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 June 29-July 5.
Contributing: Ben Badler, Matt Eddy, Jim Shonerd and interns Andrew Krause, Clint Longenecker and John Sandberg.
|No. 1||ALEN HANSON, SS||PIRATES|
|Team: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .324/.343/.735 (11-for-34), 8 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-3 SB
The Scoop: The Pirates made an aggressive push to try to sign Miguel Sano back in 2009, only to have the Twins enter the picture and put $3.15 million on the table to sign him. Yet a couple of weeks after July 2 that same summer, the Pirates signed Hanson, another Dominican shortstop, for far less fanfare or money.
While Sano is still the better prospect, Hanson has narrowed the gap considerably and has a broader set of skills. Hanson has been the pop-up story of the 2012 season, showing the ability to hit for average with extra-base power and plenty of speed in the middle of the diamond. There’s a reason Hanson is now the No. 40 prospect in baseball, and it’s because this breakout is very, very real.
|Alen Hanson Player Card|
|No. 2||WIL MYERS, CF||ROYALS|
Team:Triple-A Omaha (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .393/.438/.714 (11-for-28), 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Myers has not slowed down one bit since being promoted to Omaha on May 16, and he has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games. Additionally, after adding two more home runs this week, Myers now leads the minors with 27. He’ll join many other top prospects in Kansas City this weekend for the Futures Game, but if he continues to perform at this level you have to believe that many of the Royals faithful would be disappointed if he returns to Omaha.
|Wil Myers Player Card|
|No. 3||JOC PEDERSON, CF/LF||DODGERS|
Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Why He’s Here: .310/.355/.793 (9-for-29), 2 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: The 11th-round pick in 2010 has improved his batting average and OPS each month since starting off slowly in his first taste of the Cal League. The former two-sport standout entered the week with two home runs, but after hitting his third homer of the season on June 30, Pederson added three more in his first three at-bats in a monster performance against High Desert the following day to help cement his place on the Hot Sheet.
|Joc Pederson Player Card|
|No. 4||MATT HARVEY, RHP||METS|
Team: Triple-A Buffalo (International)
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 1.38, 2 GS, 13 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 15 SO, 3 BB, 1 HBP
The Scoop: Harvey fanned six batters in six innings during a July 4 start to take over the International League lead with 102 strikeouts. The 2010 first-rounder hasn’t been particularly fine with his control during his first exposure to Triple-A competition, not with 3.8 walks per nine innings, but he has shown consistent swing-and-miss stuff all season. Harvey has logged a trio of double-digit strikeout games as well as a nine-whiff effort versus Louisville last Friday in which he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk. He’s been consistently sharp his last five times out, logging a 2.32 ERA and rates of 11 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings, while allowing 22 hits in 31 innings.
|Matt Harvey Player Card|
|No. 5||GEORGE SPRINGER, CF||ASTROS|
Team:high Class A Lancaster (California)
Why He’s Here: .448/.529/.759 (13-for-29), 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 8 R, 4 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: The 11th overall selection in the 2011 draft, Springer bypassed low Class A and earned an assignment to high Class A and the hitter’s haven that is Lancaster. The center fielder acclimated slowly to professional ball in April, but he has has showed steady progress each month, culminating with a 1.288 OPS over the last week to push his season line to .315/.394/.566. During that stretch, only one minor leaguer bested Springer’s 13 hits, including five for extra bases. Lauded for his wide tool set, Springer is showcasing his plus power and speed by registering both 17 home runs and 17 steals. Of concern: he has struck out in 26 percent of his plate appearances.
|George Springer Player Card|
|No. 6||JOEY GALLO, 3B||RANGERS|
Team: Rookie-level Arizona League
Why He’s Here: .292/.320/.875 (7-for-24), 9 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: Texas spent $2.25 million to sign Gallo with their supplemental first-round pick (39th overall). So far he has come better than advertised. Gallo is hitting .279/.466/.744 through his first 13 games, having already cracked five home runs. With Gallo’s long-levered 6-foot-5 frame, some scouts are concerned about the length of his swing leading to strikeouts—he does have 14 in 58 trips to the plate—but he’s also showing plenty of patience having already drawn 15 walks. His defense at third base has been shaky, but if he can be a lefty power hitter who gets on base and keeps knocking the ball out of the park, the Rangers will have a valuable young slugger on their hands.
|Joey Gallo Player Card|
|No. 7||A.J. COLE, RHP||ATHLETICS|
Team: low Class A Burlington (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 0.75, 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 18 SO
The Scoop: Cole got blown up in the high Class A California League. His 7.82 ERA in eight starts was the worst in the league before the Athletics demoted him in late May. Needing to get his mechanics smoothed out and escape the unforgiving Cal League, Cole has seen much improved results in the Midwest League. He gave up eight runs (five earned) in his first MWL start on May 24 but hasn’t permitted more than two in any of his eight outings since. Cole threw six shutout innings last Saturday against Kane County, striking out nine, and followed it up with another six innings with nine whiffs against Peoria on Thursday, lowering his MWL ERA to 2.44 in 44 1/3 innings.
|A.J. Cole Player Card|
|No. 8||DANIEL CORCINO, RHP||REDS|
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.93, 14 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 12 SO, 4 BB
The Scoop: Last Sunday, Corcino threw one of his better games of the season, allowing no runs over eight innings for Pensacola while earning the win. He followed that performance with a start on Independence Day and earned his second victory in a row despite allowing two home runs in that outing. The Reds No. 6 prospect coming into this season, Corcino was a steal when the club signed him out of the Dominican for $25,000 in 2008. He made the jump from low Class A to Double-A this season and has adjusted well. His 83 strikeouts rank third among Southern League pitchers.
|Daniel Corcino Player Card|
|No. 9||ZACK COX, 3B||CARDINALS|
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .424/.424/.636 (14-for-33), 1 HR, 4 2B, 4 R, 5 RBIs, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Cox was hitting a miserable .209/.257/.349 at the end of May, then missed almost two weeks with a concussion after getting beaned in the head. But it seems the time off did Cox some good. He’s hit .369/.404/.560 in 84 at-bats since coming back from injury, returning to the form we’ve come to expect from the Cardinals’ 2010 first-round pick who was rated the best pure hitter in that draft class. Cox has registered four three-hit games in his last seven outings, elevating his line for the season to a more respectable .262/.305/.418 through 256 at-bats for the Redbirds.
|Zack Cox Player Card|
|No. 10||JEDD GYORKO, 3B||PADRES|
Team: Triple-A Tucson (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .423/.467/.808 (11-for-26), 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 R, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Gyorko is eagerly awaiting a chance to play in San Diego and he may not have to wait much longer. Trade rumors involving Padres third baseman Chase Headley are swirling, and if he is indeed headed out of town Gyorko will likely take over the hot corner at Petco Park. The Padres’ No. 6 prospect has certainly earned the opportunity in his 47 games at Triple-A: he owns a .348 average with 43 RBIs and 12 home runs. The second-round pick from 2010 was named PCL Player of the Week on Monday and continues to hone the swing that produced 192 hits in 2011, the most in the minor leagues.
|Jedd Gyorko Player Card|
|No. 11||KOLTEN WONG, 2B||CARDINALS|
Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .520/.613/.600 (13-for-25), 2 2B, 2 RBIs, 5 R, 5 BB, 2-for-4 SB
The Scoop: Wong will head to Kansas City for the Futures Game on a significant hot streak, as the diminutive second baseman continues to utilize his compact swing to spray base hits to all parts of the ballpark. The University of Hawaii product has been tearing it up in Double-A all season, as he ranks third in the Texas League in hits, trailing only Springfield teammate Oscar Taveras and Tulsa shortstop Josh Rutledge. Wong’s his 3-for-3 effort on July 2 against Midland marked his 30th multi-hit performance of the season.
|Kolten Wong Player Card|
|No. 12||CHRISTIAN YELICH, CF||MARLINS|
Team: high Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .500/.581/.692 (13-for-26), 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: The Marlins’ top prospect and first-round draft pick from 2010 continues to pound out hits against Florida State League pitchers. His nine-game hitting streak was snapped in yesterday’s loss to St. Lucie, but he maintains a .316 average on the season and his 10 home runs show signs of the power that the Marlins are hoping to get out of Yelich in the future. His production this season has earned him a spot in the Futures Game, where he will appear alongside teammate Jose Fernandez this weekend.
|Christian Yelich Player Card|
|No. 13||TREVOR STORY, SS||ROCKIES|
Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: .357/.438/.714 (10-for-28), 4 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 9 R, 4 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: It’s rare that 19-year-old shortstops show up on their league’s doubles, home run, and isolated power leaderboards, but that is where Story’s name resides in the South Atlantic League after he pushed his home run total to 12 with a pair of longballs and four doubles this week. Following a June swoon that saw the Texas native strike out in over a third of his at-bats and post a .539 OPS, Story’s recent offensive surge has pushed his overall line to .266/.357/.497. With further refinement, scouts believe this potential five-tool player has the ability to hit 20 home runs in the big leagues.
|Trevor Story Player Card|
Royals fans had to wait longer than expected to see CF Bubba Starling take the field, and many would have liked to see him playing at a higher level than the Rookie-level Appalachian League, but the 19-year-old Starling is at least performing. After going 0-for-5 in his pro debut June 28, Starling reeled off a five-game hitting streak. He hit the first two homers of his career in the same game on Monday, and this week he hit .391/.533/.739 (9-for-23) with a triple and nine RBIs mixed in . . . Athletics 2012 first-rounder Addison Russell has adapted to life in pro ball quickly in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 18-year-old shortstop hit his first pro home run last Friday and added another homer (which was negated when the game was halted before five innings), two triples and a double on his way to a .625/.714/1.313 (10-for-16) week . . . Tony Cingrani continues to work his way up the ranks in his first full season in the pros. The Reds third-round pick from 2011 started 10 games with high Class A Bakersfield before earning a promotion to Double-A Pensacola. The lefthander has gone 3-1 in his time at Pensacola, including a win on Monday at Jacksonville. There he threw 6 2/3 innings and didn’t allow a run while giving up two hits in one of his best outings this season . . . The pitcher with the largest talent-to-hype ratio in the Mets farm system might be RHP Luis Mateo. The 22-year-old threw six scoreless innings this week, dropping his ERA to 0.51 with a 22-2 K-BB mark in 17 2/3 innings for short-season Brooklyn . . . CF Gary Brown did not live up to expectations with Double-A Richmond in the first half (.273/.345/.367) after an outstanding year in the Cal League in 2011, but the speedster’s 1.086 OPS and seven extra-base hits over the last week have pushed his season line to league average. Brown is one of the better defensive center fielders in the minors and is fourth in the Eastern League with 22 steals . . . Pirates LHP Jeff Locke turned in two of his finest starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this week, going 2-0, 0.69 and allowing one run on five hits over 13 innings. He struck out 12 and walked five. The 24-year-old Locke stymied Louisville on July 4, allowing one hit and one walk in seven innings, keeping with a season-long trend of dominance against Bats batters. To wit, he’s allowed five runs on 12 hits over 26 1/3 innings (1.71 ERA) against Louisville, striking out 28. Locke’s 2.92 ERA ranks seventh in the International League, and he’s well on his way to a career as a mid-rotation starter for the Pirates . . . Nationals CF Brian Goodwin missed about five weeks this spring with a hamstring injury, but he’s returned to form after returning to the field on May 18. Judging from his play with low Class A Hagerstown, he looks like a top-of-the-order hitter with the potential for five average-or-better tools. The 21-year-old Goodwin went 10-for-26 (.385) this week with eight walks, three doubles and two steals in two attempts. In his last 35 games he’s batting .362/.479/.554 with 16 extra-base hits and 11 steals.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
• Doug Davis, lhp, Royals: He overcame thyroid cancer to return to the mound without missing a beat. He’s won 92 games in 13 big league seasons and started two playoff games for the 2007 Diamondbacks. He sports a career 3.01 ERA in the minors that ranks fifth among active pitchers. Yet despite a host of personal and professional achievements, the 36-year-old Davis soldiers on, taking the ball every fifth day for Triple-A Omaha and reeling off weeks like the one he just concluded. The veteran lefty went 2-0, 1.42 in two starts, permitting two runs while striking out 10. By allowing 19 baserunners in 12 2/3 innings, Davis skated the razor’s edge with the same heedless abandon that distinguished his time in the big leagues, where he owns a 1.51 WHIP. Still, he’s gone 5-0, 1.50 in five starts for Omaha, and it’s not irrational to expect that Davis could have a better second half than current Kansas City starters like Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza or Jonathan Sanchez if given the chance.
• Byron Buxton, cf, Twins: One day this may end up being a footnote in a great career for Buxton, but for now, it’s just been ugly. The second overall pick in the draft last month, Buxton signed for $6 million, but the 18-year-old has found the adjustment to professional baseball to be rocky. Among players with enough plate appearances to qualify, Buxton’s .363 OPS (thanks to a .128/.209/.154 slash line) ranks dead last in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with only one extra-base hit and 10 strikeouts in 43 trips to the plate. There’s no reason to panic here, but as you can see in this week’s Not-Hot section, even the famous guys struggle in Rookie ball.
• Nomar Mazara, rf, Rangers: The Rangers have added a tremendous collection of international prospects to their farm system over the last several years. Their seemingly keen eye for talent made it all the more unusual when they signed Mazara last year for $4.95 million, an amount few scouts could comprehend for a player with glaring red flags. Mazara showed plus raw power as an amateur, but nearly every scout seemed to have concerns about his propensity to swing and miss at an alarmingly high rate. So far, those scouts have been on the mark, as Mazara is hitting .217/.373/.326 with 17 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances, a 29 percent K-rate. Mazara is still just 17 and he has time to prove the Rangers right, but the early returns have not been encouraging.
• Dante Bichette Jr., 3b, Yankees: The Yankees’ sandwich-round pick from last year’s draft has mostly been able to hold his own in his first full year of pro ball in low Class A Charleston, but he hit the skids this week. The 19-year-old Bichette went just 1-for-18, producing a .056/.150/.111 line. He struck out just three times, so it can partly be chalked up to balls just not finding holes, as his average has dropped from a healthy .270 on June 25 to .252 currently.
• Melky Mesa, cf, Yankees: Some players advance one level per year, moving through the minor leagues at a steady, gradual pace. In the case of Mesa, who was a July 2 signing out of the Dominican Republic nine years ago, his career path has been even more deliberate. Mesa spent two years in the Dominican Summer League, two in the Gulf Coast League, another in the short-season New York Penn-League and one with low Class A Charleston before finally making it to high Class A Tampa as a 23-year-old in 2010. He is repeating the Double-A Eastern League, and yes, he is 25, but he’s hitting .275/.347/.470 in 65 games. He’s still raw and there’s a good chance he may never do much beyond the minor leagues, but Mesa has transformed himself from a total hacker with tools into a player who may have some role at the big league level, even if the stay there may end up a brief one.
• Luis Merejo, lhp, Braves: When we reviewed Atlanta’s 2011 international signings (subscription required), we tabbed Merejo as the sleeper of the group. Signed for $65,000 last October, Merejo earned an aggressive assignment to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and has not disappointed. Through four outings, Merejo has a 2.25 ERA and a stellar 25-1 K-BB mark in 20 innings. He’s only 6 feet, 175 pounds, but both his feel for pitching and his stuff are advanced for a 17-year-old. Merejo commands a fastball that sits in the low-90s and backs it up with two potentially above-average secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. Merejo may not be a widely-known prospect yet, but that could change very, very soon.