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Prospect Hot Sheet
Another week, another Hot Sheet.
As we head into the dog days of summer–and with the Futures Game less than a week away–we’re waiting for some of the bats to heat up again.
Pitchers have taken center stage over the last two weeks, and as we close out June and look forward to the final two months of the minor league season, we find ourselves overwhelmed by all the quality pitching.
Seven of the top 10 spots are arms this week, led by Reds righthander Johnny Cueto, who topped even Brewers lefthander Manny Parra and his perfect game, as well as Twins righthander Yohan Pino’s no-hitter.
Hitters were hard to come by, especially of the elite variety.
We left off the majority of short-season and Rookie-level players this week, waiting for a bigger sample size of numbers before we jump the gun.
|1. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds)|
After going 4-5, 3.33 in the high Class A Florida State League in which he earned a spot start at Triple-A Louisville, the Reds promoted the 21-year-old to Chattanooga where he quickly established himself as one of the best arms in the Southern League–and that’s just over two starts. In 13 innings, Cueto, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, is 1-0, 0.69 with 19 strikeouts.
|2. Manny Parra, lhp, Triple-A Nashville (Brewers)|
Nice week. Parra was perfect in one start and very good in another. In just his second Triple-A start on June 25, Parra set down 27 consecutive Round Rock Express batters to record the eighth perfect game in PCL history. The 24-year-old needed just 107 pitches to throw his masterpiece, a game in which he struck out 11. In his follow-up to the perfecto, Parra allowed a lone run on two hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two. On the week he went 2-0, 0.60, leading the league in wins, strikeouts (15) and innings (15).
|3. Yohan Pino, rhp, high Class A Fort Myers (Twins)|
The 23-year-old righthander’s no-hitter on Saturday night should not come as a complete surprise–signs of a no-no had been brewing over Pino’s previous two starts. The 2004 signee out of Venezuela struck out seven over seven innings against St. Lucie on Saturday and has not yielded an earned run over his past 22 innings while striking out 20 and walking four.
|4. Clay Buchholz, rhp, Double-A Portland (Red Sox)|
You could make a case as Buchholz as the top pitcher in the minors right now, and that case would be legitimate. The 22-year-old has been simply dominant in the Eastern League this season, with 6-2, 1.69 numbers in 85 innings overall. In those 85 innings, Buchholz whiffed 115, walked just 21 and allowed just 53 hits. Last week, Buchholz, struck out 15 and walked just three over 11 1/3 innings.
|5. Ian Kennedy, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)|
One scout said recently that “time will tell on Kennedy,” though we’re not sure what’s not to like. The 2006 first-rounder was touched up in his first start with the Thunder, but has been tough on EL hitters ever since. Last week, Kennedy allowed just three hits over 10 innings, striking out 13.
|6. Max Scherzer, rhp, Double-A Mobile (Diamondbacks)|
The 11th overall pick last year came into this season with guns blazing, rocketing through the Cal League and hasn’t slowed down any in Double-A. In his first two starts for the BayBears, Scherzer is 1-1, 2.45 with 15 strikeouts in 11 innings.
|7. Steven Pearce, 1b, Double-A Altoona (Pirates)|
The U.S. Futures Game first baseman on Sunday is heading into the summer classic on a roll, hitting .500 last week with a pair of homers. In 203 at-bats since being called up from high Class A Lynchburg, Pearce has driven in 50 runs.
|8. Garrett Olson, lhp, Triple-A Norfolk (Orioles)|
One of the IL’s most durable starters this season has emerged as one of league’s most effective. A supplemental first-round pick in 2005 from Cal Poly, Olson tossed seven shutout innings last week, pushing his numbers in June to 4-1, 1.80 with 40 strikeouts and 13 walks in 40 innings.
|9. Nick Blackburn, rhp, Triple-A Rochester (Twins)|
Like Parra, Blackburn is a draft-and-follow sign from 2001. And like Parra, Blackburn has dominated his league. With nary a perfect game on his pro resume, Blackburn will have to be content with his 41 1/3 consecutive earned run-less innings, a streak he extended with seven scoreless frames last week. For June, Blackburn, 25, is 5-0, 0.00 with 21 strikeouts and one measly walk in 39 innings.
|10. Corey Wimberly, 2b, Double-A Tulsa (Rockies)|
Wimberly’s season began in extended spring training because of a nagging hamstring injury, and it’s taken a while for the 2005 sixth-round pick out of Alcorn State to get going. But Wimberly showed signs of life last week, hitting .579 with some emerging power.
|11. Tyler Herron, rhp, low Class A Quad Cities (Cardinals)|
The Cardinals’ supplemental first-round pick in 2005 out of a Florida high school pitched 10 innings last week, giving up one earned run while striking out 11 and walking just one. Herron has been a control freak lately, walking just two batters in 32 innings in June.
|12. Chris Davis, 3b, high Class A Bakersfield (Rangers)|
The 21-year-old Davis’ batting average sat at .257 on June 7. The 2006 fifth-round pick out of Navarro (Texas) JC has since recorded a hit in 21 straight games and has raised his totals to .296/.335/.570. He ranks third in the hitter-friendly Cal League in both home runs (17) and RBIs (70). Davis still has a ways to go before he grabs headlines after Brandon Watson’s and Mitch Hilligoss’ hitting streaks, but he is creeping up on Brent Gates’ California League record 35-game streak set in 1992 with Modesto.
|13. Desmond Jennings, of, low Class A Columbus (Devil Rays)|
Jennings, a 10th-round pick in 2006, hit .435 last week with two home runs and five runs scored. He was third in the South Atlantic League in June with a .378 average and 20 runs scored and 14 steals (in 17 attempts) in 22 games.
|14. Michael Madsen, rhp, Triple-A Sacramento (Athletics)|
Madsen, a 21st-round pick from Ohio State in 2005, jumped to Triple-A after putting Double-A in his rearview mirror by going 5-2, 2.76 with 69-26 strikeouts-walks in 65 1/3 Texas League innings. So far, so good with Sacramento. Madsen, 24, authored 7 2/3 scoreless innings last week in his River Cats debut.
|15. Chris Volstad, rhp, high Class A Jupiter (Marlins)|
The Marlins top-ranked prospect has settled down in his past four starts after an inconsistent beginning of the season that saw the 2005 first-round pick’s ERA balloon to 5.69 on May 16. Volstad pitched a seven-inning complete game on Saturday, yielding six hits and one walk while striking out five. He has yielded five runs over his past four starts, striking out 23 over 26 innings.
|16. Asdrubal Cabrera, ss, Double-A Akron (Indians)|
Stolen away straight up from Seattle for Eduardo Perez last year, Cabrera needed to take a step backwards to gain some confidence with the bat after spending all of 2006 in Triple-A. Still just 21, the switch-hitting middle infielder has been on fire all season, and batted .424 last week.
|17. Drew Carpenter, rhp, high Class A Clearwater (Phillies)|
The 2006 second-rounder out of Long Beach State skipped low Class A this season after going 0-0, 0.61 in 15 innings in the Gulf Coast and New York Penn leagues in his pro debut last year. Carpenter, 22, has been stellar in his past three outings after a slow start–he has yielded just one run over his past 23 innings while striking out 13 and walking 11. He tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday against Tampa, but seemed to be struggling with control of his low-90s fastball, as he walked a season-high five.
|18. Aaron Laffey, lhp, Triple-A Buffalo (Indians)|
Just 21, Laffey has made short work of the International League in his first Triple-A season. Unbeaten in five June starts with an 0.87 ERA, Laffey has generated a impressive 2.57 groundouts-fly outs ratio this season with his potent sinker-slider mix. And judging from his results against righthanded batters–.253/.302/.347–his changeup has come a long way, too.
|19. Cody Johnson, of, Rookie-level Danville (Braves)|
The 24th overall pick in 2006 from a Florida high school, Johnson hit just .184 in 32 GCL games last season. The 18-year-old is off to a hot start this season, however, hitting .340/.404/.660 through 11 Appy League games. His eight extra-base hits rank second in the league.
|20. Delwyn Young, of, Triple-A Las Vegas (Dodgers)|
It’s hard not to root for Young, a draft-and-follow from 2002, who’s been passed on the organizational depth chart by hitters like Matt Kemp, James Loney, Tony Abreu and Andy LaRoche. Young hit .483/.516/.828 last week with a league-leading 14 hits, seven doubles and eight extra-base hits. The switch-hitter, who turned 25 Saturday, took over the PCL lead with his 31st double on Friday.
|Brian Bocock, ss, high Class A San Jose
fast start in low Class A Augusta combined with Emmanuel Burriss’
early-season struggles earned Bocock a trip to San Jose on May 20.
Bockock made the most of his promotion, hitting safely in 13 of his
first 16 games while not making an error until a four-error disaster on
June 7. The 2006 ninth-round pick has struggled to maintain that form,
hitting just .210 with four steals in June and going 3-for-30 over his
past seven games.
|Michael Bowden, rhp, Double-A Portland
half of the Sea Dogs’ 1-2 punch hasn’t been nearly as good as Buchholz
after working his way through the hitter-friendly Cal League. In June,
the 2005 supplemental first-rounder carried a 6.31 ERA in 25 innings
during which he allowed 31 hits.
|Cole Gillespie, of, high Class A Brevard
third-round pick out of Oregon State has not made a smooth transition
to the Florida State League after leading the short-season Pioneer
League in hitting (.344/.464/.548) in his pro debut last year.
Gillespie finished in the bottom five in hitting in June with a .191
average and one home run.
|Serguey Linares, rhp, high Class A
made the Futures Game this year, though his stats at Lynchburg dictate
a completely different story. With the Hillcats, Linares went 1-3, 6.57
in June, walking 21 and striking out just nine over 25 innings. The
Pirates just shed righthander Alay Soler, a fellow Cuban, but have over
$2 million invested in both Linares and righthander Yoslan Herrera.
|Drew Stubbs, of, low Class A Dayton
member of the 2005 College World Series champion Texas Longhorns,
Stubbs has struggled this year. He was just 4-for-20 last week with no
extra-base hits, bringing his season average to .245. In the month of
June he has hit .185/.272/.207.
|Drew Naylor, rhp, short-season Williamsport (Phillies)|
A 21-year-old righthander out of Australia, Naylor’s father was a professional rugby player for the Balmain Tigers for two seasons. After spending last season on the complex circuit, Naylor has been impressive in the New York-Penn League, going 2-0, 0.60 with 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.
|Wilmin Rodriguez, lhp, short-season Salem-Kiezer (Giants)|
The 21-year-old Dominican lefthander was extremely impressive in the Northwest League, going 0-1, 0.77 with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings.
|Greg Halman, of, short-season Everett (Mariners)|
Splitting time between center and right field, the 19-year-old who hails from the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, batted .357 with three homers for the Aqua Sox.
|Timo Perez, of, Triple-A Toledo (Tigers)|
Many will remember Perez from his playoff run with the 2000 Mets, during which he tied the NLCS record with eight runs scored. An IL all-star this season, the 32-year-old Perez has hit .314/.353/.492 this season with a league-leading 29 doubles. Along with sluggers like Mike Hessman, Chris Shelton and Ryan Raburn, Perez has made a Toledo three-peat a distinct possibility.