Prospect Hot Sheet: June 29

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 22-28

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Jim Shonerd and interns Clint Longenecker, John Sandberg and
Pat Hickey
.

No. 1 MATT SZCZUR, CF

CUBS

Team: high Class A Daytona (Florida State)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .478/.600/.696 (11-for-23), 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 7 RBIs, 7 BB, 2 SO, 7-for-8 SB

The Scoop: Szczur entered the year as a breakout candidate after wearing down from his baseball/football grind in the second half of last season. He recently missed 19 games due to a knee injury that kept him from playing in the Florida State League all-star game, but he has made up for lost time this past week, splitting his time between center field and DH as a precaution. The injury didn’t seem to affect Szczur’s plus-plus speed, as he swiped seven bases in eight attempts.

Before the injury, Szczur led the FSL in runs, stolen bases and on-base percentage. On Wednesday, he came within a triple of hitting for the cycle, when he went 4-for-6 with a homer, a double, four RBIs and two runs scored. Perhaps the most refreshing development for Szczur this year has been has improved plate discipline, as his walk percentage has dramatically increased from 5.4 percent last year to 12.5 percent this year. An extraordinary athlete, Szczur looks like he’s starting to combine his raw tools with performance and could see a promotion to Double-A Tennessee soon enough.

Matt Szczur Player Card

No. 2 DELINO DeSHIELDS JR., 2B

ASTROS

Team: low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .345/.486/.655 (10-for-29), 2 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBIs, 11 R, 7 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 8-for-8 SB

The Scoop: A couple of California Leaguers—Billy Hamilton (94) and Rico Noel (55)—have more stolen-base quantity than DeShields, but the Astros 2010 first-rounder isn’t so far removed from second place with 54 thefts of his own. DeShields also boasts an 88.5 percent success rate on steal attempts, a full five percentage points better than Hamilton or Noel. Houston can take things more slowly with DeShields now that Jose Altuve has established himself as Astros second baseman of the present, but DeShields may receive a second-half look with high Class A Lancaster nonetheless if he continues his torrid June pace. He’s batting .322/.426/.456 (29-for-90) with an even 15-to-15 walk-to-strikeout ratio and 22 steals in 25 attempts.

Footnote: With his 49th stolen base, DeShields eclipsed Josh Anderson as the Lexington Legends’ single-season
record holder
.

Delino DeShields Player Card

No. 3 STARLING MARTE, CF

PIRATES

Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)

Age: 23.

Why He’s Here: .355/.412/.839 (11-for-31), 7 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: He had to struggle through May to find his footing in Triple-A, but it hasn’t taken long for Marte to once again remind people that he’s one of the best outfield prospects in the high minors. He had a 23-game stretch in late April and early May where he went 10-for-62 (.161) with just four extra-base hits. In the 36 games since then he’s hit for a more characteristic .307 average (46-for-150) with a binge of triples. Marte’s 10 three-baggers lead the minors, and he hit seven of them during his recent hot streak. With his ability to run, field and hit for both average and power, Marte doesn’t look to be that far away from providing a boost to a Pirates lineup that could definitely use one.

Starling Marte Player Card

No. 4 KYLE PARKER, RF

ROCKIES

Team: high Class A Modesto (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .370/.514/.778 (10-for-27), 3 HR, 2 2B, 9 RBI, 8 R, 8 BB, 9 SO

The Scoop: The 6-foot, 200-pound Parker missed much of the early part of the season due to a wrist injury. Upon his return, he struggled offensively and failed to make enough contact—as evidenced by his seven multi-strikeout games in his first 18 games back—to allow his carrying tool—plus raw power—to make an impact. After a 23-game homer-less streak shortly after returning from the injury, Parker has hit five long balls in his last 13 games and three in the last week. Scouts questioned Parker’s hitting ability as an amateur, but the 2010 first-rounder has curtailed his aggressive approach this season with an increased walk rate from nine to 14 percent.

Kyle Parker Player Card

No. 5 ANDRE RIENZO, RHP

WHITE SOX

Team: Double-A Birmingham (Southern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.00, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 12 SO, 5 BB

The Scoop: Rienzo jumped out to an early lead in the Carolina League strikeout race, fanning 31 through his first 25 innings with high Class A Winston-Salem, but he put his season on hold following the April 27 announcement that he had tested
positive for a performance-enhancer
. Remarkably, Rienzo has been even more dominant following his 50-game suspension and subsequent promotion to Double-A, as the above performance indicates. He shut out Mississippi for eight innings on Friday and then logged seven scoreless versus Tennessee on Wednesday.

Andre Rienzo Player Card

No. 6 ALEN HANSON, SS PIRATES

Team: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .500/.600/.850 (10-for-20), 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 R, 3 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB

The Scoop: Fresh off an appearance in the Sally League all-star game, Hanson continues to make things happen at the plate. He has a nine-game hitting streak that extends back to June 16, and his .331 average is fifth best in the SAL. Making his full-season debut, he leads West Virginia in virtually every offensive category, including home runs (11). We identified Hanson as a Pirates sleeper in the most recent Prospect Handbook, but he won’t keep that title for long if he continues to produce this type of offensive production.

Alen Hanson Player Card

No. 7 MASON WILLIAMS, CF YANKEES

Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .370/.414/.852 (10-for-27), 3 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 9 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Williams has hit more home runs this June (five) than he hit all of last season (three) when he ranked as the New York-Penn League’s top prospect. In all likelihood it’s not a random spike, but rather the power of which scouts foretold even when Williams was a 6-foot, 150-pound amateur. He’s batting .352/.387/.636 (31-for-88) in June with 14 extra-base hits in 21 games, and he retains the distinction of being the best all-around talent in the Yankees system.

Mason Williams Player Card

No. 8 TONY CINGRANI, LHP REDS

Team: Double-A Pensacola (Southern)

Age:
22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.54, 2 GS, 11 2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: Last week, Pensacola’s Daniel Corcino led this list for his
work in a combined no-hitter. Cingrani had a start this week that was better than Corcino’s. If not for a mediocre 3 2/3-inning outing earlier
in the week, Cingrani would have given the Reds back-to-back No. 1s on the Hot Sheet, but even with that ugly outing, Cingrani’s second start of the week had to be honored. He went eight shutout innings while striking out 15 and allowing three hits and a walk, a performance that added up to the best game score (90) we’ve seen this year in the minors. It’s yet another reminder that the pre-draft scouting report that pegged Cingrani as a future reliever may have been a little light.

Tony Cingrani Player Card

No. 9 MANNY MACHADO, SS

ORIOLES

Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .393/.452/.714 (11-for-28), 2 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBIs, 7 R, 3 BB, 3 SO

The Scoop: Machado has raised his average 22 points in the past 10 games, going 14-for-32 (.438), smashing six extra-base hits and drawing four walks. If he keeps it up, the teenage shortstop could head into the Future
Game on a hot streak
. Don’t dwell on Machado’s early-season performance—he batted .250/.349/.375 with two homers in April and May—because the Orioles’ top position prospect is committed to making the fundamental changes to his swing required to hit pitchers with better velocity and command, as detailed in a recent
prospect bulletin.

Manny Machado Player Card

No. 10 SEON GI KIM, RHP

MARINERS

Team: low Class A Clinton (Midwest) / short-season Everett (Northwest)

Age:
20

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.82, 11 IP, 2 GS, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 19 SO

The Scoop: Kim has been on a slow track ever since the Mariners signed him out of South Korea in 2009. He dipped his toe into the Midwest League waters last year, but after four starts he was sent back to short-season ball for the rest of the season, where he struggled to a 1-2, 5.76 line in 30 innings with the Rookie-level Pulaski club. A year later, Kim has responded with the best stretch of his young career. He struck out 13 in six no-hit innings in a June 23 start against Spokane, then showed no real problem in his jump to the MWL with five solid innings against Beloit.

Seon-Gi Kim Player Card

No. 11 MARC KRAUSS, RF

DIAMONDBACKS

Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .520/.636/.760 (13-for-25), 3 2B, 1 HR, 11 R, 5 RBIs, 8 BB, 1 SO, 1 SB

The Scoop: The Diamondbacks’ second-round draft selection from 2009 appears to be regaining the swing that he had in his first two years of pro ball, during which he hit .304 and .302, respectively. Last season Krauss struggled in his first year at Double-A, batting just .242 with Mobile, but 2012 has been a different story. He ranks fifth among Southern League hitters with a .298 average and his 11 home runs have him tied for third. He also ranks among the league’s leaders in hits, doubles and RBIs. The former Mid-American Conference player of the year was red-hot this past week, as evidenced by back-to-back three-hit performances on Wednesday and Thursday.

Marc Krauss Player Card

No. 12 KYLE CRICK, RHP

GIANTS

Team: low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 8 SO, 4 BB

The Scoop: A supplemental pick in last year’s draft, Crick has responded to an aggressive jump to the South Atlantic League. Still relatively new to pitching, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound righty has proved he has swing-and-miss stuff—his 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings ranks second in the league behind Greenville lefthander Henry Owens. Typical of Texas prep draftees, Crick’s fastball sits easily in the low 90s and tops out at 97 mph. He’s working on cleaning up his delivery and getting more on line to the plate, and while his walk rate (5.3 per nine) is an area for improvement, Crick is the best power arm in a system that usually knows what to do with them.

Kyle Crick Player Card

No. 13 KYLE SMITH,
RHP

ROYALS

Team: low Class A Kane County (Midwest) / Rookie-level Idaho Falls (Pioneer)

Age: 19.

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

The Scoop: Smith has been so good in his pro debut that he was the pitcher of the week in both the Pioneer and Midwest league in the same week. He struck out 11 batters in just five innings in his only start for Idaho Falls, then jumped a level and threw six no-hit innings in his first MWL start. Scouts considered Smith to be an advanced high school pitcher when the Royals’ drafted him in the fourth round last year, and nothing he’s done in the early going changes that assessment.

Kyle Smith Player Card

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

The worst thing a pitcher could see is Reds SS Billy Hamilton getting a lead off first base. The bad news for California League pitchers is that the Bakersfield shortstop has gotten much better at figuring out how to get to first. Hamilton, 21, was 7-for-29 this week with one extra-base hit, but he drew eight walks compared to four strikeouts, which allowed him to still swipe 12 bases in 15 attempts. Hamilton has walked 22 times compared to 17 strikeouts this month. The Cal League’s hitting environments don’t hurt, but Hamilton has managed to significantly cut his strikeout rate this year while upping his walk rate, it’s a great combination for a leadoff hitter . . . When Nationals CF Brian Goodwin arrived at instructional league last fall, the team worked with him extensively to scrap his metal-bat swing by using his hips more and trusting his electric bat speed. Mission accomplished. Goodwin has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games for low Class A Hagerstown, and he went 4-for-5 with two homers on June 23 to run his batting line up to .315/.432/.523 on the year. The 21-year-old still needs time to iron out the finer points in his game such as route-running and stealing bases, but has average-to-plus tools across the board to be an impact center fielder . . . Low Class A Lansing leads the Midwest League by a wide margin with a 2.84 team ERA. One reason for the stinginess has been RHP Noah Syndergaard, a Blue Jays supplemental pick in 2010 who made two starts this week, allowing only one run in 10 innings while striking out 13 and walking two. The 19-year-old Syndergaard’s combination of velocity and control could make him an elite prospect if he improves the command and consistency of his secondary stuff . . . Rays SS Hak-Ju Lee scuffled to begin the season and was hitting .232/.297/.292 at the end of May. The 21-year-old plus defender has hit .323/.385/.455 in June and has four multi-hit games over the last week for Double-A Montgomery. The lefty-hitting Lee took advantage of the extra opportunities on base by stealing 11 bags in his last 10 games to take the Southern League lead with 27 . . . Indians LHP T.J. McFarland rode an 8-2, 2.69 mark at Double-A Akron to a promotion to Triple-A Columbus at the end of May. McFarland, 23, was hit hard in his third Triple-A start, giving up 10 runs on June 12, but he responded with a quality start on June 18 and was dominant on Sunday against Lehigh Valley. He induced 13 groundouts on his way to a complete-game shutout, during which he struck out four while giving up four hits and one walk . . . Braves RHP Aaron Northcraft authored the minors’ first solo no-hitter of the season last Friday, albeit in a seven-inning game. The 22-year-old with high Class A Lynchburg struck out a season-high 10 in the no-no against Salem while walking two and hitting a batter. He made his next start Thursday against Wilmington, allowing two runs over six innings. His two starts for the week improved his season’s mark to 7-4, 3.35, and he’s tied for second in the Carolina League with 85 strikeouts . . . LHP Chris Dwyer, the Royals’ fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2009, started for Double-A Northwest Arkansas last Friday and showed no signs of the control issues that have plagued him for much of the past two seasons. The lefty threw seven innings, giving up no runs on two hits. He struck out seven batters and walked none while earning the win against Arkansas. The 24-year-old Dwyer made it to Double-A in his first full season but hasn’t been able to make the jump to Triple-A due to a combination of injuries and those command problems.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Thomas Neal, of, Indians: Neal had a breakout 2009 season in the Giants system, batting .337/.431/.579 at high Class A San Jose and leading the California League in on-base percentage. But in the years since, that season has looked more and more like a creation of the Cal League’s great hitting environments. Neal reached Triple-A for the Giants last year before being sent to the Indians in a trade deadline deal for Orlando Cabrera. The 24-year-old Neal has consistently hit for high averages throughout his career (he’s a .296 career hitter), but since coming to the upper minors in 2010, he hasn’t come close to replicating the 22 homers and .579 slugging percentage from his 2009 season. Neal, who finds himself back in Double-A with Akron, did find his power again at least for this week, hitting three homers and five doubles to go with a .444/.531/.963 (12-for-27) line. As he’s hitting .300/.371/.465 in 213 at-bats for Akron, Neal should be able to rate a promotion back to Triple-A in the not-too-distant future.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Mike Montgomery, lhp, Royals: Because of two errors committed behind him, Montgomery gave up just four earned runs, but his Thursday start for Triple-A Omaha still ranks as the worst of his minor league career. Montgomery’s velocity is down from what it once was, and he’s still struggling with his command. It’s not that he walks bushels of batters, but he can’t put the ball down in the zone when he needs to. The most telling aspect of Montgomery’s downturn is that he’s further from Kansas City now than he was during 2011 spring training.

Matt Barnes, rhp, Red Sox: The Bugatti Veyron that is Barnes’ ascent through the minors has finally hit the first pothole. After giving up eight runs in his first eight high Class A starts, Barnes gave up eight runs in just 4 2/3 innings in two starts for Salem this week. For the season, Barnes is a still-spectacular 7-1, 1.86 in 15 starts.

Julio Teheran, rhp, Braves: Teheran is battling Montgomery for the title of most disappointing Triple-A pitching prospect. The Braves have put out an APB for anyone who can start now that Brandon Beachy is on the shelf and Mike Minor is struggling. But Teheran has not been able to make a solid case for promotion. His 4.50 ERA for Gwinnett is nearly two runs worse than his 2.55 ERA for the G-Braves last year. Most importantly, Teheran isn’t getting the swings and misses you would expect for a pitcher with often-electric stuff. That was especially true last night when he gave up nine runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Brad Peacock, rhp, Athletics: Getting traded in the offseason hasn’t been good for Peacock. While fellow Nationals refugee Tom Milone quickly found himself pitching in Oakland, Peacock has struggled to come anywhere close to matching what he showed last year, when he was one of the best pop-up prospects in the game. Peacock hasn’t pitched into the fifth inning since May, and his 11.27 ERA this month shows things are getting worse, not better. Peacock’s stuff is still the same as it was last year, but he’s not locating his pitches, so there’s still hope he can turn it around when he figures out his delivery again.

MAN AMONG BOYS

Rich Poythress, 1b, Mariners: Sidelined for a month and a half with a foot injury, Poythress, 24, has made a pretty definitive statement that he’s healthy during his rehab stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He homered twice in his first game, then added a third home run in his third game. He’s hitting .545/.706/1.455 in his four games against the much younger competition. He should get a chance to slug against players his own age in the near future with a return to Double-A Jackson.

HELIUM WATCH

Jeimer Candelario, 3b, Cubs. Chicago skipped the 18-year-old Candelario, a standout in last year’s Dominican Summer League, past the Arizona League to short-season Boise, and they’ve had no regrets through the first two weeks. The switch-hitter homered in three straight games from June 20-22 and leads the Northwest League with four bombs. Candelario has batted .314/.364/.569 through 51 at-bats, showcasing plenty of bat speed to go with plus pitch-recognition skills.

Minors | #2012 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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