Prospect Hot Sheet: July 9



See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheet

The Futures Game provided a lift to several already-hot prospects, with the top four spots all going to participants in Sunday’s game.

Outfielders Jay Bruce, who tripled, and Justin Upton, who homered, showed everybody why they’re so highly regarded. Each made a strong throw from the outfield, too, proving they’re not strictly hitting prospects. But the real surprise was Taiwanese shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, who took home MVP honors and opened eyes with his energetic play and fundamentally-sound hitting.

As always, be sure to check the Prospects Blog for the latest news and information. For example, you can find scores of Futures Game coverage, plus minor league classification leaderboards for Triple-A, Double-A, high Class A and low Class A.

HOT

1. Jay Bruce, of, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds)

Fans around the country got to see The Boss show off his power and his wheels with a Futures Game triple–it would have been a home runs in most parks, but the bounce high off the wall gave Bruce a chance to shift into high gear as he rounded second. He’s doing much of the same thing in the Southern League where he slugged 1.000 last week and is hitting .328/.406/.672 in 15 games with Chattanooga. You have to be picky to find something wrong with Bruce’s game. He leads the minors with 55 extra-base hits, he has above average speed, he plays a solid center or right field with an above average arm and he he’s shown the ability to hit for average as well.

2. Chin-Lung Hu, ss, Double-A Jacksonville (Dodgers)

Hu’s breakout season got a nice bump with his Futures Game MVP award. In the exhibition, Hu showed off his impressive toolbox: very good defensive skills combined with a rapidly improving bat. He’s raked all season with Jacksonville–where he hit .423/.464/.654 during first week of July–to earn a promotion to Triple-A.

3. Justin Upton, of, Double-A Mobile (Diamondbacks)

Hu might have been the Futures Game MVP, but the 2007 Futures Game will likely be remembered as the Justin Upton show. He got to show off his throwing arm, a beautiful swing and a home run that was apparent from the sound it made coming off the bat. His week otherwise was nothing special (he hasn’t homered for Mobile since June 8), but Sunday’s show means that doesn’t really matter.

4. Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)

We can debate whether the radar gun at AT&T Park was a bit optimistic when it registered a 100 mph fastball from Chamberlain, but there’s no doubting that he’s destroying Double-A hitters. He struck out 12 in six shutout innings last week and now has 48 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings with Trenton.

5. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds)

Cueto followed up on his No. 1 ranking last week by striking out eight and walking one in six shutout innings last week. At the Double-A level, the 21-year-old Cueto has gone 2-0, 0.47 with an eye-opening 27 strikeouts (against just four walks) in 19 innings.

6. Mat Gamel, 3b, high Class Brevard County (Brewers)

The Brewers’ 2005 fifth-round pick made headlines in his second full pro season by taking a 33-game hit streak into Saturday before going 0-for-3–leaving him three games shy of the Florida State League record set in 1951 by Joe Altobelli. Gamel boosted his average during the streak from .244/.330/.314 on May 28 to .315/.390/.471 on Saturday. However, Gamel is 0-for-6 since his run ended, and there’s the not-so-small matter of his error total, which stood at 41 in 82 games.

7. Chris Davis, 3b, high Class A Bakersfield (Rangers)

Speaking of hit streaks, the Rangers’ 2006 fifth-rounder extended his to 28 by going 1-for-3 on Sunday. The streak has certainly revitalized Davis’ season, going from .257/.303/.505 on June 8 to his current mark of .304/.346/.574.

8. Jed Lowrie, ss, Double-A Portland (Red Sox)

Lowrie homered from both sides of the plate on Sunday, and the shortstop has proved to be a reliable bat in the middle of the Portland lineup. He’s hitting .364/.398/.578 this month and he bated .333 in both May and June as well.

9. Adrian Cardenas, 2b, low Class A Lakewood (Phillies)

The 2006 High School Player of the Year and supplemental first-round pick, Cardenas hit .550 last week in 26 at-bats with four runs scored. He’s hitting .478 in 19 July at-bats, and even added a hit in Sunday’s Futures Game off Orioles righthander Pedro Beato.

10. Jo-Jo Reyes, lhp, Triple-A Richmond (Braves)

Reyes made an emergency start for John Smoltz on Satruday, and while that didn’™t go so hot (five runs in three innings), the big, 22-year-old lefty had gone 2-0, 1.57 with 27-10 K-BB in four Triple-A starts. Not bad for a pitcher who had Tommy John surgery in 2004 and spent all of 2005 in Rookie ball.

11. Brandon Hynick, rhp, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)

Hynick began the season as one of the hottest pitchers in the minors and did not yield an earned run in his five starts (32 innings). He recently was mired in a mini-slump, lasting just six innings and yielding seven runs in his previous two starts before tossing his third complete game of the season on Sunday. Hynick yielded one run on four hits and struck out 11, improving his season totals to 10-2, 2.48.

12. Kevin Pucetas, rhp, low Class A Augusta (Giants)

Pucetas, a 17th-round pick out of Limestone (S.C.) College, continued his South Atlantic League dominance with a 1-0, 0.64 performance in two starts last week. He is now 10-1, 1.42 on the season and 17-2, 1.73 in his minor league career.

13. Ryan Patterson, of, Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays)

A broken forearm suffered in spring training deprived Patterson of March and April, but after a slow start he’s starting to get on track with the Fisher Cats. The 2005 fourth-round pick from Louisiana State has batted .353/.361/.882 in July, and he led all Eastern League hitters last week with four homers, 13 RBIs and seven extra-base hits.

14. John Raynor, of, low Class A Greensboro (Marlins)

Raynor, who was selected by the Marlins in the ninth round of the 2006 draft out of UNC Wilmington, hit .577 with seven runs and six RBIs last week. He also stole five bases to bring his 2007 total to 37. He has climbed to fourth in the Sally League in hitting (.320) and is second behind Desmond Jennings (38) in stolen bases.

15. Eric Young Jr., 2b, high Class A Modesto (Rockies)

Much like his father, Young has been making his mark on the basepaths. The 22-year-old 30th-round pick in 2003 swiped a California League-high eight bases last week and is third in the minors with 44 steals. Young finished the week hitting .500 and led the league with six doubles.

16. Jacob McGee, lhp, high Class A Vero Beach (Devil Rays)

McGee made it through the seventh inning July 2 for just the second time this season and reached double-digit strikeouts for the second time in four starts. The Devil Rays’ fifth-ranked prospect tossed a seven-inning two-hitter against Daytona and struck out 13 without a walk.

17. Trevor Cahill, rhp, low Class A Kane County (Athletics)

Cahill made one appearance last week, getting the win and striking out nine in six innings. In his last five starts, Cahill is 3-2, 3.00 in 30 innings. In his first five appearances he lasted six innings just once. Since then, he hasn’t left before the fifth inning.

18. Brandon Jones, of, Double-A Mississippi (Braves)

Jones, a 2003 draft-and-follow from Tallahassee (Fla.) CC, hit .450 last week in 20 at-bats. Five of his nine hits were for extra bases, bringing his season line to .287/.364/.479 in the pitcher-friendly Southern League.

19. Wade Davis, rhp, Double-A Montgomery (Devil Rays)

Davis was a Hot Sheet regular while dominating the Florida State League earlier this season (88 strikeouts in 78 innings) and has shown he still belongs after four starts in the Southern League. The 21-year-old has yielded just five earned runs over 26 innings while striking out 23 and walking four. On Wednesday, Davis limited Mobile to five hits and one run over seven innings, improving his mark to 3-0, 1.75.

20. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Triple-A Colorado Springs (Rockies)

Jimenez slogged through the first three months of the season with 5-5, 6.51 numbers, but he’s turned a corner–and staved off a demotion–in July. The 23-year-old, flamethrowing righthander went 2-0, 3.09 last week with 13-6 K-BB in 11 2/3 innings.

NOT-SO HOT

Eric Duncan, 1b, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

Taken in the first round of the 2003 draft, Duncan isn’t even the best hitter on his team with the surname Duncan. Outfielder Shelley Duncan ranks second in the IL with 21 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .552 slugging percentage. Eric Duncan, on the other hand, has batted just .227/.309/.345 in 64 games this season, after managing just .209/.279/.255 in 31 Triple-A games in 2006. Worst of all, Duncan hit .179 in June with one home run.

Carlos Fisher, rhp, Double-A Chattanooga (Reds)

We spotlighted Fisher’s top-notch sinker in an early season Hot Sheet. The sinker has not sunk as much in Double-A, and hitters are making him pay to the tune of 20 hits, nine runs and four home runs in two starts (10 innings) last week.

Wade Townsend, rhp, low Class A Columbus (Devil Rays)

Townsend got shelled against Charleston last week, lasting just three innings and giving up six earned on five hits, two of which were home runs. After posting a 2.25 ERA in April, Townsend has proceeded to put up marks of 5.19, 4.67 and now 14.63 in the three months since.

Luke Hochevar, rhp, Double-A Wichita (Royals)

The 2006 No. 1 overall pick has yet to find consistency in his first full professional season. The 23-year-old recently sandwiched two quality starts (11 combined hits, 1 earned run over 13 innings) between five-run disasters. On Thursday, Hochevar yielded five runs on seven hits over four innings–marking the seventh time this season he has not made it past the fifth inning.

Colby Rasmus, of, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals)

The 2005 first-round pick appeared on his way out of an early-season slump when his batting average reached .300 at the start of June, but has since steadily dropped by hitting .194/.308/.388 for the month. He’s at .258/.354/.513 and headed into the Futures Game by going 4-for-5 a home run and five RBIs on Friday, ending a 1-for-17 stretch over his previous five games.

HELIUM WATCH

Glenn Gibson, lhp, short-season Vermont (Nationals)

The 19-year-old southpaw, and son of former Yankee, Mets and Tigers lefthander Paul Gibson, is dealing for the Lake Monsters. The Nationals fourth-round pick in 2006 uses his downhill delivery along with his above-average secondary pitches to make up for his below-average fastball velocity. So far this summer, the 6-foot-4 Gibson is 2-0, 0.82 with 24 strikeouts in 22 innings over four New York-Pen League starts.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Matt Bush, rhp, Rookie-level AZL (Padres)

In the interest of full disclosure, we remind you that Bush, the first overall pick of the 2004 draft, flamed out as a shortstop–hitting just .204/.310/.276 in the Cal League this season–and is now trying to resurrect his career as a pitcher. Naturally, it’s a slow process, and Bush, still just 21, headed back to the Rookie-level Arizona complex league to get started. If his first four games are an indication, the conversion portends to be a rousing success. Bush has struck out 11, waked just two and given up four hits through his first 5 1/3 innings, all without surrendering a run.

Minors | #2007 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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