Each Friday, the Prospect Hot Sheet singles out the prospects who had the best week, weighing raw performance, prospect status, age compared to level and the environment in which they play. Bear in mind that this is not a re-ranking of our preseason Top 100 Prospects list—it’s a snapshot of top performances by prospects during the period June 7-13.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper and Matt Eddy.
The Scoop: He was helped by a pair of doubleheaders, but the 42 total bases Gallo produced this week dwarfed all other minor league players—it was 16 more than anyone else. The gap from him to No. 2 was the same as the gap from No. 2 to 460th.
Gallo hit seven home runs this week, including five in a two-day, four-game marathon that showcased his ferocious power. Gallo strikes out way too much—his 12 whiffs this week gives him 102 in 241 at-bats—but when you have chance to develop a player with his power, you give him plenty of time to work out the contact issues.
The Scoop: Nagging injuries and a 6.69 ERA over nine starts at Portland last season seem like a thing of the past for Ranaudo, who this season ranks among the Eastern League leaders in ERA (2.15), wins (seven), strikeouts (76) and WHIP (0.93). The Red Sox granted him an eight-day breather between his 11th and 12th starts, and the rest appears to have had a positive impact judging by the 13 strikeouts and two hits allowed over 7 2/3 innings this week.
The Scoop: Castellanos is taking what Triple-A pitchers are giving him, and when they’re not giving him anything to hit, he’s taking first base via ball four. He has eight walks and three strikeouts thus far in June, and since the beginning of May he’s hit .331/.421/.535 (52-for-157) with 18 extra-base hits and 25 walks in 41 games. This is a remarkable performance by the youngest position player in the International League, and he now leads the circuit in hits (80) and runs scored (48) while standing fourth with 31 extra-base hits.
The Scoop: In the interest of full disclosure, Baez is on the Hot Sheet for essentially one day of work. But what a day it was. Baez became the first minor leaguer since 2011 to hit four home runs in a game, and only the second player in Florida State League history to do it. Maybe less noticed are the signs that Baez is catching up to the pitchers when it comes to making contact. He struck out in 30 percent of his at-bats in April, 25 percent in May and so far just 15 percent in June while his walk rate has improved.
The Scoop: With Chris Stratton, Kendry Flores and Joan Gregorio, the Giants have several intriguing pitching prospects in their Augusta rotation. They also have Agosta, a second-round pick last year out of St. Mary’s with a plus fastball and deception that causes some awkward swings from South Atlantic League hitters. His last two scoreless starts have dropped his ERA to 1.97 with 88 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.
The Scoop: Because he plays in the same league as Byron Buxton, the player he was taken one spot ahead of in the 2012 draft, it’s maybe a little to easy to be disappointed by Correa’s first full season. While Buxton leads the Midwest League in a large number of offensive categories, Correa appears nowhere among the league leaders. But after a slow start, Correa is showing an excellent approach at the plate. He shrugs at balls off the plate, works counts into his favor and drives pitches back up the middle for singles and doubles. When you look at his Manny Machado-like frame, it’s easy to see that more power will come as he matures.
The Scoop: Cole has had a yo-yo career since signing with the Nationals for $2 million as a fourth-round pick three years ago. He showed flashes of dominance (albeit in inconsistent spurts) in 2011 before the Nationals traded him to the Athletics in the deal that brought Gio Gonzalez to Washington. His eight starts for the A’s in the high Class A California League last year were a disaster, but then he settled down upon a demotion to low Class A Burlington. Oakland traded him back to the Nationals after the 2012 season and . . . Cole again has had his ups and downs with high Class A Potomac. At his best he’s been dominant, which explains his 10.4 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings, while his ERA is a more pedestrian 4.16.
The Scoop: Russell weathered a rough April and May in the Cal League—batting .213 while striking out more than a quarter of the time—but he may be turning a corner in June as the one-year-out-of-high-school shortstop adjusts to the speed of the game at high Class A. Through 10 games this month, he’s gone 15-for-41 (.409) with 10 extra-base hits and just six strikeouts.
The Scoop: The California League is a great place for hitters who can lift the ball to put up huge, deceiving power numbers. Lindsey spent the 2012 in the Cal League, but power isn’t a big part of his game, so he hit nine homers in 134 games. In 63 games in the Texas League this year, Lindsey has already surpassed last year’s total with 10 balls deposited over the fence. Even with an unorthodox setup, Lindsey has excellent bat-to-ball skills and has shown not just more home run power but also a more patient hitting approach this year, which has helped him get off to a .279/.339/.482 start.
10. Robert Stephenson, rhp, Reds
Team: low Class A Dayton (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop: This is likely Stephenson’s last appearance on the Hot Sheet for at least a couple of weeks, as he’s gone on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Before the injury occurred, it was becoming fair game to wonder when Stephenson would be promoted. After all, he’s allowed four earned runs in his last six starts. Over those 37 2/3 innings, he has walked five while striking out 50.
The Scoop: Montero made a spot start for Triple-A Las Vegas on May 21, but following his return to Binghamton he’s been nearly unhittable. He hasn’t allowed a run in three starts, spanning 20 innings, while opponents have collected just 11 hits in 71 at-bats (.155), while striking out 18 times and hitting zero extra-base hits. Montero’s 0.90 WHIP ranks sixth in the minors, which is no fluke given that he finished second in the minors in that category last year.
The Scoop: If you were designing a schedule to get a player on the Hot Sheet, four games at Reno followed by a home series in Colorado Springs would be the way to go. But even for the hitter-happy conditions that Dickerson plays in, his 2013 seasons is pretty outlandish. Dickerson already has 12 triples, three more than anyone else in the minors. His .371 average also leads all minor leaguers. Part of his outstanding season is a product of his home park—he’s hitting .432 at home. But there also is some real hitting talent here.
The Scoop: If not for injuries, Almora’s season would be getting more acclaim. He missed the first month with a hamate bone injury that had sidelined him from early in spring training. He announced his return by going 7-for-11 in his first two games with low Class A Kane County. A hamstring injury knocked him out for a few days later in May, but he’s returned from that to rip off an 11-game hitting streak. Almora’s ability to pile up multiple hits in a game is remarkable. In just 19 games, he’s already had three or four hits six different times.
IN THE TEAM PHOTO
R.J. Alvarez, rhp, Angels: A third-round pick last year out of Florida Atlantic, the 22-year-old Alvarez has been a productive pitcher out of the bullpen in high Class A Inland Empire, where he’s posted a 2.63 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 27 1/3 innings.
L.J. Hoes, lf, Orioles: Hoes went 10-for-23 (.435) for Triple-A Norfolk this week, chipping in with six walks, a stolen base, two doubles and a home run. As the 23-year-old works his way back to Baltimore—and weeks like this are a good start—he need look no further than Camden Yards to find the perfect role model to emulate. That would be Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth, who sports a .369 on-base percentage as a top-of-the-order nuisance. Hoes has followed suit at Norfolk with a .391 OBP, six steals in nine attempts and a 32-to-35 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Taylor Jordan, rhp, Nationals: In his second year back from Tommy John surgery, the 24-year-old Jordan has taken giant steps forward at Double-A Harrisburg. He won both his starts this week, allowing no runs on just nine hits over 16 innings. He turned in two of his highest-strikeout games as well, racking up 18 against only one walk.
Max Muncy, 1b, Athletics: If the power is real, the A’s may have found a bargain with their fifth-round pick from a year ago out of Baylor. In his first full season, the 22-year-old is hitting .296/.404/.515 for high Class A Stockton with 16 homers, 45 walks and 45 strikeouts in 67 games.
Ronny Rodriguez, ss, Indians: As the Indians shortstop at Double-A Akron, Rodriguez, 21, is hurrying to stay ahead of Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor. Weeks like this one help, as he hit .480/.519/.800 with four doubles and two triples.
Joe Ross, rhp, Padres: The Padres 2011 first-rounder turned in his finest start as a pro last Saturday—at least judging from his game score of 80—holding Dayton to one hit over seven innings as he struck out five and walked none. Tyson’s little brother has redeemed himself after a poor, injury-plagued 2012 as he repeats low Class A Fort Wayne. He’s gone 3-2, 3.02 through 11 starts, striking out 7.1 and walking 2.6 per nine innings.
Jonathan Singleton, 1b, Astros: After sitting out the first 50 games of the season while serving a suspension due to testing positive for marijuana, Singleton is now back to smoking the competition on the field. He’s hitting .313/.410/.625 with two home runs in nine games for Double-A Corpus Christi as a 21-year-old.
Sean Gilmartin, lhp, Braves: The 2011 first-rounder hasn’t been fooling many Triple-A batters recently. He allowed 10 runs over 3 2/3 innings to Columbus on Sunday, and through his last six starts for Gwinnett, the 23-year-old Gilmartin has allowed 30 runs in 30 innings while allowing a 1.005 OPS to opponents.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi, ss, Royals: Added up, Mondesi’s 2013 season has been pretty much what could be expected for a 17-year-old in the South Atlantic League. He’s had plenty of highs and lows. The highs have been flashes of what he could be—hitting two home runs one game and following it up by hitting for the cycle. And then there are weeks like this one, when Mondesi goes 3-for-18 with no extra base hits and eight strikeouts.
Gift Ngoepe, ss, Pirates: Ngoepe is one of the more interesting human-interest stories in the minors as a South African who was spotted, signed and has made it up to Double-A. Unfortunately for him, he’s going to have to hit a lot better to be more than just a great story. This week he went 1-for-13, lowering his numbers to .159/.255/.253 at Altoona.
James Paxton, lhp, Mariners: Paxton isn’t going in the right direction. Now 24 in Triple-A, his ERA jumped to 5.70 in 60 innings after he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) over 9 1/3 innings between his last two starts. Paxton still flashes bat-missing stuff at times, but his erratic command has led to some ugly outings.
Ronaldo Contreras, of, Padres: The Padres have pumped power bats through their Dominican Summer League program over the last few years. Last year it was Dominican outfielder Franmil Reyes and Mexican outfielder Jose Urena. This year Dominican third baseman Carlos Belen and Dominican outfielder Euri Minaya are showing power strokes in the DSL, with Belen the more advanced hitter. They also have Contereras, a 16-year-old corner outfielder who signed last year for $140,000 out of the Dominican Republic, earning his bonus for his size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and raw power. Contreras has been off to a terrific start, hitting five home runs in his first nine games to lead the DSL. His hitting approach is still understandably raw, but the power is showing up in games faster than scouts expected.