Baseball America

Prospect Hot Sheet: Aug. 19

Just two full weeks remain in the minor league season, meaning space on the Prospect Hot Sheet is at a premium. Will Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper recover from his pulled hamstring in time to make the Hot Sheet one more time this season? If not, we’ll undoubtedly see him next year, perhaps back with Double-A Harrisburg.

The Prospect Hot Sheet is not a re-ranking of
the Top 100 Prospects. This is a snapshot of which top prospects are
excelling and which ones are struggling right now. Stats cover the period from Aug. 12-18.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, John Manuel and Jim Shonerd.

No. 1 MIGUEL SANO, SS/3B

TWINS

Team: Rookie-level Elizabethton (Appalachian)

Age: 18

Why He’s Here: .400/.400/1.120 (10-for-25), 3 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBIs, 6 R, 0 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Many scouts considered Sano the top talent on the international market in 2009, a banner year that included Gary Sanchez, Guillermo Pimentel, Jurickson Profar, Wagner Mateo, Cheslor Cuthbert and Luis Sardinas, among others. Profar has surpassed Sano as a prospect, but no player from that class has as much power potential as Sano, who has excited scouts since he was 14 for his bat speed and ability to hit for power to all fields.

With three more hits (including two doubles) yesterday, Sano raised his line for the season to .284/.340/.614 with 15 home runs through 54 games, including a stretch of nine home runs in his last 18 games. Will he stay at shortstop? No chance, and even with his rocket arm, third base—where he has 13 errors in 38 games—is more of an outside hope than a reality. Wherever Sano ends up, the type of power he brings is special.

2011
Stats

No. 2 MATT MOORE, LHP

RAYS

Team: Triple-A Durham (International)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.50, 2 GS, 10 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: Matt Moore wasn’t at his best this week . . . so he’s only No. 2 on the Hot Sheet. A patient Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup worked counts, fouled off pitches and generally made Moore’s job difficult on Wednesday night. They limited Moore to only four innings of work before he rung up 84 pitches, but he still managed to strike out eight while allowing only one hit, a Greg Golson solo home run. Moore struck out 10 in six scoreless innings in his other start this week. He’s now struck out 57 batters in only 34 2/3 Triple-A innings. Moore’s 11-3, 1.91 overall line is mind-boggling, but his 12.35 strikeouts per nine innings (at the highest levels of the minors) is even more impressive.

2011
Stats

No. 3 CHAD BETTIS, RHP

ROCKIES

Team:
high Class A Modesto (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: Bettis was pretty ordinary in the season’s first half, going 4-4, 4.30 through 84 innings, but the 2010 second-rounder has figured out the unforgiving California League as the season’s gone on. Bettis leads the Cal League in ERA in the second half, having gone 7-1, 2.28 in 71 innings. A low- to mid-90s fastball and ability to pound the bottom of the zone have helped him thrive, and he pitched his best in one of the minors’ toughest environments this week when Modesto visited Lancaster. Bettis permitted just three hits, all singles, and didn’t allow a runner to get into scoring position until the seventh inning. His 11 strikeouts matched his season high. Bettis ranks second in the Cal League in strikeouts for the season (165) and leads the league in WHIP (1.13).

2011
Stats

No. 4 TOMMY JOSEPH, C

GIANTS

Team: high Class A San Jose (California)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .483/.500/1.207 (14-for-29), 6 HR, 3 2B, 12 RBIs, 10 R, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Joseph occasionally played first base early in the season, but he’s played catcher exclusively since June 25, while also getting in the lineup as DH here and there. The 2009 second-round pick has been up to the task, batting .319/.354/.670 with 16 homers and 16 doubles in 46 games since the last time he took the field anywhere but catcher. Joseph’s recent performance, which encompasses road trips through Lancaster and Lake Elsinore, is even more impressive if you backdate his performance one day to include his 2-for-4 game with a homer and four RBIs on Aug. 11. That means that Joseph has batted 16-for-33 (.485) with seven homers (including two-homer games in Lancaster on Aug. 12-13), three doubles and 16 RBIs in his past seven games. He raised his batting average 17 points in little more than a week.

2011
Stats

No. 5 ALEX WHITE, RHP

ROCKIES

Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 11 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: White wasn’t necessarily excited to be included in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, and he’s also returning from a finger injury that landed him on the 60-day disabled list. He gave up three runs and a homer in his one-inning Drillers debut, but since then he’s been excellent, building up his pitch count as he returns to full health. Thursday night he was at his efficient best, working 7 2/3 innings while making just 81 pitches. “I could have thrown 20 more pitches,” White told the Denver Post in a story saying he could return to the majors soon for his Rockies debut. “The key for me tonight was to get to the pitch count and pitch deep into the game.” The Post reports 62 of his 81 pitches were fastballs in the 89-94 mph range with sink and cut. White also impressed with his split-finger fastball, which serves as his changeup. “His pitches have a lot of movement,” Drillers second baseman Thomas Field told the Post. “That changeup is one of the best I have ever seen. I wouldn’t want to face it.”

2011
Stats

No. 6 MIGUEL DE LOS SANTOS, LHP

RANGERS

Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: The first time the Rangers sent de los Santos to Double-A this year, it went very poorly. But the lefthander is showing he’s about ready for a second try at Frisco. In each of his past three starts, de los Santos has reached double-digit in strikeouts. In recent weeks, de los Santos has cleaned up some minor mechanical issues. He is incorporating his lower half better in his delivery and has improved his balance as he completes his delivery, which has helped him get away from a tendency to overthrow. Whatever he’s doing is working—he has 32 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings this month.

2011
Stats

No. 7 BRAD PEACOCK, RHP

NATIONALS

Team: Triple-A Syracuse (International)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.59, 2 GS, 12 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Peacock was leading the Eastern League in strikeouts and ranked second in ERA at the time he was promoted to Syracuse in mid-July. His Triple-A debut didn’t go well, as Lehigh Valley knocked him around for seven runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings on July 16, but he recovered quickly. In six starts since his rocky debut, Peacock’s gone 3-0, 2.14. He has enough quality in his three-pitch mix to continue missing bats at the Triple-A level, having racked up 38 strikeouts in 38 innings for the Chiefs while holding opponents to a .197 average. He’s gotten himself in trouble with walks at times, including one of his starts this week in which he walked five Gwinnett batters in seven innings, but he’s been able to pitch around them so far.

2011
Stats

No. 8 TIM BECKHAM, SS

RAYS

Team: Triple-A Durham (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .333/.355/.700 (10-for-30), 2 HR, 1 2B, 2 3B, 7 RBIs, 6 R, 0 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: It’s easy to judge Beckham harshly when the career of 2008 No. 1 overall pick gets compared with those taken after him, but on the whole it’s been a redemptive 2011 season for him. Thurst back into the spotlight at this year’s Futures Game, Beckham has held his own with the bat in Double-A and now Triple-A, while looking more promising at shortstop than in the past. Since being promoted to Durham on August 10, Beckham has hits in seven of the eight games he’s played, and he’s riding a six-game hitting streak. He hit a grand slam Monday in Buffalo for his first Triple-A homer, then he went deep Thursday night against Yankees prospect Dellin Betances, who was making his Triple-A debut.

2011
Stats

No. 9 EHIRE ADRIANZA, SS

GIANTS

Team: high Class A San Jose (California)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .357.419/.714 (10-for-28), 2 HR, 4 2B, 7 RBIs, 7 R, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Adrianza hit .256 with a bit of plate discipline (.333 on-base) and little power (.348 slugging) for San Jose a year ago. The slick-fielding shortstop didn’t get a chance to build on his Cal League performance until the tail end of June this season, however, because he missed the first month with a hand injury and then rounded into form with a pedestrian .692 OPS for low Class A Augusta. Adrianza has enjoyed a fine second half for San Jose, whether by dint of real improvement or a fluky small sample. He’s batting .294/.376/.460 with 21 extra-base hits in 41 games since his promotion to the Cal League, swatting both of his home runs in Lancaster last week.

2011
Stats

No. 10 MIKE TROUT, CF

ANGELS

Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .321/.367/.643 (9-for-28), 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 R, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Trout is no longer a teenager, having celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this month, but he’s still one of the youngest players in Double-A and arguably the most exciting prospect in the minors. Since getting demoted after his brief big league trial, Trout has hit .333/.408/.587 in 16 games with the Travelers, showing there’s not much left for him to learn at this level.

2011
Stats

No. 11 WILY PERALTA, RHP

BREWERS

Team:  Triple-A Nashville (Pacific Coast)

Age: 22

Why He’s
Here:
2-0, 2.08, 2 GS, 13 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop: At the beginning of June, no one could have imagined that Peralta would be waiting for word of a big league callup by late August. Coming off a nightmarish May where he had a 7.77 ERA, Peralta was sitting at 2-5, 5.30 with Double-A Huntsville. But since then, Peralta has stopped trying to throw every pitch through the catcher’s mitt, and, consequently, he’s become one of the minor’s most effective pitchers. Peralta responded well to his callup to Triple-A Nashville this week, but that might not be his last move. With the Brewers needing a starter next week for a doubleheader, Peralta’s next start may come for the big league club as they try to finish off the Cardinals in the NL Central race.

2011
Stats

No. 12 TYLER SKAGGS, LHP

DIAMONDBACKS

Team:  Double-A Mobile (Southern)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.08, 13 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: Looking for the most dominant rotation of prospects in the minors? Try Mobile, where the Diamondbacks have Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Jarrod Parker and Pat Corbin picking their way through Southern League offenses. Skaggs, the former Angels farmhand who joined Arizona last year as part of the Dan Haren trade, managed to tame the high Class A California League and has been even better in Double-A, where he has a 2.87 ERA through 37 2/3 innings. With 173 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings (an average of 11.3 per nine), Skaggs ranks fourth in the minors in strikeouts.

2011
Stats

No. 13 TREVOR BAUER, RHP

DIAMONDBACKS

Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.08, 13 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: Did we mention that Mobile rotation yet? Bauer’s pro career has been brief since he signed this year as the third overall pick in the draft, but he’s managed to make plenty of noise in that time. After striking out 17 of the 39 batters he faced for high Class A Visalia, Bauer struck out eight more in five scoreless innings in his Double-A debut on Sunday. Bauer has frontline starter potential, and he might not be far from showing big league hitters why he’s held in such high regard.

2011
Stats

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Could RHP Daniel Corcino have been a piece in a massive blockbuster trade? That was the rumor, as BA correspondent John Fay put together the pieces to say there may have been some truth to rumors of a proposed Joey Votto-Jose Bautista deal that could also have included Corcino. According to Fay’s story, the Blue Jays were scouting a Corcino start just before the trade deadline. Whether that deal was ever talked about or not, it didn’t happen, so the 20-year-old righthander goes on being one of the best pitching prospects in the Reds organization. This week he struck out 10 and walked one in six scoreless innings . . . Rockies LHP Drew Pomeranz spent a couple of weeks in a bizarre purgatory. Because he was part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal but couldn’t officially be traded until Aug. 16, the 22-year-old was sidelined from pitching for two weeks. But Pomeranz used his time wisely, and it showed as he allowed only two baserunners in seven innings in his Rockies’ debut with Double-A Tulsa this week . . . Red Sox RF Bryce Brentz memorably had a 26-game hitting streak in low Class A early this year, but he hasn’t been heard from as much since a promotion to high Class A Salem in late May. His power had still been there, and Brentz mashed two more homers and three doubles as part of a .370/.414/.704 (10-for-27) week. Brentz, 22, ranks eighth in the minors with 28 homers between his two stops . . . Yankees RHP Dellin Betances made his Triple-A debut against streaking Durham, and while the Bulls beat him for their fifth straight victory, the 23-year-old Betances acquitted himself well. He struck out eight in six innings, hit 96 on the stadium radar gun and sat in the 92-93 mph range. His slider was his main strikeout pitch, according to one source, but he also threw his changeup and curveball for strikes as he didn’t walk a batter. On the season, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Betances is now 4-7, 3.48 with 123 strikeouts and 55 walks in 111 innings . . . Did the Astros get enough from the Braves in return for Michael Bourn? They didn’t get one of Atlanta’s four best young pitchers, but so far they have to be pleased with RHP Paul Clemens, who in three starts for Double-A Corpus Christi has an ERA of 0.00 over 19 2/3 innings. Clemens threw seven more shutout innings on Monday, walking one and striking out four . . . The rise of Mariners RHP Vicente Campos continued this week, as the 19-year-old flamethrower allowed two runs (both unearned) on two hits, no walks and seven strikeouts over eight innings, lowering his ERA with short-season Everett to 2.45 with a 63-9 K-BB mark in 62 1/3 innings . . . Blue Jays SS Adeiny Hechavarria is known more for his glove than his bat, but the 22-year-old hit .517/.563/.621 in seven games since joining Triple-A Las Vegas.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Michael Taylor, rf, Athletics. Taylor has rediscovered the power stroke that deserted him last season as he repeats Triple-A Sacramento. His slugging percentage has jumped from .392 to .456, while he’s more than doubled up on his home-run total, 13 to 6. The 25-year-old Taylor’s bat has gone cold in August, however, as he’s hitting .236 with one homer in 16 games. He went 0-for-21 with five walks and three whiffs this week, and he’s 3-for-his-last-33 (.091) with a double.

Chris Withrow, rhp, Dodgers. Zach Lee has hit a bit of a rough patch in low Class A, allowing six runs in his past nine innings, while Rubby de la Rosa recently had Tommy John surgery, meaning that it’s Withrow’s time to shine and perhaps make up ground in the organization. In what’s been an otherwise solid year for Double-A Chattanooga, Withrow got torched for six runs on seven hits over four innings against Carolina last night. With an even 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings, the 22-year-old trails only Matt Moore for the best rate in the Southern League, but he works around too many baserunners (1.50 WHIP) and throws too many pitches (5.3 walks per nine) to consistently work deep into games.

Zach Cone, cf, Rangers. Cone was one of the better college athletes available in the draft, but scouts in the Southeast had questions about his bat. With college baseball’s new BBCOR bat standards, he hit just .275 with four homers after batting .363 with 10 homers as a sophomore. He had a hot start to pro ball, going 14-for-39 in June with Spokane, but he’s probably ready for the season to end. Cone has hit a brick wall since June 28, when he had a 3-for-5 night to bring his line to .267/.360/.435. In the 15 games since then, he’s 2-for-55, both of his hits singles, with one walk and 20 strikeouts. Overall, he’s hitting .199/.286/.317 in 186 at-bats.

Peter Tago, rhp, Rockies. Other than continuing to be able to take the ball every fifth day, not much has gone right for Tago in his first full
season with low Class A Asheville. The 19-year-old, Colorado’s sandwich
round pick in 2010, has been crippled by an inability to find the strike zone and has been woeful against lefthanded batters, who are raking at a .320/.432/.484 clip against him. Tago has walked more batters (59) than he’s struck out (55) in 83 innings of work, and his walk rate (6.42 per nine) is the fourth worst among SAL pitchers with at
least 50 innings of work. He also owns the second worst ERA in the league (6.21) since his callup.

MAN AMONG BOYS

Bryan LaHair, 1b, Cubs. Home runs never go out of style, so LaHair refashioned himself as a pure slugger after spending his early 20s as a doubles hitter who occasionally hinted at over-the-fence power. He collected 46 doubles for Triple-A Tacoma in 2007 as a Mariners farmhand, but the 24-at-the-time first baseman hit just 12 homers that year and then again in 2008. LaHair changed his approach completely in 2009, bashing 26 homers in 121 games for the Rainiers, but all that got him was his first crack at minor league free agency. (Seattle gave him a 45-game trial in 2008, but seemed unimpressed with his .661 OPS. Ironically, that 78 OPS+ would rank him squarely in the middle of the pack among this year’s Mariners hitters.) LaHair latched on with the Cubs, where he’s continued his homer-happy ways with Triple-A Iowa. The 28-year-old belted four homers this week to give him 34 on the season and a three-bomb margin on Ian Gac for the minor league lead.

BLAST FROM THE
PAST

Jerome Williams, rhp, Angels: Is Williams really just 29? Yes, yes he is. The former Giants No. 1 prospect was a first-round pick out of high school in 1999 who made his major league debut in 2003. He made an early splash by going 17-12, 3.77 in his first two seasons, spanning 260 innings. Off-field issues, such as his mother’s death, shoulder injuries and weight problems helped scuttle his career thereafter, and he hadn’t pitched in the majors since a disastrous 0-5, 7.20 stint with the Nationals in 2007. He then made his way through indy ball (even playing for the Lancaster Barnstormers, a travel team), then Taiwan last season. But he’s gotten his arm back in shape, reaching the low 90s regularly with his fastball, and got promoted back to the big leagues this week to be an arm out of the Angels’ bullpen. He made his first appearance Wednesday, giving up two singles but also getting a double-play grounder. His last outing for Triple-A Salt Lake was a complete-game victory that featured eight strikeouts, and he was 7-2, 3.91 overall. “There were times I thought about quitting, but my wife always pushed me,” he told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “I’ve got three kids. I’m playing for them.”

HELIUM WATCH

Once upon a time, Juan Lagares was a lithe, athletic shortstop. He made 40 errors in 82 South Atlantic League games back in 2007, yet his athleticism prompted BA to rank him No. 28 in the Mets’ farm system that offseason. Our report quoted a Mets official as saying that long-term, Lagares’ bat would be his best tool. Since then, Lagares evolved as a prospect, moving to the outfield (mostly the corners) and actually starting to hit. He’s just 22 and has earned his first trip to Double-A by batting .339/.381/.495 for high Class A St. Lucie, and he hasn’t stopped hitting with Double-A Binghamton. He’s hit safely in 20 of 21 starts for the B-Mets, carrying a nine-game hitting streak into the weekend, and is batting .400/.420/.589 overall. “He’s a very quiet hitter,” B-Mets manager Wally Backman told Gannett Newspapers. “He’s got a nice swing . . . He’s a pretty good-looking player.” Lagares doesn’t have one carrying tool, and he’s lost his plus speed over the years while filling out (though he’s still listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds). He’ll go as far as his bat will take him.

Minors | #2011 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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