Prospect Hot Sheet: Aug. 14

See also: Previous

Because of the signing deadline, a majority of this year’s first-round picks are still unsigned. That’s not a problem for the Pirates’ Tony Sanchez, however. The fourth overall pick has been hitting since the moment he signed on June 12.

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 taken from the past week of games (Aug. 7-13).

Contributing: Ben Badler, Dan Budreika,
J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and



Tony SanchezTeam: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .500/.520/1.091 (11-for-22), 3 HR, 4 2B, 12 RBIs, 8 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: With a series of trades since taking over as Pirates general manager, Neal Huntington has dramatically retooled the makeup of Pittsburgh’s major league club and its farm system. But despite all the trades, the franchise-record bonus given to Pedro Alvarez last year and the seven-figure bonuses given to late-round draft picks like Robbie Grossman and Zack Von Rosenberg, the Pirates’ most intriguing new addition might be Tony Sanchez.

While Sanchez ranked as the No. 32 prospect going into the 2009 draft, the Pirates bucked consensus and took him fourth overall. Two months later, the former Boston College catcher is hitting .358/.465/.613 in 27 games with West Virginia with five home runs, 15 walks and 20 strikeouts. For all of the Pirates’ new additions, Sanchez is the player who could make the Pirates look brilliant if he pans out.



Pedro AlvarezTeam: Double-A Altoona (Eastern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .481/.548/.593 (13-for-27), 3 2B, 4 RBIs, 5 R, 4 BB, 8 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: One of the problems with analyzing high-profile prospects is that everything they do gets picked apart. When Alvarez (finally) signed, there were reports that he was out of shape. Then he supposedly came into spring training showing more dedication to his conditioning. Then he struck out at a high clip and didn’t get off to a great start with high Class A Lynchburg. Well, now with nearly one full season under his belt, Alvarez through 43 Double-A games has an OPS pushing 1.000 with a .338/.410/.575 batting line for Altoona. Sure he’ll strike out a fair amount, but Alvarez’s combination of patience and power make him a dangerous hitter.



Juan FranciscoTeam: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .500/.577/.864 (11-for-22), 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 3 SO

The day he was traded to the Orioles, Bell became Baltimore’s third baseman of the future. But he’s put an exclamation point on that by hitting .462/.548/.769 in his first eight games in Bowie. It’s worth also noting that Bell’s glovework impressed Southern League managers, a group that voted him the best defensive third baseman in the league. The only wart left on his game is his complete inability to hit lefthanders, which makes him a switch-hitter in name only. He has 13 home runs this year, and all have come from left side. Going back to ’07, when he made his full-season ball debut, Bell has hit 33 home runs from his strong side—and only one from the right side.



Randall DelgadoTeam: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 18 SO

The Scoop: While many teenagers in their first full seasons are running out of gas at this time of the season, Delgado has kept getting stronger. He started just 1-8, 5.45 through his first 16 starts for Rome, but he’s refined his command and gone 3-0, 1.45 in his last five outings, posting a 40-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 31 innings. In his first start of the week, Delgado tossed seven no-hit frames with nine strikeouts against Savannah, then followed that up with another nine strikeouts in five innings at Hagerstown. Those two performances upped his strikeout total for the season to 121 in 107 innings, ranking him fifth in the South Atlantic League.



Carlos CarrascoTeam: Triple-A Columbus (International)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.13, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 SO

One of two prominent members of this week’s Hot Sheet (Josh Bell is the other) to be traded at the trade deadline, Carrasco struggled in his first outing as an Indians farmhand. In his second start on Aug. 6, he allwed five runs in 7 2/3 innings. But he responded on Tuesday with his best outing on the season, thanks in part to being able to locate his changeup. He struck out a season-high 10 on his way to adding to his International League leading total of 133 strikeouts. Carrasco is now 3-0 since joining the Columbus rotation.



Christian FriedrichTeam: high Class A Modesto (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: You just don’t see this too often. Friedrich, the Rockies’ first-rounder last year, has allowed fewer earned runs per nine innings this season in the California League (1.32 in nine starts) than he did in the South Atlantic (2.18 in eight starts). Home or road, it’s made no difference—Friedrich has simply dominated Cal League competition, going 3-0 in nine starts while fanning 70, walking 18 and surrendering three homers over 54 2/3 innings. He ranks second overall in the minors in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), fourth in ERA (1.71) and fifth in opponent average (.193).



Trevor RecklingTeam:
Double-A Arkansas (Texas)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 4 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The Travelers have been one of the worst teams in the Texas League this season, but that’s not the case when Reckling takes the hill. He’s gone 7-4 for a team that wins just 41 percent of the time, all while posting a 2.53 ERA, second best in the circuit. And while his 61 walks also rank second in the TL, he has balanced that with a strong strikeout rate (90 in 114 innings) and the fact that he’s still just 20 years old. A young lefty with a firm fastball and two dependable secondary pitches, Reckling’s best work may still be in front of him.



Allen CraigTeam:
Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)

Age: 25

Why He’s Here: .381/.435/.901 (8-for-21), 2 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBIs, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Give some hitters a metal bat and they still might not be able to put up the numbers that Craig has lately. Yeah, a series in Colorado Springs probably helped this week, but Craig’s reign of terror on PCL pitchers has now stretched on for nearly a month and a half. He’s hitting .438/.491/.905 since the all-star break with 13 home runs in 116 plate appearances, bringing his slash stats for the season up to .312/.368/.534 with 21 dingers.



Carlos SantanaTeam: Double-A Akron (Eastern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: .455/.552/.773 (10-for-22), 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 R, 4 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: It can’t be easy for Dodgers fans to see both Santana and Josh Bell in this week’s top 10. Los Angeles traded both prospects in deadline deals for, respectively, Casey Blake in ’08 and George Sherrill this season. Santana has lived up to his billing as the Indians’ No. 1 prospect by batting .294/.416/.545 with 20 home runs on the year, all while showing good athleticism and strike-zone judgment.



Alex LiddiTeam:
high Class A High Desert (California)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .440/.462/1.000 (11-for-25), 2 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 3 E

The Scoop: Not even playing home games in High Desert can obscure the fine season turned in by Liddi, who turns 21 today. And bear in mind that the above performance was accomplished on the road, in three games at Lake Elsinore and three at Rancho Cucamonga. Batting .355/.414/.637 with 23 homers, 40 doubles and 90 RBIs on the year, Liddi has a chance when it’s all said and done to lead the minors in as many as six categories: slugging, average, hits, doubles, extra-base hits and total bases. If that happens, an assist will be credited to his home park, where he has a 1.225 OPS, but Liddi also has fared well on the road this season, batting .329/.365/.535 with six of his 23 homers.



Jordan LylesTeam: low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)

Age: 18

Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: The hard-throwing Lyles has continued carving up Sally League hitters, ranking second in the league with 146 punchouts in 123 innings. His fastball can reach the mid-90s, but Lyles still battles inconsistency, as you’d expect with a teenager in his first full season. His record is only 6-10, but he has a solid 3.27 ERA and hasn’t allowed a home run since June 5, a span of 11 starts. His start Tuesday against Asheville was one of his best of the second half, as he gave up a single in the first inning, then threw five hitless innings.


Brett JacksonTeam: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .400/.486/.733 (12-for-30), 3 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Tony Sanchez isn’t the only ’09 first rounder to get off to a hot start in low Class A. Jackson, the 31st overall pick from California, arrived in Peoria on July 31 and has put up a .328/.423/.574 line in 61 at-bats. An athletic, high-energy player with some pop in his bat, Jackson opened his week with a home run to lead off Peoria’s game last Friday against Wisconsin, and then slugged two home runs in an 11-1 thumping of Burlington on Wednesday. Jackson is on an eight-game hitting streak overall, a stretch that includes five multi-hit games.



Hector RondonTeam: Triple-A Columbus (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-1, 1.42, 12 2/3 IP, 15 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: Rondon’s advanced command of a lively fastball has helped him reach the upper levels of Cleveland’s minor league system at an age when most pitchers are stuck in the lower minors. He steered out of trouble this week and only allowed two earned runs despite his defense letting him down. The base paths were busy this week against Rondon while he surrendered 15 hits in his two starts. But he continued to miss bats with 11 strikeouts (9.07 SO/9 in seven Triple-A starts) and allowed only one walk. Rondon has cut down on his walks since his promotion. His walks per nine stands at 1.51 in Columbus after walking 2.00 per nine in Double-A Akron.



This is Domonic Brown‘s first appearance on the Hot Sheet this year, even if the 21-year-old right fielder has been a frequent visitor all year as Dominic Brown. It seems that Brown recently told the Phillies that they had been misspelling his name ever since they drafted him. But however you spell his first name, he’s one of the best hitters in the minors, as this week’s .360/.407/.720 line at Double-A Reading attests . . .  While it’s largely been a forgettable season for Double-A New Hampshire 1B David Cooper (Blue Jays), his bat has started to come alive in August. In the past two weeks with the Fisher Cats, the 22-year-old has hit .333/.431/.571 (14-for-42) with two homers, four doubles and six RBIs in 12 games . . .  Since the low Class A Midwest League all-star break, Lansing RHP Henderson Alvarez (Blue Jays) has been one of the circuit’s better pitchers. This week, the 19-year-old Venezuelan won his only start, pitching seven shutout innings while allowing three hits and striking out four. He walked nobody but did hit a couple of batters. Since the break, Alvarez has gone 4-1, 2.66 in nine starts, striking out 42 and walking seven (while allowing his only home run of the season) over 47 1/3 innings . . . Last year, Twins RHP David Bromberg led the minors in strikeouts. He won’t defend that crown, but it’s hard to argue with a 11-2, 2.60 season at high Class A Fort Myers. Bromberg has saved his best for August, as the 21-year-old threw a complete-game shutout this week in one of his two starts . . . When Matt Moore can command his pitches, low Class A hitters don’t have a chance. The lefty located his pitches this week, which explains his line of 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 9 SO. Moore, 20, leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 150. He managed to lower his ERA on the season to 2.64 this week and miraculously raised his jaw-dropping strikeouts per nine rate to a whopping 12.78, which leads the minors . . . After earning our top spot last week, Double-A Midland 1B Chris Carter has continued his assault on Texas League hurlers. Carter, 22, now leads the league in a number of offensive categories including slugging (.574), on base-percentage (.430) and home runs (22). Perhaps most surprisingly, he’s also the league’s current batting champion with a .333 mark. Carter smashed three more homers this week and went 7-for-21. Since the all-star break Carter is hitting .395 and and has a 1.148 OPS . . . The transition to Triple-A hasn’t gone too smoothy for Astros 3B Chris Johnson, but you wouldn’t notice that based on his numbers this week. Johnson hit .409 this past week and slugged 1.091 with four homers. On the year, he’s batting .264/.304/.438 for Round Rock.


Brad Lincoln, rhp, Pirates: Lincoln’s low-90s fastball and plus curveball are back after he missed the 2007 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. But he’s had a rocky time with Triple-A Indianapolis. Lincoln, 24, saw his ERA rise to 5.80 this week after allowing seven runs in three innings. He’s a strike-thrower, but Lincoln has just three strikeouts combined in his last three starts and just 22 punchouts in 40 1/3 Triple-A innings.

Daniel Moskos, lhp, Pirates: Few players have seen their stock plummet the way Moskos has in just two years. Moskos was the No. 4 overall pick out of Clemson in 2007,  when several scouts preferred him to Maryland lefty Brett Cecil, who went to the Blue Jays in the supplemental first round. But the reports lately on Moskos, 22, have not been kind, and the results haven’t been pretty either. Pitching for Double-A Altoona, Moskos has a 4.11 ERA in 116 innings with more walks (52) than strikeouts (50).

J.C. Ramirez, rhp, Mariners: The grind of the long season (not to mention the altitude and wind gusts at High Desert) finally appears to be getting to Ramirez, the Mariners’ 20-year-old fireballer. He’s gone 6-8, 5.19 through 23 starts, which actually isn’t bad considering the context in which he pitches his home games. And the home/road split is stark. In 14 starts in High Desert, Ramirez has posted a 6.35 ERA and given up 13 home runs; in nine road starts, the corresponding numbers are 3.60 and one. Still, over his past three starts—one of which was on the road—he’s gone 0-2, 12.54, having given up 16 runs on 17 hits, eight walks and three hit batsmen over 9 1/3 innings. 

Derek Norris, c, Nationals: The best hitter in the South Atlantic League looks like he might be hitting a wall. Norris, 20, hasn’t homered since July 27, though his 23 for the season still leads the league. He just broke an 0-for-August slump with a double in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday, and hit only .095/.231/.143 (2-for-21) on the week for low Class A Hagerstown. He’s still drawing his share of walks, as opponents aren’t about to challenge him even in the middle of a slump, but his average has dropped from .313 to .292 in the process.


Adam Fox, 3b, Rangers: At 27, Fox isn’t really a prospect, but it’s hard to find a hitter who had a better week than Fox, who hit .538/.556/1.154 with five home runs in 26 at-bats. In 77 games with Double-A Frisco, Fox is batting .282/.334/.516 with 17 home runs. It’s fair to say that 2009 has been a career year for Fox, a .246/.323/.389 career hitter in more than 2,500 plate appearances since the Rangers drafted him as a 10th-round pick from Ohio in 2003.


Back in 2006, Terry Evans became a regular part of the Prospect Hot Sheet discussions thanks to a 30-30 season that erased any memory of his awful .221/.285/.330 stats from the year before. The Angels traded Jeff Weaver for Evans that year, and like other prospects (like Brandon Wood), he’s found himself stuck largely in Triple-A purgatory at Salt Lake since then. He hit .316/.352/.512 at Salt Lake in 2007, but he’s been back there for most of the past two years. Evans is trying to hit his way back to Anaheim with a .400/.483/.800 week. As a 27-year-old, Evans doesn’t have much upside left, but he can play all three outfield positions, steal bases (25 steals in 28 attempts) and hit for power (57 extra-base hits).


Robert Stock, c, Cardinals: This stock is on the rise. Stock is well known for earning his GED and bypassing his senior year of high school so he could play at Southern California. Stock spent three seasons at USC and last June he became a rare draft-eligible 19-year old with college experience. A two-way player in college, Stock fared much better on the mound in his junior year (2.90 ERA in 78 innings) than at the plate, where he hit a lowly .226/.345/.453. The Cardinals drafted him in the second round, signed him a week later for $525,000 and declared that he would have a chance to play catcher for Rookie-level Johnson City. Through 107 professional at-bats, Stock is hitting .355/.426/.598 with five home runs in the Appalachian League.