See also: Previous Prospect Hot
“It’s a long season.”
You hear it whenever you talk to anyone in minor league baseball, but it’s very true. The stars of April have to prove that they can keep it up over a full season. And the players who start out slow have plenty of time to turn their seasons around.
Mike Moustakas is a prime example of why baseball is a game entirely unsuited to rash judgments. The second overall pick in 2007 may have looked bad in April, but now that the season is heading into the final stretch, his overall numbers are right where you would expect. His recent hot streak has had him popping up on the Hot Sheet frequently, but this is his first trip to No. 1.
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, 1-7) getting the most consideration. The Why He’s
Here line in the capsules refer to each player’s stats during that
Contributing: Ben Badler, Kary Booher,
Jesse Burkhart, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Nathan Rode, Jim Shonerd, Anthony
|No. 1 MIKE MOUSTAKAS,
Team:low Class A Burlington (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .440/.481/1.120 (11-for-25), 5 HR, 2 2B, 11 RBIs, 8 R, 1 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: For a while, it looked like the pitching-oriented Midwest League might get the better of Mike Moustakas. But not anymore. The second overall pick in last year’s draft got off to a slow start in his first full season, hitting just .190/.253/.226 in April, but as the weather’s warmed up, so has his bat.
Moustakas began showing signs of life during May and June, hitting 11 home runs over those two months, and his offense has exploded since the MWL’s all-star break in mid-June. The 19-year-old is hitting a whopping .336/.406/.623 in 146 at-bats since the break, numbers that are impressive anywhere, but especially in the context of the MWL.
His five home runs this week allowed Moustakas to vault to the top of the MWL’s home run race with 20 on the year. He’s had hits in 12 of his last 13 games, and he homered in three straight games Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, including a three-run shot off rehabbing big leaguer Jon Lieber on Tuesday. In all, he turned in four multi-hit games this week, and he’s upped his line to .267/.330/.472 in 405 at-bats on the year.
|No. 2 DAVID PRICE, LHP||RAYS|
Team:Double-A Montgomery (Southern)
Why He’s Here:2-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 4 BB, 17 SO
The Scoop:The best pitching prospect in the minor leagues, Price dominated this week by striking out 17 of the 46 batters he faced (37 percent). In his 15 starts this season between Montgomery and high Class A Vero Beach, Price has yet to allow more than three runs in one game. No pitcher in the minor leagues can match Price’s combination of stuff, polish and athleticism, and there are few big league pitchers who can match Price just on the quality of his pitches. Price’s start yesterday of five shutout innings lowered his Double-A ERA to 1.89 in 57 innings, and it’s only a matter of time before the big lefty is showing big league hitters what he’s capable of in Tampa Bay.
|No. 3 LARS ANDERSON, 1B||RED SOX|
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .421/.500/1.000 (8-for-19), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Sometimes when hitters play in Lancaster, Boston’s high Class A affiliate, the expectations for a hitter can become unrealistic. The winds blowing out make Lancaster a hitter’s haven, which is why a player like Bubba Bell can hit .370 with 22 homers in 76 games last year as a 24-year-old. So with Anderson’s advanced strike-zone discipline and power stroke, even a .317/.408/.513 line in 306 at-bats with a 46-64 BB-K mark as a 20-year-old wasn’t enough to appease some fans. Now in Double-A, where he’s one of the youngest players in the league, Anderson is batting .340/.429/.585 in 53 at-bats. Sure, small sample, but Anderson can flat-out rake.
|No. 4 CHRIS TILLMAN, RHP||ORIOLES|
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 3.00, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: Normally, Matt Wieters is the Bowie Hot Sheet mainstay, but Tillman is about as good of a pitching prospect as you will find in the minors. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how young Tillman is, which makes his 114 strikeouts in 106 2/3 innings that much more impressive. How the Orioles were able to get Tillman included in the package that Seattle sent to Baltimore that already included Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler is mind-boggling. Next year Bedard will be in his last arbitration-eligible year for the Mariners and he will likely make around $9-$10 million. With the Mariners nowhere near contention this year, and unlikely to be anywhere close next year, Tillman’s value alone could make the trade a net loss for the Mariners and a giant coup for the Orioles.
|No. 5 LOGAN MORRISON, 1B||MARLINS|
Team: high Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Why he’s here: .483/.559/.828 (14-for-29), 2 HR, 4 2B, 8 RBIs, 7 R, 5 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Former junior college hitters like Morrison could easily get swallowed in the Florida State League, especially in cavernous Roger Dean Stadium, his home ballpark. But the 20-year-old Morrison, a draft-and-follow from Kansas City’s Maple Woods CC, is bashing through his second full season in pro ball. Since July 1, he is 54-for-130 (.415) with six home runs and 24 RBIs and entered Friday with these season numbers: .351/.414/.536 with 13 HR, 34 doubles and 67 RBIs. Morrison’s whole-field approach and line-drive swing is more suited to hitting for high average than pounding home runs, but his strength allows him to pick up home runs without selling out for power.
|No. 6 IVAN DeJESUS, 2B||DODGERS|
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Why He’s Here:.542/.625/.833 (13-for-24), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop:DeJesus’s offensive game is predicated upon his strike-zone discipline and his ability to make contact. He has a .303 batting average and a .410 OBP with 66 walks and 70 strikeouts in 108 games. The OBP alone is plenty valuable for a middle infielder, and a promising sign for a player as young as DeJesus already in Double-A. Although he has excellent bat speed, DeJesus doesn’t have much power, nor does he project to have much pop. He’s slugging just .393, which may pose a problem against major league pitchers who will adjust and attack DeJesus within the strike zone more often if he doesn’t show the ability to drive the ball against them. But DeJesus has youth on his side, so even a bit of additional strength would go a long way in his development. What was unusual about DeJesus’s week is that the normally smooth-fielding middle infielder made four errors. His range and arm would play better at second base, where his clean actions could help him be an above-average defender.
|No. 7 YAMAICO NAVARRO, SS||RED SOX|
Team: high Class A Lancaster (California)
Why He’s Here:.630/.643/.926 (17-for-27), 8 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop:For a player who’s glove is thought to be his calling card, Navarro’s bat has started heating up in August. Navarro was a low-profile international sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He hit .289/.257/.409 for short-season Lowell (New York-Penn) last year and has split 2008 between low Class A Greenville and Lancaster. He hit .280/.341/.412 for the Drive, before being promoted in mid-July. He’s taken advantage of the Cal League and is currently hitting .379/.400/.589 in 95 at-bats for the JetHawks.
|No. 8 MADISON BUMGARNER, LHP||GIANTS|
low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: What would the Hot Sheet be without Bumgarner? The Giants’ hard-throwing teenage lefty returns to the Hot Sheet for the third time in the last four weeks after yet another dominating outing. Bumgarner went up against Savannah, one of the SAL’s weaker offenses, on Sunday and completely overmatched them, firing off seven shutout innings, allowing only four singles and whiffing nine. The 19-year-old dropped his ERA to 1.70 for the year, he’s been beaten only once in his last 17 start. His strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last four starts is an incredible 32-to-2.
|No. 9 JAMES McDONALD, RHP||DODGERS|
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Why he’s here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: Solid command of two offspeed pitches, especially a changeup that features good separation and arm speed, has brought McDonald to the cusp of the big leagues. He fanned 10 and walked two in his six-inning Triple-A debut Wednesday at New Orleans. Even though just eight Zephyrs put the ball in play against him, leadoff batter Jesus Feliciano homered to lead off the game, highlighting one area for improvement for the 6-foot-5 righthander. Despite his height, McDonald has just average velocity and plane on his fastball, traits that could be exploited by opposing batters now that he’s pitching his home games in Vegas’ power-friendly Cashman Field.
|No. 10 CARLOS SANTANA, C||INDIANS|
high Class A Kinston (Carolina)
Why he’s here: .500/.533/.750 (14-for-28), 2 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBIs, 11 R, 2 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Chalk up Santana’s first half to the forgiving California League—he batted .323/.431/.563 for Inland Empire—if you must, but take note that the Indians’ deadline addition has batted .419/.444/.651 through his first 10 Carolina League games. Traded along with righthander Jon Meloan to Cleveland for veteran third baseman Casey Blake, the switch-hitting Santana hits for average, for power, has a strong knowledge of the strike zone and has the athleticism to stick behind the plate. He’s thrown out 27-of-106 (25 percent) of basestealers in his second season behind the plate, but with a strong arm and a quick release, Santana figures to only improve his accuracy. What’s not to like?
|No. 11 JESUS MONTERO, C||YANKEES|
Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here:.387/.457/.710 (12-for-31), 2 HR, 4 2B, 6 RBIs, 7 R, 4 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop:Montero has continued to establish himself as one of the minors’ best young offensive catchers. He’s on a 10-game hitting streak and has been killing the ball for the last month and a half. Interestingly for a righthanded hitter, Montero has been much more tough on righthanded pitchers than on lefthanders. All but one of his 13 home runs this year have come against righthanders, and he’s lighting them up to the tune of a .332/.370/.527 line, as opposed to his .283/.361/.370 line against lefties. Montero’s week was highlighted when he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a home run against Greenville on Monday, and he’s improved his line for the year to .316/.367/.477 in 430 at-bats.
|No. 12 TYLER FLOWERS, C||BRAVES|
Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here:.625/.727/1.250 (10-for-16), 5 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 6 BB, 1 IBB, 1 SO
The Scoop:Myrtle Beach has long had a reputation as a power-sapping park, but Flowers has avoided that roadblock this season. He’s steadily gotten better as the season has progressed—and perhaps bringin in the fences has helped. He batted .256/.391/.411 in April and has seen his month-by-month numbers climb. He’s also showing very good plate discipline as he’s been walked 86 times and struck out 85. He’s considered the best receiver in the system behind Clint Sammons, so his offensive production is looking like a nice bonus for the Braves.
|No. 13 BRANDON ERBE, RHP||ORIOLES|
Team: high Class A Frederick (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 HBP, 7 SO, 3 BB
The Scoop: Erbe’s season has been quite the roller coaster ride. He started with a 3-1, 2.73 record in April, striking out 27 in 30 innings while walking just six. Then his 7.07 ERA in May spiked his overall mark to 4.84 and it’s climbed as high as 5.53 this season. He’s settled down some in the last couple of months. He was 2-3, 2.32 in June and is now 9-10, 4.19 on the season. A couple of his losses were quality starts, while in others in simply didn’t get any run support. This week he was the starter in a combined no-hitter.
Talk about being hot at the right time. It had been an up-and-down run through the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this year for 22-year-old Sacramento lefthander Gio Gonzalez (Athletics). But then he parlayed an Aug. 1 gem (two hits over eight innings for Sacramento against Nashville) into a big league debut on Wednesday. Gonzalez took the loss against the Blue Jays, allowing four earned runs in six innings. His 128 strikeouts are second-most in the PCL . . . High Class A Lake Elsinore Kellen Kulbacki (Padres), a 2007 supplemental first-round pick out of James Madison, delivered with two home runs, a double and eight RBIs in 12 at-bats this week, as the outfielder continues to bash through the California League. Since joining the league on May 5, the lefthanded hitter owns a .349 average with 20 home runs, 16 doubles and 62 RBIs. Kulbacki, 22, leads the lead in batting average, on-base percentage (.441) and slugging percentage (.622) . . . High Class A Rancho Cucamonga RHP Jordan Walden (Angels) wasn’t lighting up the radar guns with low Class A Cedar Rapids quite like he did last year, when he flashed 100 mph. But that didn’t stop the 20-year-old from going 4-6, 2.18 for the Kernels and earning a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga. In his fourth start for the Quakes, Walden threw seven shutout innings against Inland Empire, giving up just two hits, two walks and striking out nine . . . Low Class A South Bend RHP Jarrod Parker (Diamondbacks) turned in his most dominant outing of the season Wednesday against Lansing. The 19-year-old Parker pitched seven innings—his longest outing of the year—and struck out 10 while giving up just one run on four hits to Lansing’s prospect-laden lineup. Parker’s numbers stand at 10-5, 3.69 for the year . . . Happy Birthday Ryan Strieby (Tigers). The powerful high Class A Lakeland first baseman turns 23 on Saturday. Since July 1 he has crushed 17 home runs, and he now has 27 for the season, inching closer to the record mark of 33, set in 1950 and tied in 1971. This week he hit .387/.424/.871 with four home runs and two doubles in 31 at-bats . . . Short-season Boise shortstop Ryan Flaherty (Cubs) manned an extra-base assault on the Northwest League during the last week, with seven doubles, a triple and two home runs in a six game span. However, Flaherty, 22, also showed why he does not project as a shortstop, as he had five errors in his last six games. . . A third-round pick out of Miami this summer, short-season Eugene center fielder Blake Tekotte (Padres) hit .417/.516/.917 on the week. With four homers in his first 22 games, the 21-year-old Tekotte’s power has been promising. This week, Tekotte had four multi-hit games with five doubles.
• Wes Hodges, 3b, Indians. Hodges is having a fine season (.287/.359/.443 in 422 at-bats), and the 23-year-old has shown plenty of ability this season with power to all fields and a good swing. But this week was not his finest. In the last seven days, Hodges went 2-for-25 with no extra-base hits two walks and nine strikeouts (.080/.138/.080) for Double-A Akron.
• Pedro Beato, rhp, Orioles. Beato, a supplemental first-round pick out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, signed for $1 million in 2006. In 199 career innings entering the year, Beato, 21, was 10-10, 3.93 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio just a tick below 2-to-1. His 2008 campaign has been miserable. In 15 starts he is 4-7, 5.28 with 39 strikeouts and 25 walks in 73 innings. This week he made two starts for high Class A Frederick and was 0-1, 8.22. He allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 14 hits over 7 2/3. He also walked seven and struck out just three.
• Oscar Tejeda, ss, Red Sox. Tejeda was part of the same infield as Yamaico Navarro prior to the latter’s promotion to high Class A Lancaster. While Navarro’s stock has taken off, Tejeda has mostly been holding his own as an 18-year-old for low Class A Greenville. But he’s run into a rough patch lately. He hit just .208/.240/.208 (5-for-24) this week and has just one extra-base hit in his last 15 games, putting his numbers for the year at .246/.286/.308 in 276 at-bats.
• Andrew Cashner, rhp, Cubs. After a brief stay in the Arizona League, the Cubs quickly advanced Cashner,
the No. 19 overall selection in this year’s draft, to short-season
Boise, where he got off to a rocky start for the Hawks in his first
appearance. But Cashner, 21, really outdid himself last Sunday when
he tossed one inning and surrendered two hits and four earned runs
while issuing five walks, somehow avoiding the first loss of his
professional career. In two appearances with Boise, he has managed a
13.50 ERA, walked nine batters and struck out just three in 2 2/3
• Craig Tatum, c, Reds. Tatum won’t blow you away with his hitting, though he did hit .423/.423/.808 this week by going 11-for-26 with three homers and a double. On the season, Tatum is at .252/.310/.403 in 290 at-bats, but his defense stands out—he leads the 10-team Southern League, having thrown out 39.5 percent of basestealers (32 of 81). “He’s a future regular,” said an NL scout. “He has good catching mechanics, excellent throwing action, and he’s two seconds (pop-time) to second base on a steal. And he swung the bat well. He’s just a well-rounded guy who handled pitchers well and played with enthusiasm.”
• Brian Dopirak, 1b, Blue Jays.
Back in 2005, Dopirak, 24, was considered one of the top prospects in
the game. He ranked No. 1 in the Cubs system after hitting an unreal 39
home runs in the Midwest league as a 20-year-old. But then the wheels
started to fall off. He hit only .235 in his first try at the Florida
State League in 2006, as he got extremely pull happy. The Cubs promoted
him to Double-A anyway, but he fared no better at West Tenn. Eventually
they released him after he spent a second-season in Daytona in 2007.
Now, in his third try at the Florida State League, and back in his
hometown of Dunedin, Dopirak has figured the Florida State League out.
His 27 home runs ranked second in the league at the time of his
Thursday promotion to Double-A. He left the Florida State League with a
bang, hitting .556/.586/1.185 in his final seven games, with four home
runs, three doubles and a triple.
|FRANCISCO SAMUEL, RHP||CARDINALS|
|Team: high Class A Palm Beach (Florida State)
Why He’s Here:4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 3 Saves
The Scoop:Fort Myers’ Anthony Slama has been the Florida State League’s most dominating reliever this year, but if you’re looking for the reliever with the league’s scariest stuff, it’s Samuel. The righthander features a 95-96 mph fastball and an 87 mph slider, a combo that leaves him unhittable at times. He’s struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings, and he’s been especially deadly on righthanders, holding them to .170/.278/.240 averages. Samuel could still sharpen his control, but opposing managers say his two-pitch mix will continue to dominate as he climbs the ladder.