Prospect Hot Sheet: Aug. 31

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 Aug. 24-30.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Conor Glassey, Jim Shonerd and intern Andrew Krause.

No. 1 WILMER FLORES, 3B

METS
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .481/.517/.889 (13-for-27), 4 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: With international prospects, the key word is patience. We live in a golden era of prospect information, perhaps no more evident than in the scouting reports we now have on international amateur prospects—but it’s imperative to remember that the path of Jurickson Profar or Starlin Castro zooming to the big leagues is incredibly rare. Take Flores, whose name has appeared on the pages of Baseball America since he was 15. One of the top international prospects in 2007, Flores signed with the Mets out of Venezuela for $700,000 on his 16th birthday, then made a huge splash the next year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he hit .310/.352/.490 in 59 games playing most of the season as a 16-year-old. By the time Flores was 18, the Mets had already pushed him to high Class A St. Lucie.

Yet when the 2012 season opened, Flores still found himself in St. Lucie. He had struggled the previous year, but at 20, he was still one of the youngest players in the league and had the same preternatural hand-eye coordination that drew the Mets to him. Now the breakout has arrived. After a strong first half in the Florida State League, Flores got the bump to Double-A in June and has hit .323/.374/.506 in 62 games for Binghamton. His power has surged, with his 17 home runs nearly doubling his total of nine from a year ago. The Mets have shuffled Flores around this year at third base, second and first, with third base likely the perfect-world scenario given that he has the arm strength for the position but not nearly enough range to profile at second. So while it may seem like Flores has been a prospect forever, just remember that he just turned 21 a few weeks ago.

Wilmer Flores Player Card

No. 2 DARIN RUF, 1B

PHILLIES

Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)

Age: 25.

Why He’s Here: .500/.600/1.208 (12-for-24), 6 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Many players in the minors are higher-profile prospects than Ruf. Many will have better big league careers. Yet not one of them has had a better month than the one “Babe” Ruf will finish up tonight. He hit his fifth home run of the week and his 20th of the month last night, giving him a minor league-leading 38th homer, one more than the Reading club record set by Ryan Howard. While we’ll never know who had the most home runs in a month in the minors, the most ever in the big leagues was Sammy Sosa’s 20 in June 1998, Ruf could top that with a home run tonight. Considering he’s hit 20 homers in the past 28 games, the chances he’ll go deep actually seem pretty good.

Darin Ruf Player Card

No. 3 SONNY GRAY, RHP

ATHLETICS

Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.93, 2 GS, 14 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Oakland’s first-round pick in 2011, Gray rebounded nicely from a rather pedestrian first three months (2-6, 4.72) with strong performances in July (3-1, 3.34) and August (1-2, 3.77). After struggling to pitch deep into games early in the season, the Vanderbilt product has pitched at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts. This week Gray fired off back-to-back quality starts, striking out nine over six innings against Corpus Christi and following up with a dominant outing (eight innings, four hits, one earned run, one walk, six strikeouts) against San Antonio on Wednesday.

Sonny Gray Player Card

No. 4 ANDREW CHAFIN, LHP

DIAMONDBACKS

Team: high Class A Visalia (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.50, 2 GS, 12 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 14 SO, 5 BB

The Scoop: It’s been a tale of two seasons for Chafin. The lefty dominated with a power fastball and quality slider in the first half, leading the Cal League in strikeouts and ranking sixth in ERA at the end of May with a 3-0, 2.91 mark. But then Chafin lost the strike zone, going into a prolonged funk that saw him go 1-6, 10.26 in June and July while walking 33 in 33 1/3 innings. Arizona sent to the bullpen for a stint, but Chafin got back into the Visalia rotation on Aug. 14. After all his travails, he looks like he’ll end the season on a high note. He turned in two strong starts this week, including seven innings of one-run ball against Bakersfield on Wednesday. He induced 11 groundouts and struck out eight in that game, and he’s climbed back up to third on the Cal League strikeout list with 143 in 115 innings.

Andrew Chafin Player Card

No. 5 JEFF LOCKE, LHP

PIRATES

Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 10 2/3 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Few farm systems this year have improved as much as the Pirates, and that’s even without having signed first-rounder Mark Appel. Much of that is due to the emergence of young Dominican talent, such as outfielder Gregory Polanco and shortstop Alen Hanson at low Class A, but Locke has steadily raised his status with his mastery of Triple-A hitters. Opponents don’t have to get their bats started early against Locke’s fastball the way they do against Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon, but the lefty’s ability to locate his fastball to the edges of the plate and keep hitters off balance by mixing a solid array of offspeed pitches has made him effective. He could step into Pittsburgh’s starting rotation next season with a chance to be a solid starter in the middle or back of a rotation.

Jeff Locke Player Card

No. 6 EDDIE ROSARIO, 2B/CF

TWINS

Team: low Class A Beloit (Midwest)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .355/.375/.742 (11-for-31), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: His season was interrupted by a batting-practice line drive that caused significant facial injuries, but besides that rather frightening and painful intermission, it’s been an outstanding season for Rosario. Shifted to second base before the season, he’s shown enough potential there for scouts to believe that he could stick at the position. At the plate, he’s pretty polished for a player in his first full-season exposure, as he’s shown the ability to hit for average, draw a walk and hit for some power. He has been a nightmare stealing bases (10-for-21 this year), but that’s about the only real problem with an excellent season—well besides the line drive that hit him in the face.

Eddie Rosario Player
Card

No. 7 JULIO TEHERAN, RHP

BRAVES

Team: Triple-A Gwinnett (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-2, 1.88, 14 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 HR, 15 SO, 4 BB, 2 HBP

The Scoop: Teheran appeared invincible as he climbed the minor league ladder, capturing No. 1 prospect honors in the Appalachian (2009) and Carolina (2010) leagues, then finishing runner-up to Matt Moore in the International League last year. But while Teheran nearly captured the IL’s ERA title (2.55) a year ago as a 20-year-old, he needed a late surge with Gwinnett this season just to avoid doubling that average (5.08). He closed out his season on a positive note, striking out six and allowing two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings versus Pawtucket—the probable IL wild card winners—on Thursday. The time before he whiffed nine and held Syracuse to one run on two hits over eight innings.

Julio Teheran Player Card

No. 8 TREVOR STORY, SS

ROCKIES

Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .455/.478/.818 (10-for-22), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: After being picked 45th overall in the 2011 draft, Story started off hitting well and hasn’t looked back. The No. 1 prospect in the Pioneer League last year, he flashes five above-average tools and ought to rank high on the South Atlantic League list this year. After all, he leads the league with 41 doubles and is third in the league with 18 home runs. Story, one of the few teen regulars in the league, did his damage this week against a couple legit prospects. His home run came off of Red Sox righthander Noe Ramirez and one of his doubles came against Mets righthander Domingo Tapia.

Trevor Story Player Card

No. 9 LUIS MATEO, RHP

METS

Team: short-season Brooklyn (New York-Penn)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.64, 14 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop: Yes, Mateo’s a little older than you’d like to see from a prospect who hasn’t hit full-season ball yet, but don’t get too hung up on the age. Since 2008, Mateo went nearly four years without being able to get his contract approved, first with the Giants over bone chips in his elbow and then a deal with the Padres that fell apart over age issues. Mateo finally signed with the Mets last year, carved up Dominican Summer League hitters and now is doing the same in his U.S. debut. The numbers are hard to ignore—a 2.45 ERA in 73 1/3 innings with 10.4 strikeouts and 1.1 walks per nine innings—and he has the stuff to back it up with a mid-90s fastball and a solid slider that can miss bats.

Luis Mateo Player Card

No. 10 TAYLOR GUERRIERI, RHP

RAYS

Team: short-season Hudson Valley (New York-Penn)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.90, 2 GS, 10 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 11 SO, 0 BB

The Scoop: Guerrieri would lead the New York-Penn League in ERA at 1.15 if he’d logged enough innings to be eligible, but he hasn’t been permitted to go more than five innings in any of his 11 starts and thus has just 47 innings this year, about 13 shy of the target. Nonetheless, some of Guerrieri’s numbers are downright video game-esque. He has a 41-to-2 strikeout-walk ratio, hasn’t allowed a home run all season and has held opposing batters to a paltry .193 average. And of course, it’s all the more impressive that he’s been able to do this as a 19-year-old against mostly older competition.

Taylor Guerrieri Player Card

No. 11 VICTOR SANCHEZ, RHP

MARINERS

Team: short-season Everett (Northwest)

Age: 17

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 8 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: Nothing about Sanchez seems like a 17-year-old. Listed at 6 feet, 255 pounds, he has the strength and look of a young bull on the mound. And while Sanchez has a low-90s fastball, he’s not just a bruiser on the mound. He pitched on multiple Venezuelan international travel teams before he signed with the Mariners last year for $2.5 million, and his experience shows. He mixes his stuff and location well for his age, doesn’t get rattled and has proven durable so far. He trails the Northwest League leader by just one-third of an inning. Sanchez lacks the physical projection of your typical highly-touted teen pitcher, but he has the present stuff and feel for pitching that are worth getting excited about.

Victor Sanchez Player Card

No. 12 JAE-HOON HA, CF

CUBS

Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .423/.423/.731 (11-for-26), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: While many players tend to fade down the stretch during a long, hot summer, Ha has steadily improved. He hit .300/.398/.429 in July and has been on fire so far in August, batting .316/.422/.500 for the month. A catcher as an amateur, Ha has turned himself into a fine defensive outfielder and did his damage this week while spending time at all three outfield positions.

Jae-Hoon Ha Player Card

No. 13 MIKE O’NEILL, LF/CF

CARDINALS

Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)

Age: 24

Why He’s
Here:
.682/.708/.864 (15-for-22), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO

The Scoop: The peskiest leadoff hitter in the minors was promoted to Double-A Springfield two weeks ago. The Cardinals watched with interest to see if O’Neill would be able to work counts, hit line drives and draw walks against more advanced pitchers. So far, so good. O’Neill has walked seven times in 12 games while striking out twice. He’s also stolen three bases in three tries. For the season, O’Neill now has 77 walks and 26 strikeouts, a nearly 3-to-1 ratio that is the best in the minors over the past five seasons

Mike O’Neill Player Card

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Greensboro can inflate a pitcher’s ERA, but 21-year-old Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney has shown plenty of positives in his pro debut. The ninth overall pick in June, Heaney struck out 16 without issuing a walk in 10 2/3 innings for a 3.38 ERA this week. His 4.95 ERA overall through four starts in the low Class A South Atlantic League is up there, but the 21-4 K-BB mark and the abundance of groundballs he’s getting are encouraging . . . After his prospect stock appeared to be tanking a year ago, Brewers 1B Hunter Morris has rebounded with a big year in Double-A Huntsville. With another big week, Morris, 23, is now hitting .295/.350/.548 in 133 games with 26 home runs, the most in the Southern League . . . Brewers RF Caleb Gindl hit .307/.390/.492 in 126 games last year as a 22-year-old in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, but he hasn’t hit as well (.262/.318/.425 in 125 games) upon his return to the league. He pulled off a rare feat this week by collecting more extra-base hits (seven, including a homer and a triple) than RBIs (six) while going 10-for-22 with a walk and four strikeouts. Already a member of the Brewers’ 40-man roster, Gindl’s hot second half (.294/.351/.494 with six homers in 170 at-bats) ought to earn him a September callup to Milwaukee . . .  Reds RF Yorman Rodriguez’s past two years have been filled with more low lights than highlights. He showed little effort in the outfield and struggled at the plate last year before an injury ended his season, and then he did much of the same in high Class A Bakersfield early this year. But a demotion back to low Class A Dayton seems to have helped him straighten out. The 19-year-old hit .321/.345/.679 this week with a pair of home runs and a triple. On the triple, rehabbing Joey Votto may have run a little further on his repaired knee than he had planned, as Rodriguez drove him from first . . . The Yankees gave their high Class A Tampa team a massive talent infusion at the midpoint of the season. One of the additions, RF Tyler Austin, is trying to help get the T-Yanks to the playoffs. His ninth-inning grand slam last night gave Tampa an improbable 5-4 win against Lakeland, bringing Tampa within one game of first-place Dunedin with three games to go. For the week, the 20-year-old hit .333/.407/.625 . . . After going homerless in the first half of the season, Brewers RF Kentrail Davis has enjoyed a solid second half at Double-A Huntsville. The 24-year-old hit his seventh homer of the second half last Friday against Birmingham and went on to post a .429/.500/.857 (9-for-21) week, adding in four doubles and a triple . . . Astros RF Domingo Santana has legitimate pop, so his 20 homers this year aren’t simply a product of playing his home games at high Class A Lancaster’s launching pad. Santana, who just turned 20 on Aug. 5, belted two long balls this week, part of a .385/.484/.692 (10-for-26) showing.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Paul McAnulty, 1b, Angels. Los Angeles signed McAnulty in February 2010 fresh off two uninspiring years in Triple-A in the Red Sox and Rockies organizations. He took an immediate liking to the Angels’ Triple-A Salt Lake affiliate and even earned a nine-game callup in July 2010. McAnulty soon lost his place on the 40-man roster, however, and this season he’s been demoted to Double-A Arkansas, a rung lower than Salt Lake, while the Angels play slick-fielding Efren Navarro every day at first base in Triple-A. The 31-year-old McAnulty has made the most of his time with the Travelers, this week mashing four homers, a double and driving in nine runs while batting 9-for-25 (.360). He’s slugging .598 in 35 games at Double-A.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Danny Hultzen, lhp, Mariners: Hultzen’s feel for pitching appears to have completely deserted him since his promotion from Double-A Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma in late June. The 22-year-old has now walked more batters (38) for Tacoma than he had at Jackson (32) in thirty-one fewer innings. Hultzen’s Pacific Coast League nightmare continued this week when the lefthander walked five and allowed six hits and six earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings in his Wednesday start against Las Vegas. He has now walked more batters (14) than he struck out (13) in August.

Nick Castellanos, rf, Tigers: The 20-year-old Castellanos hit .405 for two months in the Florida State League to earn a promotion to Double-A Erie at age 20. He hit well for a couple months (.316 with an .806 OPS) prior to stumbling in August. Castellanos went 5-for-31 (.161) with 13 whiffs—but three doubles—this week to drop his August batting line to .200/.267/.264 with five extra-base hits in 27 games.

Drew Vettleson, rf, Rays: The 21-year-old smacked a homer for low Class A Bowling Green on Wednesday, giving him five for August and 15 on the year, but aside from that outburst it was a fallow week for Vettleson, a sandwich pick in 2010. He went 2-for-25 with 11 whiffs and two walks, but his totals for hits (136) and total bases (217) rank among the Midwest League leaders and point to a prospect who made progress in 2012.

Kaleb Cowart, 3b, Angels: Cowart has impressed this year with his feel for hitting and tools on both sides of the ball while reaching high Class A as a 20-year-old in his first spin at full-season ball. But the long grind may have finally taken its toll. Cowart has only one extra-base hit since Aug. 21 and endured a four-game hitless stretch this week. He finally got out of that rut with a hit on Tuesday, but he still batted just .069/.129/.069 (2-for-29) on the week, with one RBI, eight strikeouts and two walks.

MAN AMONG BOYS

Adam Duvall, 3b, Giants: Before Darin Ruf made everything else look like child’s play, Duvall’s streak of homering in five consecutive games for high Class A San Jose on Aug. 3-8, including a two-homer game on Aug. 3, was one of the season’s most impressive power spurts. He hit one homer this week and leads the Cal League with 29 on the year. The 23-year-old Duvall has tended to run hot and cold. He hit .340 in May and .300 in August but was under .230 in April, June and July, so opinions you get on him largely depend on when someone saw him. At his best, Duvall has shown some quality bat speed and that he can adjust on breaking pitches, but he’ll have to find consistency as he moves up.

HELIUM WATCH

Gabriel Guerrero, of, Mariners: If the name rings a bell, perhaps that’s because you’re more familiar with his uncle, Vladimir Guerrero. Only a handful of players in baseball history could match Vlad’s tools in his peak, and Gabriel certainly isn’t as dynamic of a player, but his batting stance and hitting mannerisms clearly evoke his uncle. After signing for $400,000 last year, Guerrero struggled in the Dominican Summer League in 2011 and returned for another trip through the circuit this year. The 18-year-old had little trouble in his second tour of the DSL, which earned him a promotion to the Rookie-level Arizona League earlier this month. He’s only been there a few weeks, but Guerrero is off to a .333/.350/.560 start with four home runs in 18 games. In true Vlad style, Guerrero is a free swinger who has drawn just three walks, but his size (6-foot-3, 190), power and improvement at the plate make him a very intriguing right fielder.

Minors | #2012 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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