Prospect Hot Sheet: May 6

There are a lot of familiar names on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Robbie Erlin decided to stick around after appearances last week. But there’s also a farewell, as we honor Eric Homser’s last week in the minors before he heads off to Kansas City.

As we
have warned for years now, remember that this 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 from April 29 through last night, May 5.

Contributing: Ben Badler, Ted Cahill, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Jim Shonerd.

No. 1 JAKE ODORIZZI, RHP

ROYALS

Team: high Class A Wilmington (Carolina)

Age: 21

Why he’s here: 2-0, 2.57, 13 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 R, 1 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: The Royals’ first wave of prospects are starting to filter into the big leagues—Eric Hosmer’s callup means the first baseman will join a roster that includes Aaron Crow, Jeremy Jeffress and Tim Collins. But if Kansas City’s youth movement is going to have sustained success, the second wave of prospects will be just as important. Put Odorizzi near the top of the list. In his first couple of starts this season, Odorizzi was elevating his fastball more than he or the coaching staff wanted.

But in his last three starts, Odorizzi’s control has been much better, which has allowed him to cruise through the Winston-Salem and Lynchburg lineups. Odorizzi sports a 28-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last 19 innings. He’s been especially effective against lefties. It’s a small sample size, but he hasn’t exactly have a platoon problem—lefties are hitting .176/.192/.216 against him in 51 at-bats.

2011
Stats
No. 2 ERIC HOSMER, 1B

ROYALS

Team: Triple-A Omaha (Pacific Coast)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .545/.667/.682 (12-for-22), 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 8 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-1 SB.

The Scoop: We likely say farewell to Hosmer’s time on the Hot Sheet now that he’s been called up to Kansas City. His last week serves as an emphatic reminder of why he’s one of the best hitting prospects in the game. Hosmer leaves as the minor league leader in average (.439) and on-base percentage (.582). He posted 13 multi-hit games in his 26-game stint in Omaha. He had reached base in 12 of his last 16 plate appearances.

His arrival in Kansas City comes much earlier than expected—it practically ensures that he’ll reach “super two” arbitration status following the 2012 season. But with the Royals shockingly three games above .500, Kansas City appears ready to speed up the timetable for promoting some of their top prospects.

Last year, the Royals had planned to keep Wil Myers in low Class A Burlington for most of the season, but their coaches told the player development staff at midseason that his development would be retarded if they didn’t challenge him. This is much of the same. Hosmer isn’t a finished product yet—he’s still working on pulling pitches for power—but his whole-field advanced approach was not being challenged in Triple-A. Now he’ll get a chance to finish off his education as a hitter in the toughest classroom of all.

2011
Stats
No. 3 MATT HARVEY, RHP

METS

Team: high Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 1 GS, 6 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 2 BB

The Scoop: Harvey carried a spotless 0.00 ERA through his
first four starts, allowing only a single unearned run in his first 22 professional innings. That changed in his fifth start last Thursday, when Bradenton touched him up for six runs (four earned) on nine hits in
4 1/3 innings. Facing the same lineup in his next start Wednesday, Harvey rebounded with his best outing of the year. The Mets’ 2010 first-round pick leads the FSL and ranks seventh in the minors with a 1.10 ERA in 32 2/3 innings, and he’s also second in the league with 39 strikeouts. Fans in Florida hoping to watch him should probably try to do it sooner than later
.

2011
Stats
No. 4 BRAD PEACOCK, RHP

NATIONALS

Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: The Nationals spent a combined $3 million in the 2010 draft to secure righthander A.J. Cole and lefthander Sammy Solis. While Cole and Solid are young, low-minors arms with upside, Peacock has the stuff and control to be a mid-rotation starter. Plus he’s far closer to realizing that potential. A 2006 draft-and-follow from the 41st round, Peacock’s stuff has gotten better since signing out of Palm Beach (Fla.) CC. He now sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96 with a hard downer curve. His location has also been superlative, as he owns a 1.16 ERA, 36 strikeouts and four walks in 31 innings this season.

2011
Stats
No. 5 BRYCE HARPER, RF

NATIONALS

Team: low Class A Hagerstown (South Atlantic)

Age:
18

Why He’s Here: .520/.586/.760 (13-for-25), 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 3 RBIs,
6 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 2-for-5 SB

The Scoop: Harper got off to a somewhat slow start, but in the past two weeks, he’s hammering pretty much anything over the plate. Since April 20 (a span of 13 games), Harper is hitting .467/.556/1.022 with seven doubles and six home runs. It’s right in line with what everyone expects from last year’s top draft pick, but it’s worth remembering that Harper is the third-youngest player in the league.

2011
Stats

No. 6 DELLIN BETANCES, RHP

YANKEES

Team: Double-A Trenton (Eastern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 2.70, 2 GS, 8 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 10 SO, 0 BB, 14/3 G/F

The Scoop: Betances returned from a blister-induced, three-week stint on the disabled list showing the same power stuff that contributed to his 2010 breakout. Limited to about 75 pitches each time, he made two abbreviated starts of just 3 1/3 and then five innings. Betances faced 34 Eastern League batters, striking out 10 of them and inducing 14 groundball outs. Portland’s Mitch Dening connected for a solo home run on Wednesday, accounting for just about the only blemish on Betances’ record.

2011
Stats
No. 7 MATT MOORE, LHP

RAYS

Team: Double-A Montgomery (Southern)

Age: x

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 4.50, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 17 SO, 3 BB

The Scoop: Moore’s 4.60 ERA for the season is largely inflated by one rough start in which he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings on April 13. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his other five starts, and the two-time defending minor league strikeout champion has been rounding into form. In his last start on Wednesday, his low- to mid-90s fastball was too much for Carolina hitters to handle, and he struck out nine in just five innings of work. Moore’s up to 41 strikeouts on the year against just six walks. He’s taken over the Southern League lead for strikeouts and is up to sixth in the minors.

2011
Stats
No. 8 ROBBIE ERLIN, LHP

RANGERS

Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)

Age: 20

Why he’s here: 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: Erlin returns to the Hot Sheet for the second straight week with another great start for Myrtle Beach. This start wasn’t quite as exceptional as his last, but he again went seven innings, allowing just one hit, a solo home run. Erlin leads the Carolina League in WHIP (0.59) and is fifth in strikeouts (32) and has helped the Pelicans’ pitching staff emerge as the class of the league.

2011
Stats
No. 9 JUAN NICASIO, RHP

ROCKIES

Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO

The Scoop: Nicasio was a fairly nondescript righthander when he came to the United States with a fastball that he could throw for strikes in the high 80s and low 90s, good size and not much else. That description no longer fits Nicasio, who ran his fastball up to 98 mph in his last start and has developed his changeup into a solid-average secondary pitch. As his fastball has gone from average to electric, he’s retained his ability to throw strikes, which is why he has a stunning 40-4 K-BB mark in 28 2/3 innings, leading the Texas League in strikeouts and keeping his ERA down at 1.88.

2011
Stats
No. 10 BRANDON BELT, LF

GIANTS

Team: Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast)

Age: 23

Why He’s
Here:
.480/.548/.600 (12-for-25), 3 2B, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 5 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Whatever disappointment Belt was feeling about being sent down to Triple-A, he hasn’t let it affect his performance. After being held to a .192/.300/.269 line in 52 big league at-bats, he’s hit .462/.560/.744 in 39 at-bats against Triple-A pitching while making the transition to left field. Belt had four multi-hit games this week, highlighted by his 4-for-5 effort Monday against Colorado Springs. He hasn’t let himself become too anxious at the plate either, having already drawn 10 walks in 12 Triple-A games. His first look at the big leagues may not have gone the way he wanted, but he should get another crack, and soon, if he keeps hitting like this.

2011
Stats
No. 11 JORDAN LYLES, RHP

ASTROS

Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0. 1.50, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 3 BB, 17 SO

The Scoop: Lyles continues to pitch well beyond his years, carving up hitters nearly a decade older than him despite not having a mid-90s fastball to throw by them. Lyles compensates by spotting his fastball, using an advanced changeup and mixing in an improving breaking ball to keep putting away hitters. Though he’s probably one of the five best starting pitchers in the organization right now, there’s no rush for the Astros to bring him up to Houston yet. Still, with a 3.55 ERA and a 28-8 K-BB mark in 33 innings, it has to be tempting.

2011
Stats
No. 12 JEDD GYORKO, 3B

PADRES

Team:  high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .407/.515/.704 (11-for-27), 2 HR, 2 2B, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 6 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Playing every other day at third base, Gyorko has thrived as the Storm’s No. 3 hitter, leading the club with five homers, 24 RBIs, 17 walks and a 1.098 OPS. (He shifts to DH on days Edinson Rincon plays the hot corner.) A middle infielder in college, Gyorko has endure typical growing pains at third base, committing four errors in 14 games. But with a .326 average and .400 on-base percentage through 96 pro games, he clearly has a feel for hitting that could carry him to Double-A before the year is through.

2011
Stats
No. 13 ALLEN WEBSTER, RHP

DODGERS

Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)

Age: 21

Why he’s here: 2-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop: Pitching in the hitter-friendly California League, Webster managed to turn in a pair of impressive starts this week. He struck out eight in six innings last Friday, setting a season high. He also extended his scoreless-innings streak to 16 and has won his last four starts. Webster is third in the Cal League with 34 1/3 innings and tied for fourth with 38 strikeouts.

2011
Stats

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

Two of the three players to rank ahead of Triple-A Tucson’s Anthony Rizzo (Padres) in the Pacific Coast League batting race also play first base—and both the Royals’ Eric Hosmer and the Blue Jays’ David Cooper have been called to the big leagues in the past week. The 21-year-old Rizzo continues doing his part to get that same call. He batted 10-for-31 (.323) this week with two homers, three doubles, a triple (.677 slugging) and 13 RBIs. His eagerness to please also was apparent with nine strikeouts and zero walks. Regardless, Rizzo leads the PCL (or shares the lead) in six categories: home runs (nine), RBIs (41), hits (44), slugging (.741), extra-base hits (20) and total bases (83) . . . Rockies RHP Chad Bettis set a career-high for strikeouts in his start for high Class A Modesto this week. He struck out 11 in six innings, allowing just one run on four hits. Bettis has pitched well in his first full professional season, averaging almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Despite pitching in the California League, Bettis has allowed only one home run in 33 innings, coming two weeks ago on April 22 . . . Orioles 2B L.J. Hoes secured his place on the Hot Sheet with a 5-for-5 day Wednesday. In all, Hoes hit .400/.633/.419, recovering from a slow start to the season. He has just eight extra-base hits all season, but three of them came this week. This is Hoes’ second season at high Class A Frederick after a bout with mononucleosis sidelined him for more than a month last year. If his turnaround continues, he likely will be in line for a promotion to Double-A . . . Diamondbacks LHP Tyler Skaggs struck out 16 batters in two starts this week, including a career-high 11 in 5 2/3 innings last Friday. In Skaggs’ other start this week, he outdueled Giants righty Zack Wheeler, allowing just one unearned run in six innings and striking out five batters to earn the victory. Skaggs leads the California League with 45 strikeouts in 32 innings . . . Rangers RHP Barret Loux may have failed his post-draft physical with the Diamondbacks last year, but he’s pitched like a first-rounder in his first five starts for high Class A Myrtle Beach, limiting opponents to three runs or fewer in each. The 22-year-old had his best outing Monday against Potomac, allowing only one hit over 5 2/3 innings while striking out 10 and walking two, improving to 2-1, 2.88 on the year . . . Athletics SS Grant Green went through a 4-for-38 slump in the middle of April that dropped his average to .176 for Double-A Midland. The 23-year-old Green’s gone on an 11-game hitting streak since then, and he batted .467/.500/.567 (14-for-30) with three doubles and four RBIs this week . . . It was another banner week for Orioles SS Manny Machado, until Thursday. Machado, 18, hit .412/.565/.765 (7-for-17) with two homers for low Class A Delmarva, but he had to leave Thursday’s game in Asheville in the first inning with an apparent knee injury. The Orioles will anxiously await the results of an MRI scheduled for today.

NOT-SO HOT
SHEET

Simon Castro, rhp, Padres. Tucson’s Kino Stadium giveth—the Triple-A Padres are hitting .299 with an .832 OPS as a team—and Kino Stadium taketh away. Witness 23-year-old righthander Simon Castro’s early struggles. While Tucson pitchers have logged a 5.74 team ERA through 28 games, Castro has gone above and beyond the call of duty with a 10.17 mark. In two starts this week he let up 10 runs on 11 hits in just 5 2/3 innings, earning his 0-1, 18.00 performance. In many cases, a pitcher’s peripherals may point to future improvement, but that’s not the case with Castro. He struck out and walked five this week while allowing two home runs, a showing in line with his nine-inning rates on the year—7.4 strikeouts, 6.3 walks, 1.8 home runs. It’s the type of start that must make Castro pine for Double-A San Antonio’s forgiving ballpark.

Joe Benson, cf, Twins. The Twins’ top position-player prospect in the high minors, Benson has played well in the early going for Double-A New Britain. He batted a nifty .295/.360/.500 in April, when game-time temperatures in the Eastern League were equally likely to begin with either a five or an eight. The 23-year-old Benson has fallen on hard times in early May, however, going 2-for-27 (.074) with 14 strikeouts this week. He recorded a double and four walks, but that may not be enough to quell the nagging feeling that we’ve seen this before. Minnesota demoted Benson to the Florida State League last season after he hit .219 with a strikeout per game in April and early May.

Tim Melville, rhp, Royals: Melville has alternated good starts with poor ones this season, and this week he had another forgettable outing. He went just four innings and allowed six earned runs on 11 hits in his start for high Class A Wilmington. Melville struck out only one batter as his ERA climbed to 5.33 on the season. Melville’s stuff (92-93 mph fastball that he can maintain deep into games, solid curveball and change) has been better than his results throughout his stay in Wilmington.

• Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox: It was a little curious when the Red Sox chose to start Ranaudo in low Class A Greenville. After all, he was one of the top college pitching prospects from the 2010 draft, and he only fell to the Red Sox with the 39th overall pick due to elbow woes, which became less of an issue after he dominated the Cape Cod League last summer. Everything went swimmingly for Ranaudo through his first four starts, when he had an ERA of 0.46 in 19 2/3 innings. Now he’s also experienced his first hiccup as a professional after giving up six runs in just 1 2/3 innings against Asheville on Saturday.

MAN AMONG BOYS

Edwar Cabrera, lhp, Rockies: Cabrera’s strikeout-to-walk numbers are among the gaudiest in the minors. In 32 innings with low Class A Asheville, the Dominican lefty has 44 strikeouts (second in the minors) and just two walks, though a hitter-friendly ballpark in Asheville has helped keep his ERA up at 3.66. Still, Cabrera is 23 and, from a pure stuff level, doesn’t separate himself much from the pack. His fastball sits in the high-80s with the ability to hit 91 mph, and he’s able to fool South Atlantic League hitters with an advanced changeup. The results have been excellent this year, but he’ll have to prove himself as more than a command/changeup lefty as he works his way up the system.

BLAST FROM THE
PAST

He had been away from the game long enough for people to forget that Sean Burroughs is only 30 years old. The 1998 first-round pick covered a lot of ground quickly. He went from top draft prospect to top pro prospect to the big leagues and failure—all by his 26th birthday. Now after giving up on the game for nearly four years, Burroughs is trying to restart a career that once seemed so promising by signing on with the Diamondbacks, the organization where Kevin Towers, his former general manager in San Diego, now resides. Playing in hitter-friendly Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast) isn’t hurting, but it’s hard to ignore a .381/.447/.500 batting line. Burroughs still isn’t a power hitter, and he likely never will be, but as a third baseman who can hit for average and get on base, maybe there can be a second act for a player who once was one of the game’s top prospects.

HELIUM
WATCH

Leuris Gomez, rhp, Rockies: What’s a 6-foot, 24-year-old reliever in the Cal League doing in the Helium Watch? Gomez spent three seasons as an infielder—mostly a third baseman—but he topped out in Rookie-level Casper in 2008. He always had a strong arm, though, so the Rockies put him on the mound the next year in Casper, where he pitched briefly out of the bullpen. With just 106 professional innings coming into the year, Gomez has been outstanding pitching out of the high Class A Modesto bullpen, maintaining a 1.21 ERA in 22 1/3 innings with 32 strikeouts and five walks. He’s not just doing it with smoke and mirrors, either, has his fastball comes in anywhere from 90-94 mph with a good slider and a changeup that has made strides as well.

Shawn Tolleson, rhp, Dodgers: It’s easy to overlook a college reliever dominating low Class A, but Tolleson shouldn’t be dismissed. His rough mechanics made scouts nervous during his college career as a starter at Baylor, and he’s already had Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old fell to the 30th round of last year’s draft and immediately moved to the bullpen, where he’s blossomed. He posted a 0.63 ERA in his 2010 pro debut for Rookie-level Ogden and has yet to allow an earned run in 11 2/3 innings this year for Great Lakes, while going 8-for-8 in saves. Tolleson has carved up hitters with two quality pitches in his heavy fastball and crisp slider, and the Dodgers love his aggressiveness on the mound. Just how overpowering has he been against Midwest League hitters? Tolleson has faced 43 batters over his 11 appearances this year and struck out 28 of them, including all six he faced Thursday against West Michigan, while permitting just four hits.

Minors | #2011 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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