Prospect Hot Sheet: July 31-Aug. 6

Yes, this list is supposed to be about prospects, but once in a while we like to give shout outs to players that are definitely not prospects. In this case, we are talking about the Braves’ Jonathan Schuerholz.

The son of the Braves general manager had by far his best week of the year for Richmond while making us forget that he is playing in Triple-A for no reason other than his last name.

The 26-year-old third baseman hit .444 on the week with his first two home runs of the season and raised his season line to .189/.265/.259. We don’t mean to pick on Schuerholz and it is nice to see him having some success, but it is hard to imagine a player without his bloodlines still playing everyday in Triple-A.

Now, on to the prospects.

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.

If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail Chris Kline or Matt Meyers with your kudos or complaints.

THE HOT SHEET

1. Adam Miller, rhp, Indians (Double-A Akron)
You have to go back to June 26 to find the last time Miller took a loss, and while he gave up five earned runs in that outing, he hasn’t allowed more than one run over his last six starts. Back that up with a pair of 11-strikeout performances the last two times he took the mound, and that equals the hottest of the hot this week. Miller’s velocity has ranged anywhere from 92 to 97 mph, his hard-breaking slider is sliding again and he’s using his changeup more effectively than ever before–throwing it at will in any count. The latter is the most significant phase of his development since he returned from a strained elbow ligament that cost him three months last year.
2. Alex Gordon, 3b, Royals (Double-A Wichita)
Mark Teahen is the Royals’™ hottest hitter in the majors (.860 OPS for the year), but Gordon is keeping pace in the minors. He has reached base in 18 straight game, hit safely in 17 of those contests and jumped his batting average from .297 to .315 in the last two weeks while blasting eight homers.
3. Chris Volstad, rhp, Marlins (Low Class A Greensboro)
After a disastrous May in which he went 1-4, 5.94, the first high school pitcher drafted in 2005 has been spectacular, particularly since July 1. In that time, he is 4-0, 1.47 in 31 innings and has lowered his ERA to 3.28, which ranks eighth in the SAL.
4. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Phillies (Low Class A Lakeland)
Some officials in the Phillies front office liken 19-year-old Venezuelan to a young Tony Armas Jr. based on his pure stuff, though they obviously hope his ultimate ceiling is higher. Though he only has two wins to show for it, Carrasco has strung together five straight quality starts in which he’s carried a 1.16 ERA and whiffed 28 in 31 innings. The biggest difference in Carrasco’s arsenal has been the emergence of his curveball to go along with his above-average fastball and changeup.
5. Chris Young, of, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Tucson)
Young batted .354 with four home runs last week, and is a shoe-in for a September callup to follow Carlos Quentin from the Tucson outfield to the big leagues. While he started slowly coming back from a broken hand that caused him to miss all of spring training, Young batted .300 in July and has been on fire so far in August, raking at a .385 clip. If he were still with the White Sox, Young would likely be the everyday center fielder and Brian Anderson would be in Triple-A.
6. Clayton Kershaw, lhp, Dodgers (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League)
The No. 6 overall pick in the draft is No. 6 in our hearts after striking out 21 in 11 innings of two starts last week. If the Dodgers promote him, it will be to high Class A Vero Beach so he can keep reaping the tax benefits of Florida, which has no state income tax.
7. Deolis Guerra, rhp, Mets (Low Class A Hagerstown)
As the season goes on, it becomes harder to believe that this guy was born in 1989. After an 11-strikeout gem Sunday night, Guerra has allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts. Since June 1, he has a 2.06 ERA in 66 innings with a 51-19 strikeout-walk ratio.
8. Zach Ward, rhp, Twins (Low Class A Beloit)
Traded from the Reds to the Twins, Ward dominated his former team in his first Beloit start as he threw 5 2/3 shutout innings to earn his eighth win. That followed a shutout in his final Dayton start. The Gardner-Webb product is now 8-0, 2.18 in 120 innings and has just added to the Twins impressive systematic pitching depth.
9. Kevin Whelan, rhp, Tigers (High Class A Lakeland)
Whelan hasn’™t given up an earned run since June 11, covering 17 appearances, and gave up three unearned runs in his only poor outing during that span. He got eight outs in his last outing, last Wednesday, and has 23 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings in his hot streak.
10. David Winfree, 3b, Twins (High Class A Fort Myers)
The Twins 2005 minor league player of the year missed more than two months of the season to attend to personal problems. It took him a while to get going, but his last week was his best of the season and hopefully shows that he is back on track. Winfree turned 21 on Saturday and celebrated by going 2-for-4 with a homer. On the week he was 13-for-29 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Will Venable, of, Padres (Low Class A Fort Wayne): After hitting .438 last week, the former Princeton basketball star is now hitting .318/.401/.467 on the season and is third in the MWL in hitting, fourth in doubles and fifth in OBP. While old for the league at 23, he did not start playing baseball fulltime until 2005 and has already shown remarkable improvement.
Allesandro Maestri, rhp, Cubs (Short-season Boise): The first pitcher ever signed out of Italy is showing he is more than a novelty. The 21-year-old reliever has allowed just two earned runs in his last 17 innings and boasts an impressive 26-8 strikeout-walk ratio in 30 innings this season.
Brian Barton, of, Indians (Double-A Akron): While he was at high Class A Kinston, Barton hit a home run at Salem that ricocheted off the top of the scoreboard and bounced halfway back to the infield–an estimated distance of 485 feet. Barton is a combination of intriguing power and speed, even though he’s 24-years-old and spent half the year in high Class A. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004 out of Miami, Barton continues to produce in Double-A, hitting .426 (26-for-61) with 10 steals over his first 17 games.
Kendry Morales, 1b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): Morales has compiled six multi-hit games over his last eight, a stretch that has also included five home runs. Before he got called up to the big leagues for two months, the Cuban defector hit .408 in May, and was raking at a .426 clip so far in August.
Alberto Gonzalez, ss, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee): The righthanded-hitting shortstop batted .435 in July, posted a .553 slugging percentage and followed that up with a solid weekend, going 5-for-11 in the first two games of the Smokies’ series against Birmingham–both wins for Northern Division-leading Tennessee. Overall, Gonzalez is hitting .297/.361/.408 in 343 at-bats.
Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): We’ve dogged on Stewart at times this season–and rightly so, especially after that abysmal May when he hit just .164 with five extra-base hits. But he’s bounced back big time, the pinnacle of which has been the entire month of July, hitting .340 and upping his overall numbers to .286/.364/.483. He’s also riding an 18-game hit streak, in which he’s batting .337 (27-for-80).
Lance Broadway, rhp, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham): The White Sox’ first-rounder has put together an extremely consistent campaign in his full-season debut. He was 2-0, 1.38 last week and since July 1 the TCU product is 4-1, 2.64 in 44 innings with 35 strikeouts and just five walks.
Carlos Gomez, of, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): Prior to this season, Gomez was known more for his raw tools than his production on the field. Since returning in June from a back injury that sidelined him for a few weeks, he has been doing his best to reverse his rep. The 20-year-old is hitting .363 in that span and hit .406 in July and is hitting .435 in August. It is still mostly singles and he still strikes out too much, but it is still progress.
Cyle Hankerd, of, Diamondbacks (Short-season Yakima): The USC product has hit the ground running since being taken in the third-round. After going 15-for-26 last week, Hankerd is now hitting .370/.408/.478. His 43-10 strikeout-walk ratio in 184 at-bats is somewhat alarming, but when he is making contact, he is doing damage.
Travis Snider, of, Blue Jays (Rookie-level Pulaski):
The first-rounder from the Seattle suburbs is doing his best to separate himself from Bill Rowell and Kieron Pope as the top prospect in the Appy League. Snider is now hitting .364 with three homers in August and .306/.376/.531 with eight homers on the season.
Jonathan Barratt, lhp, Devil Rays (High Class A Visalia): In three of his last four starts, Barratt has pitched at least five innings without giving up an earned run. Over those four starts, the little lefty has 33 K’™s in just 23 2/3 innings while walking just four.
Pedro Beato, rhp, Orioles (Short-season Aberdeen): The righthander Mets fans were dreaming of a couple of months ago has proved himself over his last four starts in Aberdeen. Since moving into the IronBirds’™ rotation, he’™s gotten better with each start, tossing seven two-hit frames last Wednesday and going 1-0, 1.09 over 24 2/3 innings as a starter.
Evan Longoria, 3b, Devil Rays (Double-A Montgomery): Third pro level of the last two months since going No. 3 overall, and Longoria just keeps hitting, belting his first Double-A homer Sunday. Did you know he has 13 home runs in just 39 pro games? Or that he was hitting .348/.416/.677 overall? B.J. Upton better start playing well, because his spot at third base could be in jeopardy next year if Longoria keeps hitting like this.
Jake Fox, c, Cubs (Double-A West Tenn): After crushing high A, Fox took a while before warming up to Double-A. He’™s hit safely in his last six games, though, homering in three, to bring his overall season totals to .294/.355/.542 with 21 homers, all very solid for a 24-year-old finally getting to play a full season.
Adam Lind, of, Blue Jays (Triple-A Syracuse): An eighth-round pick out of high school (Twins) in 2002, Lind hit in high school, hit at South Alabama (.372, 20 homers in two years) and now is hitting in pro ball. He’™s hit safely in seven of his first 10 Triple-A games and has hit a robust .311/.367/.538 overall despite his 33-95 walk-strikeout ratio.

THE NOT-SO-HOT SHEET

Joel Guzman, of, Devil Rays (Triple-A Durham)
The 21-year-old looks lost since the trade that sent him to the Devil Rays. He is 3-for-19 with no walks and seven strikeouts for the Bulls and his elite prospect status is starting to come into question. It is still too early to give up on Guzman and he certainly has talent, but if he is going to be a left fielder, Carl Crawford’s job in Tampa does not look to be in danger anytime soon.
Jared Wells, rhp, Padres (Triple-A Portland)
After putting up solid numbers (4-3, 2.64 in 61 innings) at Double-A Mobile, Wells has had a rough time in the Pacific Coast League . . . and that might be putting it lightly. Promoted in mid-June, Wells didn’t pick up his lone win until a month later, then proceeded to lose his last three starts–in which he has 16.36 ERA over just 11 innings.
Matt Whitney, 3b, Indians (High Class A Kinston)
Whitney’s season has been something to forget, and his last week continued in that vein. He had more strikeouts than hits, though two of those four hits were home runs. Even with the occasional bomb, the 33rd pick overall in 2002 has a blistering .339 slugging percentage overall.
Colt Morton, c, Padres (Double-A Mobile)
Morton wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire at high Class A Lake Elsinore when he was promoted, hitting .227/.374/.398; and when you don’t hit in high Class A, you seldom have success in Double-A. Through 57 at-bats with the BayBears, Morton is hitting an eerily similar .228/.333/.439. Last week, Morton amassed eight strikeouts compared to just three hits. Must be time for Triple-A.
Jason Neighborgall, rhp, Diamondbacks (Rookie-level Missoula)
The next coach to figure out a way for Nieghborgall to throw consistent strikes will be the first. This just can’™t be any fun for a guy who was a potential first-round pick in high school, and who had some (albeit brief) success at Georgia Tech, and now can’™t throw a strike in Rookie ball. Neighborgall’™s not Nook LaLoosh; he’™s Steve Blass: 15 games, 10 2/3 innings, 19 runs, 33 walks, 14 wild pitches, 4 HBPs. Not A Prospect.

BLAST FROM THE PAST



Wayne Lydon, of, Blue Jays (Triple-A Syracuse)
A ninth-round pick of the Mets in 1999 from a Pennsylvania high school, Lydon emerged as a nominal prospect in 2002 when he posted a .368 OBP with 87 stolen bases for low Class A Capital City. The 25-year-old still has some wheels and after swiping four last night, he now has 22 on the season and 351 for his minor league career.

HELIUM WATCH



David Freese, 3b, Padres (Low Class A Fort Wayne) 
Scouts liked Freese’s mature approach and raw power at South Alabama, but as a 23-year-old fifth-year senior, it was hard to see a high ceiling for him. Hitting .355/.430/.657 with 11 homers in 47 games has a way of getting people’s attention, though. Freese doesn’t play a pretty third base, but if he keeps mashing like this, it might not matter.

Minors | #2006 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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