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By Kevin Goldstein
September 7, 2004

It's our final Hot Sheet of the year as we take a snapshot of baseball's best prospects, combining prospect status with recent performance. This list is not a replacement or an update to our Top 100, because it will often change drastically from week to week based on performance. We are not replacing Andy Marte or Rickie Weeks as the top prospects in baseball, rather we are giving you a snapshot of the hottest prospects. Keep up with news on these prospects plus many more on a daily basis with the Daily Dish and The Baseball America Prospect Report.

We love to hear your opinions, so send your list to Kevin at, but keep in mind there are only 20 spots on this list, and chances are there are more than 20 hot prospects during a week-long span. We aren't intentionally forgetting your guy, there's just only so much room. Also remember the key word in the title--prospect--so, 25-year-old Class A organizational players who are tearing the cover off the ball rarely apply.

1. Chuck Tiffany, lhp, Dodgers (Low Class A Columbus)
Tiffany finished the season with 141 strikeouts in less than 100 innings, including double-digit strikeout totals in each of his last four starts, without pitching more than six innings. In those four starts he faced 86 batters and whiffed a ridiculous 46 of them.
2. Scott Olsen, lhp, Marlins (High Class A Jupiter)
The Florida State League leader in strikeouts (158), Olsen allowed a total of one earned run in his final five starts, striking out 42 in 32.2 innings.
3. Mitch Einertson, of, Astros (Short-season Tri-City)
And you thought the beat slowed down . . . Einertson tied the Appy League home run record with 24, and then hit two more in three postseason games as Greeneville won the league title. Conclusion to a great debut, right? Wrong. Sent to the New York-Penn League for another playoff run, the fifth-round pick homered in Tri-City's regular-season finale.
4. Felix Hernandez, rhp, Mariners (Double-A San Antonio)
Hernandez finished his roll through the Texas League as an 18-year-old, allowing two or fewer earned runs in eight of 10 starts while striking out more than a batter per inning.
5. Delmon Young, of, Devil Rays (Low Class A Charleston)
The 2003 No. 1 overall pick played exactly like that in the final 40 games of the season, batting .417-11-42 during the stretch to finish at .322-25-116 with 21 stolen bases. Worried about his free swinging ways? He drew 26 walks during that period after drawing just one during the entire month of April.
6. Brandon McCarthy, rhp, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham)
One of the season's top breakout performers, McCarthy finished the season 17-6 across three levels with a minor league-leading 202 strikeouts and just 30 walks. The loss suffered in his final start not only prevented him from tying for the minor league lead in wins, but it was his first defeat since June 5.
7. Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies (Low Class A Asheville)
Stewart established himself as one of the best prospects in the game by hitting .319-30-101 and leading the Sally League in extra-base hits (70) and slugging percentage (.594). Just as important, concerns about his defense have been tempered, and he'll remain at third base.
8. Yusmeiro Petit, rhp, Mets (High Class A St. Lucie)
A tough final outing for Binghamton cost him the strikeout title (see McCarthy), but his final numbers across three levels are still staggering: 139.1 innings, 84 hits, 41 walks, 200 strikeouts.
9. Billy Butler, 3b, Royals (Rookie-level Idaho Falls)
The Royals' first-round pick flirted with .400 much of the year and finished with a Pioneer League-leading .373 average. The peripheral numbers are even more impressive as in 72 games, Butler scored 74 runs, drove in 68 and drew 57 walks, good for a .486 on-base percentage.
10. Howie Kendrick, 2b, Angels (Low Class A Cedar Rapids)
Kendrick hit .241 in May but .410 thereafter, finishing the season at .367-10-49 despite missing two months with a strained groin.
11. Jason Hammel, rhp, Devil Rays (High Class A Bakersfield)
Long, lean and projectable, Hammel arrived in the California League with a career record of 11-14, but was the league's best pitcher down the stretch, allowing just one earned run in his final five outings, striking out 42 over 35.2 innings while allowing only 17 hits.
12. Anthony Reyes, rhp, Cardinals (Double-A Tennessee)
A 15th-round pick in 2003 out of Southern California, Reyes had a 4.66 ERA in the Florida State League, but something clicked after a promotion to Tennessee, as he compiled a 102/13 K/BB ratio in 74.1 innings while limiting opposing hitters to a .225 average.
13. Gustavo Chacin, lhp, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
On June 5, Chacin got ripped, giving up 10 runs in just 2.1 innings in a 14-6 loss to Portland. This is of note because that was the last time Chacin lost this year, as he went 14-0, 1.86 in his final 16 starts (including a pair of emergency starts at Triple-A Syracuse), finishing with a minor league-leading 18 wins.
14. Zach Duke, lhp, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)
The model of consistency, Duke finished the season with a miniscule 1.46 ERA. In 26 starts, he allowed more than one earned run just six times.
15. Jacob Stevens, lhp, Braves (Low Class A Rome)
Must . . . have . . . more . . . lefties. Stevens ended the season on another roll, putting up a 1.40 ERA in his final seven games and finishing the year with more strikeouts (140) than baserunners allowed (100 hits, 39 walks).
16. Reid Brignac, ss, Devil Rays (Low Class A Charleston)
We'll say this about him — he certainly knows how to make an impression. After going 17-for-30 in his first seven games as a pro and finishing at .361 in 25 Appy League games, the Devil Rays decided to get him some more at-bats in the Sally League, where he went 7-for-14 with five RBIs in three games.
17. Garrett Atkins, 3b, Rockies (Triple-A Colorado Springs)
Atkins won the PCL batting title with a .366 mark, and was darn near Ichiro-like in the season's final two months, batting .429-9-44 in his final 50 games.
18. Chad Orvella, rhp, Devil Rays (Triple-A Durham)
Stop the presses! He gave up a hit! Andres Torres' home run off Orvella in season finale was the first baseknock off Orvella since August 12. On the season, opposing batters hit .148 off the righty, with 93 strikeouts and just six walks in 196 at-bats.
19. Huston Street, rhp, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento)
Is anyone surprised that Street already has eight saves and a 1.38 ERA in his first 21 games as a pro while reaching Triple-A? We didn't think so.
20. Shin-soo Choo, of, Mariners (Double-A San Antonio)
Consistently good, but never "Hot Sheet Hot", we reward Choo for another fine season, finishing with career-highs across the board at .315-15-84 with 40 stolen bases. Beyond the bat, he as one of the best arms in the minors.

Special Mention Category

Vinny Rottino, 1b/of, Brewers (Low Class A Beloit)
Rottino, 24, was a Division III All-American (and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in Chemistry) at Wisconsin-Lacrosse, but went undrafted in 2003. Signed as a free agent by his home state Brewers and playing in his home state of Wisconsin, Rottino hit .304-17-124 for the Snappers, setting a Beloit single-season record for RBIs. On the final day of the season, Rottino played all nine positions, including a perfect ninth inning from the mound in a 6-6 game.

In The Team Photo

Erick Aybar, ss, Angels (High Class A Rancho Cucamonga)
Adam Bostick, lhp, Marlins (Low Class A Greensboro)
Michael Bourn, of, Phillies (Low Class A Lakewood)
Travis Chick, rhp, Padres (Low Class A Fort Wayne)
Jon Connolly, lhp, Cubs (Double-A West Tenn)
Brian Dopirak, 1b, Cubs (Low Class A Lansing)
Brad Eldred, 1b, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)
Ryan Garko, 1b/c, Indians (Triple-A Buffalo)
Javi Herrera, of, Athletics (Short-season Vancouver)
Ryan Harvey, of, Cubs (Rookie-level Boise)
Brad Hawpe, of, Rockies (Triple-A Colorado Springs)
D.J. Houlton, rhp, Astros (Double-A Round Rock)
Hernan Iribarren, 2b, Brewers (Low Class A Brewers)
Kahi Kaanoi, rhp, Royals (High Class A Wilmington)
Freddie Lewis, of, Giants (Triple-A Fresno)
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of, Giants (High Class A San Jose)
Brian McCann, c, Braves (High Class A Myrtle Beach)
Brian McFall, of, Royals (Rookie-level Idaho Falls)
Dallas McPherson, 3b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
Javon Moran, of, Reds (Low Class A Dayton)
Glen Perkins, lhp, Twins (Low Class A Quad Cities)
David Purcey, lhp, Blue Jays (Short-season Auburn)
Tony Sipp, lhp, Indians (Short-season Mahoning Valley)
Scott Tyler, rhp, Twins (Low Class A Quad Cities)
Brandon Watson, of, Expos (Triple-A Edmonton)
Wes Whisler, lhp/dh, White Sox (High Class A Winston-Salem)
Josh Willingham, c/1b, Marlins (Double-A Carolina)

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