Prospect Hot Sheet: Aug. 6


See also: Previous Hot Sheet

Will Inman (Brewers to Padres) and Matt Maloney (Phillies to Reds) both rejuvenated their prospect status with deadline trades to new organizations. But they weren’t the only two.

New Red and outfielder Shaun Cumberland just missed making the Sheet for his 9-for-22 (.409) with four doubles week for Chattanooga. New Padres’ lefthander Steve Garrison had no trouble in the Cal League, going eight innings last week, allowing three hits, while striking out seven and walking three for Lake Elsinore.

Phillies third baseman Mike Costanzo has been among the minor league strikeout (132) and errors-at-his-position (30) leaders this season, but he enjoyed a huge week with Double-A Reading, leading all batters with 12 hits and three home runs while slugging .815.

HOT

1. Carlos Triunfel, ss, high Class A High Desert (Mariners)

It’s easy to do a double-take when you see a 1990 birthdate. But let’s not focus on how if he were in high school, Triunfel would be entering his junior year. Or how Roger Clemens already had 95 wins when Triunfel was born.

Let’s instead pay attention to the fact that as a 17-year-old in high Class A, Triunfel has done more than just prove that pitchers can’t knock the bat out of his hands. He’s hitting .318/.347/.386 between low and high Class A, and a robust .333/.366/.393 since being promoted to High Desert in July. He also went 6-for-6 in a game last Monday.

Though his performance has merited attention, Triunfel has not hit for power this year–even in the Cal League. With 17 extra-base hits in 280 at-bats, the Mariners will have to wait for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound shortstop to grow into his body.

2. Jake McGee, High Class A Vero Beach (Devil Rays)

After striking out eight and walking eight over two starts, the 21-year-old McGee appears to have found his groove on the mound. The 2004 fifth-round pick out of a Nevada high school has tossed 14 scoreless innings over his past two starts, yielding just seven hits while striking out 18 and walking three. McGee ranks third in the minors with 145 strikeouts, trailing only Clay Buchholz (146) and Gio Gonzalez (148).

3. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Double-A Mobile (Diamondbacks)

It was easy to wonder if the 21-year-old Gonzalez was a bit overhyped during the first half, when he hit just .256/.296/.438 with 19 walks and 72 strikeouts in his first taste of Double-A. The right fielder has been a different player since the calendar turned to July, though, hitting .346/.412/.598 with six homers in 107 at-bats in the pitcher-friendly Southern League. Perhaps more significantly for his development, Gonzalez has walked 12 times and struck out just 18.

4. Jay Bruce, of, Triple-A Louisville (Reds)

The 20-year-old Bruce is proving with each promotion that there’s little he can’t do. After slumping upon arrival in the International League (for all of about a week), Bruce has proceeded to hit .358/.411/.716 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in the 18 games since July 21. He’s fared very well against lefthanded pitchers thus far, too, hitting .333/.440/.667 in 21 at-bats. And don’t look now, but Bruce is the minor league leader with 68 extra-base hits.

5. Joba Chamberlain, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

Chamberlain might be making his final Hot Sheet appearance–he’s among those rumored to be called up later this week. But Chamberlain’s first week as a reliever could not have been much better: four innings, one hit and 10 strikeouts. He also touched sat at 97-98 mph during his brief relief appearances.

6. Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Double-A Birmingham (White Sox)

The six-foot lefthander continues to state his case as the top prospect in the White Sox farm system, leading the minor leagues with 158 strikeouts in 122 1/3 innings. In his last three starts, Gonzalez has thrown 19 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs and compiling a 26-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

7. Jed Lowrie, ss, Triple-A Pawtucket (Red Sox)

Don’t worry, Jed. Consider your poor 2006 season forgotten. A .300/.403/.520 line this year will make us forget a lot of things. Lowrie has a nine-game hitting streak, five multi-hit games in the past week and three home runs in the past three games. He’s hit .326/.347/.652 through 11 Triple-A games.

8. Justin Masterson, rhp, Double-A Portland (Red Sox)

The groundball machine is rolling through the Eastern League. Since being promoted to Double-A in the second week of July, Masterson has a 1.38 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 9 walks in 39 innings. With Michael Bowden looking shaky in Double-A and Daniel Bard having all sorts of problems this season (see below), Masterson is moving up the ranks of Red Sox pitching prospects.

9. Will Inman, rhp, Double-A San Antonio (Padres)

Before coming over as the key piece in the Scott Linebrink trade, Inman had gone 1-5, 5.45 in 40 innings for Double-A Huntsville (Brewers). In his one start for the Missions, he went six innings, giving up one run on three hits, five walks and four strikeouts.

10. Henry Sosa, rhp, high Class A San Jose (Giants)

The 22-year-old Dominican native’s blaze through the minors reached a pinnacle last week when he recorded nine strikeouts over six innings–a high since his promotion to San Jose on June 17. Over his last three starts, Sosa has yielded three runs over 17 innings, striking out 22 while walking seven. Sosa has yielded more than two runs just once in nine starts at San Jose.

11. Cole Rohrbaugh, rhp, low Class A Rome (Braves)

After dominating the Appalachian League with 58 strikeouts in 33 innings, Rohrbaugh was promoted to low Class A and went five innings in his first start, striking out three and giving up only one earned run.

12. Chris Davis, 3B, Double-A Frisco (Rangers)

Davis made a name for himself this season with high Class Bakersfield by matching the California League-record consecutive-game hitting streak at 35–and doing it while hitting for power. His surge has continued since being promoted to Double-A. The 21-year-old is hitting .368/.409/.947 in 19 at-bats at Frisco, with five of his seven hits going for extra-bases. His high strikeout pace also seems to have followed him to Frisco. After whiffing 123 times in 386 at-bats with Bakersfield, Davis has six in 19 at-bats in Frisco.

13. Zach McAllister, rhp, short-season Staten Island (Yankees)

McAllister may not be the most noteworthy pitching prospect on his own Staten Island team–that honor would go to righthander Dellin Betances–but McAllister has been one of the best pitchers in the New York-Penn League. Still 19, McAllister has overmatched opposing hitters en route to posting a 2.91 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43 1/3 innings.

14. Brent Lillibridge, ss, Triple-A Richmond (Braves)

Lillibridge came out of the gate with a less than stellar performance in Double-A, hitting .275/.355/.387 before earning a promotion to Triple-A. But in 104 plate appearances since the all-star break, Lillibridge has hit .380/.441/.652, with 13 of his 35 hits going for extra bases. Now hitting .311/.363/.466 with 22 stolen bases in Triple-A, the 23-year-old appears to be blocked in Atlanta by Kelly Johnson, Edgar Renteria and Yunel Escobar, but he could become a valuable player immediately in the right situation.

15. Colby Rasmus, of, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals)

After hitting .421 with two home runs in 19 at-bats last week, Rasmus has lifted his season line to .257/.368/.495 in 378 at-bats. He is hitting .438/.609/.938 with two homers and two doubles in 16 August at-bats, after slumping through June and July.

16. Ben Revere, of, Rookie-level GCL (Twins)

Revere has provided good value for the Twins thus far. The 28th overall pick in June hit .400 last week in 20 at-bats and is hitting .341/.387/.500 on the season with a league leading eight triples. He has also stolen 14 bases in 18 attempts.

17. Brandon Hynick, rhp, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)

The 22-year-old Hynick has emerged as the most durable pitcher in the minors in his first full professional season. A 2006 eighth-round pick out of Birmingham-Southern, Hynick is tied for the minor league lead in innings pitched with 152–a feat even more impressive considering he pitches in the hitter-friendly California League. Hynick limited Visalia to one run on seven hits on Saturday, with seven strikeouts and no walks, over seven innings.

18. Matt Maloney, lhp, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds)

When you’re the new guy, you want to fit in. Maloney did a pretty job of introducing himself to his new Lookouts teammates–seven innings, six hits, one run and 10 strikeouts in his first start since being traded to the Reds.

19. Chris Pettit, of, high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)

A 19th-round pick from Loyola Marymount in 2006, Pettit has had a loud full-season debut, hitting .351/.432/.592 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs between low and high Class A. Last week the 22-year-old Pettit he went 11-for-25 (.440) with four doubles, six RBIs and seven runs scored in seven games.

20. Geovany Soto, c/1b, Triple-A Iowa (Cubs)

Among the Cubs better all-around catching prospects, Soto has had a monster year in the Pacific Coast League’”a year that only seems to be getting better. The 24-year-old, an 11th round pick from Puerto Rico in 2001, has hit .386/.456/.773 with eight homers in 23 games since July 1 and leads the league (and all minor league catchers) with a .345 average. His .631 slugging percentage also leads the PCL, and ranks behind only Steven Pearce’s .633 mark among minor leaguers.

NOT-SO HOT

Luke Hochevar, rhp, Triple-A Omaha (Royals)

After reeling off consecutive good outings in late July, Hochevar, 23, has struggled to find the strike zone in his last two, during which he’s gone 0-1, 12.19. In those 10 1/3 innings, the first overall pick from 2006 has struck out four, walked six and surrendered four home runs. Not exactly a recipe for success. What’s more, Hochevar already has given up three homers in a Triple-A game twice this year.

Brandon Erbe, rhp, high Class A Frederick (Orioles)

Consistency certainly appears to be Erbe’s biggest hurdle in his second full pro season (he posted ERAs of 3.18 and 2.61 in April and June, and 9.70 and 10.38 in May and July). Erbe’s difficult July included a solid 27-12 strikeout-walk ratio, but he twice failed to make it out of the third inning and opponents hit him at a .381 clip.

Jeff Clement, c, Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners)

The 23-year-old Clement appeared to have recovered from a slow start by hitting .370 in June and surpassing his home run total from the previous two months by smacking eight. However Clement fell back into a funk in July, managing just 16 hits in 86 at-bats–seven for extra-bases–for a .186/.307/.326 line.

Pedro Florimon, ss, low Class A Delmarva (Orioles)

Florimon has been around the Mendoza line for all of 2007. He hit .263/.300/.474 in 19 at-bats last week to give him a .200/.261/.280 line in 300 at-bats this season. He also has 29 errors at shortstop.

Daniel Bard, rhp, low Class A Greenville (Red Sox)

The 2006 first-rounder nearly has cut his ERA in half since moving to the South Atlantic League. Unfortunately his ERA in high Class A Lancaster was 10.13. He went 1-1, 7.83 with 16-15 K-BB ratio in six July starts, hitting five batters, but surrendering only one home run. And if there’s a silver lining to the 22-year-old Bard’s season it’s that he he’s kept the ball in the park. Think about it: Eighty-six Cal League batters had a chance to take him deep, and not one of them did.

HELIUM

Mike McCormick, c, short-season Hudson Valley (Devil Rays)

Hitting hasn’t been a problem for McCormick, who batted .267/.356/.474 in two seasons in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, but his defense at the hot corner was a huge problem. A fifth-round pick from an Oregon high school in 2005, McCormick compiled .864 and .851 fielding percentages in his first two seasons–that’s 42 errors in 90 games total–prompting the Rays to move his strong, but erratic, arm behind the plate. McCormick, 20, has continued to hit this season (.281/.386/.496) in the New York-Penn League, and his work behind the plate has been better than expected. He’s nabbed 27 percent of basestealers in 34 games behind the plate, a figure that ranks fifth in the league.

Greg Halman, of, short-season Everett (Mariners)

The 19-year-old center fielder from the Netherlands signed with the Mariners at age 17, and he now leads the Northwest League with a 1.069 OPS. In his last 10 games, Halman has a .500 average, including seven doubles, three home runs and six walks.

Alex Cobb, rhp, short-season Hudson Valley (Devil Rays)

Cobb doesn’t overwhelm hitters with his fastball, which tops out around 91 and has some sinking life. But he has a well-above-average curveball and has been excellent against New York-Penn League opposition. Through 46 innings, Cobb has 42 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 2.93 ERA. The 2006 fouth-rounder is a very good athlete with smooth mechanics.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Neal Musser, lhp, Triple-A Omaha (Royals)

Musser was once an intriguing Mets prospect (he ranked as high as No. 10 in the Mets system, in the 2002 Prospect Handbook), but over the past four seasons he’s been a mediocre Triple-A starter, as evidenced by his 50-47, 3.98 career minor league numbers heading into this season. But the Royals moved Musser to the pen this year and the lefthander has adapted to the new role with ease. In fact, Musser had yet to allow an earned run in Triple-A this season. He has allowed just 23 hits and 10 walks while striking out 35 in 42 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old Musser gave up an unearned run in April and another in June, but otherwise he’s put the O in Omaha.

Minors | #2007 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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