Each Friday, the Prospect Hot Sheet singles out the prospects who had the best week, weighing raw performance, prospect status, age compared to level and the environment in which they play. Bear in mind that this is not a re-ranking of our preseason Top 100 Prospects list—it's a snapshot of top performances by prospects during the period July 5-11.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Jim Shonerd
Matt Eddy chatted about the Hot Sheet and prospects.
The Scoop: Unless he's caught up in a Sharknado or gets promoted to Houston in the very near future, Springer is going to become the minors' first 30-30 man since Grant Desme hit 31 home runs and stole 40 bases in 2009. He’s just four home runs and two steals shy of 30-30 right now, and one wonders if he can make a run at 40-40 if he spends the balance of the season in Triple-A.
It's plausible, though unlikely. Springer is on pace for 41 homers and 44 steals, but that would require him to keep up his impossible pace.
It’s worth noting that Springer hasn't yet played in any of the PCL’s top hitter’s parks. In fact, more than a third of his Tripe-A games have come at New Orleans and Nashville, two of the better pitcher’s parks in the league. And his home park of Oklahoma City is the toughest park in the PCL for home runs.
George Springer’s Statistics
The Scoop: Getting a clear read on Owings' 2013 season is never easy. It's partly because he plays in Reno, which consistently ranks among the top five hitter’s parks in all the minors. But looking at home-road splits doesn't really tell much either, as a lot of Reno's road games take place in locations like Colorado Springs and Las Vegas. But scouts have been as impressed with Owings' swing as his stats, and he may be able to contribute enough to profile at second or third base.
The Scoop: In the race to claim the honor of biggest breakout pitching prospect in the South Atlantic League, Edwards pulled into a slight lead over Pirates righty Tyler Glasnow with his performance in two starts this week. Edwards lowered his ERA to 1.95 (second in the SAL) and increased his punchout total to 113 (first, and three ahead of Glasnow). Perhaps most impressively, he has yet to allow a home run this season, and in fact no professional batter has taken him deep in 155 innings.
The Scoop: With his next big league at-bat, Garcia will exhaust his prospect eligibility, but he’s ours until that time. Whether he’s a center fielder for the long term is debatable, but his burgeoning power appears legit. He’s batting .453/.468/.667 with nine extra-base hits through 17 games in the IL, a performance that must thrill the Tigers, given that Garcia figures to be one of the most heavily-scouted players in advance of this year’s trade deadline.
The Scoop: Florida State League offenses haven't posed much of an obstacle for Heaney since getting back on the mound in late May after missing the start of the year with oblique issues. The ninth overall pick in last year's draft, Heaney hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his 10 FSL starts, and his 1.21 ERA and .203 opponent average would both lead the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
The Scoop: Talk about linear progression—Flores’ OPS has climbed from .715 in April to .873 in May to .950 in June to 1.200 through 11 games this month. He placed an exclamation point on his recent performance with a 4-for-5, two-homer, one-double game yesterday versus Tucson. Flores has very quietly climbed to the top of the PCL heap in three categories—doubles (33), extra-base hits (49) and RBIs (74)—and while he’s had considerably more success in Las Vegas, he still has a .288/.333/.440 batting line in road games. Not bad for a 21-year-old second baseman in Triple-A.
Prospect watchers may want to take note of the Mets in September if the organization ends up promoting a trio of young position players on its 40-man roster—Flores, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and Double-A right fielder Cesar Puello—to make their major league debuts in tandem.
The Scoop: No highly touted 2012 first-round pick has had a worse year than Zimmer, but that's not been nearly as puzzling as trying to figure out why his year has been so bad. His stuff has generally been just as firm as it was when the Royals drafted him, and scouts who have seen him this year have handed out 60s on multiple pitches. The struggles appear to have been a combination of a few minor problems. Zimmer has been working in side-sessions on throwing from the stretch—opponents have a .560 OPS when he's pitching from the windup and a .924 OPS with runners on base.
Also, Zimmer has fixed a tendency to open up his front side too much in his delivery. When he was opening up, his fastball had a tendency to leak back over the plate. It also made it harder for him to throw his quality curveball and slider for strikes. The results are pretty apparent. He's struck out 26 and walked two in his last 20 innings while allowing just four runs.
Kyle Zimmer’s Statistics
The Scoop: Bogaerts' power separates him from your typical shortstop prospects, and he's been showing both pop (seven homers) and patience (14 walks in 28 games) while learning the IL since his promotion a month ago. He was hitting just .237 in the IL entering the week, but he reeled off a six-game hitting streak that included three multi-hit efforts and three homers, upping his IL average to .267 in 101 at-bats.
The Scoop: Syndergaard threw just two innings on Thursday, not because of ineffectiveness or injury but because he’s probably going to start Sunday’s Futures Game at Citi Field. He was plenty good in his full-share start last Saturday, working seven innings and allowing three runs while striking out seven and walking one. Syndergaard has responded positively to his promotion to Double-A, notching 26 strikeouts, four walks and 18 hits allowed in 20 innings, pushing his career K-BB ratio to 3.9.
The Scoop: Power is the carrying tool for Williamson, who has 16 homers with the strength to hit the ball out of the park to all fields. There isn’t a lot of ease to the operation in his game, but with Williamson’s background and raw power, it’s not a surprise he’s been able to put up big numbers in the Cal League.
The Scoop: Almora collects hits in bunches. In 17 of the 40 games he's played this year (he missed time with a hamate injury), Almora has had two or more hits. He already has eight games of three or more hits. Almora's best fit in the future Cubs lineup is as a top-of-the-order table setter, and in the Midwest League this season, few have done that job nearly as well as Almora.
The Scoop: Last year’s international signing class was a strong one for 16-year-old pitchers, as Julio Urias (Dodgers) and Jose Castillo (Rays) have both impressed with their stuff and early performance. Gohara’s aggressive assignment to the Appalachian League is another sign of his advanced feel for pitching, and with the potential for at least two plus pitches, he could end up being a frontline starter—albeit a projection that’s far off.
The Scoop: A fourth-round pick from South Carolina last year, Walker has hit a nifty .311/.372/.479 with 11 homers across two Class A levels this season. He certainly experienced no hangover effect after learning last Saturday he would be heading to the Futures Game, turning in what must be his best week as a pro. Walker clubbed six extra-base hits, including three homers, in six games, and while Frederick plays as the most homer-friendly park in the Carolina League, he earned extra credit for hitting his longballs in Lynchburg (two) and Wilmington.
IN THE TEAM PHOTO
• Billy Burns, cf, Nationals: Burns put his top-shelf speed to full use this week with high Class A Potomac, stealing eight bags without being caught. The switch-hitter also put up a .429 average (12-for-28). Burns, 23, moved up to sixth in the minors with 42 steals on the year, and his 91 percent success rate (42-for-46) is the best among the eight minor leaguers with at least 40 steals.
• Darrell Ceciliani, cf, Mets: The 23-year-old missed virtually all of last season, and he hit a modest .262/.309/.367 through June this year at Double-A Binghamton. But then Ceciliani reeled off an 8-for-18 week (.444) with three homers, a double, a triple, eight RBIs, a steal and two walks to remind everybody why he has a chance to develop into a fourth outfielder. All the same, he’ll need to sharply reduce his strikeout rate (26 percent of plate appearances) to avoid becoming Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2.0.
• Harold Ramirez, of, Pirates: Other teams saw the $1.05 million the Pirates paid for Ramirez in 2011 (and another $570,000 for Elvis Escobar, who like Ramirez was also represented by Hugo Catrain) and didn’t see the talent to justify the price. Now Ramirez, 18, is hitting .322/.402/.483 in 23 games for short-season Jamestown, while Escobar is over .300 himself.
• Jose Ramirez, 2b, Indians: Ramirez hasn’t rampaged through the Double-A Eastern League like he did in the low Class A Midwest League last year, but keep in mind he’s a 20-year-old skipping a level. His stature gives him a smaller strike zone and he combines a solid batting eye with good plate coverage, which has helped him hit .410/.452/.538 in eight games this month.
• Robbie Ray, lhp, Nationals: Ray left the Carolina League behind as its strikeout leader (100 in 84 innings) and made his Double-A debut last Friday, allowing one run in five innings against Bowie. The 21-year-old followed that up with a brilliant encore, pitching a three-hit shutout of Erie during which he struck out 11 and walked two. He's second in the minors with 119 strikeouts on the year.
• Luis Sardinas, ss, Rangers: With Jurickson Profar in the big leagues, Sardinas assumes the mantle of Rangers top middle-infield prospect. Judging from the 20-year-old’s recent performance for high Class A Myrtle Beach, that title fits. Sardinas went 11-for-24 (.458) this week with a double, a walk, three steals (in three attempts) and six runs scored, and since the all-star break he’s hit .362/.438/.449 in 17 games. He ranks among the Carolina League leaders with a .294 average, 24 stolen bases and 58 runs scored.
• Yordano Ventura, rhp, Royals: If you look hard enough, you still might be able to find a scout who doesn't see the 22-year-old Ventura as a starter. Sure he's just 6-feet tall and slight, but Ventura's ability to locate his 95-100 mph fastball, his now plus curveball and potentially average changeup all add up to a guy who looks much more likely to pitch the first through sixth innings rather than the ninth only. This week he struck out nine and walked none in a start at Round Rock, his seventh appearance for Triple-A Omaha.
• A.J. Cole, rhp, Nationals: Cole’s career has been almost an equal measure of dominating performances and outings in which he’s seemed completely overmatched. He dealt three shutout innings yesterday for high Class A Potomac yesterday, but last Friday he got rocked for seven runs over five innings, adding to a year in which he’s shown solid stuff and control to go along with a pedestrian 4.43 ERA.
• Hunter Morris, 1b, Brewers: The 24-year-old belted a couple of homers on the road at Memphis this week but went just 4-for-26 (.154) overall with 11 strikeouts and no walks for Triple-A Nashville. Morris’ component measures this season are almost exactly in line with his Double-A Southern League MVP campaign a year ago—slightly less power, slightly more walks and strikeouts—but the hits simply are not falling. He’s batting .238/.317/.487 through 86 games and appears no closer to upsetting the Juan Francisco/Yuniesky Betancourt first-base platoon in Milwaukee.
• Brandon Maurer, rhp, Mariners: Maurer hasn't had much go right since making the Mariners' Opening Day roster. He put up a 6.93 ERA in the big leagues to earn a demotion to Triple-A Tacoma, where he sits 2-4, 5.40 after eight starts. The 23-year-old's latest indignity was his worst, as he failed to record an out and gave up four runs on three hits and two walks before being pulled in the first inning of his start against Reno.
• Jonathan Singleton, 1b, Astros: Singleton went 3-for-23 (.130) this week with a double, two walks and eight strikeouts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. In the month since his return from a 50-game suspension, the 21-year-old has looked about as rusty as one might expect, batting .204/.299/.280 with five extra-base hits and 39 strikeouts in 26 games.
Victor Reyes, of, Braves: The Braves gave Reyes a $365,000 bonus to sign out of Venezuela on July 2, 2011, which made him their top international signing of the year. At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Reyes impressed the Braves with his size and power potential, but so far Reyes has stood out more for his advanced hitting acumen and approach. After ranking as one of the top 20 prospects in the Dominican Summer League last year, Reyes is hitting .360/.443/.460 through 13 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League this summer. He’ll need to show more power to profile as a corner outfielder, but the 18-year-old has plenty of room to fill out, add strength and register more extra-base thump.