for a 17-year-old. His four hits Sunday pushed him over .300, and he had a career-best five RBIs.|
|Chris Valaika, ss, Rookie-level Billings (Reds): Consistency has been the story of Valaika’s season. A third-rounder out of UC Santa Barbara, he carried a 27-game hitting streak into Monday’s game, and he had hit safely in 36 of his last 37 games. He’s hit both lefties (.306) and righthanders (.326), and he’s shown a steady glove at shortstop, where he leads all Pioneer League shortstops in total chances and double plays.|
|Justin Turner, 2b, Rookie-level Billings (Reds): While Valaika is threatening the Pioneer League hitting streak record, Turner, a seventh-round pick this year out of Cal State Fullerton, has actually been more productive during that stretch. Turner is hitting .385-3-15 in August with nine multi-hit games. He also has a 16-game hitting streak of his own.
|Johnny Cueto, rhp, high Class A Sarasota (Reds): Cueto hasn’t had to face much adversity this year as he’s emerged as a prospect, but the Reds had to be happy with how he’s bounced back from a rough outing. Ever since he was rocked by Vero Beach on Aug. 4 (1 2/3 IP, six hits, eight runs), Cueto has been nearly perfect. In the three starts since then, he’s allowed no runs and only 10 hits in 17 2/3 innings while striking out 16.
|Adam Lind, of, Triple-A Syracuse (Blue Jays): It only seems like Lind has gotten a hit in every game since his callup to Syracuse. He got 10 in 24 at-bats (.417) last week, and had hit safely in every contest until the second game of a Sunday doubleheader. He’™s hitting .372 overall with more walks than strikeouts.
|Dustin Pedroia, ss/2b, Triple-A Pawtucket (Red Sox): With his 9-for-22 (.409) week, Pedroia pushed his average to .306, up six points from where he began. He homered, drove in five and played every infield position except first base. How many other Hot Sheet members can say that?
|Micah Owings, rhp, Triple-A Tucson (Diamondbacks): August marks the first month at Tucson where Owings the pitcher has been clearly more valuable than Owings the hitter. True, he has hit .333, but he’™s also posted a 2.63 ERA–his lowest monthly figure–and a 16-9 strikeouts-walks ratio in 24 innings. Last week, he allowed four earned runs in 13 innings and earned his eighth win.|
|Hernan Irribarren, 2b, high Class A Brevard County (Brewers)|
|Irribarren has always hit (and is at .321 this year) but needs to gain strength, and he may be wearing down in the heat of the Florida State League. He went 4-for-19 last week, has no extra-base hits during his .245 August (after hitting .402 in July) and has not stolen a base since July 29.|
|Mike Stodolka, 1b, high Class A High Desert (Royals)|
|One of the year’s feel-good stories, the fourth overall pick in 2000 also is succumbing to the grind of a full season as a hitter. His 1-for-20 week dropped him below .300 for the year.|
|B.J. Szymanski, of, low Class A Dayton (Reds)|
|When you have a four-game hitting streak and still go 5-for-29 to land on the Not Hot list . . . well, there’s just a lot going on with B.J. He’s struck out in seven straight games (his seventh such streak this season), giving him 172 K’s on the year, second-most in the minors.|
|Fernando Martinez, of, high Class A St. Lucie (Mets)|
|Understand, we come not to bury Martinez . . . he’s 17 and playing in the Florida State League. That’s incredible, really. But he went 5-for-32 last week and is hitting .200 in the FSL so far (14-for-70). Just don’t pencil him into the 2007 lineup in New York as Cliff Floyd’s replacement, that’s all we’re saying.|
|Garrett Mock, rhp, Double-A Harrisburg (Nationals)|
|The Nats haven’t had success with their top pitching prospects this year, and now Mock has been inflicted since coming over from the Diamondbacks in the Livan Hernandez trade. He’s got a nice, fat 10.57 ERA in two starts as a Nationals farmhand. He’d fit right in on Potomac’s rotation, where if your ERA isn’t above 5.00, you’re not a prospect.|
|Gary Burnham, of, Double-A Reading (Phillies)|
|Say hello to Reading’s career home runs leader. All these veterans haven’t been enough for Reading to overcome streaking Trenton in the Eastern League, but the 31-year-old Burnham is doing his part (12-for-24, four homers on the week.|
|Matt Sweeney, 3b, Rookie-level Angels (Angels)|
|How many Potomac State recruits get mentioned in the Hot Sheet? Credit area scout Dan Radcliffe with finding Sweeney at a Maryland high school, convincing the organization to snag him in the eighth round. He’s rewarded the Angels with 22 extra-base hits and a .356 average, and his .616 slugging percentage ranks second.|