In honor of the Olympic qualifying tournament won by Team USA, we have even included an international edition of the Team Photo
Thanks for reading the Hot Sheet all season, and get ready for our league top 20s, which we will begin to unveil later this month.
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)
|For a third straight week, a Yankee leads the Hot Sheet–after righthander Tyler Clippard topped the list two weeks ago, Hughes climbed into the No. 1 spot and remains there again this time around. Though he’s been limited by a strict pitch count since the all-star break, the 20-year-old has put up ridiculous numbers–the most stellar of which came in August when he finished the regular season 4-0, 0.60 with a 40-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 30 innings. Now, Hughes gets the ball in the opener of Trenton’s postseason run tonight, facing Portland righthander Devern Hansack. On the season, Hughes finished 12-6, 2.16 in 146 innings between high Class A Tampa and the Thunder.|
|2. Tim Lincecum, rhp, Giants (High Class A San Jose)|
|Drafted out of Washington with the reputation for being able to miss bats, Lincecum has lived up to his rep in his brief pro career. Since the beginning of August the 22-year-old has 48 strikeouts in 28 innings and has allowed just 13 hits and 12 walks.|
|3. Alex Gordon, 3b, Royals (Double-A Wichita)|
|We are running out of things to write about the guy, he has just been that good. Now, the real question is what his nickname should be? Is he Commissioner Gordon from Batman fame or The Fisherman, an homage to the Gorton’s Fisherman?|
|4. Bill Rowell, 3b, Orioles (short-season Aberdeen)|
|Finished his season with a flurry by hitting .389/.439/.583 after a late promotion to the New York-Penn League, and he doesn’t turn 18 until next week. For the sake of Orioles fans, let’s hope his first full season goes better then that of Brandon Snyder, their first pick from the 2005 draft.|
|5. Cyle Hankerd, of, Diamondbacks (High Class A Lancaster)|
|Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Recent draftee, corner outfielder from a high-profile college, drafted by the Diamondbacks early, has a ridiculous debut season. Hankerd hit eight homers in 18 Cal League games and had a gaudy 1.020 OPS and 12 homers in 281 at-bats in his pro debut. Let’s see if he can progress better than 2004 draftee Jon Zeringue, who had a similarly impressive debut that season in Lancaster (.335/.374/.552, 10 homers in 230 at-bats).|
|6. Nate Schierholtz, of, Giants (Double-A Connecticut)|
|Schierholtz redeemed himself after hitting just .175 in May by finishing out the season hitting a loud .376 and adding an even noisier eight home runs in August. While the second-round pick in 2003 hit for a lower average than he did in his pro career, he nearly equaled his home run total from last season at high Class A San Jose–though his overall numbers were understandably down from last year in the Cal League. In 470 at-bats, Schierholtz batted .270/.325/.443.|
|7. Andrew McCutchen, of, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)|
|Heads were scratching when the Pirates had him skip high Class A, but McCutchen is making the organization look good once again. The 19-year-old ended up hitting .308/.379/.474 in 78 at-bats with the Curve|
|8. Josh Outman, lhp, Phillies (Low Class A Lakewood)|
|Has there ever been a more appropriate name for a pitcher then Outman? Though his lone September start was poor, he deserves props for his outrageous August in which he was 5-0, 0.28 in leading the BlueClaws to their first postseason appearance.|
|9. Jimmy Barthmaier, rhp, Astros (High Class A Salem)|
|“When I talk to him, I don’t call him Jimmy,” Avalanche pitching coach Stan Boroski says. “I call him James. Jimmy sounds too much like a little kid–and there isn’t anything little about him.” OK, so let’s call him James then, since nothing has been little about the numbers Barthmaier put up over his last month. In 31 innings, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander went 5-0, 1.15. Tonight, Barthmaier will start Game 1 of the playoffs for the Avalanche at home against Kinston and lefthander Chuck Lofgren.|
|10. Jonathan Meloan, rhp, Dodgers (Double-A Jacksonville)|
|All Meloan did was dominate at low Class A Columbus, then deal at high Class A Vero Beach and now give the Suns bullpen a shot in the arm down the stretch in their quest for back-to-back Southern League titles. Split across those three levels this season, the 22-year-old righthander went 3-1, 1.90 with 91 strikeouts in 52 innings.|
|Frank Montieth, rhp, Cuba: Montieth, 21, announced himself as one of Cuba’s up-and-coming talents in the 2003 World Junior Championships, striking out 17 Americans in 7 2/3 innings to help Cuba win the gold medal. A pitcher for Industriales in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he made his most significant splash on Cuba’s main national team in the Olympic qualifier, dominating in two scoreless starts, striking out 15 and walking two while giving up just two hits (both singles). With an average 88-91 mph fastball and plus curve, Montieth could be Cuba’s next great ace pitcher.
|Emerson Frostad, c, Canada (Rangers): Frostad was having a breakout year at high Class A Bakersfield, hitting safely in his final seven games to bring his season totals to .320/.389/.553 in just 291 at-bats. The 23-year-old moved from third base to catcher this year, and he has kept hitting, including in the Olympic qualifier. He hit .421, second on Canada to Mariners farmhand Michael Saunders, but also hit two home runs to lead the team.|
|Zach Segovia, rhp, Team USA (Phillies): Segovia was tied for the minor league lead with 16 victories, and that was before leaving for Team USA duty. He then went out and won two more games in Cuba, giving him 18 for the year (though these stats are kind of like college bowl game stats; they don’t count into your regular season total). Segovia’s consistent: He doesn’t strike out many in the minors (116 in 156 IP) or internationally (6 K’s in 11 IP).|
|Kurt Suzuki, c, Team USA (Athletics): Kudos to the A’s for letting Suzuki go play for Team USA, even though he was hurt in early August and Double-A Midland teammate and fellow catcher Jed Morris was sidelined by cancer. Suzuki made the most of the opportunity, belting a game-winning homer and batting .455 overall for the tournament, second-best on Team USA.|
|Jorge Alberto Vazquez, 1B/DH, Mexico (Mexico City Tigers): Vazquez,
24, is one of Mexico’s top young hitters, belting 31 homers during the
regular season (slugging .739) and adding four more in the postseason,
as the Tigers reached the Mexican League semifinals. The
righthanded-hitting Vazquez still had his power stroke in Cuba, belting
four homers (including two in the final game against Panama) to help
Mexico finish in third place.
|J.R. Towles, c, Astros (low Class A Lexington): With a strong finish, Towles solidified his status as the top catching prospect in the South Atlantic League. Towles hit .455 with three homers over the final week of the season to finish with a line of .317/.382/.525 in 284 at-bats.
|Clay Buchholz, rhp, Red Sox (High Class A Wilmington): Buchholz handled the promotion to the Carolina League with aplomb. In his three starts for the Blue Rocks the 22-year-old finished 2-0, 1.13 with a 23-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 16 innings.
|Philip Humber, rhp, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): There are always questions surrounding pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery, and Humber has handled them all thus far. The 23-year-old went 2-0, 0.75 in his final two starts of the season for the B-Mets and was rewarded with a September callup, though it is unclear how much he will actually get to pitch fro the Mets.|
|Reid Brignac, ss, Devil Rays (Double-A Montgomery): The California League MVP held his own as a 20-year-old after being promoted to Double-A, hitting an even .300 with a .473 slugging percentage in just 110 at-bats. Brignac fell one RBI shy of hitting the century mark on the season, but answered the bell as a teenager in the Midwest League last season and did it again–this time at two levels in 2006. “When you see Brignac and (Montgomery third baseman Evan) Longoria over there, you’re looking at a preview of the left side of a major league infield,” Birmingham manager Chris Cron said. “Those two guys are players. I know they haven’t been here long at all, but those are two of the best players I’ve seen in this league all season.”|
|Tyler Greene, ss, Cardinals (Low Class A Quad Cities): After a disastrous stint in the Florida State League, Greene salvaged his season by hitting .287/.375/.552 for the Swing. His final week was a perfect finish for the Georgia Tech alum as he hit .400 with three homers to bring his MWL total to 15.
|Adam Lind, of, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire): The reigning Eastern League MVP moved on to Triple-A, hit .394/.496/.596 in 109 at-bats, then got promoted north of the border. In his last week in Triple-A, Lind hit five bombs, drove in 17 runs and batted .402. Overall, the 23-year-old hit .330/.394/.556 in 457 at-bats.
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b, Indians (Triple-A Buffalo): Sure, Kouzmanoff made history hitting a grand slam in his first major league at-bat, then homered in his second big league game the next day–but does that really take away the sting of losing the minor league batting crown to Dodgers first baseman James Loney by .001??? Signs point to yes. But at least now with the bump in pay, Kouzmanoff can afford to buy himself a new phone. Prior to his callup, the 25-year-old third baseman’s cell phone died and he had to buy calling cards to field congratulatory calls. Anyway, Kouzmanoff’s last week in the minors was his typical deal–batted .352, hit four homers and drove in 15.
|Ryan Braun, 3b, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): Braun finished on a roll, hitting .455 with a pair of homers. The fifth overall pick in 2005 out of Miami, Braun put up much better numbers than his first half in the Florida State League. Since he was called up to Double-A, Braun batted .303/.367/.589 and more than doubled his home run total in the FSL. “He might not be a third baseman, but he’s got unbelievable raw power,” a scout with an American League club said.
|Carlos Gonzalez, of, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee): Gonzalez struggled early into his promotion from the California League to Double-A, and was still feeling the after-effects of being hit in the neck with a pitch a week before he was called up. The sting of getting hit lingered through his first several weeks with the Smokies, as Gonzalez struggled with his timing and what he said felt like a ‘pinched nerve’ in his neck. But as his comfort level increased, so did his performance. After starting out in a 3-for-23 slump, Gonzalez’s final week looked more like the player everyone expects: .381 with a pair of homers in 21 at-bats.|
|Jake Fox, c, Cubs (Double-A West Tenn): A third-round pick out of Michigan in 2003, Fox made it to Double-A this season after spending all of last year–and half of this season–at high Class A Daytona. This has been a breakout year for Fox, who never hit higher than .287 in a season (low Class A Lansing, 2004). In 442 at-bats, Fox hit .294/.350/.514–with probably his most impressive stat being the 16 home runs he put up in the FSL.|
|Bobby Hill, 2b, Team USA (Padres)|
|Hill was a decorated prep from the Bay Area, a top college player at Miami (leading the Hurricanes to the 1999 College World Series title) and thought to be a sure-fire big leaguer. The Scott Boras client even held out for a year and played in the independent Atlantic League before re-entering the draft in 2001. While he was a Cub, though, that boy wasn’™t quite right, and he never panned out for the Pirates (he was part of their payment in the Aramis Ramirez trade) either. But the 28-year-old was everything Team USA could have hoped for in Cuba, hitting .522 while drawing 10 walks, posting an absurd .667 on-base percentage. Take a bow, Bobby.|