Tomorrow’s Independence Day festivities would get in the way of our normally scheduled Prospect Hot Sheet, so a day early, we’re rolling out this week’s Hot Sheet. It’s a little different than a normal Hot Sheet, as this is a look at our midseason all-stars. This is a ranking of which prospects have had the best first halves.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Nathan Rode and Jim Shonerd
|C Matt Wieters||Orioles|
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern) / high Class A Frederick (Carolina)
Wieters came on strong in his professional debut, slugging two home runs in his first game. After destroying lefthanders to the tune of .391/.452/.828 and also damaging some righthanders, Wieters was promoted to Double-A, where he’s started off cold. No matter. Wieters led all high Class A batter in on-base percentage (.448) and ranked third in slugging (.576).
Honorable Mention:: Jesus Montero, low Class A Charleston (Yankees); Bryan Anderson, Triple-A Memphis (Cardinals).
|1B Chris Davis||Rangers|
Team: Triple-A Oklahoma (Pacific Coast) / Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Davis crushed his first home run in Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, giving him three long balls in his last five games, but it’s his minor league resume that earned him a spot on this team. Even though he’s missed the last week, Davis still ranks fifth in the minors in home runs, fourth in RBIs, fourth in runs, fourth in slugging, fifth in extra-base hits (45) and second in total bases (191).
Honorable Mention:: Sean Doolittle, high Class A Stockton (Athletics); Freddie Freeman, low Class A Rome (Braves).
|2B Chris Coghlan||Marlins|
Team: Double-A Carolina (Southern)
Coghlan has been a steady presence in the Carolina order with his ability to get the bat on the ball and a disciplined approach. The Marlins’ 2006 supplemental first-rounder out of Mississippi has hit at least .290 in each month of the season, and he was at his best in June as he put up a .320/.358/.480 line in 100 at-bats. Coghlan’s 95 hits for the year are fourth most in the Southern League and the most for anyone who’s not from Huntsville’s high-powered offense.
Honorable Mention:: Adrian Cardenas, high Class A Clearwater (Phillies); Chris Getz, Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox).
|3B Mat Gamel||Brewers|
Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
Gamel entered the year with .297/.368/.472 averages, which were certainly good but hardly seemed like a precursor to the beat-down he’s administered on Southern League pitchers this season. The lefty-hitting third baseman leads the minors in an astounding four categories: hits, doubles, extra-base hits (52) and total bases (218). Gamel ranks third with 75 RBIs and 69 runs scored, and fifth in slugging and sixth in on-base percentage. Even though his future position is in doubt, because he’s a below-average defender at third, nobody can question the bat.
Honorable Mention:: Ian Stewart, Triple-A Colorado Springs (Rockies); Brandon Waring, low Class A Dayton (Reds).
|SS Alcides Escobar||Brewers|
Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
Escobar has been one of the guys charged with getting on base in front of Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta in the Huntsville order. The Venezuelan shortstop has handled the assignment beautifully, and was particularly red hot in May, when he hit .379/.419/.508 in 118 at-bats. Escobar has shown off his smooth hands and strong throwing arm at short as well, making him one of the minors’ most impressive players considering his level and his age.
Honorable Mention:: Jason Donald, Double-A Reading (Phillies); Chris Valaika, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds).
|CF Dexter Fowler||Rockies|
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
This is what they call a breakout. After playing in 164 games total in 2006 and 2007, Fowler has stayed healthy this season and has shown the power, speed and defense that have been his calling cards. He leads the Texas League in runs and triples, and ranks third in hits, doubles and extra-base hits (35). The switch-hitter is batting .400/.446/.617 from his natural right side, and a none-too-shabby .300/.383/.466 as a lefthanded batter, a swing he didn’t pick up until turning pro in 2004.
Honorable Mention:: Peter Bourjos, high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels); Ben Revere, low Class A Beloit (Twins).
|OF Matt LaPorta||Brewers|
Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
At the time of the 2007 draft, LaPorta’s selection at No. 7 overall may have seemed curious. What were the Brewers doing taking a first baseman—a college senior, no less—that high when they had Prince Fielder entrenched at the same position? LaPorta may not be smooth in the outfield, but he more than makes up for it with his bat. He leads all Double-A batters in home runs, and ranks fifth in slugging, fourth in RBIs and second in extra-base hits (44). With LaPorta, Gamel and Escobar, the Brewers have the type of position-player prospect depth to rival any organization. So who’s laughing now?
Honorable Mention:: Chase Headley, Triple-A Portland (Padres); Mike Stanton, low Class A Greensboro (Marlins).
|OF Jason Heyward||Braves|
Team: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Heyward, the prototypical corner-outfield prospect, has delivered on the high hopes the Braves had for him when they took him 14th overall in 2007. He’s emerged as the best prospect in the Sally League and is having a historically great season for a teenager. Showing the ability to hit for average and power with some speed mixed in, Heyward ranks among the Sally League’s leaders in average, OBP and runs scored.
Honorable Mention:: Michael Saunders, Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners); Andrew McCutchen, Triple-A Indianapolis (Pirates).
|DH Max Ramirez||Rangers|
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
You won’t find a better offensive performance in the minors than Ramirez’s, even though, like Davis, he’s currently in the big leagues. Ramirez may not stick at catcher, but his bat is too loud to ignore. He leaves the Texas League having ranked first in average, on-base percentage and slugging, and third in home runs and extra-base hits (35).
Honorable Mention:: Nick Evans, Double-A Binghamton (Mets); Josh Reddick, high Class A Lancaster (Red Sox).
|SP Trevor Cahill, rhp||Athletics|
Team: Double-A Midland (Texas) / high Class A Stockton (California)
All Cahill did was mow down batter after batter in the hitter-friendly California League. He had the secret recipe though: keep the ball down and make batters either swing and miss or pound the ball into the ground. He induced twice as many groundouts as fly outs and averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in the Cal League. If that weren’t impressive enough, Cahill leads all minor league pitchers in strikeouts, average (.173) and strikeouts per nine (10.07).
Honorable Mention:: LHP Brett Anderson, Double-A Midland (Athletics); RHP James McDonald, Double-A Jacksonville (Dodgers).
|SP Tommy Hanson, rhp||Braves|
Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern) / high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Hanson struck out 13 in five no-hit in his season debut, and then was promoted to Double-A after posting an 0.90 ERA in seven starts at high Class A. After a rocky May in Mississippi (2-2, 5.85), Hanson has settled into a groove, going 2-1, 3.27 in June with 31 strikeouts and 12 walks in 33 innings. Oh yeah, and he threw a no-hitter, while striking out 14, on June 25.
Honorable Mention: LHP Madison Bumgarner, low Class Augusta (Giants); LHP David Huff, Triple-A Buffalo (Indians).
|SP Michael Bowden, rhp||Red Sox|
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Bowden has been one of the Eastern League’s most dominant pitchers, holding opponents to a .192 average and striking out almost a batter an inning. The young righthander has continued to display an outstanding feel for pitching, as he’s continued to keep the walks low while not giving hitters pitches to drive. Bowden has held opponents to three runs or fewer in 16 of his 17 starts and is third in the EL in ERA and second in strikeouts.
Honorable Mention:: RHP Neftali Feliz, low Class A Clinton (Rangers); RHP Chris Tillman, Double-A Bowie (Orioles).
|SP Jeremy Hellickson, rhp||Rays|
Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern) / high Class A Vero Beach (Florida State)
The Rays have moved Hellickson along slowly and he’s encountered his share of injuries. But in the FSL this year, he simply dominated. With a great feel for pitching and an ability to pound the lower half of the strike zone, Hellickson baffled FSL hitters with his low-to-mid 90s fastball and a curveball that can jump on hitters. He held opponents to two runs or less in 10 of his 14 starts in the FSL, and was leading the league in ERA and strikeouts at the time of his promotion to Double-A.
Honorable Mention:: RHP Tim Alderson, high Class A San Jose (Giants); RHP Will Inman, Double-A San Antonio (Padres).
|RP Anthony Slama, rhp||Twins|
Team: high Class A Fort Myers (Florida State)
The Twins managed to snag Slama as a senior sign in 2007 after a mediocre career at San Diego. While his college numbers may not have been remarkable, Slama has dominated from the minute he became a Twin. He struck out 13.9 batters per nine innings last year, and has topped that in his first full pro season. Using his low 90s fastball and an average slider, Slama leads all minor leaguers with 15.46 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s recorded at least one strikeout in all but one of his 30 outings. His 0.41 ERA also ranks among the minors’ best for relievers. Blessed with great sink on his fastball, Slama has yet to allow a home run as a pro. He’s just getting better as the season goes along—he hasn’t allowed a run and has allowed 10 hits and three walks while striking out 28 in his last 14 2/3 innings.
Honorable Mention:: RHP Ryan Reid, Double-A Montgomery (Rays); RHP Casey Weathers, Double-A Tulsa (Rockies).