We’ve thought it over, and there’s just no way we could possibly top Editor-In-Chief John Manuel’s Weezer-inspired Hot Sheet last week. We considered many bands follow up with, from Rage Against The Machine to A Tribe Called Quest, but we just couldn’t do it justice. Or even make it even close to being Manuel-esque.
This week, we would like to throw out special props to three Orioles prospects, however. Give it up for filthy reliever James Hoey jumping from low Class A Delmarva all the way to Camden Yards this season showing 97 mph heat combined with a devastating slider. Another reliever raising eyebrows in the system is lefthander Rommie Lewis, who is seemingly putting himself back on the prospect radar this season after missing all of last year with arm (and personal) problems. In 50 innings this year at high Class A Frederick, the fourth-rounder in 2001 is 5-3, 2.17. And of course, infielder Billy Rowell, who was called up to short-season Aberdeen–with just a week left in the season–after hitting .329/.422/.507 in 152 at-bats at Rookie-level Bluefield.
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. Philip Hughes, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)
|The second Bronx farmhand in as many weeks, so stop it with the Yankee-hater e-mails already. Hughes tossed five no-hit innings this week, lowering his August ERA to 0.72. Even working on a strict pitch count, Hughes is securing his case as the top pitcher in all the minors.|
|2. Cedric Hunter, of, Rookie-level Arizona (Padres)|
|The third-rounder from King High in Decatur, Ga. has had no trouble adjusting to pro ball. Hunter had a streak of 48 games reaching base safely snapped on Saturday, but he was still hitting .368/.463/.483. What might be most impressive is that in 201 at-bats he has walked 37 times and struck out just 20.|
|3. Tim Lincecum, rhp, high Class A San Jose (Giants)|
|Like Hunter, Lincecum is another 2006 draftee who has seamlessly moved into the professional ranks. Just like he did at Washington, Lincecum continues to miss bats with the best of them. In 27 professional innings he has already struck out 49 hitters.|
|4. Alex Gordon, 3b, Double-A Wichita (Royals)|
|In July Gordon hit .355/.450/.691 with nine homers and it seemed safe to assume that it would be hard to top. Think again. Now hitting .374/.491/.780 with 10 homers in August.|
|5. Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Double-A Huntsville (Brewers)|
|Similar to Gordon, it seems like he can no longer top himself but he does. Now 3-0, 1.74 in August with a 36-10 strikeout-walk ratio and his 185 strikeouts are the best in the minors. For good measure, he went 3-for-5 at the plate last week.|
|6. Chris Lubanski, of, Double-A Wichita (Royals)|
|For the second straight season Lubanski is shaking off a mediocre first couple of months and exploding in the second half. The 21-year-old hit .355 from June 1 through the end of the year in 2005, and this year he is hitting .325/.420/.583 with 10 of his 15 homers since the all-star break.|
|7. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Double-A Montgomery (Devil Rays)|
|Let’s stop talking about the minor surgical procedure Niemann had last October to shave down the bone between his collarbone and shoulder and start talking about the here and now. Since returning to the mound in June, Niemann is 5-5, 2.88; including 4-1, 2.79 numbers in 29 innings in August.|
|8. Jimmy Barthmaier, rhp, high Class A Salem (Astros)|
|Troy Patton and Chad Reineke might have passed him to Double-A this season, but Barthmaier and righthander Felipe Paulino will give the Avalanche a nice 1-2 punch in the Carolina League playoffs. Barthmaier tossed seven shutout innings last week and is 5-0, 1.15 this month.|
|9. Jeff Fiorentino, of, Double-A Bowie (Orioles)|
|Salvaging the season has taken on a whole new meaning for the 2004 third-rounder out of Florida Atlantic. Slowed by injuries he decided to play through rather than miss time this season, Fiorentino is finally healthy and raking at a .378 clip in August–including currently riding a 16-game hit streak.|
|10. Josh Bell, 3b, Rookie-level Ogden (Dodgers)|
|It was a big week for the fourth-rounder in 2005. Bell, 19, went 10-for-17 with three homers and 14 RBIs. He is now second in the Pioneer League in home runs (12) and slugging percentage (.579).|
|Hayden Penn, rhp, Triple-A Ottawa (Orioles): Appendicitis? What appendicitis? Penn was unreal this week, reeling off two wins, carrying a 0.66 ERA and whiffing 18. In August, the O’s righthander is 4-1, 1.98 with a 39-8 strikeout-walk ratio. Can you say September callup?
|Dexter Fowler, of, low Class A Asheville (Rockies): Though still relatively raw, Fowler has shown that he is more than just tools. After going 10-for-23 last week, the 20-year-old is now hitting .346/.404/.543 for the month with three of his eight homers. His basestealing still needs work as he is 6-for-10 in August and 37-for-58 on the year.|
|Eric Patterson, 2b, Triple-A Iowa (Cubs): While he put up OK numbers at Double-A West Tenn, hitting .263/.330/.408, Patterson has been on fire since getting called up to Triple-A on Aug. 19. In 36 at-bats with the I-Cubs, Patterson is .417/.425/.528.|
|Wes Bankston, 1b, Triple-A Durham (Devil Rays): First base is one of the few positions where the Devil Rays have a long-term opening, and Bankston might be the man to fill it. After hitting .357 with three homers last week, the 22-year-old is up to .306/.346/.468 in 173 at-bats for the Bulls.|
|Brad Snyder, of, Double-A Akron (Indians): A lot of Tribe fans were outraged when Snyder didn’t start the year in Triple-A, but Snyder was sent back to Akron to work on plate discipline–and his two-strike approach in particular. While his discipline hasn’t improved–with 151 strikeouts in nearly 500 at-bats–Snyder is recognizing pitches he can drive better, and has seven bombs in August. Last week, Snyder hit .433 with a pair of homers and drove in six.
|Nick Stavinoha, of, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals): His position might be in question, but Stavinoha has done nothing but hit since the Cardinals made him a seventh-rounder in 2005 out of Louisiana State. Stavinoha went 13-for-24 last week and has an OPS of .1038 in August to raise his season line to .285/.325/.445.
|Jeff Natale, 2b, high Class A Wilmington (Red Sox): Natale destroyed the South Atlantic League to open the season but struggled in his first trip through the Carolina League. He seems to be figuring it out his second time through though. The Trinity (Conn.) College product went 9-for-20 last week and is hitting .360/.484/.547 in August to raise his Carolina League line to .278/.420/.381. Like he did in the SAL, he has more walks (57) than strikeouts (51) in the CL.
|Chris Errecart, of, Rookie-level Helena (Brewers): The fifth-rounder from California is showing why he was considered one of the top hitters of the class of 2006 entering the season. Errecart went 10-for-23 last week with four home runs and has shaken off an awful June where he hit .186. The 21-year-old now has an OPS of .920.|
|Nate Schierholtz, of, Double-A Connecticut (Giants): Schierholtz put up pedestrian numbers for much of the season and then August happened. This month, the second-rounder in 2003 has blasted eight homers and driven in 22 runs for the Defenders. He also has the longest active hitting streak in the minors at 22 games.|
|Clay Buchholz, rhp, high Class A Wilmington (Red Sox): Like Natale, Buchholz earned a promotion from low Class A Greenville to Wilmington. Unlike Natale, he has continued his fine performance from the start. In two starts for the Blue Rocks Buchholz has allowed just two earned runs in 11 innings of work while striking out 16 and walking three.
|Luke Hochevar, rhp, low Class A Burlington (Royals): Though his action has been limited, it has been all systems go for the first overall pick. Hochevar has thrown nine innings over three starts and has yet to allow an earned run for the Bees.
|Andy Baldwin, rhp, high Class A Inland Empire (Mariners): Scenery change. Baldwin went 8-8, 4.04 in 147 innings at low Class A Lakewood in the Phillies system before being packaged for Jamie Moyer. In two starts at high Class A Inland Empire, the 2004 fifth-round pick went 2-0 and has yet to allow an earned run in 15 innings.
|Alexander Smit, rhp, low Class A Beloit (Twins): Smit started to blossom at the end of June this season when he moved back into the rotation. As a starter, the 20-year-old righthander is 5-0, 2.28 in 67 innings. In August alone, the native of the Netherlands is 3-0, 1.20 with a 45-15 strikeout-walk ratio.
|Glen Perkins, lhp, Double-A New Britain (Twins): Perkins was solid early in the year, but didn’t get much run support. Then he struggled for three months with an ERA over five before regaining his form again for the Rock Cats. While he has 3-11, 3.91 numbers overall, this month Perkins is 2-1, 3.70 and posted a 16-5 strikeout-walk ratio in two starts–both wins–last week.|
|Tyler Clippard, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees):
Clippard was No. 1 on this list a week ago on the heels of a no-hitter.
He had two more solid outings last week (10 innings, three runs) and
continues to recover from a disastrous start as he has won his last
|Radhames Liz, rhp, Double-A Bowie (Orioles)|
|Liz appears to be tiring in his first full season. While he still misses bats (with a 30-19 K-BB ratio this month), he’s getting a lot more contact now than, say April. Liz has given up 11 hits over his last 10 innings, and has a 7.57 ERA over his last four starts.|
|Samuel Deduno, rhp, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)|
|There’s been nothing Bullish about Sammy The Bull over his last eight innings on the mound. During that span, Deduno allowed 12 earned runs, walked 14 and whiffed just two.|
|Corwin Malone, lhp, Double-A Birmingham (White Sox)|
|Yikes. Malone, a ninth-round pick in 1999, hasn’t won since July 22, he’s allowed 18 earned runs over his last 22 innings and is 0-3, 7.43 with a 22-28 K-BB ratio in August. We’ll say it again: yikes.|
|Carlos Gonzalez, of, Double-A Tennessee (Diamondbacks)|
|One of the most exciting position players in the minors hasn’t been all that exciting since being called up to Double-A, with just five hits in his first 40 at-bats (.125). He’s still battling to get the mechanics of his swing straightened out after getting hit in the neck in the Cal League, but 5-for-40 is bad enough to earn you a spot on this list. Even if four of those hits were doubles.|
|Jose Vaquedano, rhp, Double-A Portland (Red Sox)|
|Slightly similar to Malone, Vaquedano has allowed 13 earned runs over his last eight innings and is 1-2, 6.75 with a 16-17 K-BB ratio over that stretch.|
|Charles Thomas, of, Triple-A Sacramento (Athletics)|
|Just two seasons ago Thomas hit .288/.368/.445 for the Braves and was an integral part of another one of their division titles. Then part of the package sent to Oakland for Tim Hudson, Thomas struggled with the A’s in 2005 and has been toiling in Sacramento since. If he can keep hitting like he has in August, he might soon get another shot. The 27-year-old is hitting .382 in August with eight of his nine homers and is up to .281/.354/.390 in 356 at-bats.|
|Jonathan Herrera, ss, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)|
|Herrera is quietly having a solid year in the Cal League, both offensively and defensively. Though he’s repeating the circuit, the 21-year-old Venezuelan was named the best defensive shortstop in the league in BA’s Best Tools survey, featuring good actions at the position and a plus arm. Herrera’s always hit wherever he’s been and is finishing strong, hitting .340 this month.|