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 15-21.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Josh Leventhal, John Manuel, Jim Shonerd and intern
|No. 1||DANIEL CORCINO, RHP||REDS|
|Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Often what’s notable about Corcino is his Rolex-like consistency. He hasn’t had many sensational outings this year in his first season at Double-A, but only once in 13 starts has he given up more than three runs. While many young pitchers will show you a great outing followed by an awful one because they’re not yet able to consistently repeat their delivery, Corcino has a pretty good idea of what his stuff will be before he takes the mound.
And Corcino’s stuff is plus, which means he can be spectacular, like he was this week. He threw the first eight innings of a combined no-hitter last Saturday. The Reds pulled Corcino from the game because he hit 110 pitches at the end of eight innings. He told reporters after the game that his goal is to finish his own no-hitter the next time.
|Daniel Corcino Player Card|
|No. 2||DREW POMERANZ, LHP||ROCKIES|
Team:Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 3 BB
The Scoop: Pomeranz has drawn the short straw in five of his last six starts, taking those turns at home in homer-happy Colorado Springs. After middling results in his first four of those starts, Pomeranz turned in his finest effort of the season on Tuesday, dealing six no-hit, no-run innings and logging 103 pitches against Salt Lake, while striking out eight and walking three. (The Sky Sox carried the no-hit bid into the ninth only to lose it with one out.)
Just imagine what Pomeranz could be capable of if healthy. “I was fighting to not throw up the whole time,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette afterward. Pomeranz’s outing also encouraged Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, though not solely for the results. “His arm slot was up and he was finishing pitches better,” the GM told the Denver Post, referring to the big lefty’s recent tendency to drop his arm slot and rely more on his cut fastball instead of his four-seamer. A few more outings such as this and Pomeranz may join the Rockies’ four-man rotation, which may or may not include fellow first-rounders Alex White and Christian Friedrich at that time.
|Drew Pomeranz Player Card|
|No. 3||DAN STRAILY, RHP||ATHLETICS|
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.60, 15 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 17 SO, 3 BB
The Scoop: Straily was promoted to Triple-A this past week after dominating Texas League hitters over the past month. In his last start for Double-A Midland, Straily went eight innings, allowed only one hit—a solo home run—and struck out nine while not issuing a walk. In his Triple-A debut against Fresno he was just as impressive, scattering three singles and three walks over seven innings while striking out eight. Lately, he’s not only been able to rack up the strikeouts, but also force hitters to pound the ball into the ground. He dropped weight over the offseason, and if he continues at this pace he could earn a callup later in the summer.
|Dan Straily Player Card|
|No. 4||MARTIN PEREZ, LHP||RANGERS|
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)
The Scoop: When the Rangers suddenly found themselves in dire need of pitching help from the minors, Perez wasn’t really a logical option. While Justin Grimm had made the Rangers stand up and take notice of his excellent performance at Double-A, Perez has been struggling with an ERA above 5.00 for most of the season in Triple-A. But Grimm’s ascent to the big leagues seems to have worked as a suitable reminder for Perez of how close he could be to the big leagues. In the two starts he made this week, Perez lowered his overall ERA by nearly a run. The biggest difference has been his control. Don’t let those seven walks fool you—after throwing fewer than 60 percent strikes in April and May, Perez is throwing nearly 65 percent of his pitches for strikes in June.
|Martin Perez Player Card|
|No. 5||JAMESON TAILLON, RHP||PIRATES|
Team:high Class A Bradenton (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: While his stuff was fine—mid-90s fastball, power breaking ball, improved changeup—Taillon was having a rough stretch until his latest start. From May 27-June 13, he made four outings that lasted just 19 1/3 innings and gave up 28 hits in that stretch. His 19-5 K-BB ratio was fine, but his ERA had ballooned from 2.61 to 4.52 because when he got in trouble, he simply reared back and threw harder. In his latest start, Taillon adjusted, pitching inside more effectively en route to seven scoreless frames, during which he threw 47 of 78 pitches for strikes.
“He was just rearing back and throwing 97 (mph) and straight when he was in trouble, (but) that just means it goes further,” one Florida State League evaluator said. “He pitched a little meaner last time out, knocked some guys back by pitching inside, and used his changeup, which has gotten a lot better.” The son of Canadians, Taillon probably could have been a World teamer for the Futures Game because he has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. But since he was born in Florida and raised in Texas, he’ll have U.S.A. on his chest when he gets to Kansas City.
|Jameson Taillon Player Card|
|No. 6||RYAN LAVARNWAY, C||RED SOX|
Team: Triple-A Pawtucket (International)
Why He’s Here: .500/.593/.773 (10-for-20), 5 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: After a slow start in his second stint in Pawtucket, Lavarnway is hitting a robust .397/.470/.741 in the month of June, thanks to seven multi-hit games in his last 13. While the seven home runs are on pace for a career low, he’s still drawing walks at an above-average clip and has cut down on his strikeouts this year as well. Lavarnway is continuing to progress defensively, but with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach at the major league level, the Red Sox may be inclined to move the red-hot slugger for some pitching depth near the trade deadline.
|Ryan Lavarnway Player Card|
|No. 7||TOM KOEHLER, RHP||MARLINS|
Team: Triple-A New Orleans (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: Stony Brook went 2-and-barbeque at the College World Series, and the Seawolves could have used Koehler, one of their top alumni in pro ball. He tied his season-high with 10 strikeouts in his one-hit effort at Memphis, beating Shelby Miller for his seventh victory and throwing strikes with 61 of 99 pitches. Koehler turns 26 next week and is more of a back-end insurance policy than a big prospect, but his fastball has late run to go with solid-average velocity, and his curveball and slider have some deception to go with their bite, with the slide piece reaching 86 mph at times. He appears to be ready if the slumping Marlins need him in Miami—over his last five starts, he’s posted a 1.03 ERA. In that time, he’s pitched 35 innings and given up just 14 hits and nine walks while striking out 31.
|Tom Koehler Player Card|
|No. 8||JULIO RODRIGUEZ, RHP||PHILLIES|
Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.57, 7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 10 SO, 4 BB
The Scoop: Rodriguez breezed through the lower minors, including his posting a 2.76 ERA in the Florida State League last year. But he lacks any pitches that wow scouts, and there were questions about whether his reliance on deception and pitchability would hold up against more advanced hitters in Double-A. Well so far, Eastern League hitters haven’t been able to square him up much either. Rodriguez had a four-start stretch in May in which he didn’t allow an earned run, and he’s 4-1, 2.81 on the year for Reading. He’s holding opponents to a .220 average, fourth best in the EL, and he’s still been able to miss bats as well. He ranked second in the FSL in whiffs last year and stands fourth in EL currently with 71 in 73 2/3 innings. Once an afterthought in the Threshers rotation of prospects, Rodriguez is the one going to the Futures Game next month.
|Julio Rodriguez Player Card|
|No. 9||CHRIS CARTER, 1B||ATHLETICS|
Team: Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .500/.593/.773 (11-for-22), 8 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: One thing we know about Chris Carter is that he sure can hit Triple-A pitchers. Now can he do it at the major league level, or will he never make enough contact to get any value from his tremendous raw power? Carter reached Triple-A Sacramento in 2009, and ever since then, he’s posted an OPS pushing .900 in the Pacific Coast League, but in major league trials, he’s hit more like a fringy shortstop than the masher that’s required of a first base/DH type. Back in Triple-A, he’s racking up doubles and home runs, which should get him another opportunity at some point to show that he’s more than just a PCL slugger.
|Chris Carter Player Card|
|No. 10||ALEX LIDDI, LF/3B/1B||MARINERS|
Team: Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .409/.552/.727, 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBIs, 3 R, 7 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Liddi began the season in Seattle, but after 42 strikeouts in 114 big league plate appearances, he returned to Tacoma last week. He’s certainly more comfortable in Triple-A, where his big power/low contact skill set can thrive. He’s struck out more than 100 times since his first full season in 2007, including a whopping 170 whiffs in 138 games last year in Triple-A. Will Liddi ever be able to cut down on his swing to be able to tap into his raw power? He’s still young enough to be able to make adjustments, but he’s going to have to show he can make some changes to be able to hold down a major league role.
|Alex Liddi Player Card|
|No. 11||EDWAR CABRERA, LHP||ROCKIES|
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.20, 15 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 14 SO, 2 BB
The Scoop: Last year’s minor league strikeout king, Cabrera has emphasized the development of his curveball this year, which has led to fewer whiffs (11.7 SO/9 in 2011 compared to 7.5 this year) and more long balls (he leads the league with 15 home runs allowed). Even still, the southpaw has the lowest WHIP (0.90) and opponent average (.186) in the Texas League. Cabrera has started to heat up recently, allowing just two earned runs and one home run in his last 22 innings while striking out 19. Cabrera’s pride and joy is his superb changeup that he can locate and throw at any time in the count. His high-80s fastball appears faster when he pitches off his changeup. The Rockies are trying to get him to develop a more consistent breaking ball in hopes of pushing him up the ladder. The Dominican Republic native made the World team for the Futures Game.
|Edwar Cabrera Player Card|
|No. 12||ALEX CASTELLANOS, 2B||DODGERS|
Team:Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
Why He’s Here: .478/.520/.783 (11-for-23), 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBIs, 5 R, 2 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: Castellanos missed most of May with a strained hamstring but was called up to majors just a few days after rejoining Albuquerque on May 26, filling Matt Kemp’s place on the roster. He hit .143 in 11 big league games and went 0-for-4 in his first game after being sent back to the Isotopes, but he’s turned things around quickly since then, reeling off a seven-game hitting streak. Castellanos has some speed and power potential, and he’s produced seven homers and is 9-for-11 stealing bases in 30 Triple-A games this year. While his home ballpark is a notorious hitter’s paradise, Castellanos has actually done more of his damage on the road in the PCL, hitting .439/.500/.879 with five of his seven homers away from Isotopes Park.
|Alex Castellanos Player Card|
|No. 13||JARRED COSART, RHP||ASTROS|
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 1 BB
The Scoop: Cosart’s first full season in the Astros organization has not been a breeze. The hard-throwing righty came to Houston along with first baseman Jonathan Singleton in last July’s Hunter Pence deal with the Phillies. Cosart allowed one run or fewer in five of his seven starts with the Hooks last season, but he had struggled to regain that form until his outing against San Antonio on Tuesday. He had yielded 12 earned runs over 18 innings in his previous three starts, but against the Missions he didn’t give up an extra-base hit while allowing only one runner past second base.
|Jarred Cosart Player Card|
The first two months of the season were ones Cardinals 3B Zack Cox would like to forget. One of the minors’ best prospects in terms of pure hitting ability, Cox’s average stood at just .209 at the end of May for Triple-A Memphis, but the 23-year-old has started showing signs of life in June. Cox hit .444/.545/.778 (8-for-18) with a homer and three doubles this week, and he also showed more selectivity, walking four times which matched his total from each of the first two months . . . Phillies RHP Jon Pettibone follows Julio Rodriguez in Double-A Reading’s rotation and nearly matched Rodriguez’s gem this week. The 21-year-old tossed seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, with eight strikeouts and two walks. Pettibone has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts, dropping his ERA to 3.43 in 86 2/3 innings . . . The hottest position in the game right now may be center field in the Blue Jays organization. Colby Rasmus’ bat has come alive in Toronto—he has five homers in his last 10 games—while Anthony Gose has been on an extended hot streak with Triple-A Las Vegas. He batted .348/.483/.652 (8-for-23) last week with lots of supplemental goodies, including three triples, a double, six runs scored, six walks and a 2-for-2 showing in stolen bases. (He currently leads the Pacific Coast League with nine triples and 26 steals.) In 34 games since May 17, Gose has put up a .947 OPS with 12 steals in 14 tries, 17 extra-base hits and 18 walks . . . An eighth-round senior draft out of Arizona State in 2010, Kole Calhoun required only about a year and a half in the minors before he debuted with the Angels on May 22. The 24-year-old outfielder (he profiles in right but plays a lot of center in the minors) earns high marks for his plate discipline—if not his raw tools—and has enjoyed a big season with Triple-A Salt Lake, batting .317/.378/.529 with six homers in 208 at-bats. He batted .444/.464/.778 (12-for-27) for the Bees last week, belting a homer, two doubles and two triples while driving in seven and scoring eight times. Calhoun owns a .937 OPS in the minors, with the gigantic caveat that he’s played exclusively in the Pioneer, California and Pacific Coast leagues on his way to Anaheim . . . There’s no getting around it: Indians SS Ronny Rodriguez is raw, both at the plate and in the field. Yet there are some promising tools here, and with a week like this one—he went 10-for-17 (.588) with a double and two triples—there’s reason to be intrigued by the 20-year-old with high Class A Carolina . . . It’s been a long road to Double-A for Tulsa RHP Parker Frazier, a 2007 eighth-round pick of the Rockies who has spent the previous four-plus seasons in the lower levels, including the past two in the California League. The lanky 23-year-old, who stands 6-foot-5 but tips the scales at 159 pounds, struck out a career-high seven against Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday while yielding one run on six hits over six innings to lower his ERA to 3.62—10th-best in the Texas League . . . Rays RHP Taylor Guerrieri made his professional debut on Wednesday night for short-season Hudson Valley and gave up just two hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out six in five scoreless frames against Aberdeen. The Rays’ first-round pick last year, Guerrieri features a 93-96 mph fastball that touches 98, a power 11-5 spike curveball in the low 80s and also flashes a developing changeup and a cutter.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
• Brandon Hicks, ss, Athletics: Hicks started his career in the Braves system as a third-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2007, offering a promising package of power and hitting ability. He hit 20 homers in his first full season in 2008, mostly in high Class A, and he ranked as high as No. 11 in the Braves system among his three Prospect Handbook appearances. But he slipped off the radar after failing to produce in the upper minors, and he went just 1-for-26 in limited big league time with at Atlanta. The A’s picked Hicks up on waivers in spring training, and now he’s on pace for his best year since 2008. After a slow start, Hicks’ batting line is up to .275/.374/.555 in 236 at-bats, and he’s tapped back into his power, homering in four straight games this week and upping his season’s total to 13. In all he hit .476/.593/1.333 (10-for21) with five homers and three doubles for the week.
• Andrew Chafin, lhp, Diamondbacks. Chafin was bounced early from both starts this past week, giving up 15 runs on nine hits and nine walks in just five combined innings in two starts for high Class A Visalia. Arizona hasn’t decided yet whether or not they will continue to let their supplemental first-round pick from last year develop as a starter or if they should begin grooming him as a reliever due to his funky mechanics. All things considered, Chafin hasn’t pitched terribly in the hitter-friendly California League this year, and he currently sports an 11.8 SO/9 rate in 74 innings pitched.
• Brody Colvin, rhp, Phillies. Colvin returned to high Class A Clearwater’s rotation after a two week-experiment in the bullpen, during which he yielded just two earned runs over five appearances with nine strikeouts and three walks in nine innings. The Phillies hoped the time in the bullpen would help the 21-year-old Colvin forget his earlier struggles, and he looked sharp in his return to the rotation last week, allowing just two hits over six shutout innings. However, he returned to his troubling ways against Dunedin on Monday. Colvin lasted just four innings, yielding five runs on six hits and four walks as his ERA inched back over the 5.00 mark. Opponents are hitting .280 against the 2009 seventh-round pick—whom the Phillies inked for a well-above-slot $900,000—and he has walked a career-worst 5.71 hitters per nine innings.
• Trevor Story, ss, Rockies. The South Atlantic League all-star break came at just the right time for Story, a supplemental pick last year who’s grinding through his first full season this year with low Class A Asheville. He closed out the first half in an 0-for-12 skid and then went 1-for-5 Thursday when play resumed. All told that’s a 1-for-17 week with a single, no walks and nine strikeouts, which drops his June average to .175 (10-for-57) with four extra-base hits in 14 games. Better days lie ahead for the 19-year-old Story, Colorado’s top shortstop prospect.
• Hayden Simpson, rhp, Cubs: Any progress is encouraging progress for Simpson, and Thursday night he pitched four innings for short-season Boise, giving up just one unearned run and one hit while walking one. More importantly, he tied a career high with seven strikeouts. Boise manager Mark Johnson told the Idaho Press-Tribune that Simpson pitched great. “I can’t picture him throwing any better,” the skipper said. No one envisioned that the 23-year-old 2010 first-round pick would still be in short-season ball two years after being drafted, but of course few teams besides the Cubs pictured Simpson as a first-round pick that year. Simpson has endured mono and arm injuries since being a surprise first-rounder, and one game doesn’t make his slow progress any easier to stomach for Cubs fans.
• Luis Mateo, rhp, Mets: In the international scouting community, Mateo is far from an unknown. The Giants signed him for $625,000 four years ago, but voided his contract when they found bone chips in his elbow. Then in November 2008, the Padres signed him for $300,000, but that deal fell apart due to MLB’s investigation into his background, which eventually revealed that Mateo had falsely shaved two years off his age. After serving a suspension, Mateo finally signed with the Mets last year for $150,000, then went out and dominated the Dominican Summer League. In his U.S. debut on Tuesday for short-season Brooklyn, Mateo struck out nine with one walk, two hits and one run allowed in 5 2/ 3 innings. The 22-year-old Mateo had anything but a typical development path, but his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and stuff are promising, with a 91-94 mph fastball that touches a few ticks higher, along with a power slider and an occasional changeup.