The Prospect Hot Sheet is not a re-ranking of
the Top 100 Prospects. This is a snapshot of which top prospects are
excelling and which ones are struggling right now. Stats cover the period July 13-19.
Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, John Manuel, Jim Shonerd and interns Pat Hickey, Andrew Krause, Clint Longenecker and John Sandberg.
|No. 1||DAN STRAILY, RHP||ATHLETICS|
|Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Athletics)
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.20, 2 GS, 15 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 21 Ks.
The Scoop: Has anyone had a better 2012 season than Dan Straily? Sure, Mike Trout is making a case to be the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the same season, but we expected great things from him. Straily has gone from being viewed as an organization arm to being one of the better pitching prospects in the minors. His assignment to Double-A Midland was an encouraging sign when the season began, and now he looks primed for a callup to the big leagues.
This doesn’t look like a fluke. Straily improved his conditioning during the offseason and saw it pay off in improved stuff. He now has plus stuff and he’s putting together an amazing season. He leads the minors in strikeouts by 39, so the gap from him to second-place Tony Cingrani is the same as the gap from Cingrani to the 16 pitchers tied for 124th in the minors.
When we start looking at Minor League Player of the Year candidates, Oscar Taveras, Jurickson Profar and Wil Myers are at the top of the list, but Straily’s name will have to be brought up as well.
|Dan Straily Player Card|
|No. 2||NICK MARONDE, LHP||ANGELS|
Team:High Class A Inland Empire (California)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 10 SO, 3 BB
The Scoop: Maronde hasn’t allowed a run in 12 innings since returning from the disabled list on July 11. In fact, he didn’t allow a hit while delivering seven shutout innings and striking out 10 Stockton batters on Tuesday. Maronde missed more than two months with a lat strain, but when healthy he has shut down Cal League opposition like few others, going 1-1, 2.11 in eight starts with a 0.91 WHIP and 46 whiffs in 47 innings. Parallels between Maronde and Cingrani are obvious. Both are lefthanders who pitched their way out of college rotations, then made sensational pro debuts as starters in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after going in the third round of the 2011 draft. Each began this season in the Cal League and dominated. Cingrani has remained hot, even after advancing to Double-A, while Maronde fell behind due to his injury, but he could catch up to Cingrani soon.
|Nick Maronde Player Card|
|No. 3||JAVIER BAEZ, SS||CUBS|
Team: Low Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .500/.519/1.042 (12-for-24), 2 HR, 2 3B, 3 2B, 7 RBIs, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-5 SB
The Scoop: The Cubs held Baez back in extended spring training until Memorial Day weekend, in part because they didn’t want to subject the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft to the harsh early-season weather of the Midwest League. The approach has paid off so far. After crushing seven extra-base hits in six games this week, Baez is batting .338/.397/.605 with nine homers through 157 at-bats with Peoria, and his 1.002 OPS ranks second in the MWL since he joined the league on May 28.
|Javier Baez Player Card|
|No. 4||JEURYS FAMILIA, RHP||METS|
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.63, 2 GS, 14 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 Ks.
The Scoop: The same week that rumors were floating around that Matt Harvey could be called up to make a July 21 start, Familia reminded everyone that he could help out the big league club as well. Control has been Familia’s biggest problem this season (and through much of his career), as he struggled to smooth out his delivery in spring training, but in recent weeks he looks much more like the Familia who excelled in 2011. Pitching with increased tempo, he has walked seven in 24 innings in July after walking 49 in 71 innings before this month. Familia may end up helping the Mets more in the bullpen than in the rotation, but the stuff is pretty impressive.
|Jeurys Familia Player Card|
|No. 5||MIKE ZUNINO, C||MARINERS|
Team:Short-Season Everett (Northwest)
Why He’s Here: .455/.520/1.000 (10-for-22), 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: The most polished position player in the draft made a seamless transition in his pro debut this week, lining a double down the right-field line in his first at bat. Then Zunino went 3-for-4 with two solo home runs against Salem-Keizer. A three-year starter and Baseball America’s College Player of the Year at Florida, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder draws Jason Varitek comparisons due to his strength, catching ability and intangibles and leadership skills. He’ll split time between catching and DH after a long college season, then will head down to instructional league in October.
|Mike Zunino Player Card|
|No. 6||ZACK WHEELER, RHP||METS|
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 7 SO, 1 BB, 1 HBP
The Scoop: Wheeler required just 106 pitches to notch his first career complete game and shutout last Saturday against Erie, and he now paces the Eastern League with a 1.06 WHIP and ranks third among qualified starters with 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Wheeler wowed scouts at the Future Game in Kansas City, retiring the only two batters he faced, and he has a 2.39 ERA for the season in 102 innings. Control issues plagued Wheeler during his early days in the Giants organization, but in 24 starts since making over his mechanics (subscibers only) last July, he has walked just 2.8 batters per nine.
|Zack Wheeler Player
|No. 7||JOHNNY HELLWEG, RHP||ANGELS|
Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.13, 1 GS, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks.
The Scoop: Maybe the Angels should just tell Hellweg to report in June. The 6-foot-9 righthander has been one of the better second-half pitchers in the minors the past two years. After walking 50 batters in 83 innings in the first half this year and going 2-7, 3.78, Hellweg is 2-2, 1.93 with 21 strikeouts and six walks after the Texas League all-star break. Last year Hellweg went 2-3, 6.54 in high Class A before the break, and 4-1, 2.18 in the second half. Conventional wisdom is that tall pitchers take longer to develop, and in Hellweg’s case it seems that it takes him longer each season to round into form. At his best, he offers a lot to like, with an upper 90s fastball that touches 100 mph and one of the best breaking balls in the Angels system.
|Johnny Hellweg Player Card|
|No. 8||KYLE PARKER, RF||ROCKIES|
Team: High Class A Modesto (California)
Why He’s Here: .607/.676/.893 (17-for-28), 1 HR, 5 2B, 9 RBIs, 7 R, 6 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Parker missed more than a month after a pitch hit him in the hand in the second game of the year, and it took him a while to get going when he returned to action on May 11. He hit .236 in May but has steadily heated up, batting .298 in June and .417 so far in July. While Parker’s only homer of the week came at the launching pad in Lancaster, his power production for the season (nine homers, .496 slugging) has been steady, and he’s shown more discipline. Parker has reduced his strikeout rate (22.7 percent of at-bats this year, 29.9 percent last year) while upping his walk totals. With 41 walks in 63 games this year, he has almost matched his total of 48 in 117 games from 2011.
|Kyle Parker Player Card|
|No. 9||ALFREDO MARTE, RF||DIAMONDBACKS|
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .480/.581/.880 (12-for-25), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 6 BB, 3 K, 0-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Despite decent numbers in his early years in the minors, Alfredo Marte never hit more than nine home runs in any of his previous five seasons. That now seems like a distant memory for Marte, who continues his breakout season at Double-A Mobile with 18 home runs, including three this week. Nobody in the Southern League has put up better all-around numbers. He ranks among the top three in batting (.312), homers and RBIs (60), and leads the league with a .613 slugging percentage. He has already earned a Futures Game selection and Southern League all-star game MVP honors, and Marte is off to an even better second half.
|Alfredo Marte Player Card|
|No. 10||COURTNEY HAWKINS, CF||WHITE SOX|
Why He’s Here: .435/.500/.913 (10-for-23), 2 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBIs, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Hawkins signed quickly for $2.475 million after the White Sox made him the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. His physicality and raw power stand out for a high schooler, and he tapped into that power this week, drilling two home runs after hitting one through his first 20 games (one of those homers was washed out when rain forced the game to be called). Hawkins’ power was expected to be ahead of his hitting, but he has raised his average after it dipped to .200 on June 29. He’s batting .323 in 65 at-bats since, improving to .280 on the year.
Hawkins Player Card
|No. 11||KYLE SKIPWORTH, C||MARLINS|
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .444/.545/1.222 (8-for-18), 4 HR, 2 2B, 9 RBIs, 5 R, 4 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: The lefty-hitting catcher homered in three straight games this week, taking Pensacola righty Wirfin Obsipo deep twice on Tuesday. Despite an overall .660 OPS, he has shown good power against righthanded pitchers this season, with nine homers in 202 at-bats and .203 isolated slugging. That power, along with plus defense behind the plate, could be enough to secure a backup gig in the big leagues one day. So far Skipworth has not shown enough consistency with the bat to profile as a starter, however, batting .207/.273/.349 in 757 Double-A plate appearances and ranking among the Southern League leaders with 96 strikeouts this season.
|Kyle Skipworth Player Card|
|No. 12||STOLMY PIMENTEL, RHP||RED SOX|
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.29, 14 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 13 SO
The Scoop: Pimentel took a step back last season after earning a spot in the Futures Game in 2010, and his command continued to hold him back in the first half this season. But he has turned in back-to-back impressive outings after the Eastern League all-star break. On July 14, he retired the first 15 batters he faced before allowing an infield single, and finished the game allowing just two baserunners in seven innings. He’s still seeking consistency with his release point as he grows into his 6-foot-4 frame, but his stuff has never been an issue. Pimentel attacks hitters with 92-95 mph fastball and has hit 97, a hard slider and one of the best changeups in the Red Sox system. He’s still just 22, and Boston will give him every opportunity to start as long as his command continues to improve.
|Stolmy Pimentel Player Card|
|No. 13||GARY BROWN, OF||GIANTS|
Team: Double-A Connecticut (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .414/.452/.724 (12-for-29), 8 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 K, 5 -for-6 SB.
The Scoop: Sometimes failure can be a great teaching tool. As Andy Baggarly explains in our newest Giants organization report, a lot of people inside the organization knew that Brown’s batting stance would not work at higher levels, but they also knew that it’s hard to tell a hitter who’s been succeeding that he needs to make a significant change. So instead of fixing Brown’s problems at the start of the season, they waited until he had struggled through April, May and part of June and sought an adjustment. By moving his hands out from his body and reducing his timing step, Brown is no longer as vulnerable to inside pitches. The results have been dramatic. After carrying a sub-.600 OPS into mid-June, Brown has hit .412 over the past 31 games.
|Gary Brown Player Card|
The Indians picked up LHP Giovanni Soto from the Tigers in the 2010 deadline deal that sent Jhonny Peralta to Detroit. Soto, 21, doesn’t have blow-you-away stuff, but scouts who like him see a good feel for pitching, and that combination was good enough this week for a no-hitter. Pitching for Double-A Akron, Soto faced one batter over the minimum against Altoona, walking three . . . We don’t generally see players from the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League making the Hot Sheet, but Phillies LHP Douglas Parada is worth a second look. Parada struck out 14 in a no-hitter against the Rays this week. Only a Deiber Olivera error kept Parada from a perfect game. The Rays are the worst team in the VSL, with a 14-44 record and the worst lineup in the league, but Parada has dominated against everyone. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 36 innings, and his 0.69 ERA easily leads the four-team league . . . Because the Twins don’t have a short-season club, CF Max Kepler is getting a second run through the Appalachian League. If you’re going to repeat a level, it pays to dominate it, and that’s what Kepler is doing now. He had four extra-base hits in his first 21 games, then produced five extra-base hits in a four-game stretch, including home runs in three straight games. The 19-year-old has the sixth-highest OPS in the league (.958) and nearly a 2-1 walk-strikeout ratio . . . A product of the A’s aggressive international spending, 3B Renato Nunez has been showing off the big bat that earned him $2.2 million from Oakland in 2010. The 18-year-old hit three home runs in a six-game span in the Rookie-level Arizona League and finished the week hitting .435/.458/1.087 (10-for-23) with four doubles and a triple . . . Further up the A’s system, CF Michael Choice is riding a 15-game hitting streak for Double-A Midland. Fresh off his Futures Game appearance, the 22-year-old Choice hit .500/.533/.962 (13-for-26) with three homers and three doubles, improving his season line to .285/.354/.424 with 10 homers . . . Rockies OF Charlie Blackmon just turned 26, and in mid-June he was rehabbing a foot injury in short-season ball. When he got promoted back to Triple-A Colorado Springs, he quickly got back on track, with a nine-game hitting streak that includes seven multi-hit outings. He’s 17-for-41 with a home run and four doubles, as well as four walks and four stolen bases . . . When the Royals drafted LHP Sam Selman in the second round out of Vanderbilt this year, they knew they were getting a pitcher whose results haven’t always matched his stuff, in large part because of shaky command. But Selmas has had little trouble with the Pioneer League, going 1-0, 1.59 in two starts this week, striking out 17 and walking three in 11 innings. For the season, the 21-year-old is 3-0, 2.05 with 35 strikeouts in 26 innings.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
• Corky Miller, c, Reds: A nonndrafted free agent signed out of Nevada in 1998, Miller has made quite the career for himself as a third catcher. Neither Miller’s bat nor glove is good enough for him to be a major league regular, but he is reliable enough that teams like to have him in Triple-A, knowing he can serve a fill-in with the big league club for a few weeks if needed. Miller, 36, has not played in more than 40 big league games in any season, but he has made it up to the majors in 11 different seasons. This week was a good one for Miller offensively, as he hit .500/.571/1.083 with two home runs in 12 at-bats for Triple-A Louisville.
• Tyler Matzek, lhp, Rockies. Matzek allowed one run on one hit over seven innings against Bakersfield on June 9, but he’s been in a tailspin ever since. In his last six starts for high Class A Modesto, the 21-year-old has gone 1-4, 10.05 with 20 walks and 32 strikeouts in 29 innings. Matzek’s worst work has come his last two times out—17 runs, 18 hits in 5.2 innings—though he made those starts in High Desert and Lancaster, two places no pitcher ever wants to toe the rubber.
• Jed Bradley, lhp, Brewers: Bradley performed as expected for a college first-rounder in five April starts, dominating the Florida State League with a 4.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 2.79 ERA, including 19 consecutive scoreless innings. In 12 starts since, the 22-year old has walked 29 and struck out 30, posting a 6.03 ERA. This stretch was punctuated by Bradley’s Wednesday start, when he allowed a season-high seven runs and four walks in four and two-thirds. The 6-foot-6 Bradley has battled mechanical issues, and his velocity has dipped to 88-91 mph.
• Max White, of, Rockies:
White signed this year for a $1 million bonus after being a second-round pick, and he got off to a good start (7-for-25). But as July dawned, White found the Pioneer League a bit rougher than the high school pitching he saw at Williston (Fla.) High. He was 1-for-35 (.029) with 17 strikeouts and six walks, and the 6-foot-2, 175-pound speedster has been caught stealing in his only attempt. He was 1-for-9 this week with four whiffs.
• Zach Lee, rhp, Dodgers: Things have not gone as hoped this season for the 2010 first-round draft pick. After a pedestrian 12-game stint in high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (2-3, 4.55 ERA), Lee was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga in late June. He has been hit early and often, with a .357 opponent average. Sunday’s start against Mississippi was his worst of the year (2.1 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Lee now sports an 8.82 ERA and has allowed 25 hits in his 16 innings of work for Chattanooga.
• Chris Duffy, 1b, Phillies: Duffy was a ninth-round pick out of high school—in 2006. He didn’t sign with the White Sox and went to Central Florida, where he never hit better than .285 or had more than eight home runs in his first three seasons. He returned for his senior year and batted .447/.539/.850 with 21 home runs, and after going undrafted as a junior he was a 26th-round pick of the Phillies in 2010. Duffy is bigger than his listed 6-foot-2, 200 pounds—his draft report lists him at 240—and his best position is batter’s box. He got a 20-game early-season trial at high Class A Clearwater, but hit just .205 and was sent back to low Class A Lakewood. There he’s batting .385, and his power has come on as well. After a two-homer game Monday against Savannah, he has five homers in July while posting a .364/.462/.667 line. At 24, he should be a fine organizational soldier in the middle of Phillies minor league lineups. There are worse fates in life.
• Fred Ford, of, Royals: After he made plenty of noise at the Junior College World Series this spring, hitting a tournament-best four home runs, the Royals brought Ford in for a workout at Kauffman Stadium, where he hit balls to parts of the park that hadn’t been reached by a prospective draftee since Wil Myers. Kansas City was thrilled to land Ford in seventh round in June, and so far he’s living up to their expectations. The 20-year-old is second in the Appalachian League with seven home runs (trailing teammate Patrick Leonard’s eight), and he hit four as part of a .350/.458/1.000 week.