Prospect Hot Sheet: June 26


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Prospect
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Sheets


Some Prospect Hot Sheet meetings are easy, and some not so. This was a difficult week. Thanks to the Class A all-star games and a down week for hitters, it’s a very pitching-centric Sheet this week. But while that may be true, the overall down week for hitters helped one hitter stand out even more.

Remember as
always, this
is not a re-ranking of our
Top 100 Prospects list. Instead, it’s a snapshot of who are the hottest
prospects in baseball right
now, with stats taken from the past week of games (June 19-25).

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper,
Matt Eddy, Matt Forman and
Jim
Shonerd.

No. 1 NICK WEGLARZ, LF

INDIANS

Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .500/.667/1.056 (9-for-18), 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 8 R, 8 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: For the first month of the season, Weglarz’s numbers were as bad as any prospect’s in baseball. The hulking Canadian slugger finished April with a .386 OPS, notching just five hits—only one of them going for extra bases.

But since then, Weglarz has been a monster, crushing everything in sight—or at least anything over the plate, as his batting eye is among the best in the minors. In 194 trips to the plate since April, Weglarz has has batted .327/.454/.628, bringing his season line up to .264/.390/.500 with 11 home runs in 67 games.

Weglarz is headed to the Futures Game next month, but he’s spent the past few days abusing the Trenton pitching staff. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double on Tuesday, 4-for-5 with a home run on Wednesday, then came back yesterday to hit a home run for the third straight game. The Thunder had seen enough, as Weglarz walked in his four other trips to the plate, including one intentional free pass.

2009
Stats
No. 2 KYLE DRABEK, RHP

PHILLIES

Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.76, 15 1/3 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO

The
Scoop:
Drabek celebrated his arrival in Double-A on June 3 with seven scoreless innings, and he hasn’t really let up since. Showcasing a fastball that touches 97 mph, Drabek celebrated the news that he will be going to the Futures Game by striking out nine on Thursday. His father, former big leaguer Doug, watched from the stands. There’s already some talk that Drabek could be pitching in the big leagues by September, which would be an impressive jump for a pitcher who had never thrown a pitch above low Class A before this season.

2009
Stats
No. 3 JORDAN LYLES, RHP

ASTROS

Team: low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)

Age: 18

Why He’s Here: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: The Astros have understandably taken some heat for their struggles in the draft and player development in recent years, but let’s give them credit for getting this one right. Lyles wasn’t looked at as a top three-rounds pick by most teams heading into the draft, but Houston took him in the supplemental first round after liking what they saw in his predraft workout. He’s living up to their expectations as one of the best pitchers in the South Atlantic League—he now has racked up double-digit strikeout totals in three of his past four starts.

2009
Stats
No. 4 DANNY VALENCIA, 3B

TWINS

Team: Double-A New Britain (Eastern)/Triple-A Rochester (International)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .500/.519/.808 (13-for-26), 2 HR, 2 2B, 6 R, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Valencia has quietly been putting together a strong campaign, enough to earn himself a promotion to Triple-A during the week. Valencia is on a nine-game hitting streak that spans his last six games with New Britain and first three with Rochester, where he debuted Tuesday by going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. He then punctuated his week by hitting his first Triple-A home run (and eighth of the season) Thursday night, a game-tying solo shot in the bottom of the ninth against Columbus.

2009
Stats
No. 5 MICHAEL TAYLOR, LF

PHILLIES

Team: Double-A Reading (Eastern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .423/.448/.769 (11-for-26), 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The
Scoop:
When Taylor got off to a scorching start in low Class A last year, some skeptics (OK, we’d have to be included in that group) wondered what Taylor would do against more advanced competition. Wonder no more, Taylor has improved his slugging percentage on every step up the ladder and is hitting .337/.399/.574 at Reading this year. But his best attribute may be his consistency—Taylor has hit better than .330 in all but one month over the past year and a half.

2009
Stats
No. 6 RENE TOSONI, RF

TWINS

Team:
Double-A New Britain (Eastern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .435/.536/.739 (10-for-23), 1 HR, 4 2B, 7 R, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Tosoni is having a bounce-back season after his 2008 campaign was shortened courtesy of fouling a broken bone in his left foot. A draft-and-follow from 2005, Tosoni was elevated to Double-A this year despite his relative inexperience, having played in only 109 minor league games before this year. Tosoni, a native of Canada, has recorded four consecutive two-hit games and is on a six-game hitting streak overall. He was especially hot in May, hitting .323 in 93 at-bats, but he’s followed it up with a solid June, batting .281 through 64 at-bats. On top of all that, he was named to the World Team for next month’s Futures Game in St. Louis.

2009
Stats
No. 7 BUD NORRIS, RHP

ASTROS

Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Norris has picked up where he left off after a dominant showing in the Arizona Fall League last year. The righthander out of Cal Poly leads the PCL in both ERA (2.11 in 81 innings) and strikeouts (82). He’s been strong all year, not having allowed more than four runs in any of his 13 starts, particularly over the last few weeks. Norris is working on a 19-inning shutout streak spanning three starts, including back-to-back starts of eight shutout innings. The 10 strikeouts Norris recorded last Saturday against New Orleans were a season high, as were his 121 pitches. You might also say he was effectively wild, as Norris walked four and also hit two batters.

2009
Stats
No. 8 SCOTT ELBERT, LHP

DODGERS

Team: Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)/Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 2.45, 11 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop:
Because he was pitching in Double-A back in 2006, it feels like Elbert has been around forever. But as he made his first Triple-A appearance of his career this week, it’s worth noting that Elbert still is only 23. And after losing nearly a full season to shoulder issues, he’s back doing what he does best—carving up hitters. His first start in Albuquerque was supposed to be Manny Ramirez’s final rehab start. Ramirez was scratched because of rainy weather, but Elbert attempted to entertain the sellout crowd with a six-inning, rain-shortened one-hitter. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth.

2009
Stats
No. 9 NATHAN ADCOCK, RHP

MARINERS

Team:  high Class A High Desert (California)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO

The Scoop: A Mariners’ fifth-round pick out of high school in ’06, Adcock has gone where few Mavericks pitchers have gone before him—into the top 10 of the Cal League’s ERA race. His 3.70 mark ranks eighth, and just as impressively, given that he pitches in High Desert, his innings pitched total ranks third. Adcock hasn’t been an overpowering strikeout pitcher this season (with 56 in 82 2/3 innings), but with a low-90s sinker and a feel for a breaking ball and changeup, he’s proven adept at limiting damage and keeping the ball in the yard (eight home runs allowed). His eight-strikeout showing at Inland Empire this week established a new season high.

2009
Stats
No. 10 CASEY KELLY, RHP

RED SOX

Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The Red Sox promoted Kelly to Salem in late May and he hit his first speed bump in his Carolina League debut, getting touched up for eight runs (three earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. It didn’t take him long to figure out Carolina League hitters after that. In four starts since then, he’s given up only 11 hits and five runs in 23 innings. In his lone start of the week, Kelly tossed six shutout innings at Potomac, the second time he’s tossed six shutout frames since being promoted. For the season, Kelly has compiled a 7-3, 1.64 record with 63 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 77 innings between his stops in low Class A Greenville and Salem.

2009
Stats
No. 11 LANCE ZAWADSKI, SS

PADRES

Team: Double-A San Antonio (Texas)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .536/.567/.714 (15-for-28), 1 HR, 2 2B, 7 RBIs, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Third baseman Logan Forsythe, a Padres’ supplemental first-round pick last year, joined San Antonio’s heavy-hitting club yesterday, going 1-for-3. But no Missions player has been hotter than Zawadzki, a Massachusetts native and ’07 fourth-round pick, who has hit .381 (32-for-84) with 18 RBIs in 23 June games. A switch-hitter with a discerning eye and solid power from both sides of the plate, he’s racked up a 1.003 OPS from the right side and a .961 mark from the left in TL play.

2009
Stats
No. 12 DAN HUDSON, RHP

WHITE SOX

Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 16 SO

The Scoop: Chicago’s system has improved as much any organization this year, and Hudson is one of the big reasons. Hudson, an ’08 fifth-rounder out of Old Dominion, began the season in low Class A—now he’s mowing down hitters in Double-A. Promoted to Birmingham for a June 20 start, Hudson has struck out more than a batter an inning in each of his three stops this season.

2009
Stats
No. 13 TRAVIS WOOD, LHP

REDS

Team:
Double-A Carolina (Southern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Wood (1.27 ERA this season) and Mat Latos (1.28) are having quite a battle for the minors ERA title. But if Wood keeps pitching like he’s been pitching in June, he’ll be hard to catch. Wood didn’t allow a run for the fourth time in five June starts. He has a sub-1.00 ERA in two of the three months this season and has allowed only one home run all year.

2009
Stats

IN THE TEAM
PHOTO

Triple-A Nashville C Angel Salome (Brewers) isn’t a guy you expect to hit many triples, but that’s just what the stocky 23-year-old catcher did Wednesday in Albuquerque. The triple was his first of the year and fifth of his career in 1,589 professional at-bats, but it was just part of a strong week for Salome. His hitting has gotten better each month of the season and this week he hit .423/.423/.769 (11-for-26) with a home run and four doubles to go with that triple . . . Triple-A Buffalo LHP Jonathon Niese (Mets) seems to have emerged from an early funk that saw him begin 0-5, 8.05 through eight starts. He sandwiched that showing around a pair of big league muggings, but he’s been golden in his four starts since June 7. In that span, the 22-year-old Niese has allowed three runs in 26 1/3 innings, while striking out 25, walking seven and not allowing a single home run. He went a clean 2-0, 0.69 this week, giving up 12 hits to go with a sterling 14-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio . . . Double-A Tulsa RHP Esmil Rogers (Rockies) missed out on the Futures Game because Jhoulys Chacin, his Drillers teammate, has more prospect cache by virtue of his youth and impressive résumé. But given the way the 23-year-old Rogers has pitched this season, that standing may not hold. He continued his assault on the Texas League in earnest this week, striking out seven, walking none and allowing only one run in eight innings in a win against Northwest Arkansas. Rogers, the TL leader in wins, strikeouts and innings, has surrendered just two home runs all season, one in his past 10 starts . . . Triple-A Durham RHP Wade Davis (Rays) made a loud statement with the final pitch of his longest outing of the year against Pawtucket last week. Davis threw a 95 mph fastball to register his ninth strikeout of the night. He followed that four-hit appearance with a six-hit start, allowing just one earned run each time out. Davis, 23, lowered his ERA to 2.89 last week despite not earning a win, keeping his record at 6-4. Davis has walked just eight batters in June while striking out 39 . . . Though his seven-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-5, three strikeout performance, 1B Freddie Freeman (Braves) has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games for High Class A Myrtle Beach. He only played in four games this week because of the all-star game, but Freeman, 19, made the most of his opportunities. A second-round pick in 2007, Freeman registered seven hits in 17 at-bats and scored five runs, upping his season totals to .317/.395/.474 . . . Still hitting just .211 against southpaws, Double-A Midland RF Matt Sulentic (Athletics) has dominated right-handed pitchers (.314/.363/.510). On Wednesday against Frisco, Sulentic, 21, went 4-for-5 with two longballs and six RBIs against four different righties. The 5-foot-10 lefthanded batter, a third-round pick in ’06, is batting .286/.343/.448 with five home runs and 28 RBIs on the season. Last week Sulentic totaled 10 hits in 25 at-bats for an even .400 average . . . Low class A Bowling Green RHP Nick Barnese (Rays) looks to have shaken the shoulder tendinitis that sidelined him for the first two months of the season. In his fourth start for the Hot Rods, Barnese, 20, pitched seven shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out six. Barnese, a third-round pick in ’07, is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA after going 5-3, 2.45 last year for short-season Hudson Valley.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Shelby Ford, 2b, Pirates. Not even in Matt Antonelli’s darkest hour last season, in his Triple-A debut, could he imagine the depths Ford has visited. Antonelli, if you’ll remember, batted .215/.335/.322 for Portland a year ago, showing none of the power or speed that had marked him as a top-tier second base prospect. While Ford, a third-round pick from Oklahoma State in ’06, lacks Antonelli’s first-round pedigree, he’s suffered a similar fate with Indianapolis this season. The 24-year-old switch-hitter went 3-for-16 (.188) on the week and has batted a miserable .166/.210/.218 through 193 at-bats this season, connecting for only one home run and five doubles. With those sorts of numbers, one might expect Ford to be suffering from sever strikeout issues. But that hasn’t been the case—he fanned three times this week and a manageable 42 times on the year.

Desmond Jennings, of, Rays: At the end of May, Jennings was looking like a frontrunner for our Minor League Player of the Year award. He’s certainly still in the mix, but he’s having a month he’d like to forget. The 22-year-old with Double-A Montgomery has hit only .220/.312/.305 in 82 at-bats in June and has only one extra-base hit in his last 41 at-bats. He hit just .143/.182/.143 (3-for-21) with one RBI on the week.

Bill Rowell, rf, Orioles. Granted, he doesn’t turn 21 until after the season, but the ’06 first-rounder (ninth overall) has yet to reward Baltimore’s faith in him. Repeating the high Class A Carolina League, this time as a right fielder instead of a third baseman, has done little to promote Rowell’s bottom line. He’s batting .231/.292/.377 through 67 games with Frederick—though he had already matched last season’s total of seven home runs.

Trey Haley, rhp, Indians: Cleveland took Haley in the second round last year, then spent $1.25 million on him to keep him from going to Rice. But while the Indians seem to have hit on their first-rounder (Lonnie Chisenhall is tearing through the Carolina League), Haley is having major issues repeating his delivery and, in turn, throwing strikes for low Class A Lake County. Haley, 19, has walked 26 batters in 29 2/3 innings, hit four batters and has thrown five wild pitches.

MEN AMONG
BOYS

Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds. Bailey will head back up to Cincinnati for a start on Saturday as he tries to prove once again that he’s ready to get big league hitters out. But this time he will be bringing a new weapon: a split-finger fastball. Bailey was awful when called up to face Cleveland in May—he nibbled, missed his target and was pulled after walking six batters in 4 1/3 innings. But since then, Bailey, with help from the splitter, has turned his season around. Since early June, Bailey has gone 4-0, 0.47 in five starts for Triple-A Louisville, with 38 strikeouts and seven walks in 38 innings.

BLAST FROM THE
PAST

Shawn Estes, lhp, Dodgers. Though he retired last week, the 36-year-old veteran of 13 big league seasons went out on a high note. Pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque, Estes went 3-4, 3.07 (to rank sixth in the Pacific Coast League) and allowed just three home runs in 13 starts. He logged 101 wins in his big league career (who knew?), securing the final two as an emergency starter for the ’08 Padres.

HELIUM
WATCH

Tom Stuifbergen, rhp, Elizabethton. You will see a lot more players from short-season and rookie leagues popping up on the Hot Sheet in the coming weeks, but we give our first nod to the most veteran pitcher in the Appalachian League. As a 20-year-old, who missed the 2008 season because of injury, Stuifbergen isn’t particularly old for the league, especially when you consider he hails from Breda, Netherlands. But during the World Baseball Classic, Stuifbergen shut out the Dominican Republic for four innings on the way to the Dutch team’s shocking upset. After that, facing the best of the Appy League might not seem all that difficult. In his first start of the season, Stuifbergen struck out 10 while walking none in six innings as he allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) to picked up the win.

Minors | #2009 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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