See also: Previous Prospect Hot
As we get into the middle of August, it seems to happen every year—pitchers who have kept themselves in good shape start to get the upper hand. Partly it’s because some hitters wear down through the grind of a long season. Maybe it’s because other hitters start inadvertently wasting at-bats because they can’t maintain their focus.
But whatever it is, you’ll notice a lot of arms on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. There’s still some room for the likes of Matt Wieters and Mike Stanton, but it’s a pitcher’s world on this week’s Hot Sheet.
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, with stats from
the past week (Aug, 8-14) getting the most consideration. The Why He’s
Here line in the capsules refer to each player’s stats during that
Contributing: Kary Booher,
Jesse Burkhart, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Conor Glassey, John Manuel, Nathan
Rode, Jim Shonerd.
|No. 1 CHRIS TILLMAN, RHP||ORIOLES|
Team:Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 2.25, 12 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 17 SO
The Scoop: If the Orioles end their 10-year spiral of consecutive losing seasons (not counting this year), the Erik Bedard trade haul will go a long way toward reviving the franchise. Adam Jones and George Sherrill have helped this year’s O’s be better than expected, and relief righty Kam Mickolio (already in Triple-A) has shown considerable promise. But Tillman may prove to be the biggest piece.
He struck out seven in six shutout innings against Trenton in his latest start, has 28 K’s (and just three walks) in 18 August innings, and is climbing the leaderboards for the entire minors despite his age and inexperience. His 9.94 strikeouts per nine innings ranks eighth among full-season pitchers; his 3.49 ERA ranks third in the Eastern League, and his 131 K’s ranks third. His improved walk numbers might be the most important piece, as with 57 he’s tied for third in the EL but showing clear progress.
“He’s really improved, especially his curveball,” said one Eastern League manager. “He’s 93-94 mph with his fastball and he’ll pitch at 92, and he’s deceptive. Guys started looking curve against him, and he was smart and really attacked with the fastball.”
|No. 2 DANIEL CORTES, RHP||ROYALS|
Team:Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Texas)
Why he’s here:0-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 BB, 17 SO
The Scoop:Back in April, Northwest Arkansas manager Brian Poldberg preached patience when it came to the young arms in his starting rotation. Among them was Cortes, acquired along with Tyler Lumdsen in the Mike MacDougal trade from the White Sox in 2006. Cortes spent the first couple of months getting acclimated to the TL, but he has shown flashes of greatness. He had a stretch in June of back-to-back dominating starts, regressed some in July, but has now gotten it back together, with a pair of outstanding starts.
|No. 3 MATT DOMINGUEZ, 3B||MARLINS|
Team: low Class A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .357/.387/.857 (10-for-28), 2 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBIs, 7 R, 2 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Dominguez slowed down a bit in July after he’d gotten off to a hot start. The smooth-fielding third baseman hit just .238/.291/.376 in July but has come back with a vengeance in August. He’s hitting .327/.356/.618 in 55 August at-bats and he’s riding a 10-game hitting streak, all while being saddled with the task of protecting Mike Stanton as the cleanup hitter in the Grasshoppers’ order. Dominguez drove in five runs on Wednesday against Hickory and has homered in three of his last four games.
|No. 4 MATT WIETERS, C||ORIOLES|
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .409/.500/.864 (9-for-22), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: It seems all but inevitable that Wieters will be the starting catcher in Baltimore next season. He’s paving a golden road to the major leagues and doesn’t seem to be hindered by anything. Since his promotion to Double-A he’s hit .362/.459/.632 with nine home runs and a 30-to-22 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Overall he’s up to .352/.453/.598 with 24 home runs and 83 RBIs in 115 games. Look out Ramon Hernandez. He’s knocking your door with authority.
|No. 5 MIKE STANTON, CF||MARLINS|
Team: low Class A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .400/.438/.900 (12-for-30), 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Stanton continued his assault on Sally League pitching with another four home runs this week, giving him 33 on the season and an outside chance at broaching Russell Branyan’s SAL single-season record of 40. He’s already set a Greensboro franchise record. And even though his home park is one of the league’s coziest, Stanton has actually done more damage on the road, where his numbers are higher nearly across the board. He’s been getting more selective as well, upping his walks and cutting his strikeouts as opponents have become increasingly wary of letting him beat them.
|No. 6 MADISON BUMGARNER, LHP||GIANTS|
low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop: The beat goes on for Bumgarner, the SAL’s most dominating pitcher. His secondary pitches are still works in progress, but most Sally League hitters simply have no chance against the 92-94 mph fastballs coming from Bumgarner’s left arm. His start this week was his third straight scoreless outing—giving him a 22-inning shutout streak—as he’s neither been scored upon nor issued a walk since July 22. And this start was even more impressive when you consider it was on the road at hitter-friendly Greensboro, and he was about the only pitcher this week who slowed down fellow Hot-Sheeters Mike Stanton and Matt Dominguez.
|No. 7 CARLOS CARRASCO, RHP||PHILLIES|
Triple-A Lehigh Valley (International)
Why he’s here:1-1, 0.75, 12 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 18 SO
The Scoop:After a solid Triple-A debut (6 2/3 innings, two runs, four strikeouts, two walks, six hits), Carrasco flat-out dominated both Buffalo and Scranton this week, striking out 10 and then eight batters—though he was undermined last night by a balk and then a wild pitch, costing him a chance for a win. Nevertheless, Carrasco pitched at 93-96 mph for much of the outing and effectively mixed in his curveball.
|No. 8 TOMMY HANSON, RHP||BRAVES|
Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Why he’s here: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: Forget about waiting for Tommy Hanson to veer off course. The Braves’ 2005 22nd-round pick—he signed for $325,000 out of Riverside (Calif.) CC in ’06—continues to take a blow torch to the Southern League. And that may be putting it nicely. Brandishing his 12-to-6 curve along with a fastball, Hanson last Sunday struck out 10 covering six scoreless innings. It marked his third consecutive start with 10 strikeouts, giving him 93 strikeouts against 31 walks in 82 1/3 innings this season. Even better, he’s a model of consistency, with nine quality starts out of 15 since joining Mississippi in mid-May. That includes his nine-inning no-hitter on June 25.
|No. 9 DEREK HOLLAND, LHP||RANGERS|
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Why he’s here:
The Scoop: It’s easy to love pop-up prospects—guys who come from off the radar to become legitimate talents. It’s hard to find a better example of a 2008 pop-up prospect than Holland, a 2006 draft-and-follow who signed in ’07 for $200,000. He was a nice lefty coming into the year, with a 90-92 mph fastball but little feel for secondary stuff. His secondary pitches have sharpened some, as he now has an average slider and changeup, but he’s gained strength and velocity this year, which has turned his once solid fastball into a plus pitch. He now pitches at 91-97 with late life, which is why he’s been able to make the jump from low Class A Clinton to Double-A in his first full pro season.
|No. 10 JESS TODD, RHP||CARDINALS|
Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Why he’s here: 1-0, 0.65 ERA, 13 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 HBP, 3 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: They were probably a few tears shed back in Springfield this past week when the Cardinals moved Todd out of the Texas League and on to Memphis. After all, Todd ransacked the Double-A circuit as he struck out 81, issued 24 walks and held batters to a .216 average in his 103 1/3 innings there, sparking interest along the way with a stellar outing in the TL all-star game and a spot in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. A seven-inning scoreless outing last Friday, however, sent him to Memphis, where on Wednesday Todd handled Round Rock in 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one earned run on four hits. It’s just the icing on a season in which Springfield pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd added a sinker to Todd’s already dominating arsenal.
|No. 11 BRAD MILLS, LHP||BLUE JAYS|
Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Why he’s here:1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop:On the strength of a plus-plus changeup and a solid fastball and curve, Mills has rocketed from low Class A to Double-A in his first full season. And the Jays’ fourth-round pick in 2007 from Arizona has made it look easy, going 2-1, 0.44 in his first four starts for the Fisher Cats. His composite 1.89 ERA ranks third in the minors, and his 147 strikeouts are fourth, suggesting that Mills may be able to help the big club much sooner than expected. Triple-A lefthander Brett Cecil and Double-A catcher J.P. Arencibia, two fellow ’07 picks, also have ripened quickly on the farm.
|No. 12 LARS ANDERSON, 1B||RED SOX|
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Why He’s Here:.320/.433/.720 (8-for-25), 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 7 R, 5 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop:Anderson returns to the Hot Sheet for the second straight week as he continues to live up to his reputation of having an advanced bat. You wouldn’t expect a batter to be more productive after going from the California League to the Eastern League, but that’s been the case for Anderson. He hit .317/.408/.513 for high Class A Lancaster, but has bettered those numbers by hitting .333/.427/.617 through 81 at-bats for Portland. He needed about a 10-day adjustment period after arriving in Double-A and stepping into the middle of the Sea Dogs’ order, but he’s been raking ever since. Anderson has turned in eight multi-hit games since July 30 and has already racked up 23 RBIs in his first 25 games in Portland.
|No. 13 ALCIDES ESCOBAR, SS||BREWERS|
Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .500/.517/.654 (13-for-26), 4 R, 4 2B, 4 RBIs, 2 BB
The Scoop: Escobar’s calling card is his defense, but a breakout season at the plate has really put him on the radar this season. The Venezuelan split last season between Brevard County in the Florida State League and Huntsville, posting a combined line of .306/.331/.366. This year, Escobar has begun to show the gap power the Brewers have been expecting from him, hitting 22 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a season line of .346/.381/.456, with 31 stolen bases in 39 attempts. The combination of being one of the youngest players in the Southern League, hitting with authority and playing excellent defense at a premium position equals a star in the making.
Since June, high Class A Stockton’s Chris Carter (Athletics)
hitting line hasn’t gone anywhere but up. As of June 1 he was hitting
.211/.324/.447. Now he’s climbed all the way to .272/.369/.592. Not to
mention Carter, 21, hit .429/.520/1.048 this week while playing third
base, right field and first base . . .
Double-A Midland lost Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill to Team USA, and
then and Vin Mazzaro and Josh Outman to Triple-A, leaving the
RockHounds in a world of hurt. But the player they may miss most is CF Aaron Cunningham (Athletics),
who has the made the transition to the Pacific Coast League look easy.
In his first seven games for Triple-A Sacramento, the 22-year-old has
batted .417/.531/.792 (10-for-24) with two homers, three doubles, 10
runs scored, seven walks and two steals in two attempts . . . One of the forgotten men in the Miguel Cabrera-for-prospects swap with the Tigers last December, Triple-A Albuquerque RHP Eulogio de la Cruz
(Marlins) has helped to skew the trade in favor of the Fish. In going
2-0, 1.76 in two starts this week, while striking out 15 and walking
only one in 15 1/3 innings, de la Cruz has continued to defy the odds
while pitching in the most hostile pitching environment in Triple-A:
Albuquerque’s Isotopes Field. (He won once there this week, giving up
two runs in seven innings.) Sure, he’s 24 and, sure, his listed height
is just 5-foot-11, but the tenacious righthander succeeds by generating
groundball after groundball with his plus 92-94 mph two-seam
fastball—one of the PCL’s finest—and a terrific sinking changeup. For
proof, check out his ground-to-fly out tally on the week: 22-to-9 . . . Double-A
Bowie RHP David Hernandez (Orioles) didn’t have the best of starts this past week, with a 5 2/3 inning outing last Friday and a five-inning effort on Wednesday. But Hernandez, 23, continued to build on his minor league-best strikeout total, which reached 150 after he fanned 13 in those two starts. He’s also issued 64 walks in 125 innings but is holding batters to a .215 average and is 8-4, 2.59 for the season . . . Double-A Birmingham LHP Aaron Poreda (White Sox) fanned 11 in 12 innings, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs while issuing two walks. After struggling upon his promotion to Double A, the hard-throwing southpaw has allowed no more than two earned runs in any of his last four starts. His primary criticism coming out of San Francisco as a first round selection was his lack of secondary stuff, but don’t tell that to Montgomery hitters, after Poreda, 21, fanned 10 of them in seven innings this week . . . In the midst of a 21-game hitting streak, 24-year-old Triple-A Rochester CF Jason Pridie (Twins)
is heating up right on schedule. Last season during July and August, he
helped propel Durham to the International League playoffs; this year
all he’s done during his hit streak is bat .420/.464/.580
(37-for-88) with a homer, five doubles, three triples, 18 runs scored
and 16 RBIs . . . High Class A Clearwater LF Michael Taylor (Phillies) is continuing his breakout season. Taylor, 22, accumulated just 13 plate appearances this week, but made the most of them by batting .615/.615/1.538 (8-for-13) with three doubles and three home runs. His season line is now up to .346/.415/.542 between stops in low Class A Lakewood and Clearwater.
• Kyle McCulloch, rhp, White Sox. The White Sox need pitchers and called up their 2005 first-round pick, righthander Lance Broadway, this week. Double-A Birmingham’s McCulloch, 23, follows a similar plan as Broadway, but he’s not executing right now. He’s given up 32 hits in just 14 innings in three August starts (all losses), and he’s walked 54 (fourth in the Southern League) as well. That’s 225 baserunners (with his four HBPs) in 137 2/3 innings. Even getting 24 double plays behind him isn’t enough, as he’s 7-10, 5.03 overall.
• Austin Gallagher, 3b, Dodgers. Gallagher’s season has been pretty incredible for 19-year-old at high Class A Inland Empire. He batted .328/.372/.528 in July and made a couple appearances on the Hot Sheet. But he’s come back to earth after a poor August, batting just .107/.194/.179 (3-for-28) with seven strikeouts this week. In August, he’s .174/.316/.217 (8-for-46) in 12 games.
• Brandon Waring, 3b/1b, Reds. Waring’s bat is what will carry him to higher levels, so drop-offs are never a good thing for him. The 22-year-old Waring hit just .194/.219/.194 (6-for-31) this week for low Class A Dayton, and he has just two home runs in his last 32 games. Waring also struck out 10 times, giving him 136 on the season, second most in the Midwest League. He’s still fourth in the MWL in home runs with 17, but his line for the season dropped to .271/.346/.458 in 380 at-bats.
• Ryan Dent, ss, Red Sox. The chips were stacked against him to begin with, as many Red Sox fans would probably find it difficult to root for a player with the last name Dent. But 19-year-old Ryan (no relation to Bucky, by the way) has not made it any easier for Red Sox Nation. Dent, the 62nd overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Long Beach’s Wilson High, has struggled. He split his debut season between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League, hitting .263/.322/.375. Dent headed back to short-season Lowell this season and his performance has been dreadful. Through his first 170 at-bats, he’s hit just .159/.266/.318 with 70 strikeouts. Last week, he went 3-for-26 with a double for a line of .115/.207/.154.
• Willie Glen, lhp, Marlins. Double-A Carolina is rolling to the Southern League playoffs. And if he’s not called up to help the Marlins, Glen will be the Mudcats’ ace in the hole. Though the 30-year-old has never spent significant time above Double-A, he has already proven to be a man who responds to pressure. As an indy leaguer he was 8-0 in the playoffs over the past two years as he led Gary to the 2007 title. He allowed only three runs in 50 playoff innings in the Northern League in 2006 and 2007. But Glen might actually have a future beyond that of Double-A staff sage. His fastball is sitting at 88-92 mph, and he mixes in an above-average changeup and slider. Thanks to that arsenal, he’s working on an 18-inning scoreless streak, and he’s 3-1, 1.00 with 28 strikeouts, six walks and 15 hits allowed in 27 innngs since the all-star break.
• Dallas McPherson, 3b, Marlins. The first minor leaguer to amass 40 home runs in a season since Brandon Wood did it in 2005, McPherson emerged from an 11-game homerless drought to hit No. 40 last night in a 5-2 road win for Triple-A Albuquerque. Once one of the top prospect sluggers on the planet, McPherson, who is still just 28, fell on hard times when back trouble limited him to a combined 78 games in 2006 and 2007. The Angels, who drafted in the second round of the 2001 draft, opted to non-tender him last off-season, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll have more suitors this November. Playing in Albuquerque has boosted his numbers (.285/.392/.646 overall), but McPherson has also hit .247/.372/.511 in 186 road at-bats.
|BRIAN BOGUSEVIC, CF||ASTROS|
Double A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .455/.571/.545 (10-for-22), 2 2B, 3 RBIs, 7 R, 6 BB, 1 IBB, 4 SO, 3-for-3 SB
The Scoop: Bogusevic is adjusting quickly at the plate after disappointing in his first three professional seasons on the mound. Though the Astros drafted him in the first round of the 2005 draft as a lefthander, his bat, power, speed and arm were all considered plus tools coming out of Tulane as a two-way player. Those abilities were on display this week when he went 2-for-3 with a run, a double, an RBI and two walks in a 9-8 win against Arkansas. In the last week, he has raised his batting average by 32 points from .345 to .377 while playing center field for the Hooks. Despite having fewer than 100 pro at-bats to his credit, it appears that his tools are making the conversion process more seamless than usual.