Based on what he’s done over his last three starts–and especially after what he did against Double-A Reading in his most recent outing–Mets righthander Mike Pelfrey tops our list this week.
Alay Soler might have beaten him to the big leagues, but the 2005 first-rounder might not be far behind.
That said, only three arms rank in the Top 10 this time around, with Pelfrey and Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez leading the way.
We’d like to throw out some special props to Braves third baseman Van Pope, whose bat is finally showing consistent signs of life at high Class A Myrtle Beach. After hitting just .212 in May, Pope is 17-for-43 (.395) so far this month.
“You’re just waiting for the power to happen” a veteran National League scout said. “He’s a solid defender at third base and he probably has one of the best, if not the best arm in the league at that position. He’s got soft hands, really can pick it there. I’d go so far as to say that he’s a tick above average there.
“It’s just a matter of if the power’s going to come. This is his second full season, so it’s a little too early to tell. But when he centers the ball, it goes. We’ll just see if the power comes.”
One a completely unrelated note, get ready for the return of Triple-A Durham outfielder Delmon Young, whose suspension ends a week from today.
Remember, this is not a rewrite of our Top 100 prospects list. This is simply a snapshot of which prospects are currently riding the biggest hot streaks.
|1. Mike Pelfrey, rhp, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)|
|He started slow after his promotion to Double-A, but the Wichita State alum is firing on all cylinders now. In his last three starts, he has allowed just three runs in 19 innings while fanning 22 and walking four. He even had three hits in one of those starts. There are still concerns about his secondary stuff, but the former Shocker has blown away hitters with an electric fastball that sits in the mid-90s that he is able to command to all parts of the zone.|
|2. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)|
|After just a so-so beginning to his season, Jimenez has found another gear. Jimenez worked hard with Drillers pitching coach Bo McLaughlin on his delivery and getting a consistent release point and the results have been staggering recently. Over his last four starts (all wins), Jimenez has allowed just three earned runs in 26 innings, whiffing 28.|
|3. Chris Carter, 1b, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Tucson)|
|A 17th-round pick in 2004 out of Stanford, Carter is hitting for average and power for the Sidewinders. The 23-year-old batted .476 with four homers last week, upping his overall numbers to .291/.396/.479 with eight bombs and 29 RBIs in 213 at-bats.|
|4. Brandon Wood, ss, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)|
|It’s not last year, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Last week, Wood hit two bombs to go along with a .321 average and drove in five. On the season, the 21-year-old shortstop is hitting .288/.365/.567 with 14 homers and 23 doubles in 240 at-bats.|
|5. Trevor Crowe, of, Indians (High Class A Kinston)|
|A strained oblique might be the only thing to stop Crowe, who went down with an injury in Sunday afternoon’s game and is now listed as day-to-day. Nothing could stop the Indians 2005 first-rounder last week, hitting .565 and pushing his hit streak to eight games–during which he went 15-for-27 (.555).|
|6. Joe Koshansky, 1b, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)|
|Koshansky just keeps hitting, and he earns bonus points for skipping high Class A after hitting 36 homers last season in the South Atlantic League as a 22-year-old. Last week, Koshansky hit .409 and added two more homers to bring his season total to 15.|
|7. Mark Rogers, rhp, Brewers (High Class A Brevard County)|
|Rogers is still erratic and still walks too many hitters, but he can make them miss with the best of them. In his last two starts, he has 19 Ks in 13 2/3 innings and his 12.8 K/9 ratio is the best in the minors.|
|8. David Murphy, of, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)|
|Hitting .339 since his promotion and now riding a nine-game hitting streak with eight extra-base hits in that span. Also has 10 walks with just seven strikeouts in 59 Triple-A at-bats.|
|9. Scott Thorman, 1b, Braves (Triple-A Richmond)|
|Has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games and is now hitting .419 in June with five homers and five doubles. His 14 homers are second in the International League. “Thor” is currently on pace to break Triple-A Richmond’s season home run mark of 26, set by Mike Hessman in 2002.|
|10. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Diamondbacks (High Class A Lancaster)|
|Even the Diamondbacks could not verify the spelling of his name with 100 percent certainty, but we have settled on a ‘Z,’ until further notice. No matter the letter, he is raking and 15-for-37 this month, be wary of the 62-17 strikeout-walk ratio on the season.|
|Juan Salas, rhp, Devil Rays (Double-A Montgomery): Converted infielder who is dominating in the Southern League as a righthanded closer. Salas was exposed in the Rule 5 draft last year, and the Rays are thankful no one pulled him away from the organization . . . especially since he has yet to allow an earned run in 34 innings for the Biscuits.|
|Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Brewers (High Class A Brevard County): He is probably worthy of the top five, but we have to give some other guys a chance. Threw 8 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in his last start and his 12.3 K/9 ratio is second in the minors only to teammate Rogers.|
|Howie Kendrick, 2b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): Just keeps hitting. And pushing Kevin Kouzmanoff for the overall lead in batting with a .407 average.|
|Brandon Erbe, rhp, Orioles (Low Class A Delmarva): Two more five-inning starts and 16 more strikeouts to bring his season total up to 65 in 53 innings to go with a 2.04 ERA. Orioles are being understandably cautious with the 18-year-old flamethrower, as he has not gone more than five innings in any start.|
|Andy LaRoche, 3b, Dodgers (Double-A Jacksonville): No protection from Matt Kemp in the Jacksonville lineup? No problem. LaRoche batted .429 last week and added a pair of homers.
|Miguel Montero, c, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee): From not-so-hot to the team photo, apparently Montero has been reading his weekly Hot Sheet. The Diamondbacks catcher bounced back to hit .379 with a homer and seven RBIs over his last 27 at-bats.
|Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): Ditto for Stewart, who was grouped with Montero last week. Strangely enough, Montero and the Rockies’ No. 1 prospect had identical numbers last week. Creepy.
|Sean Smith, rhp, Indians (Double-A Akron): Smith ranked in the Indians Top 30 in 2004, fell off the list because of minor injuries last year and is making his case to return to the 2007 version of the Prospect Handbook. In 60 innings at Double-A Akron, Smith is now 7-0, 1.80.|
|Neil Walker, c, Pirates (High Class A Lynchburg): Finding a rhythm. Since joining the Hillcats from extended spring training in early May, Walker has been hot and cold. But it was all heat last week as he went 10-for-27 (.370) with a homer and seven RBIs.|
|Josh Fields, 3b, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte): The former Oklahoma State quarterback is in the midst of an eight-game hit streak and has his average up to .343, which trails only the immortal Kevin Kouzmanoff in the minors among third baseman.
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b, Indians (Double-A Akron): Weekly staple. We know what you’re saying: Kouz leads the minors in batting, on-base percentage and slugging, so what gives? Tough not to rank him higher, but like Gallardo, we like to keep these Sheets fresh.|
|Jay Bruce, of, Reds (Low Class A Dayton): Had seven doubles last week and his 38 extra-base hits are tied for most in the minors. Now hitting .287/.344/.553 on the season.
|Mitch Maier, of, Royals (Double-A Wichita): It’s hard to get noticed on a team with Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, but Maier is doing his best this month. He went 11-for-24 last week and has two hits in six of his last eight games.|
|Bryan Anderson, c, Cardinals (Low Class A Quad Cities): He hit .404 in April, but then just .259 in May but is now hitting .424 in June and .335/.412/.466 and leads the Midwest League in hitting. He has only one home run though.|
|Zach Ward, rhp, Reds (Low Class A Dayton): Starting to get things cooking after a slow start. Has allowed just five runs over his last four starts, which span 24 innings.
|Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Phillies (Double-A Reading)|
|It’s time. Over his last two starts, Gonzalez has allowed 10 earned runs on fourteen hits in 11 innings. Solid stuff, but when bad things happen, he just needs to let it go.|
|Tyler Clippard, rhp, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)|
|A chat waiting to happen. Clippard didn’t make it out of the first inning in his last start, allowing eight earned runs on five hits. Overall, Clippard is now 2-8, 5.93.|
|Richard Stahl, lhp, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)|
|Stahl was just as bad, if not worse than Clippard on Friday, not making it out of the first inning while also allowing eight earned runs, but on nine hits, not five. The O’s first-round pick in 1999 also has Clippard-esque overall numbers of 1-8, 5.93 in 55 innings.|
|David Purcey, lhp, Blue Jays (Triple-A Syracuse)|
|Lost five of his last six starts, two of which he didn’t make it past the third inning. Overall, Purcey is now 2-7, 5.48 with an awful 45-38 K-BB ratio.|
|Rafael Rodriguez, rhp, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)|
|Hopefully Rodriguez doesn’t hit double-digits for times being mentioned on this part of the list, but it’s not looking good. Over his last two starts, Rodriguez allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits in 11 innings. He’s now 2-5, 8.53 since being promoted to Double-A, with a 33-26 K-BB ratio in 51 innings.|
|Beau Hale, rhp, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)|
|The O’s first-round pick (14th overall) in 2000 hadn’t sniffed Double-A since 2002 due to an extensive injury history that caused him to miss all of 2003 and 2004. But Hale, who was once thrown out of a Carolina League game by the home-plate umpire–while he was charting pitches in 2001–was promoted back to Bowie in the middle of May. In 14 innings with the Bay Sox, Hale is 0-1, 1.93.|
|Drew Butera, c, Mets (Low Class A Hagerstown)|
|Already the best defensive catcher in the Mets system, Sal’s son flashed some pop last week as he went 10-for-17 with two home runs. It might just be a fluky week, but he is worth monitoring when you consider his defensive skills. His explosion coincided with a recent hot streak from the Mets top catching prospect Jesus Flores, who is hitting .394 in June with three homers at high Class A St. Lucie.|