Prospect Hot Sheet: July 29

Baseball America is located in Durham, N.C., because former owner Miles Wolff also owned the Durham Bulls. During the magazine’s infancy, it made sense to have the BA staff share office space with popcorn boxes, hot dog wrappers and everything else needed for the Bulls’ next homestand.

BA moved on from that arrangement more than 20 years ago, but the media company remained stationed in Durham, which has proven an ideal location for viewing games in the Appalachian, Carolina, South Atlantic, Southern and International leagues.

That location has seldom been more opportune than this week, when Rays lefty Matt Moore made his first two Triple-A starts for Durham.

Remember that 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 from July 22-28.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Dugan, Matt Eddy, Michael Kanen, Nathan Rode and Jim Shonerd.

No. 1 MATT MOORE, LHP

RAYS

Team: Triple-A Durham (International)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.69, 2 GS, 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 20 SO

The Scoop: Could it be anyone else? Moore turned heads with his showing before a national audience at the Futures Game, and now his first two Triple-A starts have seen him overwhelm older lineups featuring hitters with big league experience, leaving little doubt that he’s the best pitching prospect in the minors. Moore secured the top spot on Hot Sheet for the third time this season.

Moore’s Triple-A debut went well, as he struck out seven in five innings against Toledo, allowing a Ryan Strieby solo homer for the only tally against him. His second start made history. Moore earned his first Triple-A win with eight shutout innings against Gwinnett, striking out 13 and allowing just three hits. The 13 punchouts matched a Bulls Triple-A franchise record. After watching Moore carve up Gwinnett’s hitters with his mid-90s fastball, curve and change, Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said it was “fair to say” Moore’s stuff compares well with any pitching prospect to come through Durham in recent years, a group that includes David Price and Jeremy Hellickson, among others.

2011
Stats

No. 2 BRETT LAWRIE, 3B

BLUE JAYS

Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .379/.471/.828 (11-for-29), 3 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBIs, 6 R, 5 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Lawrie appeared to be on the verge of a promotion to the major leagues before an Anthony Bass pitch broke his left hand on May 31. The way he’s going now, it shouldn’t be long before those rumors start filtering out again. Lawrie returned to Las Vegas’ lineup on July 19 and, after going hitless in his first two games back, has resumed mashing PCL pitching. Lawrie went 3-for-5 with a double against Colorado Springs in his third game after returning and hasn’t let up since, reeling off a nine-game hitting streak. The PCL’s youngest regular position player, Lawrie’s .357 average ranks third in the league and he leads it in slugging (.680).

2011
Stats

No. 3 DANTE BICHETTE JR., 3B

YANKEES

Team:
Rookie-level GCL Yankees (Gulf Coast)

Age: 18

Why He’s Here: .737/.760/1.000 (14-for-19), 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBIs, 8 R, 4 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Bichette held a batting average of .151 on July 11, but since that point he has built a 13-game hitting streak that has boosted his season numbers to .336/.471/.505. The Yankees’ top pick in June (51st overall), Bichette’s on-base percentage ranks first in the Gulf Coast League, due in large part to his league-leading 24 walks. He has shown the advanced plate approach that one would expect from a player who grew up around the game and has had great amateur instruction. Bichette has played only third base, though his future as a fielder might lie in a corner-outfield position. His quickly-blooming power is a boon for Yankees system that doesn’t boast many others.

2011
Stats

No. 4 DREW SMYLY, LHP

TIGERS

Team: high Class A Lakeland (Florida State)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: Smyly has authored 17 straight scoreless innings against Florida State League competition, a streak that stretches back three starts. In that time he struck out 23 batters, walked six and allowed just 11 hits. His ERA: 0.50. The Tigers’ second-round pick in 2010, Smyly earned his stripes, so to speak, by tossing seven shutout innings in his start on Monday. His Lakeland teammates eked out only one run, but it proved to be enough to end the Flying Tigers’ four-game losing streak.

2011
Stats

No. 5 ANTHONY RIZZO, 1B

PADRES

Team: Triple-A Tucson (Pacific Coast)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 414/.472/.862 (12-for-29), 5 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 4 BB, 10 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: At some point, Rizzo will get another chance. Even with the hitter-friendly environment that he gets to enjoy with Tucson, nobody hits .371/.448/.734 in 59 games by accident. Rizzo has the potential to hit for average and power, which he showed this week and has shown all season in the Pacific Coast League. Rizzo will still need to show he can handle better fastballs after looking overmatched during his 35-game stint in San Diego, but he’s still the organization’s first baseman of the future.

2011
Stats

No. 6 KYLE PARKER, RF

ROCKIES

Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .389/.522/1.222 (7-for-18), 5 HR, 9 RBIs, 8 R, 4 BB, 4 SO

The Scoop: A two-way standout at Clemson, Parker batted a modest .272/.341/.434 for Asheville in the first half as he moved further away from his quarterback days. His second-half performance thus far seems to validate the Rockies’ preference for multi-sport athletes. Parker has clubbed nine (of 17) homers in 109 at-bats during the second half, while hitting .303/.389/.606. He slammed homers in four straight home games this week, though his road production this season has been unexceptional—.726 OPS and four homers in 45 games. At home: .972 OPS and 13 homers.

2011
Stats

No. 7 BRAD PEACOCK, RHP

NATIONALS

Team: Triple-A Syracuse (International)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.75, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: It’s been an incredible year for Peacock. Considered a solid prospect with potential to be a big league reliever coming into the season, he’s rewritten that scouting report with an outstanding 2011. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before he joins the Nationals’ big league rotation. Peacock had a rough introduction to Triple-A in his first start, but he bounced back to dominate in his second and third starts for Syracuse this week.

And the thought of Peacock and a rehabbing Stephen Strasburg joining Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannan in the Nats rotation in 2012 gives Washington fans something new to marvel at—a homegrown rotation that elicits cheers, not groans.

2011
Stats

No. 8 NOAH SYNDERGAARD, RHP

BLUE JAYS

Team: Rookie-level Bluefield (Appalachian)

Age: 18

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.90, 2 GS, 10 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: Syndergaard was an under-the-radar prep product out of Texas that the Blue Jays popped in the supplemental first round with the 38th overall pick in 2010. That spring he was sitting 90-94 mph with an improving curveball. After signing a pro contract, he sat 92-93 and touched 95. Thursday night against Burlington, Syndergaard sat at 94 and touched 97 once with downhill plane and boring action. His overhand curveball sits at 78 and has good downward bite, but needs to be more consistent. His changeup is a mid-80s offering with sink, though is still a work in progress. Against Burlington he threw five innings allowing one run on a walk and two hits while striking out five. He lowered his Appy League-leading ERA to 1.41 in 32 innings.

2011
Stats

No. 9 DREW VETTLESON, RF

RAYS

Team: Rookie-league Princeton (Appalachian)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .480/.500/.920 (12-for-25), 6 R, 2 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: The Rays believed they were getting a complete hitter when they selected Vettleson with the 42nd pick in the 2010 draft, and in 33 games for Princeton he’s done much to confirm that faith. Vettleson has has hit for average (.313), power (five home runs) and has shown an above-average aptitude on the basepaths, where he’s stolen 12 bases, good for fifth in the Appalachian League. Currently in the midst of a eight-game hitting streak, Vettleson seems to be picking up steam after posting back to back three-hit games on Wednesday and Thursday that included two doubles and a homer.

2011
Stats

No. 10 CHRIS DWYER, LHP

ROYALS

Team: Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Texas)

Age:
22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.13, 1 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks.

The Scoop: Royals fans, meet Aaron Crow version 2.0. OK, so this latest version pitches with his left arm instead of his right, and his strikeout pitch is a curveball not a slider. But otherwise, there are a whole lot of similarities between Crow’s 2010 troubles in Northwest Arkansas and Dwyer’s 2011 season with the Naturals. Both of them suffered through significant control problems, which robbed them of their best pitch. With Crow, it was his slider that had to be left in his back pocket. In Dwyer’s case, if he falls behind in the count, he largely has to shelve his hard-breaking curveball, and if he has to focus on locating his plus fastball, it becomes quite hittable.

You don’t have to be a veteran scout to see Dwyer’s problems are related to his control. In starts which Dwyer has thrown 60 percent or more strikes in a start this year, he’s 4-2, 3.05 with a .210 opponent average, 14 walks and 45 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings. When he doesn’t throw 60 percent strikes, he’s helpless to the tune of a 0-7, 9.28 record with a .399 opponent average and 49 walks and 41 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

2011
Stats

No. 11 BLAKE TEKOTTE, CF

PADRES

Team:  Double-A San Antonio (Texas)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .481/.533/.815 (13-for-27), 2 HR, 3 2B, 6 RBIs, 5 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 4-for-5 SB

The Scoop: The Padres wanted to see Tekotte develop his batting eye and basestealing proficiency (and efficiency) at Double-A this season, and he’s done just that. He ranks second in the Texas League with 31 steals and fourth with 55 walks. Tekotte’s hot hitting this week pushed his season average to .300, but it’s really the culmination of a scalding month-long performance. In 25 July games, he has batted .320/.398/.631—that’s 33-for-103 with eight homers, eight doubles and eight steals (in 11 attempts).

2011
Stats

No. 12 ROBBIE ROSS, LHP

RANGERS

Team:  high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 0-1, 1.13, 1 GS, 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Ross is going to be sorry to see July end. He had a 17-inning shutout streak earlier in the month and allowed just four earned runs in 32 innings overall. Ross’ funky delivery and moving low-90s fastball have beguiled Carolina League hitters all season, and he owns a 2.24 ERA in 116 innings for the year, the third best mark in the league. He threw an eight-inning complete game in his only start this week, taking a hard-luck 1-0 loss. He’s allowed only one home run all season, the fewest of any pitcher in the minors with as many innings as Ross.

2011
Stats

No. 13 PAT CORBIN, LHP

DIAMONDBACKS

Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Tyler Skaggs is the usual topic of discussion when the Dan Haren trade is mentioned, but Corbin is doing his best to throw himself into that conversation. He has rocketed to Double-A in his third pro season after not even concentrating full-time on pitching until 2009. Corbin ranks second in the Southern League with 111 strikeouts (a total that ranks sixth among all Double-A pitchers) and third with 1.96 walks per nine innings. The southpaw turned in one of his worst performances on July 17 (five runs, nine hits, 5 2/3 innings), but rebounded strongly with his start last Saturday.

2011
Stats

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt’s pillaging of the Southern League continues. The 23-year-old slugged three more home runs this week, giving him a minor league-best 30. He also chipped in a double as part of a 6-for-18 week. Impressively for a slugger, Goldschmidt’s average has stayed above .300 all season, though his 0-for-3 last night brings it down a season-low .301 . . . Phillies RHP Austin Hyatt seems to be turning a corner with Double-A Reading. A fifth-year senior sign out of Alabama in 2009, Hyatt was named the Florida State League’s most valuable pitcher in 2010 after going 11-5, 3.04 and 156 strikeouts in 124 innings for high Class A Clearwater, earning him a late-season promotion to Reading. Since then, Hyatt, 25, has continued to rack up strikeouts at an impressive rate—he has 131 in just less than 120 innings this year—using a changeup with good fade as an out pitch. However, he has also been victimized by 16 home runs, leading to an ERA that has registered above 4.00 for most of the season. In two starts this week, Hyatt had no such trouble, throwing 12 innings, allowing one run while fanning 12 . . . Dodgers LF Angelo Songco has hit wherever he has gone. Now, he is reaping the benefits of hitting in the high Class A Cal League. After leading the West Coast Conference in OBP as a junior with Loyola Marymount, Songco was named a Midwest League all-star in his first full pro season in 2010 and has seen his numbers go through the roof with Rancho Cucamonga. This past week, Songco, 22, had seven hits, all for extra bases, including four home runs to set a career high with 21 on the year. Through 100 games, the lefthanded hitter has also set a career high in doubles with 33 and his .295/.354/.548 pace will also shatter his previous high-water marks . . . Mets RF Cesar Puello might finally be starting to get on track after going 10-for-25 this past week with a double, two triples and two home runs (.400/.423/.840). The 20-year-old Dominican outfielder entered the season with high expectations after a strong 2010 campaign in the Sally league, but Puello’s strikeouts ticked up (85) while his efficiency in stealing bases (14-for-22) ticked down . . . Athletics LF Michael Taylor saw his stock drop after a disappointing 2010 season, and a wrist injury kept him on the shelf until May of this year. His bat’s been showing some welcome signs of life though. The 25-year-old hit .375/.516/.708 (9-for-24) with two homers this week for Triple-A Sacramento. Taylor has already doubled his home run output from last year (from six to 12) in half as many at-bats . . . Blue Jays RHP Deck McGuire left the high Class A Florida State League ranked third in ERA (2.75) and fifth among starters in opponent average (.229) and strikeout rate (8.67 per nine innings). The 22-year-old’s final start for Dunedin consisted of six, two-hit, shutout innings. McGuire’s first start for Double-A New Hampshire was not efficient enough (seven innings, nine hits, three runs) to give him a two-level line this week of 2-0, 2.08 with a 14-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 13 innings . . . The Orioles gave a brief look to 2B Ryan Adams in May and June as he filled in for the injured Brian Roberts. Brief is the operative word. In about a month in Baltimore, Adams batted 25 times and collected five hits, all singles. He started six games at the keystone. Back with Triple-A Norfolk since June 21, the 24-year-old Adams has shown impressive power (16 extra-base hits in 34 games, .464 slugging). At no time was that more apparent than this week, when he connected for three homers, two doubles and a triple and batted 10-for-27 (.370).

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Tom Milone, lhp, Nationals. Milone has had a terrific year with Triple-A Syracuse—he leads the International League with 120 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP—but he’s had a rough go of things in his past two starts. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, and then he allowed another five-spot in just 2 1/3 innings yesterday against Columbus. The 24-year-old’s control never wavered (just two walks in those tumultuous 6 2/3 innings), but with 12 hits allowed (two homers) he clearly wasn’t putting the ball where he wanted.

Christian Friedrich, lhp, Rockies. Four starts ago, Friedrich shut down Double-A San Antonio for one run over eight innings of work. Then he’s also had starts like Tuesday’s outing at Northwest Arkansas, where Friedrich surrendered nine runs in 2 1/3 innings and didn’t strike out any of the 17 batters he faced. It was Friedrich’s fourth start of the year in which he allowed seven or more runs, raising his ERA to 4.37 through 111 innings. Call it inconsistency if you want, but at 24, Friedrich has not showed the same potential that made him a first-round pick three years ago.

Leury Garcia, ss, Rangers. Garcia has speed, speed and more speed. His ability to run, throw and field are all exciting tools, but those tools have limited practical utility unless his bat starts to come around. Garcia, 20, is hitting .271/.317/.355 through 90 games, and while his defensive tools are flashy, he’ll have to cut down on the errors after committing 29 already.

Stetson Allie, rhp, Pirates. To be blunt about it, Allie has been brutal. Since scoring a $2.25 million bonus as a second-round pick out of high school last year, he has done little since then to justify the Pirates’ decision. After battling wildness throughout extended spring training, Allie has allowed 18 runs (17 earned) in 19 2/3 innings for short-season State College. He’s struck out 21 of the 103 batters he’s faced, but he’s also walked 17, hit seven batters and uncorked five wild pitches. These are major red flags that are going to take significant adjustments for the 20-year-old to right the ship.

MAN AMONG BOYS

As a 24-year-old former Alabama product, Rockies RF Kent Matthes is a little old for the California League, and he got the pleasure of hitting in High Desert this week. But it’s hard to ignore a .545/.600/1.364 week. Matthes hit four home runs this week (all in High Desert) and added four doubles and a triple. Now healthy after a knee injury wrecked his 2010 season, Matthes’ 21 home runs rank third in the California League.

BLAST FROM THE
PAST

Justin Germano, rhp, Indians. Now in his second year in the Indians organization, Germano has spent most of the year in the bullpen but moved to the Triple-A Columbus rotation in early July. In just his fifth start of the year, Germano authored the first perfect game in Clippers history and fifth in International League history, retiring all 27 Syracuse hitters. He struck out seven and needed 95 pitches to do the job. Germano’s ability to command three pitches has allowed him to stick around the Triple-A level, but his lack of any plus offering has precluded him from establishing a firm hold in the majors. The now 28-year-old—a 13th-round pick by the Padres in 2000—was regular in our Prospect Handbooks earlier this decade, ranking as high as No. 7 in San Diego’s system in 2005.

HELIUM WATCH

Vicmal de la Cruz, cf, Athletics. Baseball America readers already know de la Cruz from his amateur days, when he was one of the top prospects in the Dominican Republic in 2010 and signed with the A’s for $800,000. De la Cruz had some of the best tools on the international market a year ago, but he’s come with even better feel for the game than some scouts had expected. De la Cruz, 17, has hit .331/.447/.448 in 47 Dominican Summer League games with more walks (29) than strikeouts (20). He’s yet to hit a ball over the fence, but he’s strong, runs well, works the gap and has an advanced idea of the strike zone for his age. His stellar showing earned him a spot in Sunday’s DSL all-star game, where he went 2-for-4 and was named the game’s MVP.

Minors | #2011 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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