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Hot Sheet

By Kevin Goldstein
August 30, 2005

While the Hot Sheet focuses only on what's going in the minor leagues played here in the States, we do want to throw out some props to Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Carlos Fernandez, who owned the Venezuelan Summer League, which just like the Gulf Coast League or the International League, is part of the NAPBL. Fernandez, an 18-year-old lefthanded hitter, led the VSL in batting (.347), RBIs (48) and hits (68), while finishing among the top three in doubles (21), on-base percentage (.416) and slugging (.505). Fernandez, who will likely make his U.S. debut in 2006, finished strong, finishing the year with a 10-game hitting streak in which he hit .441.


It's our weekly snapshot of baseball's hottest prospects, combining prospect status with recent performance. This list isn't a replacement or an update to our Top 100, because it often will change drastically from week to week based on performance. We aren't replacing Delmon Young or Felix Hernandez 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 kevingoldstein@baseballamerica.com, but keep in mind there are only 20 spots on the Hot Sheet, 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. Kendry Morales, 1b, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Generally considered the best position player to ever defect from Cuba, Morales signed a six-year deal in December that could be worth as much as $10 million. It took until late May to get him into the country because of tighter immigration laws. Morales has proved worth the wait. In a combined 90 games between high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Arkansas, Morales is batting .315-21-68, including a Playstation-like 21-for-34 (.618) with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his last eight.
2. Brandon Wood, ss, Angels (High Class A Rancho Cucamonga)
With seven games left in the regular season, Wood's chances to reach 100 extra-base hits improved last week, with three more doubles (extending his minor league lead to 51) and three more home runs (extending his minor league lead to 42), giving him 97 on the season to go with 72 singles.
3. Francisco Liriano, lhp, Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
In 13 International League starts, the 21-year-old fireballer has recorded twice as many strikeouts (102) as hits allowed (51), while limiting his opponents to two or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine outings.
4. Howie Kendrick, 2b, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Kendrick's 0-for-3 mark on August 21 is his only hitless game in the last 28. In just 104 games, Kendrick has amassed 99 runs, 168 hits, 42 doubles, 18 home runs, 88 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.
5. Ryan Zimmerman, ss/3b, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg)
The fourth overall pick this June out of Virginia, Zimmerman is likely to become the first position player from the 2005 draft to reach the major leagues. Batting .323-9-32 in 61 Eastern League games, Zimmerman has been on fire of late (.387 in his last 25 games) as he prepares for a September look in the big leagues.
6. Jeff Clement, c, Mariners (Low Class A Wisconsin)
Drafted one slot ahead of Zimmerman, Clement hit .224 in his first 14 games for the Timber Rattlers, but his been the hottest hitter in the Midwest League since, going 20-for-39 (.513) in his last 10 games with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
7. Lastings Milledge, of, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)
Now batting .337 in 48 Double-A games at the tender age of 20, Milledge is placing himself in line for a job in the big leagues next year, thanks to much improved plate discipline.
8. Billy Butler, of, Royals (Double-A Wichita)
It didn't take long for Butler to adjust to Double-A pitching. Despite being just 19, Butler is batting .431 (14-for-31) in his last eight games with three home runs, and now has 108 RBIs in 115 games overall.
9. Chuck James, lhp, Braves (Double-A Mississippi)
Because he's played at three levels, it's hard to appreciate what a great season the 23-year-old lefty has had, so we'll do the addition for you. 13-5, 1.84 in 27 starts with 187 strikeouts and just 35 walks in 152 innings.
10. Shane Lindsay, rhp, Rockies (Short-season Tri-City)
The 20-year-old Aussie has made 13 starts for the Dust Devils, and he's remarkably recorded more strikeouts than innings pitched every time out. According to the always industrial Jeff Chernow at STATS, Inc., the longest major league streak of games with more strikeouts than innings pitched since 1980 is 14, by all-time strikeout king Nolan Ryan in 1989.

11. Chad Billingsley, rhp, Dodgers (Double-A Jacksonville)

Billingsley entered the year as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but dropped off the radar a bit after going 4-4, 4.79 over 16 starts in the season's first three months. Billingsley has looked more like the 2004 model of late, going 4-1, 1.09 in five August starts, while allowing just 14 hits in 33 innings.
12. Daniel Haigwood, lhp, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham)
In 10 Southern League starts, Haigwood has allowed less than two earned runs in all but one outing, limiting Southern League batters to a miniscule .159 average (35 hits in 65 innings) in the process.
13. Erick Aybar, ss, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
The reason Brandon Wood is still in the California League, the ultra-toolsy Aybar has gone 20-for-41 in his last nine games, and now leads the Texas League with 157 base hits.
14. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c, Braves (High Class A Myrtle Beach)
After going 12 games without a home run, Salty powered out three this week, raising his season totals to .314-19-76 -- remarkable numbers for a catcher who played half of his home games at Coastal Federal Field.
15. Ray Liotta, lhp, White Sox (High Class A Winston-Salem)
You think he's funny? You think he's a clown? Carolina League hitters certainly don't, as the 2004 second-round pick has gone 6-1, 1.05 in seven starts since a promotion from the Sally League.
16. Travis Wood, lhp, Reds (Rookie-Level Billings)
With the Gulf Coast League over, the Reds sent the leagues' most dominant pitcher to the Carolina League, where the 18-year-old is still rolling along, with a 1.80 ERA in four appearances and just nine hits allowed in 15 innings.
17. Kevin Slowey, rhp, Twins (Low Class A Beloit)
A second-round pick out of Winthrop, Slowey warmed up as a pro in the Appy League by striking out 15 in 7 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits. Moved into the Beloit rotation, Slowey has a 2.34 ERA in 12 games for the Snappers, with a nifty 62-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 58 innings.
18. Gio Gonzalez, lhp, White Sox (High Class A Winston-Salem)
The third White Sox lefty on this week's edition, Gonzalez has found his groove again in the Carolina League, with a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts while allowing just 14 hits in 26 innings.
19. Alberto Callaspo, 2b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
I guess the Angels have some middle infielders, huh? Promoted to Triple-A in mid-July to make room for Howie Kendrick at Arkansas, Callaspo upped his average 30 points (to .302) in just four days, going 11-for-20.
20. Andrew McCutchen, of, Pirates (Short-season Williamsport)
After going 10-for-19 in the final five games of the Gulf Coast League season, the 11th overall pick this June has stayed hot since moving up to the New York-Penn League, going an identical 10-for-19 in his first four games for the Crosscutters.

Special Mention Category

Vince Faison, of, Yankees (High Class A Tampa)

The 20th overall pick of the 1999 draft, Faison was never able to translate his athleticism into on-the-field performance, batting just .241/.315/.367 in six pro seasons. Without a job entering 2005, the 24-year-old Faison hooked on with Jackson in the independent Central League, where he hit .303-15-66 in 83 games before getting another shot with the Yankees. Assigned to shore up the roster at Tampa, Faison has been unstoppable, batting .455 in eight games with four doubles, three triples and a home run.

In The Team Photo

Josh Barfield, 2b, Padres (Triple-A Portland)
Daric Barton, 1b, Athletics (Double-A Midland)
Travis Buck, of, Athletics (Low Class A Kane County)
Eric Campbell, 3b, Braves (Rookie-level Danville)
Cesar Carrillo, rhp, Padres (High Class A Lake Elsinore)
Chris Carter, 1b, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee)
Stephen Head, 1b, Indians (High Class A Kinston)
Ian Kinsler, 2b, Rangers (Triple-A Oklahoma City)
George Kottaras, c, Padres (Double-A Mobile)
Gerald Laird, c, Rangers (Triple-A Oklahoma City)
Nick Markakis, of, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)
Dustin Nippert, rhp, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee)
Ricky Nolasco, rhp, Cubs (Double-A West Tenn)
Garret Olson, lhp, Orioles (High Class A Frederick)
Jonathan Sanchez, lhp, Giants (Low Class A Augusta)
Nick Stavinoha, of, Cardinals (Low Class A Quad Cities)
Taylor Teagarden, c, Rangers (Short-season Spokane)
Shane Victorino, of, Phillies (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Corey Wimberly, if, Rockies (Rookie-level Casper)
Kyle Yates, rhp, Blue Jays (High Class A Dunedin)
Joel Zumaya, rhp, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo)

 
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