Midseason Top 50 Prospects
Click above to listen the Midseason Top 50 Prospects Podcast This list bears little resemblance to the Top 100 Prospects ranking we published before the season, and thatβs because so […]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
ZEBULON, N.C.--When we looked at our schedules to pick the best series of the weekend, we were fortunate to have one in our own backyard, as Double-A Carolina took on Montgomery in a Southern League showdown.
The series lived up to its billing, with numerous prospects putting on fantastic performances as the Biscuits took two out of three.
Lefthander Scott Olsen gave up one earned run over 6 2/3 innings on Friday to earn the win for Carolina, and outfielder Jeremy Hermida hit homers on Saturday and Sunday. But not surprisingly, the star of the weekend was Delmon Young. The Devil Rays' top prospect went 8-for-12 on the weekend with two homers, seven RBIs and three stolen bases. Much of that damage came on Sunday, when was 4-for-5 with two opposite-field bombs, two stolen bases and a nifty backhand shoestring catch to boot.
At one point, Mudcats' righthander Nic Ungs, who was charting pitches in the stands, looked over to the Biscuits pitchers who were charting and asked, "Hey, what do we have to do to get this guy out?" The Mudcats rarely found an answer to the question.
The other two series we previewed at the end of last week were Triple-A Fresno hosting Tucson in the Pacific Coast League, and Double-A Norwich visiting Portland in the Eastern League. Tucson took the opener 6-5, with Mike Gosling pitching six solid innings while Carlos Quentin went 2-for-2 with a double, a triple and three RBIs.
The next two games belonged to Fresno, though it had more to do with their bats than touted starters Jesse Foppert and Matt Cain. Foppert allowed seven earned runs in three innings, but the bullpen did not allow a run as Fresno rallied for an 8-7 win. Cain wasn't much better, giving up six earned over four innings, including a grand slam to Sergio Santos. Fresno got a three-run homer in the ninth from Todd Linden to earn a 9-7 win. Game four of the series is tonight.
In Portland, rain washed out one game, and the Navigators and Sea Dogs split the two they played. At least on Giants prospect pitched well this weekend, as Merkin Valdez threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday to earn the win for Norwich. On Sunday, Hanley Ramirez went 2-for-3 with a triple to raise his average to .301 and lead Portland to a 3-2 win.
Shortstop Stephen Drew has been sidelined for a week by a foot injury sustained during an at-bat in the Camden Riversharks' May 1 game against the Lancaster Barnstormers. X-rays on the foot showed no break, according to Riversharks spokesman Dan Ryan, and the team lists Drew as day-to-day. Drew, who signed with the independent Atlantic League club in April, is hitting .444 (8-of-18) with two doubles and two triples. Drew was the Diamondbacks' first-round pick last June, but he has not signed with them. The Diamondbacks have exclusive negotiation rights with the former Florida State star until May 31, a week before this year's draft. After that, he would go back into the draft pool and be eligible for selection on June 7.
With Tim Redding going down yesterday in St. Louis, the Padres called up righthander Tim Stauffer from Triple-A Portland to replace him in the rotation. In 39 innings for Portland, Stauffer was 2-0, 2.33 with 31 strikeouts and eight walks.
The fastest man in baseball is running wild. Triple-A Durham center fielder Joey Gathright stole six bases over the weekend, bringing his total to 16, three behind low Class A Hagerstown outfielder Carlos Gomez. Gathright is also starting to hit and get on base more consistently than he did in April. The 24-year-old hit his first home run of his three-year pro career May 3 and was batting .263/.372/.375 in 80 at-bats overall.
Giants outfielder Clay Timpner has also been running like crazy for high Class A San Jose. A fourth-round pick last June out of Central Florida, he led the Atlantic Sun Conference with 42 thefts in 2004 and has stolen a base in seven straight games this year to increase his season total to 15. He was batting .283/.367/.453.
Padres outfielder Freddy Guzman had Tommy John surgery and will miss the season. Guzman, whose game revolves around his plus speed and getting on base, has not played this year. He had the surgery on April 29 and will not begin a throwing program for at least four months. "We thought this guy was a couple of months from being in the big leagues," farm director Tye Waller told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It's unfortunate that it happened. As long as this guy can run, I think he is going to become a big leaguer eventually. Hopefully, we can get him strong and he can play some winter ball and we can get him ready for next year."
Two players are tied for the minor league home run lead with 13. That one of them is gargantuan Pirate first baseman Brad Eldred is not a surprise, but Angels 2003 first-round pick Brandon Wood does raise some eyebrows. Wood hit his 13th homer last night in high Class A Rancho Cucamonga's 5-4 loss to High Desert, giving him three in his last four games. After hitting 11 home runs last year in 125 games at low Class A Cedar Rapids, Wood leads the minors in total bases with 95 in 30 games, batting .339/.375/.748.
Triple-A Rochester righthander Boof Bonser won his third straight start Friday, allowing three earned runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven in a 7-5 win against Pawtucket. Over his last three outings, Bonser is 3-0, 3.78 with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Double-A Binghamton first baseman/catcher Mike Jacobs had a huge night Friday, going 4-for-5 with three homers and six RBIs in a 10-2 win against Erie. Jacobs is coming off shoulder surgery last season, and has been limited to just three games behind the plate. When he's healthy, he is the best-hitting catcher in the Mets system, with outstanding opposite-field power and a fluid stroke. Jacobs is hitting .269/.308/.481 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 108 at-bats.
Blue Jays righthander Vince Perkins rebounded from two straight losses with an 11-strikeout performance against New Britain, setting a Double-A New Hampshire franchise record in a 7-3 win. Perkins went six innings, allowed two earned runs on three hits and also walked four. On the season, Perkins is 2-2, 3.19 in 31 innings. The Fisher Cats completed a three-game sweep when righthanders Shawn Marcum and Cameron Reimers both tossed shutouts in a doubleheader yesterday. Marcum went seven innings, allowed six hits and struck out one. Reimers also went the distance, allowing seven hits and struck out three.
Double-A Birmingham center fielder Jerry Owens extended his hitting streak to 10 games yesterday and is hitting .345/.398/.389 with 10 RBIs in 113 at-bats. Over the last 10 games, the second-round pick in 2003 out of The Masters (Calif.) College is 19-for-33 (.575).
Reds righthander Richie Gardner struggled Friday in a 12-7 loss to Birmingham. Gardner, a sixth-rounder in 2003 out of Arizona, lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowed eight runs on 11 hits, walked four and struck out two. After dealing in the Double-A Southern League last season, going 8-3, 2.50, Gardner's return to Chattanooga has been rocky. He is 2-2, 7.85 with 30 strikeouts in 28 innings, and opponents are hitting .363 against him.
Double-A Jacksonville second baseman Delwyn Young is heating up. Young, the Dodgers' fourth-round pick in 2002 out of Santa Barbara (Calif.) Community College, went 5-for-11 over the weekend and is now hitting .298/.339/.471 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 104 at-bats.
Corey Hart and Prince Fielder must have forgotten what it was like to trot around the bases. Hart hit his first homer in 26 games (and his first of the season) and Fielder his first in 28 games for Triple-A Nashville. It is hard to pinpoint why they struggled, but rumor had it that Hart was wearing his sunglasses at night.
Which Bay Area prospect is hotter right now? Is it Todd Linden, who is 12-for-25 with 14 RBIs in his last eight games for Triple-A Fresno, or the Athletics' Dan Johnson, who is 15-for-35 in his last eight games at Triple-A Sacramento, including a 4-for-5 performance yesterday.
Judging by the score, you would think they had decided to turn it into slow-pitch softball in Hagerstown, where the Suns took down the Asheville Tourists 19-16. Matt Durkin was knocked around for 11 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings for Hagerstown, while his counterpart Ching Lo scattered 10 runs over 4 2/3 innings. The star of the day was Mets prospect Dante Brinkley, who continued his assault on SAL pitching. He went 4-for-7 with two doubles and a homer and is hitting .435/.547/.772.
Yankees shortstop prospect Marcos Vechionacci continues to impress in the SAL. He went 3-for-5 with three runs scored yesterday for Charleston and is batting .316/.409/.380. The 19-year-old has grown four inches since he signed in 2002, but at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, he hasn't developed power yet, totaling just five extra-base hits this season.
Marlins righthander Josh Johnson went on the disabled list over the weekend with shoulder tendinitis. Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2002 out of Jenks High in Tulsa, is 4-1, 1.83 with 36 strikeouts in 34 innings this season at Double-A Carolina.
Royals 2003 first-round pick Chris Lubanski is beginning to show signs of life after a miserable start at High Desert. Since batting .163-2-6 in his first 22 games, the 20-year-old outfielder has gone 9-for-18 in his last five games with a double, two triples and a pair of home runs to lift his season averages to .218/.279/.427.
A crowd of 609 came out to see the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks in last year's draft face off, with Justin Verlander and Class A Lakeland topping Philip Humber and the St. Lucie Mets 6-2. Verlander improved to 4-1, 1.50 by allowing just one run and four hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking a season-high six. Humber, who also went six innings, allowed seven hits and three runs, and is still looking for his first win as a pro, with a record of 0-3, 3.04.
Big pitching matchup No. 2 last night took place in the Texas League, where Corpus Christi topped Arkansas 3-1. Hooks righthander Fernando Nieve improved to 2-2, 2.47 with 7 2/3 strong innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out 10, increasing his league-leading total to 47. Travelers righty Ervin Santana took his first loss against five wins, despite striking out nine over 6 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs.
Few took notice when Tigers second baseman Juan Francia came within one hit of the Midwest League batting title last year, his third year in the league. But the 23 year-old Venezuelan is proving that may not have been a fluke by going 18-for-32 in his last eight games for Lakeland and leading the Florida State League with a .400 batting average in 29 games to go along with 13 stolen bases.
Second baseman Tim Moss, the Phillies' first pick (third round) in the 2003 draft, fell off the prospect radar after hitting .217/.298/.298 in his first 121 pro games. Now at high Class A Clearwater and batting .343-6-19, Moss needed just 23 games to triple his 2004 home run total and establish a new season-high for stolen bases with 11. "He was slow to adjust from wood to aluminum, and we've been working with him to get his swing started quicker at the plate," Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle said. "He made great strides in spring training and brought that into the season. He's gained confidence at the plate, and his whole game has picked up, offensively and defensively."
Entering the season, 6-foot-5 lefty Ty Taubenheim was a little-known 19th-round pick of the Brewers in 2003 who had a 3.09 ERA in 61 pro games, all in relief. Moved into the rotation at high Class A Brevard County, he is one of just two 6-0 pitchers in the minor leagues after firing a one-hitter in Saturday night's 1-0 win against Dunedin, allowing only a second-inning single to catcher Robinzon Diaz. Taubenheim has gone at least six innings in all six of his starts, compiling an ERA of 1.47 and allowing just 25 hits in 43 innings.
Cubs outfielder Ryan Harvey, the sixth overall pick in the 2003 draft, has landed on the disabled list at low Class A Peoria with back spasms. Harvey was hitting .280/.344/.500 in 21 games with five home runs and 16 RBIs.