See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheets
Before long, we’ll be putting the Prospect Hot Sheet in hibernation for the winter, but before we do that, there are a lot of new names to add to the Sheet. Sure, Madison Bumgarner takes his usual spot in the top 10, but we also see plenty of new young faces, including Jaff Decker, Austin Romine and Josh Vitters.
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. 15-21) getting the most consideration. The Why He’s Here line in the capsules refer to each player’s stats during that time.
Contributing: Ben Badler, Kary Booher, Jesse Burkhart, Matt Eddy, Conor Glassey, Nathan Rode, Jim Shonerd, Anthony Tynan.
|No. 1 KYLE BLANKS, 1B||PADRES|
Team:Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .480/.536/.960 (12-for-25), 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: It may be a lost season in San Diego, where the Padres have long been out of contention and unloaded Greg Maddux up the street to the Dodgers. But in the Padres system there are some encouraging storylines and they begin with Blanks, the 6-foot-6, 281-pound hoss who was a 2004 draft-and-follow from Yavapai (Ariz.) JC.
Blanks’ big week was highlighted by his 6-RBI, 5-for-7 showing Wednesday against Frisco. In that game, he ripped a double and two home runs, including the walk-off winner in the 12th inning.
Just 21, Blanks owns the eighth-best average (.313) in the Texas League as he has shown he is not a think-homer-first kind of basher. And look at his 91 RBIs. They are second, behind 25-year-old Tommy Everidge’s 108 and ahead of three others who are in their mid-20s. His 140 hits also are third-best in the league and, cementing his status has to be his home average. It’s .328, in a ballpark hardly known to be kind to hitters. Blanks’ defense also has not been lost on Texas League managers, who like his nifty foot work at first base (he’s committed five errors).
|No. 2 MADISON BUMGARNER, LHP||GIANTS|
Team:low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here:2-0, 0.00, 12 1/3 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB 22 SO
The Scoop:As if Bumgarner’s season wasn’t already great, he has a chance to take it to historic levels if he can keep it going through the season’s final week. Bumgarner has a legitimate shot at winning the South Atlantic League’s triple crown, as he leads the circuit in wins (14), ERA (1.45) and strikeouts (155). Bumgarner’s 12 1/3 shutout innings this week extended his shutout streak to 34 1/3 innings, putting him only 5 1/3 innings away from equaling the SAL record for consecutive scoreless innings of 39 2/3, set by Henry Carson in 1984. And keep in mind that the only runs Bumgarner has allowed over his last seven starts came on July 22 against Lake County, when he had a shutout through seven but tried to come back for the eighth and ended up allowing three runs. That’s it. Those are the only runs he’s given up over his last 48 1/3 innings.
|No. 3 JOSE TABATA, RF||PIRATES|
Team: Double-A Altoona (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .478/.556/.739 (11-for-23), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: What a season it’s been for Tabata, who began the year as a high-ceiling teenager already in Double-A with the Yankees. After a disappointing performance, multiple on-field incidents and scouts criticizing what they perceived as a lack of effort, Tabata is now a 20-year-old tearing it up for the Pirates. Since joining Altoona, Tabata is hitting .396/.453/.583 in 12 games, and he’s gone 4-for-4 in stolen bases. Does that erase or at least overshadow Tabata’s previous body of work this season? No. Of course not. But it is an encouraging sign.
|No. 4 ANGEL VILLALONA, 1B||GIANTS|
Team: low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .370/.370/.704 (10-for-27), 6 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: After gradually getting better over the course of the season, Villalona has taken it to another level in August. He registered a pair of three-hit games this week, is on five-game hitting streak and has driven in at least one run in five straight games as well. Villalona, who just turned 18 earlier this month, is hitting .300/.347/.500 in 70 August at-bats, and has raised his season line to .258/.305/.423. Understandably, he still more maturing to do in terms of his plate discipline, but he’s certainly looking like he’ll be ending the season on a high note.
|No. 5 AUSTIN ROMINE, C||YANKEES|
Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .450/.542/.900 (9-for-20), 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 R, 3 BB, 1 SO
The Scoop: The other half of Charleston’s catching tandem with Jesus Montero, Romine hasn’t gotten as much attention as his partner behind the dish, but he’s been more than solid in his own right. Romine was better known for his defensive tools coming out of high school as a second-round pick last year, but the Yankees believed in his bat as well and so far, their faith has been rewarded. Romine is hitting .293/.336/.430 on the year, which includes a torrid .360/.415/.533 in 75 at-bats in August. His week was highlighted by a 4-for-4 with two doubles effort last Saturday against Lakewood.
|No. 6 IVAN DeJESUS, 2B/SS||DODGERS|
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .440/.481/.600 (11-for-25), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Now rocking a 15-game hitting streak, DeJesus has all the ingredients to hit for a high average: he has quick bat speed, he puts the ball in play and he has an excellent knowledge of the strike zone. That plate discipline makes DeJesus and his .411 on-base percentage a valuable prospect as a middle infielder, whether it’s at shortstop or second base. But when a player’s slugging (.409) is less than his OBP, that’s a warning sign that more advanced pitchers might simply do a better job of attacking DeJesus, who right now is more of a singles hitter without much extra base pop. He doesn’t project to have much power, but he’s still just 21 and has the time to gain the strength needed to make him a valuable big leaguer.
|No. 7 JOSH REDDICK, CF||RED SOX|
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Why He’s Here:.438/.526/.938 (7-for-16), 2 HR, 2 2B, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 3 BB, 0 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop:A smooth lefty swing, strong wrists and a great feel for putting the barrel on the ball will get you far in this game, and Reddick is no exception. Boston’s 17th-round pick in 2006 (he homered off Team USA’s Ross Detwiler, prompting the Red Sox to sign him for $140,000), Reddick has jumped to Double-A this season after beginning the year in low Class A. He’s batted .328/.370/.569 with 22 homers and 87 RBIs in 445 at-bats along the way. While a lot of that production comes with an assist from playing in Lancaster, Reddick is starting to find his footing in Double-A—a lot like his Sea Dogs teammate Lars Anderson.
|No. 8 JORDAN SCHAFER, CF||BRAVES|
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .375/.400/.833 (9-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Whatever happened in the past that led to his 50-game suspension, the bottom line is that Schafer is now having an excellent season and still looks like a great prospect. Given the mental struggles he had to endure when he originally returned from his suspension, his performance from early in his return has to be evaluated in context. When his mind is clear, Schafer has been a beast, playing terrific defense in center field with great instincts and a plus-plus arm. After a slow start at the plate, Schafer is now batting .268/.366/.460 in 74 games, using quick bat speed and a good swing to smoke the ball to all fields. He still has some work to do staying back against offspeed pitches from lefthanders, but he has made progress in that area as well.
|No. 9 JHOULYS CHACIN, RHP||ROCKIES|
Team: high Class A Modesto (California)
Why He’s Here: 2-2, 0.00 ERA, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: The Rockies have built a recent reputation for developing pitching, from Aaron Cook to Jeff Francis to Ubaldo Jimenez, to a few. Chacin looks to be making his way, too, as the Venezuelan continues his march through A-ball. In fact, he’ll be worth following the next couple of weeks as Chacin threatens to win 20 games. The 6-foot-1 pitcher is 18-3, 2.03 with 155 strikeouts and 41 walks. And consider this nugget: He has an opponent’s average of .167 (8-for-48) with runners in scoring position.
|No. 10 JAMES SIMMONS, RHP||ATHLETICS|
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Why he’s here: 2-0, 0.63, 14 1/3 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 5 BB, 15 SO
The Scoop: Overcoming sleep apnea has turned Simmons’ season around. After scuffling through the first half, the 6-foot-3 righty has been almost untouchable in July and August, going 7-2, 2.53 through 10 starts, with 63 strikeouts and 12 walks in 68 innings. And he’s pitched for a Midland team that has lost much of its prospect core either to promotions (Aaron Cunningham, Vin Mazzaro) or to Team USA (Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson). While Simmons doesn’t have one knockout pitch, he commands four pitches for strikes and doesn’t hurt himself with home runs or walks (his five walks on the week constitute nearly 18 percent of his season total).
|No. 11 JAFF DECKER, OF||PADRES|
Team: Rookie-level Arizona League (Padres)
Why He’s Here:.318/.464/.727 (7-for-22), 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 7 R, 6 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop:Decker was a supplemental first-round pick this year out of Sunrise Mountain High in Peoria, Ariz. and was the only high school player drafted by the Padres in the first 14 rounds. A stocky left-handed hitter at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Decker packs some punch and has advanced strike-zone discipline. Over his first 42 professional games, Decker has been a machine, hitting .343/.524/.547 with nine doubles, two triples, four home runs and a league-leading 50 walks. He also runs well for his size, as he has seven stolen bases, and the Padres have been occasionally playing him in center field.
|No. 12 JOSH VITTERS, 3B||CUBS|
Team: short-season Boise (Northwest)
Why He’s Here:.333/.371/.576 (11-for-33), 4 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop:It’s been an up-and-down season for Vitters, who was sent to Boise after an injury-marred four-game stint with low Class A Peoria. But Vitters is definitely ending the season on a high note. He matched the Northwest League’s hitting streak record with a 26-game string before it was snapped with an 0-for-5 day on Wednesday. Vitters hit .372/.388/.549 during the streak, including just three walks. He started a new streak on Thursday with a home run and a double in a 2-for-5 effort.
|No. 13 CEDRIC HUNTER, CF||PADRES|
Team: high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
Why He’s Here: .351/.351/.541 (13-for-37), 7 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Hunter extended his hitting streak to 22 games until turning in an 0-for-5 performance Thursday night. With a lefty stroke geared toward contact, the young center fielder now ranks third in the California League in average. And with 30 doubles and 10 home runs, Hunter has established new personals standards in each category. In fact, he’s on pace to exceed his entire career output in both categories. Entering the season, Hunter had collected 33 doubles and nine homers in 189 pro games.
Low Class A West Virginia RF Caleb Gindl (Brewers), a fifth-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2007, ranks second in the South Atlantic League with 36 doubles. The 19-year-old hit four home runs this week, pushing his August total to five, and helping erase the sting of a homerless July. He batted .429/.467/.964 (12-for-28) with four homers, three doubles, eight RBIs and nine runs scored on the week—though he did strike out nine times and now has 136 in 128 games on the year . . . Springfield CF Daryl Jones, 21, is the hands-down breakout performer in the Cardinals system this year, as the 2005 third-round pick finally climbed out of A-ball and into Double-A. Jones, now batting leadoff thanks to a .429 on-base percentage, kept the Cardinals in the Texas League playoff chase with a .346/.469/.692 (9-for-26) week in which he hit two home runs, a double, a triple, drove in five runs, scored six times and drew six walks. Oh, and he stole a base, too . . . The guy just keeps hitting. Sure, Double-A Huntsville C Angel Salome (Brewers) does it a little differently, but .361/.415/.555 in 92 games sounds good no matter how you frame it. Salome, 22, has been equally adept at hitting lefties and righties, posting an OPS over .950 against both . . . Rookie-level GCL Nationals LHP Jack McGeary had the best start of his professional career earlier this week against the Marlins when he threw seven innings, giving up just two hits and one run. The 19-year-old didn’t walk a batter and struck out 10, but didn’t get a decision for the effort . . . The Cardinals, who have been aggressive in promoting this year’s draft picks, moved their third-round selection, SS Niko Vasquez, from the Appalachian League to the low Class A Midwest League on Thursday. Vasquez, 19, hit .476/.500/.619 this week over the two levels . . . Rookie-level Greeneville RHP Jordan Lyles (Astros), a supplemental first-round pick this year out of South Carolina’s Hartsville High, may be 17, but he sure doesn’t pitch like it. The 6-foot-4 righthander threw five one-hit innings for this week, striking out eight in the process . . . Low Class A Kannapolis SS Gordon Beckham (White Sox) has entered pro ball with a bang. The 21-year-old, the White Sox’ first-round pick, went 3-for-4 in his first professional game and had at least one hit in each of his first five pro games en route to a .435/.519/.652 (10-for-23) week.
• Nolan Reimold, rf, Orioles. If Reimold is wondering why he’s still with Double-A Bowie, he isn’t the only one. The 24-year-old prospect is batting .278/.361/.470 in 130 games this year, showing a solid feel for the strike zone with 60 walks and 77 strikeouts. Given that Reimold already spent 50 games with Bowie last season, when he clobbered the ball to get to .306/.365/.565. Clearly, he has a steady track record of success in the Eastern League. So after 180 games with Bowie, what else is there for Reimold to prove in Double-A? Well, this week didn’t help, as Reimold went 2-for-24 with no extra-base hits, two walks and seven strikeouts.
• Chris Carter, 1b/3b/rf, Athletics. No one has had a more up and down season than the 21-year-old Carter. There have been plenty of highs—he has 36 home runs, but he also goes into spells where the hits just aren’t happening. He was 1-for-25 with 13 strikeouts in the past week, though his one hit was a home run (of course) on Wednesday.
• Michael Almanzar, 3b, Red Sox. We can’t be too hard on Almanzar since he’s only 17 and is the Sally League’s youngest player. But he has had a tough time since the Red Sox promoted him to low Class A Greenville from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in mid-July. He’s hitting only .188/.231/.257 in 101 at-bats for the Drive and put up a .136/.200/.182 (3-for-22) line in six games this week.
• Anthony Hewitt, 3b, Phillies. When the Phillies drafted Hewitt, the scouting report on him made it clear that he’s a very raw hitter. We’re seeing that, as Hewitt’s week in the Gulf Coast League (0-for-13 with 10 strikeouts) shows. The 19-year-old will see some bench time until he can snap out of it, but the Phillies’ first-rounder is batting just .204/.265/.320 in his young career.
Eric Fryer, c, Brewers. The Brewers drafted Fryer, 22, as a catcher out of Ohio State in the 10th round of last year’s draft, but he initially spent most of his time this year patrolling left field after being assigned to low Class A West Virginia in early May. He was moved back behind the plate in mid-July, but his bat has been sizzling all year. His .344/.414/.527 line has him leading the South Atlantic League in average and on-base percentage and puts him third in slugging. He put together a streak of six consecutive two-hit games from August 13-18, and hit .360/.500/.640 (9-for-25) this week.
• Terry Tiffee, 1b, Team USA. Team USA’s Olympic trip won’t end as they hoped, as they were knocked off by Cuba in a semifinal game on Friday morning, but it’s not Tiffee’s fault. The Triple-A veteran hit .375 (12-for-32) with six doubles in Beijing. That’s actually right in line with his Triple-A numbers. Tiffee, 29, was hitting .375/.415/.559 for Las Vegas (Dodgers) at the time of his departure.
|DELTA CLEARY, CF||ROCKIES|
|Team: Rookie-level Casper (Pioneer)
Why He’s Here: .478/.478/.870 (11-for-23), 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 9 R,
The Scoop: Cleary, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound switch-hitter, is loaded with tools. In high school, he played baseball, was quarterback of the football team and averaged 13 points per game for Jonesboro’s 6-A state championship basketball team. Despite being regarded as the best athlete in Arkansas before the 2007 draft, Cleary was not selected and headed to Louisiana State-Eunice JC, where he helped the Bengals win their second Division II Junior College World Series in the last three years. Cleary, whose cousin is Miami Heat forward Shawn Marion, is hitting .321/.356/.554 through his first 56 professional at-bats and could end up being a 37th-round steal for the Rockies.