Normally we wouldn’t be talking about the Dog Days of Summer until
August, but as we’re under the oppressive heat wave at the BA World
Headquarters that currently has much of the country under a
stranglehold, those days have come a little earlier this year.
And as these days continue to get hotter, Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia seems to be heating up with the weather.
Though he did not quite crack the Hot Sheet, he has been a force at Triple-A Pawtucket over the last two months.
After an average April and May, Pedroia turned it around to hit .324 in
June and has been on fire this month, hitting .440 (22-for-50), and he is
walking over twice as much as he’s striking out.
Defensively, the Red Sox’ top pick in 2004 has been steady at both
shortstop and second base–he’s made just five errors in 362 chances
combined between the two positions, and all five have come at short.
Remember, this is not a rewrite of our Top 100 prospects list. This is simply a snapshot of which prospects are currently riding the biggest hot streaks.
|1. James Loney, 1b, Dodgers (Triple-A Las Vegas)
has been knocking on the top spot’s door for a couple of weeks now, and
he has finally gotten there. The 22-year-old doesn’t have great bat speed but clearly has learned to adjust to the skills he has. After going 6-for-11 in a short
week, Loney is now hitting .489 in July and .391/.434/.577 on the
season. Even before Howie Kendrick was promoted to the big
leagues, Loney was leading the minors in hitting.
|2. Will Inman, rhp, Brewers (Low Class A West Virginia)|
missing a month with a sore right shoulder, Inman has been impeccable
since his return. The 19-year-old has been brought back slowly and has thrown 21 innings in five outings since his return, but he has yet
to allow a run while fanning 26 and lowering his ERA to 1.13.
|3. Scott Elbert, lhp, Dodgers (Double-A Jacksonville)|
he might have walked eight over his first 11 Double-A innings, but
Elbert has emerged as the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect and one of the
elite pitching prospects in the minors this season. After going 5-5,
2.37 with 97 strikeouts in 84 innings at high Class A Vero Beach,
Elbert was promoted to Jacksonville, where he won his first two starts
as a Sun while striking out 15. Overall, Elbert has allowed just 59 hits in 95 innings this
|4. Hunter Pence, of, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)|
manager Dave Clark calls Pence a “true impact player,” and even without
tablesetter Ben Zobrist (who was dealt to the Devil Rays last week)
hitting in front of him, Pence was still having an impact the Texas League.
Pence hit .440 last week and hit two more homers. He currently is tied
for fourth in the minors in that department with 22.
|5. Justin Upton, of, Diamondbacks (Low Class A)|
the same week we get reports about his lethargic play, Upton goes off.
The 18-year-old went 7-for-16 with four doubles and seven walks and is
now hitting .281/.365/.431.
|6. Anthony Swarzak, rhp, Twins (High Class A Fort Myers)|
has been left behind in the Florida State League by Matt Garza and
Kevin Slowey, who were both promoted, but Swarzak is starting to pitch
like he’s ready to join them. After posting 5.40 ERA in June, Swarzak
has allowed only one earned run in 19 July innings over three starts.
|7. Troy Patton, rhp, Astros (High Class A Salem)|
has won his last five starts for the Avalanche to climb toward .500 on
the season (he’s 6-7). He has not allowed more than two earned runs in
any of his last nine starts, dating back to May 24.
|8. Stephen Marek, rhp, Angels (High Class A Rancho Cucamonga)|
highest paid draft-and-follow from the 2004 draft was dazzling for low
Class A Cedar Rapids before earning a promotion to the Cal League.
Marek allowed five runs in his last seven starts for the Kernels and
was 10-2, 1.96 overall with 100 strikeouts and 24 walks in 119 innings.
|9. Gaby Hernandez, rhp, Marlins (High Class A Jupiter)|
losing two of his last three starts, Hernandez hasn’t allowed an earned
run since June 26, and is 1-2, 0.00 with a 16-3 strikeout-walk ratio in
20 July innings. After scuffling through April with a 6.48 ERA,
Hernandez has lowered that number consistently over the last three
months, down to 3.24 through 111 innings.
|10. Shane Robinson, of, Cardinals (Low Class A Quad Cities)|
was a good week to be nicknamed Sugar Shane. The original (Shane
Mosley) TKOd Fernando Vargas on Saturday, while Sugar Shane Robinson
went off for Quad Cities. The fifth-rounder out of Florida State was
13-for-24 on the week with four multi-hit games.
|Alexi Casilla, ss, Twins (Double-A New Britain): As
soon as Casilla came over to the Twins from the Angels–even-up–for
lefthander J.C. Romero, he made a lasting impression on the Minnesota
brass in spring training. After starting out at high Class A Fort
Myers, Casilla was promoted to New Britain last week and hit safely
over his first five games, going 7-for-18 (.389) with a pair of steals.
|Collin Balester, rhp, Nationals (high Class A Potomac): The
Nationals’ top pitching prospect has gotten better every month in the
Carolina League, posting a 7.94 ERA in April, 5.68 in May, 3.91 in June
and 1.38 so far in July. He has allowed just four earned runs over his
last four starts (23 innings) and has not allowed more than three
earned in any of his last nine starts, dating back to May 16.
|Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville):
Scouts weren’™t impressed with Gallardo’™s stuff at the Futures Game, and
he wasn’t that great in his last two starts at Huntsville, walking
seven in 11 innings. But since he was promoted to Double-A, Gallardo is
carrying an 0.73 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. His ERA for the year is a sterling 1.76.
|Tyler Greene, ss, Cardinals (Low Class A Quad Cities): The
Georgia Tech product is still striking out a little too much, but eight
homers in 58 at-bats since his demotion is impressive. If he can
replicate it at a higher level, we’ll find him a spot in the top 10.
|Thomas Diamond, rhp, Rangers (Double-A Frisco):
Diamond has won his last four starts since John Danks joined Edinson
Volquez in Triple-A, leaving Diamond behind. He has a 1.86 ERA and a
19-5 strikeout-walk ratio in 19 innings in July.
|Wade Leblanc, lhp, San Diego (short-season Eugene): After
a rough first few of outings, the 2004 college Freshman of the Year had two
sterling performance last week. He struck out 11 over eight innings
while allowing one run on three hits. Roll Tide.
|Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): He’s
hit safely in all five games since being promoted to Portland. Six hits
in his last two games lifted Ellsbury’s average in Double-A to .450,
and he has three steals in three attempts.
|Blake Hawksworth, rhp, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield):
Finally healthy this season after having shoulder surgery in 2004,
Hawksworth had his best start since being promoted to Double-A in his
last outing, allowing a pair of runs and whiffing eight over seven
innings. His strikeout rate is up from earlier this season in the high
Class A Florida State League where he struck out just 55 in 84 innings,
going 7-2, 2.47 overall. Let the trade rumors begin.
|Ryan Harvey, of, Cubs (high Class A Daytona): Hit
a grand slam and a three-run double in the same inning in the first
game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Seven-game hitting streak has raised his
overall average from .202 to .223.
|Jeremy Papelbon, lhp, Cubs (short-season Boise):
One of the few pitchers in professional baseball with a lower ERA than
his older brother Jonathan. Threw another 5 2/3 innings of scoreless
relief last week and has not allowed a run in 17 pro innings.
|Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins (Low Class A Greensboro): The
Missouri State product did not allow an earned run in four of his five
starts at short-season Jamestown and has already been promoted to the
SAL, where he debuts tonight.
|Jason Hammel, rhp, Devil Rays (Triple-A Durham):
Hammel was on the Not-So-Hot Sheet last week, but makes the photo this
week for throwing 8 1/3 no-hit innings last night to combine with Juan
Salas on a no-hitter.
|Carlos Villanueva, rhp, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville):
Villanueva makes the list for much the same reason as Hammel–being a
part of a no-hitter. The differences were Villanueva only went six
innings and issued the only walks three Sounds pitchers allowed all
night, but it was also just his first Triple-A start after spending the
last month in the big leagues. At Double-A Huntsville this season,
Villanueva went 4-5, 3.75 in 62 innings.
|John Drennen, of, Indians (Low Class A Lake County): While
less-hyped than the other high school outfielders drafted in the
first-round in 2005, Drennen has been just as productive. He gained
national attention for homering off Roger Clemens in a rehab start and
went 8-for-19 last week and is hitting .326/.414/.481 overall.
|Fred Lewis, of, Giants (Triple-A Fresno):
After a poor 2005 season, Lewis is putting his tools back to work.
After hitting .563 last week, he is hitting .277/.382/.456 on the
|Travis Wood, lhp, Reds (Low Class A Dayton)|
has not been kind to Wood who has allowed 14 earned runs in 11 innings
over three starts and opponents are hitting .380. It is a sharp
contrast to June when they hit .167 and he was 2-0, 2.57.
|Juan Morillo, rhp, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)|
has lost three of his last four starts, and has allowed a whopping 21
runs in his last 16 innings. He actually has more walks over that span
than innings pitched–17 to 16.
|Bobby Brownlie, rhp, Cubs (Double-A West Tenn)|
was terrible in a starting role (1-5, 7.67) so the Cubs moved the 2002
first-rounder to the pen in late June, where he hasn’t been much better.
The 25-year-old is 1-3, 4.87 overall as a reliever and is 0-2, 10.13 in
eight July innings.
|Tyler Herron, rhp, Cardinals (Rookie-level Johnson City)|
|The 19-year-old Herron, who was taken in the supplemental first round in 2005, still has not recorded a win as a pro. He’™s following a 0-3, 5.62, campaign in the Appalachian League with a 0-4, 6.38, effort this season. The one positive has been a reduced home run rate. Herron has given up two in 24 innings this year, compared with 11 in 52 innings last year.|
|Henry Sanchez, 1b, Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton)|
|A rough first season for the 2005 supplemental first rounder (.229/.300/.343) in the Appalachian League? No problem. Continued struggles for the power-hitting Sanchez, 19, in the Midwest League, where he hit .202/.272/.345 with four home runs and 69 strikeouts in 168 at-bats to begin the season? Well, he’™s still young. Now back in the Appy League hitting .220 with one home run, it just hasn’™t been a good start to his career.|
|Josh Hamilton, of, Devil Rays (short-season Hudson Valley)|
this point you’ve heard all the stories about his misadventures, but for at least he is playing again. At 25, he
is way too old for the New York-Penn League, but he hit safely in five
games last week and is hitting .323/.364/.484.
|Jonathan Barratt, lhp, Devil Rays (High Class A Visalia)|
fifth-round pick in 2003, Barratt upped his stock pitching in the
hitter-happy Cal League by racking up 13 strikeouts in as many innings
last week. Overall, the 21-year-old lefty is 4-3, 3.76 in 67 innings
this season and already has a nine-inning complete game shutout under