Prospect Hot Sheet

Heyward shows precocious power





See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheets

As June arrives, it's easy to start noticing some trends. While we try to get plenty of shuffling with each week's Hot Sheet, some players force their way onto the list week after week.

So you'll see Jason Heyward, Mat Gamel and Andrew McCutchen on the list again this week, and with the way he's going, David Price could probably buy instead of renting his spot on the Hot Sheet. But that doesn't mean there still isn't room to pop up on the list, as first-timers like Freddie Freeman, Greg Halman and Matt Maloney showed this week.

Remember as always, this is not a re-ranking of our Top 100 Prospects list. Instead, it's a snapshot of who are the hottest prospects in baseball right now, with stats form the past week (May 23-30) getting the most consideration. The Why He's Here line in the writeups refers to each player's stats during that time.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Jim Shonerd and Nathan Rode

No. 1 JASON HEYWARD, RF
BRAVES
Team: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .462/.516/.846, 12-for-26, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: If it felt like something was missing from last week's Hot Sheet, you may have been thinking of Heyward, who had appeared on the previous three (twice on Hot Sheet, once on Not-Hot) before having a relatively ordinary week. That changed this week as the Rome right fielder unleashed his best week yet. Heyward is having the best season of any of the top hitting prospects in low Class A. He has hits in 18 of his last 20 games, and Thursday's 0-for-2 (with three walks) night was just his fifth hitless game of the month, whereas he's racked up 11 multi-games. As great as Heyward was in April (.330/.375/.470), he's been even better in May (.343/.383/.552), and his .337 average ranks fourth in the SAL. He also leads the league in hits and runs scored. Heyward turned in four multi-hit games this week, and his biggest game of the week came on Tuesday against Hickory, when he went 4-for-5 and finished a triple short of the cycle.

No. 2 MAT GAMEL, 3B
BREWERS
Team: Double-A Huntsville (Southern)
Age:
22
Why He's Here:
.484/.500/.806 (15-for-31), 9 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1/1 SB
The Scoop:
If you look at the best positional players that the Brewers have selected their recent draft picks, you might notice a trend: they may not be the best fielders, but they sure can hit. Whether it's Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in Milwaukee or Matt LaPorta, Gamel and Jonathan Lucroy, it's the bat that stands out. When you can hit like Gamel, though, you can do a pretty good job of covering up your defensive shortcomings. Gamel has abused perfectly good Southern League baseballs all season, hitting .384/.443/.667 in 244 plate appearances. In his last 15 games, Gamel has 11 multi-hit games. Sure, that .384 batting average is bound to get pulled down, but Gamel has the strike-zone judgement and the emerging power to be a dangerous big league hitter.

No. 3 DAVID PRICE, LHP
RAYS
Team: High Class A Vero Beach (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 9-0 K-BB
The Scoop: After making his much-anticipated debut on May 22, Price came out for his second start and beat a three-time Cy Young Award winner. Martinez praised Price's performance and ability after watching him fan nine guys and allow just two hits. On the season, he is now 2-0, 0.00 in 11 innings with 13 strikeouts, one walk and five hits. At this rate, Price won't be in the Florida State League for long.
No. 4 DARYL THOMPSON, RHP
REDS
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 2-0, 1.38, 13 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 13 K
The Scoop: We like to reward the prospects who have performed well all season, and that's exactly what Thompson has done this year. Thompson becomes the first player this year to make the Hot Sheet based on his weekly performance with two different teams. On Friday, May 23, Thompson allowed two runs, struck out seven and walked none in six innings for Double-Chattanooga. In his first Triple-A start on Wednesday, Thompson allowed one run (unearned) in seven innings, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out six. Working off an explosive 91-94 mph fastball, a slow curve, a slider and a changeup, Thompson finished Double-A with a 1.76 ERA in 61 1/3 innings and a 56-14 K-BB mark.

No. 5 J.P. ARENCIBIA, C
BLUE JAYS
Team: High Class A Dunedin (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .400/.423/.920, 10-for-25, 7 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 1-2 BB-K, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop: Arencibia's hitting streak has reached 10 games and he's raked in the RBIs in the process. During the streak he is hitting .457/.469/.848 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. He's also cut way down on the whiffs, striking out just three times during his streak while drawing two walks. Before the streak began he was hitting a very pedestrian .269/.298/.448. Now he's up to .314/.340/.545 and has already surpassed his home run, RBI and hit totals from last year in 18 fewer games.

No. 6 FREDDIE FREEMAN, 1B
BRAVES
Team: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .429/.484/.857, 12-for-28, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 2 SO
The Scoop: Freeman has provided Jason Heyward with plenty of protection. The two of them, who were Atlanta's first and second round picks a year ago, have anchored the middle of the Braves' batting order. Freeman leads the team in doubles with 19 and RBIs with 38. Freeman attracted strong interest as a pitcher in high school, but he preferred hitting and it looks like he made the right career choice since he's putting up a .299/.341/.507 line for the season. He had four multi-hit games this week, including a 3-for-5 night with a double and a home run last Friday against Asheville.

No. 7 ADRIAN CARDENAS, 2B
PHILLIES
Team: High Class A Clearwater (Florida State)
Age:
20
Why He's Here:
.389/.476/.833, 7-for-18, 7 R, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3-3 BB-K, 0-for-0 SB
The Scoop:
After missing nearly a month with lower back inflammation, Cardenas returned on May 13 and wasted no time in getting on a roll. Since returning, the Phillies' No. 2 prospect has hit .309/.400/.582 with three home runs and 13 runs scored in 55 at-bats. He's seen a majority of his time in the No. 3 spot of the lineup but has also dabbled with leadoff and No. 2. He's also still errorless in 25 games at second base.

No. 8 MICHAEL BOWDEN, RHP
RED SOX
Team: Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 13 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K
The Scoop: As a 20-year-old in the EL last year, Bowden struggled for the first time in his career since signing as a supplemental first-rounder in 2005. He wasn't bad—he had a 4.28 ERA in 96 innings with an 82-33 K-BB mark—but this year he has breezed by his competition. Using a low-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curve that grades out as a plus pitch, Bowden has a 2.20 ERA in 61 1/3 innings, 58 strikeouts and 16 walks. "Being one of the youngest pitchers in the Eastern League is a difficult task coming in, last year especially," said Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen. "Mentally he's as strong as we have."

No. 9 PETER BOURJOS, CF
ANGELS
Team: High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age:
21
Why He's Here:
.382/.447/.647, 13-for-34, 10 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3-4 BB-K, 6-for-6 SB
The Scoop:
Bourjos has absolutely taken off in the month of May, hitting .372/.393/.575 in 113 at-bats compared to .298/.352/.381 in 84 April at-bats. He's been caught stealing just twice this season and is second in the minors with 30 steals. He has now reached base in seven consecutive games and continues to provide the Rancho Cucamonga lineup with plenty of RBI opportunities.
No. 10 ENGEL BELTRE, CF
RANGERS
Team: low Class A Clinton (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .407/.407/.630, 11-for-27, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: While the Eric Gagne trade may have proved to be a waste of time for the Red Sox last year, the biggest prize to come out of it on the Rangers side could well be Beltre. This season, Beltre is the youngest player in the Midwest League, but he's held his own to the tune of a .272/.298/.406 line for the year. He's been a key contributer to the MWL's best team in Clinton, batting leadoff and playing center field every day.  He ranks fourth in the league in both hits and runs scored and is second in triples. Right now, he's on a six-game hitting-streak and is also working on a streak of four straight multi-hit games.
No. 11 GREG HALMAN, CF
MARINERS
Team: high Class A High Desert (California)
Age: 20
Why he's here: .333/.429/.750 (8-for-24), 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Halman performed so poorly last year at low Class A Wisconsin that he was demoted to the short-season Northwest League in June . . . and he proceeded to destroy the league. A year older and wiser, the Netherlands-born Halman is batting .271/.324/.578 through 199 at-bats and leads the Cal League with 15 home runs, ranks second with 42 RBIs, third with 20 stolen bases and fourth with 28 extra-base hits. Now, we realize that the change in venues from offense-suppressing Wisconsin to home-run haven High Desert is responsible for some of Halman's improvement, but the guy has serious power and speed. He may have to move to a corner outfield spot as he fills out and moves up—and he definitely needs to hone his batting eye (61 strikeouts, 13 walks in 52 games)—but Halman is definitely one to watch.
No. 12 ANDREW McCUTCHEN, CF
PIRATES
Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age:
21
Why he's here:
.370/.485/.593 (10-for-27), 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-5 SB
The Scoop:
McCutchen crossed the .300 line for the first time this season on Wednesday with a 3-for-5 performance—he's now batting .303/.396/.476—and there may be no looking back for the 11th overall pick in 2005. He's shown exactly the type of growth this season that his tools, bat speed and athleticism had predicted, as he's hitting for average and gap power (15 doubles), stealing bases (17) and playing a mean center field. The righthanded-batting McCutchen has masterfully handled righthanded pitchers (.306/.394/.472) and has displayed the strike-zone judgment of a much older player, with 28 walks and 36 strikeouts. The Reds' Jay Bruce, who was taken one pick after McCutchen in 2005, made a splash this week in making his major league debut, meaning the two outfielders could one day be an answer to an obscure trivia question.

No. 13 MATT MALONEY, LHP
REDS
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Age: 24
Why he's here: 1-0, 1.29, 14 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 5 BB, 13 SO
The Scoop: Maloney joined the Reds organization at the 2007 trade deadline, when the Phillies swapped him for a month of Kyle Lohse. Lohse gave the Phillies the innings they were looking for—and somehow managed to go 3-0 despite a 4.72 ERA—but Maloney just keeps on trucking for Cincinnati. A third-round pick out of Mississippi in 2005, Maloney has been in contention for a spot on the Hot Sheet all May, a month in which he went 4-1, 2.56 in 38 2/3 innings (six starts), and gave up only one home run, struck out 30 and walked 11. Though he stands 6-foot-4, weighs 220 pounds and has struck out about a batter per inning in his minor league career, Maloney is not a power pitcher. Instead he thrives on a 87-91 mph sinker, a plus changeup and pitchability to spare. Look for him in the Cincinnati rotation before season's end.

IN THE TEAM PHOTO

The Triple-A ranks lost Jay Bruce and Ian Stewart, two of the classification's steadiest performers, to the major league callups this week, but Portland LF/3B Chase Headley (Padres) remains the rock. The 24-year-old switch-hitter batted .345/.444/.586 (10-for-29) this week with two doubles, a triple, a home run, five RBIs, five runs, five walks and eight strikeouts. It's not that the production, taken alone, is overwhelming—it's that he's been doing it week in, week out since mid-May. Headley has improved his season line, through 208 at-bats, to .303/.396/.476 with 15 doubles and seven home runs . . . In terms of the raw numbers, perhaps no player had a better week at the plate than Double-A Carolina (Marlins) 1B/3B Gaby Sanchez, who batted .440/.575/.720 (11-for-25) with nine runs, a double, two homers, seven walks and three stolen bases. Sanchez, 24, is a below-average defender and a passable one at first base, so he's limited defensively. He's a dead red hitter who struggles against off-speed pitches, but throw him a fastball out over the plate and it's a good bet the ball will travel . . . The biggest question about Brewers SS Alcides Escobar is whether he will hit enough to have value as a premium defender at shortstop. He hit .429/.452/.607 (12-for-28) with week with five runs, two doubles, a homer, two walks and two stolen bases in three attempts for Double-A Huntsville this week. On the year, the 21-year-old Venezuelan native is hitting an impressive .311/.347/.418 in 241 plate appearances . . . We have to give credit to Double-A Reading (Phillies) C Lou Marson, who becomes the fourth member of that team to make either the Hot Sheet or Team Photo. In the last seven days, Marson hit .375/.500/.500 (9-for-24) with five runs, one home run, seven RBIs, five walks and four strikeouts. Marson, 21, is a patient hitter who has 33 walks and 32 strikeouts, resulting in a higher OBP than slugging average with a .344/.460/.450 line in 187 plate appearances . . . High Class A Daytona's (Cubs) Tony Thomas 2B has struggled some this year, but has a multi-hit game in his last four starts and has a .435/.458/.739 line for the week in a tough league for hitters . . . Another week, another strong outing by low Class A Asheville RHP Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies). Chacin, 20, went eight innings for the third straight start on Monday against Columbus. He allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. Chacin leads the Sally League in wins with eight, is third in ERA and second in strikeouts . . . Double-A Springfield (Cardinals) RHP Jess Todd has been outstanding all season. The 22-year-old allowed one hit and no runs in seven innings this week, surrendering one walk and picking up four strikeouts. Since his promotion to Double-A, Todd has a 1.19 ERA in 22 2/3 innings with a 19-6 K-BB mark. With high class A Palm Beach, Todd had a 1.65 ERA with a 35-7 K-BB mark in 27 1/3 innings

NOT HOT

Brandon Jones, lf, Braves. While it was a banner week for young Braves like Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman (and RHP Charlie Morton pitched well in Triple-A and SS Brandon Hicks has played well in high Class A), the opposite has been true for two of Triple-A Richmond's brightest prospects. Shortstop Brent Lillibridge is batting just .209/.272/.269 for the year, which obviously isn't good. But the stakes are higher for 24-year-old, lefthanded-hitting Brandon Jones, who entered the season ranked as the organization's No. 4 prospect. To this point, his season has been a disappointment: .258/.337/.371 with 14 doubles and two home runs, an evaluation compounded by a .105/.182/.105 (2-for-19) showing this week. Jones also has been eaten alive by lefthanders this season, as he's batting .196/.220/.268 with four extra-base hits and just two walks in 56 at-bats.

Jose Tabata, rf, Yankees. For a 19-year-old playing in Double-A, it's normal to expect plenty of failure. But in two months, Tabata has done plenty to drum up concern. The latest episode came yesterday, when Tabata was removed from the game in the fifth inning for "unspecified disciplinary reasons." According to Trenton manager Tony Franklin, "We had an in-house issue we needed to deal with. Don't ask me what it is because I'm not telling you,'' later adding that further discipline may be in store for Tabata. The Venezuelan native was already suspended earlier in the season after he stormed out of the clubhouse in the seventh inning after he struck out. And he's not exactly tearing it up on the field either: .235/.315/.283 in 213 plate appearances.

Chris Carter, 1b/dh, Athletics. For a guy who's value is tied to his bat, this is not the kind of week you want to see. Carter, 21, managed just one hit in 15 at-bats this week with high Class A Stockton and he's now 2 for his last 30. The hit was a double so it's not like his power has disappeared. He's just swinging and missing a lot. He struck seven times in those 15 at-bats and has a line of .067/.222/.133 in five games. He now has 60 whiffs in 184 at-bats this season and now sits at .212/.326/.457 in 51 games.

Glenn Gibson, lhp, Rays. Gibson was one of the New York-Penn League's best pitchers in 2007. He sported a 1.74 ERA through his first 10 starts before it ballooned to 3.10 after he tried to pitch through an illness in his final two outings. It turned out he had mononucleosis, and Gibson has yet to get on track at all in 2008 while pitching for low Class A Columbus. Gibson, 19, isn't overpowering and relies on his changeup and a savvy approach to pitching, but Sally League hitters have hitting him hard. He's 1-7, 7.24, batters are hitting at a .293 clip against him, and he has only one quality start out of the 11 he's made. His roughest outing of the year came last Friday in Hickory, when he surrendered eight runs on 10 hits in only three innings.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Brad Eldred, 1b, Charlotte. If anyone is capable of challenging Toledo's Mike Hessman for minor league home run supremacy this season, it's the 27-year-old Eldred, who has gone deep 19 times and trails Hessman by only one. The Pirates' sixth-round pick out of Florida International in 2002, Eldred enhanced his prospect status in 2003, when he clubbed 28 homers, and in 2004, when he slugged 38 more, but he's come up short in two big league trials (.199/.251/.419 in 236 at-bats). A minor league free agent sign by the White Sox last December, Eldred has connected for 140 home runs in his minor league career, and he ranks second in the minors with 50 RBIs and fourth with 31 extra-base hits.

HELIUM WATCH

ALEX COBB, RHP
RAYS
Team: low Class A Columbus (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why: 0-0, 0.00, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: If he was in any other system, Cobb would almost certainly be regarded as one of the better arms. But he can easily get lost in the shuffle in the Rays' stacked system. Cobb had a solid showing in the New York-Penn League a year ago and was named the Hudson Valley Renegades' pitcher of the year after going 5-6, 3.54 and leading the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. This year, he's been outstanding for Columbus. He's held opponents to two runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts, and his 2.13 ERA ranks 10th in the SAL. Most impressive, he's managed to go 6-3 for a struggling Columbus club that sits at 20-33 and in seventh place in the SAL's Southern Division. He had his best outing of the year on Tuesday in Asheville when he pitched seven shutout innings against one the SAL's best teams, allowing only one hit (an infield single). Yet in a sign of how things are going for Cobb and Columbus this year, he wasn't rewarded with a victory when his bullpen couldn't hold a 1-0 lead.