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 May 11-17.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Pat Hickey, Clint Longenecker, John Sandberg and Jim Shonerd.
|No. 1||ANTHONY RIZZO, 1B||CUBS|
|Team: Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
The Scoop: If Rizzo keeps this up, he deserves a spot in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. A year after hitting .331/.404/.652 for the Padres’ Triple-A Tucson affiliate, the since-traded Rizzo has hit .359/.420/.704. Rizzo, a sixth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2007 now playing for his third organization, tops the PCL in home runs (14) and RBIs (39), total bases (104) and slugging. Don’t expect that performance to land Rizzo in Chicago anytime soon. Former PCL standout Bryan LaHair leads all big league first basemen in slugging percentage and OPS, leaving the Cubs with little incentive to promote Rizzo.
|Anthony Rizzo Player Card|
|No. 2||DANNY ROSENBAUM, LHP||NATIONALS|
Team:Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 13 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: Since signing out of Xavier for a bargain $20,000 in 2009, Rosenbaum has produced at every stop. He earned a promotion to Harrisburg last August after making significant strides with his fastball command, and he has pitched even better after returning to Double-A this year. In his last two starts, Rosenbaum has a 25-2 ground out-fly out ratio, on top of 10 strikeouts for the Senators. A classic southpaw with a deceptive delivery, he attacks hitters with an 88-90 mph fastball with natural cutting motion and mixes in a solid downer curveball and an improved changeup. While Rosenbaum projects more as a No. 5 starter or quality swingman, he won’t be in Double-A much longer and could be up with the Nationals by 2013.
|Danny Rosenbaum Player Card|
|No. 3||CHRIS OWINGS, SS||DIAMONDBACKS|
Team: High Class A Visalia (California)
Why He’s Here: .552/.581/.966 (16-for-29), 2 HR, 4 2B, 1 3B, 9 R, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: OK, there is a little bit of the High Desert effect helping Owings onto the Hot Sheet this week—he had back-to-back four-hit games at hitter-friendly Mavericks Stadium. But he also had a three-hit day at San Jose. Owings’ overall numbers this year are excellent, and the 20-year-old shortstop already has nine home runs after hitting 11 all last year. His free-swinging ways haven’t gotten better—he’s striking out in 30 percent of his at-bats after striking out in 25 percent of at-bats last year—but Owings has the kind of power that’s hard to find in a shortstop. Combine that with his athleticism and there’s still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the young shortstop’s career prognosis.
|Chris Owings Player Card|
|No. 4||CODY BUCKEL, RHP||RANGERS|
Team: High Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K
The Scoop: Buckel was tremendous in his first full professional season last year, going 8-3, 2.61 with 120 strikeouts and 27 walks in 97 innings for low Class A Hickory as one of the younger players in the South Atlantic League. That didn’t stop him from continuing to get better in the offseason. He studied mechanics with good friend Trevor Bauer, learning how to get the most out of their small frames. In doing so, Buckel is now throwing consistently in the low 90s—as opposed to 88-90 mph in 2011—and doesn’t feel fatigued in later innings. He was spectacular against Winston-Salem on Thursday night, allowing just three baserunners while lowering his ERA to a Carolina League-leading 1.14. On top of the fastball, Buckel mixes in a plus changeup as well as a big curveball and a groundball-inducing cutter. His 59 strikeouts are also tops in the league, and he’s another candidate for a promotion to Double-A Frisco.
|Cody Buckel Player Card|
|No. 5||MATT DAVIDSON, 3B||DIAMONDBACKS|
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .375/.423/.917 (9-for-24), 4 HR, 1 2B, 8 RBIs, 4 R, 2 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Davidson began this week by hitting a 10th-inning, walkoff home run on Mother’s Day, one of his two home runs and four RBIs on the day. Davidson stayed hot throughout the week, netting 22 total bases and posting a 1.340 OPS. The 21-year-old has been one of the most productive hitters in the Southern League this season, ranking first in home runs (9) and third in hits (45). His .315 average and 25 RBIs also put him among the SL top 10.
|Matt Davidson Player Card|
|No. 6||YORDANO VENTURA, RHP||ROYALS|
Team: High Class A Wilmington (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.69, 13 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO
The Scoop: Ventura made his Hot Sheet debut as the Helium Watch guy two years ago, when he was flashing a mid-90s fastball that was scraping 98-99 mph in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The little man with a big arm has continued his steady progress since then and has blossomed into one of Kansas City’s best pitching prospects and one of the top arms in the Carolina League. Ventura is averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings while maintaining a 2.97 ERA in 39 innings, and while Wilmington is a great park for pitchers, six of his eight starts have come on the road, where Ventura has a 1.95 ERA.
|Yordano Ventura Player Card|
|No. 7||DANNY HULTZEN, LHP||MARINERS|
Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.64, 2 GS, 14 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 10 SO
The Scoop: Hultzen has backed up the Mariners’ belief that he wouldn’t need much time in the minors. The No. 2 overall pick last June bounced back from a rough debut and has since dominated Southern League competition. Hultzen yielded five earned runs in his first start with Jackson, but just four in his next seven outings combined. He has an advanced three-pitch mix that’s made him tough on both lefthanded (.071 average) and righthanded hitters (.135). He ranks sixth in the Southern League in strikeouts with 44 in 45 innings and has excelled at keeping the ball on the ground when hitters do make contact, producing a 2.35 groundout/fly out ratio.
|Danny Hultzen Player Card|
|No. 8||MATT BARNES, RHP||RED SOX|
Team: High Class A Salem (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO
The Scoop: While Orioles righthander Dylan Bundy has been spectacular on a short leash, the most dazzling numbers in the minors after his might belong to Barnes. It’s one thing for Barnes, a 2011 first-round pick out of Connecticut, to roll through the low Class A South Atlantic League, which he did in impressive fashion. Now he’s showing he can do it at the next level, with a 1.00 ERA and a sterling 25-2 K-BB mark in 18 innings through his first three starts in the Carolina League. Barnes has shown excellent command of a mid-90s fastball that has helped him strike out 38 percent of the hitters he’s faced in Salem. If he keeps this up, he might not be staying there for very long either.
|Matt Barnes Player Card|
|No. 9||JESSE BIDDLE, LHP||PHILLIES|
Team: High Class A Clearwater (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.71, 13 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 15 SO
The Scoop: Biddle had little problem mastering low Class A South Atlantic League hitters as a 19-year-old last year and appears to be pitching beyond his years again this season in the Florida State League. Over his last two starts, the 20 year-old lefthander has struck out 15 batters and posted a 0.71 ERA over 13 innings. He ranks 11th in the FSL with 40 strikeouts and showed plenty after bouncing back from a line drive on his pitching hand in early May without missing a start.
|Jesse Biddle Player Card|
|No. 10||JURICKSON PROFAR, SS||RANGERS|
Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Why He’s Here: .414/.455/.621 (12-for-29), 1 HR, 3 2B, 4 R, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: When you’re the youngest player in your league, as Profar is, you might just be expected to hold your own. Profar has done far more than that. He hit .200/.304/.425 through his first 11 games with Frisco, ending with a 0-for-2 night on April 17 against Arkansas. That was the last time Profar failed to record a hit, as he has run his hitting streak to 27 games. The streak began innocently enough, with back-to-back 1-for-4 games on April 19 and 20, and Profar has steadily heated up. He’s hitting .325/.365/.518 in 114 at-bats during the streak and has four multi-hit games out of his last eight. His overall numbers are now up to .292/.349/.494 after 154 at-bats.
|Jurickson Profar Player Card|
|No. 11||JORGE BONIFACIO, OF||ROYALS|
Team: Low Class A Kane County (Midwest)
Why He’s Here: .448/.500/.724 (13-for-29), 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: The second Royals Dominican signing on this week’s Hot Sheet, Bonifacio jumped on the map as one of the top prospects in the 2010 Dominican Summer League, and he’s continued to show why scouts have been drawn to his bat and physical projection. The younger brother of Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge has some length to his stroke but he has good hand-eye coordination, knows how to work the count and can drive the ball for power as well. He’s off to a .338/.410/.481 start through 39 games, ranking second in the Midwest League in OBP and fifth in OPS.
|Jorge Bonifacio Player Card|
|No. 12||DOMINGO SANTANA, OF||ASTROS|
Team:High Class A Lancaster (California)
Why He’s Here: .357/.379/.857 (10-for-28), 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop: When you’re a 6-foot-5 righthanded hitter, there’s bound to be some length to your swing, and that’s certainly the case with Santana. He’s a high-risk guy because of the strikeout rate, but put a player with his raw power in hitter-friendly Lancaster as his home park is bound to go on tears like this week. With a .254/.315/.500 flash line on the year, Santana is showing he can hit the ball a long way, but the 38 strikeouts in 124 plate appearances mean the red flags are waving.
|No. 13||MATT DEN DEKKER, CF||METS|
Team: Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .400/.429/.840 (10-for-25), 2 HR, 5 2B, 7 RBIs, 6 R, 4 SO
The Scoop: Den Dekker’s hot week at the plate extended his hitting streak to 11 games and bumped his batting average up to .305 for the season. The Mets’ 2010 fifth-round draft pick had a three-hit game yesterday and a ninth-inning leadoff double on Wednesday that set the stage for a Binghamton walkoff victory. He hit just .235 in 72 games with Binghamton last season, but this year he leads the B-Mets in almost every offensive category and sits atop the Eastern League in total bases. The center fielder out of Florida still has a high strikeout rate, but his improving average and power numbers show signs of promise.
|Matt Den Dekker Player Card|
Athletics 3B Miles Head began the season with a 19-game hitting streak and hasn’t slowed down much since then at high Class A Stockton. The 21-year-old didn’t hit for a lot of power this week but was on base constantly, hitting .588/.682/.588 (10-for-17) with five walks and only one strikeout. He also stole a base, just his second of the year. Head’s .366/.415/.648 line for the year has him leading the Cal League in both average and slugging . . . Chris Archer had a disappointing April for Triple-A Durham, but the Rays righthander has bounced back in his three starts this month. He struck out nine (although with four walks) in six scoreless innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday . . . The Giants may end up regretting letting RHP Zack Wheeler get away to the Mets in the Carlos Beltran deal last year. Wheeler, 21, held Double-A Trenton to two runs in seven innings this week while striking out eight, and his ERA now sits at 2.15 with 45 whiffs in 37 innings . . . Working as a swingman for low Class A Lansing, Blue Jays 19-year-old RHP Noah Syndergaard struck out 10 and induced 12 ground outs in two four-inning stints this past week. In five starts for the Lugnuts, Syndergaard is 0-0, 0.56 with 21 strikeouts to 3 walks in 16 innings pitched . . . With many other high draft picks from the 2011 class performing at the upper levels of the minors, Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole’s performance in the high Class A Florida State League demonstrates he might need a challenge. In Cole’s two starts, he allowed just two runs over 12 innings. Most importantly, the 6-foot-4 power righthander issued only one free pass while striking out nine against St. Lucie and Dunedin, two of the FSL’s better-hitting teams. On the season, the 2011 first overall pick has registered a 2.93 ERA and struck out 43 hitters in 40 innings, against 11 walks . . . Thursday night’s Southern League matchup was expected to provide one of the best minor league pitching duels of the season as Hultzen faced Diamondbacks RHP Trevor Bauer in a matchup of the 2011 draft’s second and third overall picks. The Diamondbacks had other plans and promoted Bauer to Triple-A Reno after his best start of the year. After battling controls problems to begin the year, to the tune of a 5.4 walks per nine innings, Bauer limited Chattanooga to one run and one walk, while striking out nine and registering his league-leading seventh win. If Bauer continues to limit free passes in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, it might not be long until he joins his former teammate at Double-A Mobile, Pat Corbin, in the Diamondbacks rotation . . . An impressive offensive output from OF Wil Myers (.343/.414/.731, 13 HR, 30 RBIs, 32 R) in 35 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas earned him a promotion to Triple-A Omaha. The Royals’ No. 3 prospect and third-round draft pick from 2009 appeared at No. 4 in last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak. In his first game in the Pacific Coast League on Thursday Myers went 2-for-5 with an RBI. It doesn’t look like Myers will be cooling off any time soon (.364/.462/.727, 8-for-22, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs) and it will be interesting to how long he can continue to produce against triple-A pitching.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Scott Elarton, rhp, Phillies. Two of the past three seasons, Scott Elarton has been out of baseball. But the desire to get another shot at the big leagues never left, which is why the 36-year-old righthander is pitching for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. And recently it’s been going quite well. He’s currently working on an 18-inning scoreless streak and has allowed one run or fewer in seven of his eight starts this year. There will be some reasonable skepticism that a 36-year-old whose best success came in the 1990s will be able to help out a big league club, but Elarton’s Triple-A resume is at least making that a legitimate question again.
• Tyson Gillies, cf, Phillies. Gillies is a long way from his time as one of the key players the Phillies acquired when they sent Cliff Lee to Seattle. Lingering hamstring injuries have ruined Gillies’ development. The 35 games he’s played this year are as many as he played in 2010 and 2011 combined. He’s back on the field, but he’s not making up for lost time, and this week he was 1-for-28. Gillies does have his health, which is more than he could say in 2010 or 2011.
• Asher Wojciechowski, rhp, Blue Jays. The Blue Jays hoped Wojciechowski could regroup in his second season with high Class A Dunedin, but the results have been mixed. The 23-year-old, who posted a 4.70 ERA in the FSL last year, turned in three quality starts in a five-start stretch from April 13 to May 5, but he’s been hit hard in his last two outings. Wojciechowski gave up eight runs on nine hits on May 10, and he didn’t bounce back this week, lasting only three innings against Clearwater and allowing six runs on six hits. His ERA for the year has climbed to 6.49 in 35 innings, and opponents are hitting .312 against him.
• Reese Havens, 2b, Mets. A 2008 first-round pick, Reese Havens’ path to the big leagues has been slowed by injuries. He has played just 93 games over the past two seasons because of a variety of injuries, though when healthy he has batted .301/.379/.505. Havens’ third season at Double-A Binghamton has produced uncharacteristic struggles, as his 2012 season line sits at .140/.246/.240, after a hitless week in 16 at-bats. His inability to make contact has hampered his performance, and he struck out in half of his at-bats on the week and over 30 percent on the year.
• Andy Moye, rhp, Brewers. Pro ball had to wait for Moye. Ranked among Baseball America’s Top 200 draft prospects in 2006, he didn’t sign as a 11th-round pick of the Mets. He also decided to head back to Georgia Southern for his senior year after being drafted in the 50th round by the Cardinals in 2010. Moye finally became a pro after the Brewers took him the 15th round last year and started making up for lost time. He went 1-0, 1.80 in 11 innings this week, allowing one run and four hits while striking out 13 (he didn’t walk a batter). That’s par for the course this year, as he was 3-0, 1.45 overall for the Timber Rattlers. At 24, Moye is old for the Midwest League, so the Brewers moved him to high Class A Brevard County to replace the injured Jed Bradley.
• Brent Keys, of, Marlins. At 29-10, the Greensboro Grasshoppers have the second-best record in the minor leagues, trailing only the St. Lucie Mets. A big reason is Keys, who has hit so well he’s been moved from leadoff to the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Keys, 21, failed in his first swing at the South Atlantic League last year, going back to short-season Jamestown, but he was batting .381/.460/.504 with 10 stolen bases this year. He had four straight three-hit games this week and has seven three-hit games this month. Keys may not project as an everyday big league center fielder because he isn’t a blazing runner, but he does everything else you look for in a top-of-the-order hitter. He draws walks, rarely strikes out, takes good routes and has enough arm to play right field if need be. He leads the South Atlantic League in batting average and on-base percentage.