The closer we get to the minor league all-star breaks, the more bats are heating up. Hitters get a slight edge in the top 10, and play a significant role in the Team Photo section.
This time around, we’™d like to throw out special props to Red Sox shortstop Christian Lara.
Lara, who was signed out of Venezuela in 2002, was brutal early on, hitting just .196 in April. But throughout May he started coming around’"both hitting and recognizing pitches better.
Though he finished last month hitting .237, he showed steady improvement from the slow start. In a sample size this month, the 21-year-old is hitting .538 (7-for-13) and is riding an eight-game hit streak at low Class A Greenville.
Overall, Lara is hitting .250/.365/.343 in 140 at-bats for the Drive.
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. Howie Kendrick, 2b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)|
|After spending 10 games in the big leagues where he hit .115 in 26 at-bats, Kendrick returned to Triple-A, where he’s again been virtually unstoppable at the plate. Kendrick batted .517 (15-for-29) last week, hitting four bombs in the process. Overall, his numbers are a ridiculous .391/.429/.656 in 151 at-bats. Even more ridiculous, Kendrick has only struck out twice in his last eight games.|
|2. Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Brewers (High Class A Brevard County)|
|Is anyone raising their stock more this season than Gallardo? He has 22 strikeouts in his last two starts and now has five double-digit strikeout games on the season. The 20-year-old is now 5-3, 2.09 with an 89-17 strikeout-walk ratio in 65 innings.|
|3. Brandon Wood, ss, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)|
|Wood finally makes an appearance on the Hot Sheet after dominating it last year when he batted .321/.383/.672 with 43 homers at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Wood’s come back down to earth compared to last year, but his bat is starting to heat up. Over his last seven games, the 21-year-old batted .462 with three homers. And quietly, he’s put up double-digit numbers in doubles (21) and homers (12).|
|4. Sean West, lhp, Marlins (Low Class A Greensboro)|
|The last of the Marlins four-first round high school hurlers in 2005, West is having the best season of all of them. The 6-foot-8 lefthander threw 13 scoreless innings last week and is now 2-0, 0.95 in 38 innings.|
|5. Rich Hill, lhp, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa)|
|No one had a better week then Hill as the lefthander went 1-0, 1.29 with 21 strikeouts and one walk in fourteen innings. Has been dominant in six of his seven starts, and allowed six of the 12 earned runs he’s given up this season in the other.|
|6. Chris Young, of, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Tucson)|
|After missing all of spring training with a broken hand, then more time in April with a strained intercostal muscle, Young is starting to find his power strike with four home runs in his last 32 at-bats. He had four in his first 101.|
|7. Hunter Pence, of, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)|
|Currently tied for the home run lead with Triple-A Albuquerque utility infielder Scott Seabol, Pence is again putting up monster power numbers this season. Pence hit three more homers last week and batted .357 behind Corpus Christi tablesetters Josh Anderson and Ben Zobrist.|
|8. Brandon Jones, of, Braves (High Class A Myrtle Beach)|
|Jones has always had the tools, and now he’s beginning to show some pop in his bat. Jones batted .379 last week, with three doubles and a pair of homers.|
|9. Manuel Corpas, rhp, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)|
|Corpas has recorded five straight saves for the Drillers, and now has 16 overall. The 23-year-old righthander from Panama has a 29-3 strikeout-walk ratio in 29 innings this season.|
|10. Nolan Reimold, of, Orioles (High Class A Frederick)|
|Was 6-for-15 last week with two home runs and eight walks. He now has 40 walks on the season, and is third in the Carolina League in on-base percentage (.435) and second in slugging (.538).|
|Brent Lillibridge, ss, Pirates (Low Class A Hickory):Flashier with better range and arm strength than his organizational counterpart Brian Bixler (who is at high Class A Lynchburg), all Lillibridge has done all season is swing it . . . and swing it well. Batted .455 this week, and hitting .315/.429/.513 overall.|
|Scott Thorman, 1b, Braves (Triple-A Richmond): The International League player of the week belted four home runs to raise his season total to twelve, which is second best in the league. The Canadian is now hitting .305/.376/.548.|
|Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): It took Jimenez to get rolling, but he’s showing consistency that lacked through the first month of the season. In his last two starts–both wins–Jimenez posted a 0.75 ERA and whiffed 13.|
|Samuel Deduno, rhp, Rockies (High Class A Modesto): If only all of his starts could be like his last one. The righthander allowed just four hits over seven innings while fanning 12 and is now 3-1, 3.35 in 51 innings with only one home run allowed in the hitter friendly California League. And of course, Deduno is known around the BA World Headquarters as simply “Sammy The Bull.”|
|Tony Gwynn, Jr, of, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville): Hit like his father last week as he went 14-for-30 and has at least two hits in seven of his last eight games.
|Matt Harrison, lhp, Braves (High Class A Myrtle Beach): Four straight wins, and last week, Harrison struck out 14 in as many innings.
|Chuck Lofgren, lhp, Indians (High Class A Kinston): Along with Harrison, Lofgren ranks as one of the best ground ball pitchers in the Carolina League–and they’ll probably rank in the CL top 10 by season’s end. Lofgren keeps racking up the wins, reeling off four in a row in his last four starts.
|Jason Windsor, rhp, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento): Speaking of wins, Windsor is tied with Lofgren for the minor league lead with nine victories. The PCL has provided a little more of a challenge that the Texas League, however, but not too much. Windsor actually lowered his ERA (from 2.97 to 2.25) after being promoted to Triple-A.|
|Edgardo Baez, of, Nationals (Low Class A Savannah): Hit .103 in the high Class A Carolina League, but has hit safely in all 15 games since his demotion and is hitting .473/.531/.618 for Savannah.|
|Yung-Chi Chen, 2b, Mariners (High Class A Inland Empire): An 11-game hitting streak has him up to .330/.367/.458.
|Kurt Suzuki, c, Athletics (Double-A Midland): The bat didn’t take too long to catch up to Suzuki’s defense. Known for his prowess behind the plate, Suzuki batted .419 last week while hitting in either the leadoff spot or the No. 2 hole for the Rock Hounds.
|Anthony Webster, of, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): Riding a 15-game hit streak where he’s hitting .396 (23-for-58), Webster and outfielder Kevin Mahar have been on fire for the RoughRiders. Mahar batted. 440 last week and has an eight-game hit streak of his own.
|Jose Arrendondo, rhp, Angels (High Class A Rancho Cucamonga): He was pulled from a recent start (and then skipped in the rotation) for poor field makeup, but he just keeps on mowing them down. Another 11 Ks in his only start last week, now has 79 in 54 innings.|
|Alberto Callaspo, 2b, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Tucson): After hitting just .222 in April, Callaspo is fitting in nicely with his new club. The 23-year-old Venezuelan turned it around and hit .371 last month and was off to a torrid start in June, hitting .467 over his first four games.|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b, Indians (Double-A Akron): Sliding into the team photo because, well, this wouldn’t be a Hot Sheet without him this season, Kouzmanoff hit the skids, only batting .384 and seeing his season totals drop to .416/.492/.630 in 154 at-bats. We’re kidding, Kouz . . . what’s the over-under on an intentional walk total this season?
|Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)|
|Sure, he missed the last 11 days of the month with a jammed right wrist, but this is a top 20 prospect in all of baseball who hit just .167 in May. There are signs Stewart’s turning it around, however, with a 4-for-6 night on Sunday.|
|Miguel Montero, c, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee)|
|Montero had more walks (14) than strikeouts (13) in May, but still batted .222 in 90 at-bats. And with Phil Avlas now in town playing multiple positions, he’s taking games away from Montero behind the plate.|
|Matt Peterson, rhp, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)|
|Just when you thought Peterson might be turning around, the inconsistency returns. In his last two starts, Peterson allowed 14 earned runs over nine innings, and has a 38-27 strikeout-walk ratio overall.|
|Matt DeSalvo, rhp, Yankees (Triple-A Columbus)|
|After getting a win in his first start, it’s been all downhill for DeSalvo, losing his next five decisions. But even decisions have been hard to come by for the 25-year-old righthander. In his last two starts, DeSalvo made it out of the second inning once, and went 0-2, 10.95 in May.|
|Drew Macias, of, Padres (Double-A Mobile)|
|Macias can rake, as evidenced by his .302 April, but the 23-year-old’s average dropped 50 points in May and he was hitting .059 over his first four games this month.|
|Gary Burnham, of, Phillies (Double-A Reading)|
|This one’s going back . . . WAY back. A 22-round pick of the Phillies in 1997, Burnham played indy ball at Bridgeport all of last season. He started the year with the Bluefish again this season, before the Phillies needed him due to injuries in their Double-A outfield. Now, the 31-year-old outfielder is raking at Reading, batting .435 over his last seven games.|
|Thomas Fairchild, rhp, Astros (Low Class A Lexington)|
|Sure, he’s 22 and in the South Atlantic League, but the 2005 12th rounder has been outstanding in May. Fairchild went 6-0, allowed eight earned runs over 47 innings with a 43-9 strikeout-walk ratio.|