Prospect Hot Sheet: Aug. 26

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. 19-25.

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

No. 1 GARY BROWN, CF

GIANTS

Team: high Class A San Jose (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .556/.571/1.037 (15-for-27), 2 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 9 R, 8 RBIs, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: “Some have labeled me as a singles hitter. I don’t know where they get that from,” Brown told a media outlet from his hometown of Diamond Barr, Calif. “I’ve always felt I’ve driven the ball gap to gap.”

The Giants 2010 first-rounder made good on his personal assessment yesterday, going 5-for-5 with a pair of homers (12), a pair of doubles (30), five runs scored and four RBIs. On the year, Brown has collected a similarly-wide array of extra-base hits. He leads the Cal League with 12 triples and 170 hits, and he ranks second with 102 runs and 260 total bases. He has fallen off the pace in the stolen base department, and High Desert’s Dan Carroll now holds a 55-47 advantage on Brown heading into the final week-plus of play.

Brown’s successful full-season debut includes a .331/.400/.507 batting line through 513 at-bats. He’ll play in the Cal League playoffs, where San Jose qualifies yet again with 13 wins more than No. 2 Rancho Cucamonga.

2011
Stats

No. 2 ZACK COX, 3B

CARDINALS

Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .417/.462/.958 (10-for-24), 6 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Cox arrived in Springfield on May 25, but by the end of June he was hitting .200/.281/.283 for the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate. Since then, he’s been one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues, batting .382/.441/.565 in 49 games since July 1 with the best average among all Double-A batters during that stretch. While Cox has always earned praise for his pure hitting ability, his power manifested this week, bumping his season home run total up to 12. Cox could stand to make improvements in his ability to hit lefthanded pitchers, but he’s otherwise been an offensive force for the Cardinals.

2011
Stats

No. 3 DOMINGO SANTANA, RF

ASTROS

Team:
low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .417/.500/1.000 (10-for-24), 8 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The Astros scooped Santana from the Phillies as the player to be named in the Hunter Pence deal, adding a powerful but strikeout-prone bat to their system. The immediate returns could not be better. After hitting seven home runs in 96 games for Philadelphia’s low Class A Lakewood club, Santana went deep four times in his first nine games for the Astros’ affiliate in the same league. At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Santana has massive raw power but plenty of holes in his swing—he’s struck out 127 times in 105 games—but Houston got plenty of upside for a fourth player in a trade that injected their farm system with much-needed life.

2011
Stats

No. 4 JESUS MONTERO, C

YANKEES

Team: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .364/.391/1.000 (8-for-22), 4 HR, 2 2B, 11 RBIs, 7 R, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: No International Leaguer has more than Montero’s 10 home runs since the Triple-A all-star game. He’s batted .286/.353/.564 (38-for-133 with 14 walks and 17 extra-base hits) in that time as the prospect of big league playing time grows more intense. Montero victimized Twins farmhands for all four of his longballs this week, blasting a three-run shot off Jake Stevens and a solo shot off Cole DeVries in Rochester on Sunday. Yesterday, he connected for two-run pokes at home in Moosic, Pa., against Stevens (again) and Dusty Hughes. DeVries is the only righthander in the bunch, which hints at Montero’s platoon issues this season. He’s smashed nine homers and slugged .655 versus IL southpaws, while hitting eight homers and slugging .392 against righthanders. Montero was more even-handed for Scranton last season, so this may be a statistical blip.

2011
Stats

No. 5 DREW HUTCHISON, RHP

BLUE JAYS

Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern) / high Class A Dunedin (Florida State)

Age: 20

Why He’s
Here:
2-0, 0.90, 2 GS, 10 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Few players have come as far in one year as Hutchison, who began the year as an intriguing sleeper prospect and now has performed as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. This week’s stat line includes Hutchison’s Double-A debut (he started the season in low Class A) in which he threw five scoreless innings. On a performance basis, Hutchison has thrust his name into a talented group of Double-A Jays prospects that includes the highly-regarded Travis d’Arnaud and Anthony Gose.

2011
Stats

No. 6 TYLER SKAGGS, LHP

DIAMONDBACKS

Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 1.00, 1 GS, 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 7 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: With the exception of perhaps Matt Moore or Julio Teheran, no pitching prospect has progressed farther this season than Skaggs. First, he tamed the California League with a 3.22 ERA and strikeout rate of 11.2 per nine innings in 17 starts for high Class A Visalia. Skaggs’ peripherals stayed intact after a jump to Double-A at age 20. His strikeout-to-walk ratio for Mobile is 4.5-to-1, and he ranks fourth in the minors with 179 strikeouts as the youngest hurler in the group. After being drummed for eight runs in his first two Double-A starts, Skaggs hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his six subsequent starts, a run culminating in that nine-inning gem you see above. In that time he has a 1.46 ERA and 42-to-8 strikeout-to-walk over 37 innings.

2011
Stats

No. 7 EDDIE ROSARIO, CF

TWINS

Team: Rookie-level Elizabethton (Appalachian)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .400/.455/1.067 (12-for-30), 10 R, 1 3B, 6 HR, 13 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Third baseman/shortstop Miguel Sano is the star of the E-Twins, and with good reason. He’s a teenager with wicked power. But for all that, you could argue that Rosario, a fourth-rounder from Puerto Rico in 2010, is having an even better year. After his home run binge this week, Rosario now leads the Appalachian League and all short-season leagues with 19 home runs, and he also has some wheels, which explains his league-leading seven triples. As you would expect, his 160 total bases also leads the league.

2011
Stats

No. 8 JULIO RODRIGUEZ, RHP

PHILLIES

Team: high Class A Clearwater (Florida State)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 14 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop: Rodriguez is the least heralded member of Clearwater’s prospect-heavy rotation, but he might be having the best year. Rodriguez leads the Florida State League in wins (16) and opponent average (.191) and ranks second to teammate Trevor May in strikeouts (150). He doesn’t throw as hard as his Threshers rotation mates, but Rodriguez generates plenty of deception on his high-80s fastball and has a feel for changing speeds that belies his age. He turns 21 on Aug. 29. Rodriguez, an eighth-round pick out of Puerto Rico in 2008, won seven straight starts at one point, and he has the best ERA in the FSL since the start of July, having gone 8-1, 1.93 in 10 starts over that span. He’s also working on a 16-inning scoreless streak dating back to his Aug. 12 start.

2011
Stats

No. 9 BILLY HAMILTON, SS

REDS

Team: low Class A Dayton (Midwest)

Age: 20

Why He’s
Here:
.452/.454/.514 (14-for-31), 10 R, 1 2B, 4 RBIs, 4 BB, 9 SO, 11-for-12 SB.

The Scoop: An amazing thing happened on Thursday night. Billy Hamilton reached first base and stayed planted right there. Of course, with a man on second, he didn’t have much of a choice, but it was still notable, as it was the first time in eight games that he didn’t steal a base. With the season wrapping up, maybe the most notable part of Hamilton’s season is how he’s finishing strong—he’s hitting almost 70 points better in the second half of the season than the first. Stealing 92 bases will take something out of even the strongest player, and Hamilton is notable for his skinny, wiry build. But through all the bumps and bruises, Hamilton has been in the lineup nearly every day. He is second in the Midwest League with 125 games played, and his 91 runs scored lead the league. Follow along as he races for 100 stolen bases.

2011
Stats

No. 10 STARLING MARTE, CF

PIRATES

Team: Double-A Altoona (Eastern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .419/.486/.742 (13-for-31) 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB

The Scoop: A year ago, Marte still had a lot to prove. Could he hit enough to be a regular? Would his approach play against more advanced Double-A pitchers? Would his strikeouts prove to be too much of a problem? Right now, he has to worry less about the big problems and more about the minor details. Before he’s ready to be a big leaguer, he needs to improve his base stealing acumen. He’ll have to draw a few more walks to improve his already solid on-base percentage, and he’ll need to continue to let his developing power play in game situations. But at this point, there is little question that Marte is one of the Pirates’ top prospects, and he can be expected to be a big league regular by some point in 2013. A strong finish to the season and a spot on the Eastern League all-star team is just reinforcement that he’s on the right track.

2011
Stats

No. 11 JARRED COSART, RHP

ASTROS

Team:   Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.75, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 7 SO, 22/4 G/F

The Scoop: Outside of one disastrous outing, Cosart has pitched like the front-line arm the Astros wanted as one of the centerpieces of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies. Promoted from high Class A to Double-A after changing organizations, the Texas native was roughed up in his second start back in his home state, giving up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings on Aug. 7. Other than that, Cosart’s been all but untouchable. In his other four Corpus Christi starts, Cosart has pitched 24 innings and allowed all of two runs on 13 hits. While his strikeout numbers haven’t been what you’d expect from a power arm, Cosart’s been inducing groundouts by the bushel, including 12 in a six-inning start on Wednesday against Midland, the team that hammered him previously.

2011
Stats

No. 12 LEON LANDRY, CF

DODGERS

Team:  low Class A Great Lakes (Midwest)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .500/.571/.667 (12-for-24), 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 R, 2 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Landry’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but the Loons’ center fielder has played well in the second half, batting .299/.343/.438 with 10 steals, 13 walks and 19 extra-base hits in 53 games. The Dodgers have taken things slow with their 2010 third-round pick from Louisiana State, letting the leadoff man learn through repetition. Landry’s development path offers the perfect contrast to Jared Mitchell’s rush through the White Sox system. Mitchell, of course, also starred at LSU as a tooled-up, but raw, center fielder before going to Chicago with the 23rd pick in the 2009 draft. Mitchell currently is struggling to get back on track in high Class A this season after missing all of 2010 with an ankle injury.

2011
Stats

No. 13 DAYAN VICIEDO, RF

WHITE SOX

Team: Triple-A Charlotte (International)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .360/.393/.760 (9-for-25), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Viciedo underwhelmed in his first two years, posting a .277/.313/.432 career line in the minor leagues. He showed raw power, sure, but his .308 OBP in Triple-A a year ago was alarming for a tank engine who scouts projected as a future first baseman in the near future. Viciedo has changed some opinions this season, hitting .297/.365/.492 in 118 games. Charlotte is among the more hitter-friendly parks in the International League, but he’s even hit a tick better on the road (.311/.380/.502) than he has at home (.284/.351/.483). Now playing right field, Viciedo isn’t exactly going to be Ichiro 2.0 with the glove, but his overall turnaround has been a pleasant development in a farm system that could use some help.

2011
Stats

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

A White Sox fourth-round pick in 2009, RHP Matt Heidenreich needed two years in rookie ball before he was deemed ready for a full-season assignment this year. The 20-year-old took his lumps in the first half, going 4-5, 4.63 in 13 starts for low Class A Kannapolis, but he’s been a different pitcher in the second half. Heidenreich allowed no earned runs in two starts this week, notching 11 strikeouts while dealing with 12 baserunners in 12 1/3 innings to push his second-half record to 6-3, 3.67 through 12 turns. His strikeout-to-walk ratio registers at nearly 4-to-1 in the second half, and he ranks fourth among South Atlantic League starters with a ground-to-flyout ratio of 1.73 on the season . . . It was probably too much, too soon when the Dodgers promoted LF/1B Jerry Sands
to the big leagues in April, when he had only a half season above low Class A under his belt. The 23-year-old has gone through his ups and down with Triple-A Albuquerque since being sent down in June, but he’s looking like he’ll finish the minor league season on a high note. Sands has hit 10 homers in August, giving him 27 Triple-A homers, and he hit three this week as part of a .393/.419/.857 (11-for-26) performance at home in Albuquerque . . . The Athletics’ acquisition of Brandon Allen and Allen’s subsequent hot streak for the big league club may have lit a fire under Chris Carter. The 24-year-old first baseman has had an unremarkable season for Triple-A Sacramento, but he’s turned it on lately, riding a seven-game hitting streak and batting .333/.444/.833 with four home runs this week . . .
Nationals lefthander Tom Milone has had to prove himself at every stop,
but the 24-year-old may have pitched his way into the team’s plans with a fine season at Triple-A Syracuse. Milone has lost only once
since June 18, running his record to 11-6, 3.33, and he won both his starts this week, limiting opponents to three runs on 12 hits in 13 2/3 innings, with an 18-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio . . . One of the breakout stories beneath the full-season leagues, Mariners RHP Jose Vicente Campos allowed one earned run in 14 innings this week for short-season Everett, posting a 19-2 K-BB mark along the way. Campos, 19, lowered his ERA to 2.12 through 76 1/3 innings, flashing a low-to-mid 90s fastball and improving secondary pitches . . . Marlins LF Christian Yelich hit .400/.531/.680 this week for low Class A Greensboro, going 10-for-25 with a pair of doubles, a triple and a home run. Yelich, 19, has thrived in the friendly confines of Greensboro, hitting .311/.387/.479 overall but with a more modest .288/.346/.429 line on the road . . . Saddled with two losses this week, high Class A Brevard County RHP Tyler Thornburg nevertheless pitched effectively. The 22-year-old allowed five runs (four earned) in 14 innings for a 2.57 ERA, but he also struck out 19 batters while allowing 10 baserunners, including just two walks. The Brewers 2010 third-rounder is finishing his full-season debut on a high note. Thornburg sports a 35-to-9 strikeout-to-walk over 26 innings in August. He’s allowed just 14 hits.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Kyle Drabek, rhp, Blue Jays & Mike Montgomery, lhp, Royals. Some organizations go out of their way to limit exposure by top pitching prospects to the Pacific Coast League, where breaking balls tend not to break so much, the thin air promotes long drives and the hard-packed infields are conducive to seeing-eye singles. The Blue Jays and Royals are not two of those organizations. The Triple-A season can’t end soon enough for Drabek (seven runs in 10 innings) and Montgomery (eight runs in 11 innings), both of whom made two starts in the PCL this week and ran up ERAs north of 10.00. The second-half numbers are gruesome. For Drabek: 6.33 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 0.85 strikeout-to-walk in nine starts. For Montgomery: 5.88 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 2.22 strikeout-to-walk (OK, so it’s not all gruesome) in nine starts.

Derek Norris, c, Nationals. Norris actually leads the Double-A Eastern League in at-bats-per-home run (17.00), having hit 18 long balls in 306 at-bats, but that’s about the only good thing about his season from an offensive standpoint. The 22-year-old has struggled to handle the more advanced breaking pitches of Double-A hurlers, racking up 106 strikeouts in 94 games for Harrisburg. His .199 average for the season is the worst among qualifying EL hitters, having sunk below the Mendoza Line after he went 1-for-20 with 10 strikeouts this week.

Sebastian Valle, c, Phillies. Thanks to his work behind the plate and his power potential, Valle has a bright future. But thanks to his desire to hit anything and everything thrown anywhere around the plate, Valle is going to have weeks like this one where he hit .143/.143/.182 (3-for-21). As he matures physically and gets out of the power-suppressing parks of the Florida State League, expect to see Valle’s home-run numbers pick up significantly from the five he has right now. But if he doesn’t learn to let a pitch or two out of the zone go by, he’s always going to have problems with his on-base percentage.

Cito Culver, ss, Staten Island (Yankees). It’s Culver’s 19th birthday today, so we’ll try to be nice. Culver’s first pro season has been a success. He’s hit a bit more than was anticipated, and he’s helping Staten Island to a 40-24 record and likely playoff spot. But Culver’s starting to wear down as the season closes in on 70 games. He has just three hits in his last eight games, a 3-for-34 slump since the league’s all-star break that has dropped his OPS from .745 to .678. Culver’s made 15 errors this season but early reports on his defense have been positive.

MAN AMONG BOYS

Charlie Haeger, rhp, Red Sox. Most pitchers work in an analog world. They try to pitch on the edges of the strike zone. It’s all about refinement, getting a little closer to hitting the spot you want to hit, much like trying to fine tune a radio station on an antique radio dial. Knuckleballers work in a digital world. All that matters is if the knuckleball is working or not. Think of it as a switch being on or off. While with Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners system this year, Haeger’s knuckleball wasn’t working. He went 2-2, 7.74 with more walks than innings. But since latching on with the Red Sox in late July and moving down to Double-A Portland, the switch has been turned back on. The knuckler is dancing again and he’s 3-0. 2.75 through six starts. Even as a 27-year-old, Haeger can comfort himself in the knowledge that a knuckleballer can pitch for decades and many of them get a late start in the big leagues. But he also has to know that for every Tim Wakefield, there are multiple Charlie Zinks.

BLAST FROM THE
PAST

Jeremy Hermida, of, Louisville (Reds). Hermida ranked fourth on BA’s 2006 Top 100 Prospects list, coming off a .293/.457/.518 season at Double-A Carolina as a 21-year-old that included 111 walks, 23 stolen bases in 25 attempts and 18 home runs. He seemed destined for stardom with the Marlins, and his 2007 season with the Marlins was no joke—.296/.369/.501 with 18 homers. But Hermida’s ability to draw walks in the minors led to deep counts and more strikeouts in the major leagues, and his early work proved to be his best. On his fourth organization in three years, Hermida garnered just 18 big league at-bats with the Reds this season. He remains on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster, so now he’s trying to earn a September callup, going 13-for-27 for Louisville in the last week with a pair of home runs. Hermida’s overall season numbers—.316/.397/.524—look impressive, but he’s still not controlling the strike zone (44 walks, 94 strikeouts in 380 at-bats) like he used to. His swing has lengthened over the years from the pure, short stroke that earned comparisons with George Brett out of high school as the 11th pick in the 2002 draft. At least Hermida’s become a good Triple-A player, but in a loaded Reds outfield, the 27-year-old likely will need a new organization to get another extended big league shot.

HELIUM WATCH

Edwin Carl, rhp, Royals. For an undrafted free agent from New Mexico, Edwin Carl has done pretty well for himself in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. As we explained in a Prospect Bulletin yesterday, Carl’s season is one of the best any reliever has put together this year. He’s striking out more than 19 batters per nine innings, including a current stretch of 16 strikeouts, two hits and no walks or runs in his past six innings for Idaho Falls, where he also spent last season. Carl has solid stuff (a 91-93 mph fastball and solid secondary pitches), so he’s not necessarily a fluke. But we”ll have to see how the 23-year-old fares when he gets a chance to face more advanced hitters next season. Thanks to his work this year, he’ll get that chance.

Minors | #2011 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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