See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheets
We like pitchers, we really do. But you wouldn’t know it from this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
Last week good pitching was hard to find, or maybe it was just overshadowed by outstanding weeks by several top hitting prospects. And while the overall talent in the minors doesn’t compare to recent seasons, there are still plenty of talented center fielders, as shown by the fact that they occupy spots No. 3-8 on this week’s list.
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 form the past week (May 2-9) getting the most consideration. The Why He’s Here line in the writeups refers to each player’s stats during that time.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Jim
Shonerd and Nathan Rode
|No. 1 CHASE HEADLEY, LF||PADRES|
Team:Triple-A Portland (Pacific Coast)
Why he’s here: .516/.571/.710 (16-for-31), 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 R, 4 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: You can’t keep a good prospect down. When Headley got off to a .242/.317/.396 start in April, one could make the case that the reigning Texas League MVP simply had enjoyed an aberrational season a year ago. But Headley has turned it way up in May, swatting anything thrown near the strike zone and taking the free pass when it’s not. A 5-for-5 performance last night (with a walk) cemented his No. 1 status.
For the record, Headley is hitting .471/.550/.647 in 34 May at-bats. And if he keeps that up, it’s precisely the type of bat-wielding the offense-starved Padres could use. San Diego ranks dead last in the National League in runs, average, on-base percentage and slugging. And who knows? If the erstwhile third baseman hadn’t struggled to a .265/.351/.368 start through his first 18 games at home, this might not be his first Hot Sheet appearance.
Oh, and today is Headley’s 24th birthday. How’s that for serendipity?
|No. 2 MAX RAMIREZ, C||RANGERS|
Team:Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Why he’s here: .579/.636/1.158 (11-for-19), 4 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Ramirez has become a Hot Sheet regular with his outstanding hitting early in the season. His six extra-base hits led all Hot Sheet players this week, bringing his season line up to a staggering .398/.480/.722 through 30 games. Is he capable of handling the defensive demands of being a big league catcher? That’s still in question, particularly due to the catching depth the Rangers have. If Ramirez has truly improved his hitting abilities as his early results might indicate, his bat would still be valuable even if he has to move from behind the plate.
|No. 3 MICHAEL SAUNDERS, CF||MARINERS|
Team:Double-A West Tenn (Southern)
Why he’s here: .481/.500/.815 (13-for-27), 10 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 2-for-3 SB, 2 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: If you’re a Baseball America subscriber, you’ve probably already read in-depth about how Saunders began the week and about how his prospect stock is rising. As he works to improve his pitch recognition, Saunders is putting together his size, athleticism and bat speed to become one of the Southern League’s most dangerous players in several phases of the game.
|No. 4 BEN REVERE, CF||TWINS|
Team:low Class A Beloit (Midwest)
Why he’s here: .500/.536/.692, 13-for-26, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 6 R, 4 SB
The Scoop: Revere didn’t arrive in Beloit until April 28, but he’s been making up for lost time. He wasn’t considered a consensus first rounder before Minnesota made him the 28th overall pick last June, but he hit .325/.388/.461 in the GCL and was rated that league’s third-best prospect. He’s picked up where he left off this year. Revere is riding a nine-game hitting streak and has served as a spark for the Beloit lineup since his insertion at the top of the order. Prior to Revere’s arrival, the Snappers were 8-15 and averaged 3.7 runs per game. They’ve gone 7-3 and scored 4.1 runs per game since. On the week, he registered five-straight multi-hit games and scored at least one run in four straight.
|No. 5 CAMERON MAYBIN, CF||MARLINS|
Team:Double-A Carolina (Southern)
Why he’s here: .421/.532/.737 (8-for-19), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB
The Scoop: Some scouts who saw him during a cold stretch he had earlier in the year said that Maybin was being passive at the plate rather than looking for a pitch he could drive. His 25 walks in 31 games are tied for the ninth-most in the minor leagues, but his 43 strikeouts also rank as the eighth-highest total in the minors. Whether its being passive or selective, Maybin drew five walks this week, a skill that should complement his plus tools as his development as a hitter matures. He wasn’t just drawing free passes though—he also smashed four extra-base hits to bring his season line to .252/.394/.423.
|No. 6 CHE-HSUAN LIN, CF||RED SOX|
Team:low Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Why he’s here: .385/.500/.654 (10-for-26), 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 R, 1 SB
The Scoop: The Red Sox signed Lin for $400,000 out of Taiwan last June and he went on to hit .243/.317/.408 in the GCL and New York-Penn leagues in his U.S. debut. While his numbers at the plate weren’t mind blowing, he showed off some impressive tools, particularly in the field where his speed, instincts, and arm strength caught scouts’ eyes. This year, his bat has come along with his defense. Lin has emerged as Greenville’s leadoff hitter as he’s batting .291/.395/.425 on the season. He turned in three multi-hit games this week and is currently riding a 14-game hitting streak.
|No. 7 FERNANDO MARTINEZ, CF||METS|
Team:Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
Why he’s here: .360/.370/.720 (9-for-25), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: He’s the youngest player in Double-A—heck, if he were in high Class A, he would still be the second-youngest player at that level. Teenagers in Double-A shouldn’t be hitting for power, a skill that normally blossoms later in a player’s career. But that’s exactly what Martinez did last week, as four of his nine hits went for extra bases, highlighted by yesterday’s two-homer game, the first multi-homer game of his career. It’s not as though Martinez is dominating the league—in 144 at-bats, he’s hitting .264/.297/.403—but his ability to drive the ball against much older competition is encouraging as he starts to take advantage of his prodigious tools in game situations.
|No. 8 JAY BRUCE, CF||REDS|
Team:Triple-A Louisville (International)
Why he’s here: .400/.464/.560 (10-for-25), 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 4 R, 1-for-1 SB, 3 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: One could be forgiven for wondering how it is that the best prospect in the land could hit .325 with power in Triple-A at age 21 and not sniff the Hot Sheet. Well, wonder no more. Bruce has produced steadily all season—without having that one knockout week—but the sum of his accomplishments can no longer be ignored. You see the numbers above, but what you don’t see is that Bruce may just be getting started. After beginning the week 0-for-8, Bruce collected 10 hits in his next 17 at-bats, which when coupled with two walks, meant that he reached base in 12 of 19 plate appearances—or three times per game.
|No. 9 MIKE MOUSTAKAS, SS||ROYALS|
Team:low Class A Burlington (Midwest)
Why he’s here: .310/.355/.690 (9-for-29), 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 R, 2 SB
The Scoop: Moustakas had a very rough April, in which he hit only .190/.253/.226, but he’s turned things around in a big way in May. Moustakas has registered multiple hits in four of his last five games, after having only two multi-hit games in April. He clubbed three home runs on the week, including two in consecutive games on Monday and Tuesday, which is most impressive in the power-sapping Midwest League. The recent hot streak has raised Moustakas’ season line to .221/.279/.345, which is still a ways from where he was expected to be, but he’s headed in the right direction.
|No. 10 JAMES McDONALD, RHP||DODGERS|
Team:Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Why he’s here: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K
The Scoop: Jacksonville lefthander Clayton Kershaw gets all the attention, and rightfully so. But don’t ignore McDonald, who has an impressive combination of above-average stuff, command and athleticism. One of the better-kept secrets in the minor leagues, McDonald has a 4.19 ERA with a more impressive 35-7 K-BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings. Originally drafted in 2002 as a two-way player and developed as an outfielder until 2005, McDonald is now in his third full season of pitching, showing excellent aptitude for his craft.
|No. 11 JASON DONALD, SS||PHILLIES|
Team:Double-A Reading (Eastern)
Why he’s here: .318/.531/.682 (7-for-22), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 2-for-3 SB, 9 BB (1 IBB), 4 SO
Donald has quietly had a productive first full season in the minor leagues last year, hitting .310/.409/.447 in 238 plate appearances with low Class A Lakewood, and .300/.386/.491 in 336 plate appearances with high Class A Clearwater. The success has carried over into 2008 for Donald, who in 23 games is hitting .337/.444/.470. Donald is a selective hitter with a line-drive swing, but some scouts question whether he will be able to stay at shortstop or whether he has the hitting tools to ever become more than just a utility man. In an organization that boasts Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the middle of its big league infield—and with Utley signed through 2013, Rollins through 2010 with a club option for 2011—it’s not quite the ideal situation for Donald, but he is increasing his value with every productive game.
|No. 12 CHRIS MARRERO, 1B||NATIONALS|
Team:high Class A Potomac (Carolina)
Why he’s here: .389/.478/.889 (7-for-18), 4 R, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 BB (1 IBB), 6 K
The Scoop: Marrero’s life would be a lot better if the season started in May. Like last year, the Nationals prospect didn’t hit in April (.200/.284/.353), but he’s turned it on in May, with three home runs during the first week. Of course he still has a ways to go to equal last May, when he hit 11 home runs to earn a promotion to Potomac.
|No. 13 CARLOS TRIUNFEL, SS||MARINERS|
Team:high Class A High Desert (Mariners)
Why he’s here: .462/.462/.577 (12-for-26), 3 R, 3 2B, 2 RBIs, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-for-2 SB
The Scoop: When you get excited about Triunfel, it still comes with a caveat. So much of what’s impressive about the Mariners shortstop is his youth. He doesn’t hit for much power yet, and he doesn’t walk much. But you have to consider that he’s the youngest player in high Class A—for a second straight season—and he’s already shown excellent bat control. Triunfel has already been sidelined once with an abdominal strain, but is back and showing no ill effects. With the big week, he’s up to .262/.301/.346 after a poor start. He began the season 2-for-22, but is hitting .395/.409/.512 since returning to the field.
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about Double-A Huntsville OF Matt LaPorta (Brewers), who hit .370/.469/.593 last week—there were just 13 others who outshined him this week. With LaPorta’s bat, he’s as good a bet as anyone to make the Hot Sheet routinely, as his season line is now up at .331/.426/.695 with 10 home runs in 33 games . . . Double-A Portland RHP Michael Bowden (Red Sox) made two starts in the last seven days and allowed only one run, posting a 9-1 K-BB ratio in 12 innings . . . Double-A Jacksonville C Lucas May (Dodgers) committed 31 passed balls last season with high Class A Inland Empire after converting to catcher from third base in instructional league the previous fall. He only has two passed balls this year in 23 games behind the dish, and he hit .381/.409/.810 with two homers and three doubles in the last seven days . . . High Class A Bakersfield OF Julio Borbon (Rangers) has been on a steady climb all season and the 22-year-old inflated his numbers some more last week by hitting .429/.500/.536 (12-for-28) with three doubles and eight RBIs . . . Low Class A Augusta LHP Madison Bumgarner (Giants), who’s making his pro debut this season at age 18, hasn’t allowed a run in his last three starts and fanned 10 Rome hitters in six innings Tuesday . . . If only all transitions to Triple-A could go as smoothly as that of 24-year-old Oklahoma LF John Mayberry (Rangers), who batted .429/.429/.821 in 28 at-bats last week. He chipped in seven extra-base hits (four doubles, two triples, one homer) and five RBIs, and he just might be the righthanded power source the Rangers haven’t found in Nelson Cruz or Jason Botts . . . High Class A Myrtle Beach RHP Tommy Hanson (Braves) hates hits. For the fourth time in seven starts, Hanson allowed one or fewer hits.
Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins. Scouts have been disappointed with Sinkbeil, who in the last seven days has pitched 10 2/3 innings, allowing 15 runs for a 12.66 ERA. One pro scout who watched the Mudcats this season said that Sinkbeil, the No. 3 prospect in the system entering the year, was “a distant fourth” behind fellow Carolina starters Chris Volstad, Ryan Tucker and Aaron Thompson. The slider is still an out-pitch for Sinkbeil that reaches the high-80s, but he hasn’t been able to miss many bats with his fastball, which he’s routinely left up in the strike zone. This week, Sinkbeil faced 57 batters and only struck out six of them, though to his credit he walked only two. The low walk total is partly a result of being around the strike zone, but it also is because his stuff has been hittable and up in the zone, leading to 24 hits allowed in his last two games.
Drew Stubbs, of, Reds. The middle of the order for Sarasota was pretty devastating when it contained Chris Valaika, Juan Francisco and Stubbs. But Valaika was called up, and Stubbs plummeted this week, collecting just three hits in 24 at-bats, good for a line of .125/.250/.208. Stubbs was frequently considered for this not-so-distinguishing honor in 2007, but turned a corner when a “choke up” mandate was enforced in low Class A Dayton. Maybe it’s lack of protection in the order—or maybe not—but it was a pretty tough week for Stubbs.
Jason Heyward, rf, Braves. The Hot Sheet is by nature fickle, and no one proves that better right now than Heyward, who checked in at No. 5 on last week’s installment. After collecting hits in 14 out of 15 games before last Friday, Heyward went hitless three times and struck out seven times, after not fanning once last week, en route to hitting .185/.185/.296 for the week. He mixed in a couple of throwing errors as well. The silver lining was that three of the five hits he had this week went for extra bases. Don’t expect to see his name in this spot too often.
• Jeremy Reed, cf, Triple-A Tacoma
(Mariners). When Reed hit .397 for the Mariners (at age 23) in a September 2004 cup of coffee, it seemed like only the beginning of a bright career. After all, the Mariners had just traded Freddy Garcia to obtain his services, and Reed could play—he hit for average, drew walks, stole a few bases and covered ground in center. Fast-forward four years and Reed is still doing those things. It’s just that he’s doing them in Triple-A. In 299 career games at that level, Reed, 27, has batted .303/.366/.460 a 120-141 BB-K ratio and a 71 percent success rate on the basepaths. What made us teary-eyed for the good old days was Reed’s performance for Triple-A Tacoma last week: .345/.406/.586 with four doubles, a homer, three steals, three walks and four strikeouts in 29 at-bats.
|CHARLIE MORTON, RHP||BRAVES|
|Team: Triple-A Richmond (International)
Why he’s here: 0-0, 0.63, 14 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Triple-A players have to do a little extra to be recognized in Helium Watch. After all, to make it that far up the chain, a player must have at least one plus tool or one repeatable skill. But every once in awhile a player evades detection, like Twins righty Nick Blackburn did until last season. Blackburn, as you’ll remember, got in shape, ditched his knee brace and then set the International League abuzz when he rattled off 44 consecutive scoreless innings for Rochester in 2007. While 24-year-old Richmond righthander Charlie Morton (Braves) hasn’t dominated to that extent, he does rank fourth in the league in ERA (1.76), emerging as a viable rotation option for the big league Braves. (He’s already on the 40-man roster.) A third-round pick in 2002 from a Connecticut high school, Morton hasn’t ranked in our Prospect Handbook since 2005. But after shuttling between starting and relief roles throughout his career, Morton has settled into the Richmond rotation this season, using his low-90s fastball and murderous curveball combo (he’s also got a change and a slider) to go 0-0, 0.63 in 14 1/3 innings last week, while striking out nine, walking two and allowing six hits. Through 41 innings on the year, he’s issued just 13 walks and has yet to allow a home run.
|JARED GOEDERT, 3B||INDIANS|
|Team: high Class A Kinston (Carolina)
Why he’s here: .400/.478/.800 (8-for-20), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: Jared Goedert received good reviews for his hitting ability during last year’s Best Tools surveying, but ended up getting best defensive third baseman. He hit .400/.478/.800 in 20 at-bats this week with two home runs and two doubles. He’s seen most of his time at third for Kinston, but has also started several games at second base and has just two errors on the season. Goedert’s slugging percentage was hovering around .344 before this week, but has lifted his season line to .310/.352/.425.