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 8-14.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Jim Shonerd and interns
Pat Hickey, Clint Longnecker and John Sandberg.
|No. 1||DANNY HULTZEN, LHP||MARINERS|
|Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 13 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 2 BB
The Scoop: Hultzen walked seven batters and threw three wild pitches in a messy May 5 loss to Pensacola, but in seven starts since then he’s been arguably the most effective pitcher in the minors. In that time he’s gone 6-0, 0.40 with 45 strikeouts, 13 walks and a 0.81 WHIP (38 baserunners) in 44 2/3 Double-A innings. He hasn’t allowed a run in 27 2/3 innings.
Hultzen authored his masterpiece last Friday, shutting out Jacksonville on two hits over eight innings while striking out eight and walking one. He now leads the Southern League in just about everything worth leading—ERA (1.19), wins (eight), strikeouts (79), WHIP (0.93) and opponent average (.151)—and ought to be in line for a promotion following the all-star break.
Scouts view Hultzen in a similar light as they did during his college days at Virginia—a potential No. 2 starter for a contender—but the deception, location and angle on his low-90s fastball gives him a weapon he can take to the mound in virtually every start. For more on Hultzen stay tuned for a subscriber-only Scout’s View to be published either today or Monday.
|Danny Hultzen Player Card|
|No. 2||MATT BARNES, RHP||RED SOX|
Team:high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.75, 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 14 SO
The Scoop: Like a kid on Christmas afternoon, the Red Sox have opened their presents from the 2011 draft and had time to reflect on them. In Barnes, the 19th overall pick, they must feel like they’ve gotten more than they had even hoped for during the righthander’s full-season debut. In fact, it’s fair to say that a year later, he’d go much higher in a draft do-over. Barnes’ fastball has sat consistently between 93-95 mph, but he’s also shown the Verlander-esque ability to produce more velocity as the game goes on. He often will show a 95-98 mph fastball in his final innings. Barnes’ changeup and curveball have both been solid, but it’s been the fastball that has just blown away hitters outing after outing.
|Matt Barnes Player Card|
|No. 3||MILES HEAD, 3B||ATHLETICS|
Why He’s Here: .433/.500/.900 (13-for-30), 4 HR, 2 2B, 9 RBIs, 9 R, 4 BB (1 IBB), 5 SO
The Scoop: History may regard last offseason’s Athletics-Red Sox trade as the one that brought Josh Reddick and Miles Head to Oakland rather than the one that installed Andrew Bailey as Boston’s ace closer. Or Reddick and Head could go down as first-half wonders while Bailey regains his health and stature. Either way, Head has been a revelation as Stockton third baseman, batting .376/.430/.682 with 15 homers and 22 doubles in 258 at-bats. While he enjoys the favorable hitting conditions of the Cal League, Head has separated himself from the pack and leads the circuit in average, on-base percentage, slugging and extra-base hits (43). He has failed to reach base in a game just six times this season, and he trails only Lancaster’s Telvin Nash in the league’s home run race.
Why should we care about Head’s Cal League exploits when Chris Carter, another righty-hitting corner bat, enjoyed similar success with Stockton in 2008, you ask? The answer is contact rate. Carter struck out in 26 percent of his trips to the plate back then, while Head’s rate hovers near 18 percent this season. If he keeps the contact and the power upon a promotion to Double-A, then the A’s may have something.
|Miles Head Player Card|
|No. 4||MARCELL OZUNA, CF||MARLINS|
Team: high Class A Jupiter (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .364/.423/1.045 (8-for-22), 5 HR, 14 RBIs, 8 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1 HBP
The Scoop: Ozuna shifted to center field when Christian Yelich landed on the Jupiter disabled list at the end of May and, coincidentally or no, the young slugger’s production has spiked. He mauled Bradenton for five home runs in the span of nine at-bats, and he now leads the Florida State League with 15 bombs. In fact, Ozuna’s three-homer game on Sunday was the first such outburst in the FSL this season and just the 11th in the minors overall. With such prodigious power, Ozuna always will swing big—and miss big on occasion—but this season continues to make strides with his walk and strikeout rates, and in 41 games since May 2 he’s batted .283/.363/.600 (41-for-145) with 12 homers, 10 doubles and a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 19-to-36.
|Marcel Ozuna Player Card|
|No. 5||ANTHONY RIZZO, 1B||CUBS|
Team:Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .400/.423/1.040 (10-for-25), 5 HR, 6 R, 9 RBIs, 0 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Rizzo continues to make it harder and harder for the Cubs to keep him in the minor leagues. On Sunday and Monday Rizzo had back-to-back multi-home run games, bringing his season total to 22. He leads all PCL hitters in home runs and OPS (1.173) and is second in RBIs (57). Cubs fans held their breath on Tuesday after Rizzo hurt his knee attempting to make a sliding catch in foul territory. He has been out of the lineup since Tuesday, but the Cubs say it’s only a bruise and Rizzo is day-to-day.
|Anthony Rizzo Player Card|
|No. 6||TRAVIS D’ARNAUD, C||BLUE JAYS|
Team: Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .467/.484/.867 (14-for-30), 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 R, 10 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: With a double on Thursday night, d’Arnaud extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He is now batting .346 on the season and continues to be one of the PCL’s most consistent hitters. The Blue Jays top prospect and one of the premier catching prospects in all of baseball, d’Arnaud leads Las Vegas in RBIs (47), home runs (15) and total bases (151), all while suiting up behind the plate nearly every day.
|Travis D’Arnaud Player Card|
|No. 7||A.J. GRIFFIN, RHP||ATHLETICS|
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.56, 2 GS, 16 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 SO
The Scoop: One of the year’s biggest breakout stories, Griffin earned a promotion to Sacramento in mid-May after going 3-1, 2.49 in seven starts at Double-A Midland. Griffin struggled initially in Triple-A, including giving up six earned run in his second start on May 19, but he has outstanding feel to pitch, along with a devastating changeup, and he figured things out quickly after that rocky outing. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last five starts, and he earned his way onto the Hot Sheet with a rare feat in the minor leagues: back-to-back complete games. Griffin threw a seven-inning complete game on June 8, allowing two runs (both unearned), and followed that up with a nine-inning, one-run effort on Wednesday.
|A.J. Griffin Player Card|
|No. 8||EDWAR CABRERA, LHP||ROCKIES|
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: For most pitchers, allowing only one hit in seven innings of shutout baseball as Cabrera did on Monday would qualify as their best start of the year. Not so for Cabrera, who already threw eight innings of shutout, one-hit ball in his third start of the year. Cabrera’s strikeout rate has dipped to 7.4 per nine innings from the 11-plus K/9 mark he was posting before he made the jump to Double-A this year, so there has to be some concern here about how much Cabrera has survived on smoke and mirrors at the lower levels, but his changeup is a legitimate out pitch at any level.
|Edwar Cabrera Player Card|
|No. 9||TONY CINGRANI, LHP||REDS|
Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Cingrani’s career numbers are flat out silly. Through 25 starts and 120 2/3 innings, he has a 1.42 ERA, 165 strikeouts and just 23 walks. Cingrani spent the first two months of the season dissecting hitters in the high Class A California League, and he hasn’t faced much difficulty in his first two Double-A starts either. Billy Hamilton may be the talk of the Reds farm system, but what Cingrani’s doing this year hasn’t gone unnoticed.
|Tony Cingrani Player Card|
|No. 10||RYAN WHEELER, 3B||DIAMONDBACKS|
Team: Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .548/.588/.677 (17-for-31), 4 2B, 6 R, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Much like first base was for Arizona in the first half of last season, third base has been a black hole for the Diamondbacks this season. The combination of Ryan Roberts, Cody Ransom and Josh Bell have produced little offensively or defensively. But much like Paul Goldschmidt eventually fixed the first-base problem last year, Arizona has a pair of potential in-house answers percolating in the minors. Matt Davidson (.278/.383/.551) has been the breakout star at Double-A, but Wheeler has been equally impressive for Reno—though the standard caveat about the hitter havens of the Pacific Coast League’s Western locales still applies. (Wheeler’s .368/.406/.688 line gives him just Reno’s fourth-best OPS among regulars.) Neither Wheeler nor Davidson will ever be a Gold Glover, but with every 0-for-4 that Arizona gets from its big league third basemen, their big league arrival gets a little closer.
|Ryan Wheeler Player Card|
|No. 11||JOE PANIK, SS||GIANTS|
Team: high Class A San Jose (California)
Why He’s Here: .414/.455/.586 (12-for-29), 8 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO
The Scoop: The Giants surprised people when they announced Joe Panik’s name with the 29th pick in the 2011 draft. He drew scout’s praise for his advanced hitting approach, defensive fundamentals, and competitiveness—but not his tools. Panik quieted some of that criticism by signing quickly and hitting .341/.401/.467 in the Northwest League. But the Cal League has not been hitter’s paradise for the shortstop, as Panik entered the week hitting .222/.307/.329. The lefthanded hitter has had four multi-game games and hit his second home run over the past week. Despite his early season struggles, Panik’s approach at the plate has remained sound by walking eight more times than he has struck out. Scouts project than Panik will move to second, but he has played every game at shortstop for San Jose.
|Joe Panik Player Card|
|No. 12||WIL MYERS, RF||ROYALS|
Team:Triple-A Omaha (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .321/.441/.643 (9-for-28), 10 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: If it wasn’t for Brad Eldred’s 24 home runs, Anthony Rizzo and Myers would be having a heckuva minor league home run race. Playing against each other this week, Rizzo hit home run’s Nos. 21 and 22 to leap ahead of Myers, but Myers responded by hitting his 22nd home run in the ninth inning of the same game. The next night the two sluggers went homerless before heading off in different directions. Myers reclaimed the lead among prospects on Thursday with his 10th Triple-A homer in just 28 games. He’s gone deep once every 10.4 at-bats this year, easily topping the rate of fellow Royals slugger Mike Moustakas (13.4) during his 36-homer campaign in 2010.
|Wil Myers Player Card|
|No. 13||JOSE URENA, RHP||MARLINS|
Team: low Class A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.00, 2 G, 1 GS, 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks.
The Scoop: In his full-season debut at Greensboro, Urena has joined Jose Fernandez and Adam Conley to give the Grasshoppers one of the most talented rotation in low Class A. Fernandez and Conley made appearances on the Hot Sheet last week. This week it’s Urena’s turn. The 6-foot-3 Dominican has been piggybacked with Austin Brice to manage the 19-year-old’s workload. Switching between starting and relieving hasn’t affected Urena’s performance. He has a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year and has allowed one run or fewer in five of his last seven outings.
|Jose Urena Player Card|
After missing the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery, Angels RHP Cam Bedrosian has endured the ups and downs that come with trying to make up for lost time, while also regaining the feel that comes with trying out a repaired elbow ligament. Pitching for low Class A Cedar Rapids, the 20-year-old Bedrosian has been in command lately. In two outings, he threw 11 scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and five walks while striking out 11 . . . Remember when we wrote about the Reno effect in Ryan Wheeler’s Hot Sheet writeup? Apply the same filter to Reno CF Adam Eaton’s excellent 2012 start. Eaton got his average up to .400 briefly this week, but he’s settled down to a still excellent .393/.465/.541 line. Like Wheeler, Eaton has established that he’s ready and waiting for an opportunity in Arizona . . . Red Sox LHP Henry Owens, a supplemental pick last year, went 2-0, 3.48 this past week for low Class A Greenville, lowering his season ERA to a still-unsightly 5.20. But as Owens showed this week, his peripheral numbers have been quite strong. Last Friday he gave up three runs over five innings, but had nine strikeouts and just one walk. He came back stronger on Wednesday, throwing 5 1/3 innings and giving up just one run on two hits while striking out eight. Owens’ 78 strikeouts on the season are fourth best in the South Atlantic League . . . Twins RHP Liam Hendriks struggled to a 9.00 ERA in four big league starts early in the season, but he’s carved up Triple-A competition since being sent down to Rochester in early May. The 23-year-old Australian owns a 5-0, 1.94 mark in seven starts for the Red Wings and is riding a 15 2/3 inning shutout streak. In his only start this week, he tossed 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball and struck out 10, allowing just three hits and two walks . . . One of the more remarkable prospect turnarounds is happening in high Class A Modesto, where Rockies LHP Tyler Matzek has gone 4-3, 3.24 through 14 starts, slashing his 2011 Cal League ERA by one-third. Sure, the 21-year-old Matzek allowed six runs on nine hits in 13 innings this week (4.15 ERA), but the components for future success are in place. He struck out 15 and walked four, and over the course of Matzek’s previous six starts (including one in High Desert and one in Bakersfield) he’s averaged nearly seven innings each time out . . . The Braves used second-round picks on shortstops Andrelton Simmons and Nick Ahmed in the 2010-11 drafts. The former reached Atlanta this month while the latter, a 22-year-old from Connecticut, made the high Class A Carolina League all-star team after batting .262/.341/.395 in 248 at-bats with 24 extra-base hits and 20 steals for Lynchburg. Ahmed went 11-for-32 (.344) this week with a pair of homers, five doubles, a steal and two walks. He played in nine games this week thanks to three doubleheaders on the Hillcats’ schedule . . . In the third game of the season, Rockies RF Kyle Parker was struck on the wrist with a pitch and was sidelined for more than 30 games. The former Clemson quarterback struggled upon his return and finished May hitting .236/.295/.403. But the 22-year-old’s bat has erupted in June to the tune of .340/.492/.511, including a pair of home runs and a 1.290 OPS in the last week.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Adam Lind, 1b, Blue Jays: The next wave of affiliation shuffles loom this offseason, when Toronto will receive one more chance to shift its Triple-A club out of Las Vegas, a place so favorable for hitters that making evaluations based on results is practically impossible. Take Lind, for example. He batted just .186/.273/.314 (58 OPS+) in 132 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this season, prompting Toronto to outright him off the 40-man roster and back down to Triple-A. (No team dared claim the 28-year-old on waivers because he’s owed at least $12 million for the next two seasons.) Not surprisingly, Lind has produced with the 51s, launching three home runs at home this week and batting .412/.478/.680 with 14 extra-base hits through 25 games. That could be the sign that Lind has regained his 2009 Silver Slugger form—though we encourage healthy skepticism. Eight different Las Vegas regulars are hitting better than .300, and collectively the team has put up an .849 OPS.
• Drew Pomeranz, lhp, Rockies. The Rockies sport a major league-worst 5.42 team ERA, but they may not be able to call on Triple-A Colorado Springs lefty Pomeranz any time soon with hope of stemming the tide. The 23-year-old top prospect has allowed 13 runs through 15 2/3 innings in three June starts in the Pacific Coast League, alternately not finding the plate (11 walks) or getting smacked around when he does (21 hits).
• Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates: The high Class A Florida State League typically isn’t kind to hitters, and neither is Taillon’s electric arsenal of pitches. That’s why it’s been so surprising that Taillon’s results have been so pedestrian. The 20-year-old got bombed for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start and has given up 15 runs in 15 2/3 innings this month. Taillon still has a plus-plus fastball and a wicked curveball, but with a 4.52 ERA, the results just aren’t what scouts have expected from a pitcher many of them think has ace potential.
• Garin Cecchini, 3b, Red Sox: After a hot May in which he hit .336/.429/.553 for low Class A Greenville, Cecchini has cooled off considerably in the first half of June. The 21-year-old is hitting at a .238/.283/.310 clip through 42 June at-bats and struggled to a .091/.130/.091 (2-for-22) line this week while striking out an uncharacteristic nine times. He started his week by going 0-for-6 on June 8 in a game in which his team pounded out 11 runs on 16 hits, and things didn’t get much better from there.
• Tyler Rahmatulla, 3b, Cardinals: Rahmatulla showed promise during his college career at UCLA but struggled to stay on the field between injuries and academic problems that cut his junior year short, and he dropped to the 34th round of last year’s draft. The 22-year-old has torn up the low Class A Midwest League, though, leading the circuit in hitting with a .324 average in 179 at-bats and ranking second in slugging percentage at .553. A consistent line-drive hitter, Rahmatulla tied a Midwest League record for hits in a game when he went 6-for-6 in an 11-inning game last Sunday against Burlington, collecting two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs. He didn’t stop there, hitting .419/.471/.935 (13-for-31) with three homers, three doubles, two triples, 14 RBIs and eight runs scored for the week.
• Manuel Margot, cf, Red Sox: The international signing period opens on July 2, the first date when teams can sign 16-year-old foreign players. Nearly one year after signing Manuel Margot out of the Dominican Republic on July 2 for $800,000, the Red Sox have to be excited about what he might become. The 17-year-old Margot is hitting .325/.408/.625 in 49 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League, which isn’t a surprise given reports from Dominican scouts that he was one of the better game hitters in last year’s signing class, though he’s shown some more power than expected. His eight stolen bases are tied for the most in the DSL, and he’s yet to be thrown out. With his 70 speed, a plus arm, athleticism and defensive instincts, Margot has the potential to be a dynamic player for the Red Sox down the road.