Prospect Hot Sheet: Can’t Hit Scherzer

See also: Last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet

Another week, another Hot Sheet. And as usual, it’s top to pick between some of the hottest prospects in the minors. Do you prefer the utter domination of Max Scherzer’s strikeouts or Trevor Cahill’s ability to deal with the conditions of the California League?

Those are the kind of decisions where there is not a wrong answer, but you’ll see that there are plenty of top performers to fill the list.

To be considered for the list, a player must still have prospect
eligibility. That is, he can have compiled no more than 130 at-bats or
50 innings in the big leagues. Of course, we give extra weight to those
those prospects who are performing in adverse conditions or to those
younger players who are performing against advanced competition.

And do remember that this is not a new version of our Top 100 Prospects. Instead it’s a ranking of which prospects are hot right now.

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


Team: Triple-A Tucson (Pacific Coast)

Age: 23

Why he’s here: 0-0, 0.00, 12 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 22 SO

The Scoop: Scherzer pitched deep into his first start of the week (7 IP) while expending just 83 pitches, and fanned 11 of the 25 batters to oppose him, then struck out 11 of the 18 batters he faced at Sacramento on Thursday night, giving up just two hits and needing 81 pitches. Long term, Scherzer probably profiles best as a top-flight reliever, but if he keeps pitching like this, he’ll make the Diamondbacks’ decision difficult.



Team: High Class A Vero Beach (Florida State)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K

The Scoop: The Rays have moved Hellickson slowly through the minors and it certainly hasn’t hindered his performance. He’s fourth in the league in ERA (1.00) and tied for first with strikeouts (23). He more than doubled his strikeout total this week with a baker’s dozen against Jupiter.



Team: High Class A Stockton (California)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.82, 11 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 17 K

The Scoop:
It seems Cahill hasn’t figured out where he is yet. The California League is supposed to make pitchers cower in a dark corner, but Cahill has been brilliant so far in the hitter’s league. He leads the league in wins (3), is tied for second in strikeouts (21) and is yet to give up a home run.



Team: Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast)

Age: 24

Why he’s here: .500/.594/1.000, 13-for-26, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 9 R, 6-3 BB-K

The Scoop:
Clement clubbed a pair of homers in 16 big league at-bats last September, after hitting 20 for Tacoma during the minor league season. He hit well .500 with power and patience this past week as the Rainiers tried to keep pace with red-hot Salt Lake in the Pacific Conference. While the Mariners’ big league offense is doing fine at the moment, they’ll have to soon make room for Clement. He’s nabbed 2 of 12 basestealers (17 percent) this season and can’t match the arm strength of Kenji Johjima, but he would add a new dimension—namely, lefthanded power to go with Raul Ibanez—to Seattle’s offense.



Team: High Class A Lakeland (Florida State)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: .591/.679/1.045, 13-for-22, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 8 R, 2-for-3 SB, 1 K, 4 BB, 2 HBP

The Scoop: In 2004, Iorg ranked third among Tennessee’s high school prospects, behind only David Price and Twins first-rounder Kyle Waldrop. As we all know, Price went to Vanderbilt and was the first pick overall in 2007, and Iorg joined him for a year in the SEC, at Alabama. After a two-year Mormon mission in Portugal, Iorg was selected in the sixth round by the Tigers, despite not playing baseball for two years. He’s knocked off the rust with aplomb, going on a six-game hitting streak and three-game homer streak



Team: Double-A New Britain (Eastern League)

Age: 22

Why he’s here: 2-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 14 SO

The Scoop:
Swarzak dazzled opposing hitters this week. His five scoreless innings with four walks and no strikeouts on Friday against Portland was a nice performance. What catapulted him to this position on the Hot Sheet this week was his complete dominance of New Hampshire on Wednesday, when he struck out 10 with no walks in six scoreless innings. Swarzak missed valuable development time last year while serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a recreational drug, but he’s still age-appropriate for his level of competition. His 0.56 ERA on the season is second in the Eastern League among qualifying pitchers, and his 18-1 K-BB ratio isn’t too shabby either



Team: Triple-A Rochester (International)

Age: 22

Why he’s here: 1-1, 1.50, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER 0 HR, 2 BB, 15 SO

The Scoop:
Twins fans will be watching everyone they got from the Mets in the Johan Santan deal, and so far Mulvey has brought the best return of the pitchers involved in the trade. Mulvey doesn’t walk batters and doesn’t give up home runs, so his stepped-up strikeout rate (20 in 17 2/3 innings thus far) augurs well for his future. After handcuffing righthanded batters last season, Mulvey has limited lefties to a .175 average so far



Team: Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast)

Age: 23

Why he’s here: .364/.464/.773, 8-for-22, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 R, 4-4 BB-K

The Scoop:
You won’t find many more prospect-laden Triple-A offenses than Tacoma’s. Clement we’ve touched on, but the Rainiers also sport catcher Rob Johnson, first baseman Bryan LaHair, second baseman Yung Chi Chen, third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo and Balentien. Like Clement, Balentien has caught fire this week—not coincidentally, Tacoma spent four days in Colorado Springs—but he has the raw power to go deep in any park in the country. He’s 23 and still improving his batting eye and power efficiency, so there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about Balentien’s future, in both Tacoma and Seattle.



Team: High Class A Frederick (Carolina)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .368/.500/.684, 7-for-19, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 1 IBB 4 K, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop:
No one can get the Six Million Dollar man out. While Wieters hasn’t shown quite as much power as he will in the future, it’s still only the first two weeks of the season and he’s showing great plate discipline with 10 walks (plus one intentional) to his five strikeouts. He’ll start racking up more at-bats too, as in the first week the Carolina League started a day later than the rest of the minors and he attended the funeral of a former Georgia Tech teammate this week



Team: Double-A Akron (Eastern League)

Age: 23

Why he’s here: .375/.385/.875, 9-for-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 7 R, 1-4 BB-K

The Scoop:
Say hello to your Eastern League home run leader. The No. 3 prospect in the Indians system leads the EL with five homers and is in the middle of a nine-game hitting streak, with at least one hit in 12 of Akron’s 13 games. His best performance this week came on Tuesday against Binghamton, when Hodges had three hits—including two home runs—and drove in seven runs. His two walks in 57 plate appearances this season aren’t a good sign, but his college and pro track record says he’ll be patient enough for his hit and power tools to play as he keeps getting closer to Cleveland



Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas League)

Age: 23

Why he’s here: .333/.429/.875, 8-for-24, 1 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 4-5 BB-K

The Scoop:
Already with his third organization, Ramirez isn’t exactly in an ideal situation with the Rangers. The team has Gerald Laird in the big leagues and Jarrod Saltalamacchia a step ahead of Ramirez in Triple-A, and the Rangers are having him split time between catcher and DH with Taylor Teagarden with Frisco. Ramirez is making sure he’s not a forgotten prospect. He slugged .875 and hit four home runs this past week, and his OPS is now up to 1.002 through 13 games. At some point in the year, the Rangers will likely bring Saltalamacchia up to the big leagues and in turn promote either Teagarden or Ramirez to Triple-A to give each player more time to develop their defensive skills. We know Ramirez can hit, with homers in each of his last three games



Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas League)

Age: 21

Why he’s here: .429/.448/.714, 12-for-28, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 1-3 BB-K

The Scoop:
At a position that sometimes delays the offensive development of players due to its defensive rigors, Anderson’s bat is already ahead of the curve. A lifetime .305 minor league hitter coming into the season, Anderson is still young for his level. He’s been mostly a singles hitter since signing in 2005, but one-third of his hits this week went for extra bases. Anderson has the hit tool to take him to the major leagues, but it’s his defense that needed the most work coming into the season, so it’s a good sign that he’s already thrown out seven of 16 basestealers (43 percent)



Team: Low Class A Beloit (Midwest)

Age: 20

Why He’s Here: .471/.545/.941, 8-for-17, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 4-3 BB-K

The Scoop:
Even though Parmelee is repeating Low Class A in 2008 after hitting .239/.313/.414 there in 2007, he’s making the most of the assignment. The 20th overall pick in the 2006 Draft, Parmelee never seemed to get comfortable at the plate in 2007, but he’s returned to the swing he had in high school after making some changes in his first full season, and the results are strong. Parmelee’s week was highlighted by a seven RBI game against Dayton on Tuesday


Before he got a bit banged up, Reds OF Jay Bruce (.333/.333/.714) was continuing to rake at Triple-A Louisville, hitting safely in 10 of 11 games . . .Yankees C Jesus Montero (.385/.429/.462) had a hit and an RBI in every game this week for low Class A Charleston, including four RBIs on April 11 against Rome, and leads the Sally League with 14 RBIs . . . Marlins RF Mike Stanton (.357/.400/.607) had his 11-game hitting streak snapped Thursday but was hitting for power as an 18-year-old SAL rookie . . . Polished Giants 2B Nick Noonan (.387/.406/.613) isn’t quite Trevor Immelman hot, but he had two three-hit games on the week and scored at least once in nine of Augusta’s last 10 games . . . Red Sox C Jon Still (.345/.441/.793) hit his minor league leading seventh home run Thursday night . . . Compared to previous starts, Braves RHP Tommy Hanson (5 IP, 6 SO, 0 ER) wasn’t ridiculous but also wasn’t bad last week. With 26 K’s, second in the minors behind Scherzer, he has allowed just four hits in 16 innings . . . Mariners CF Michael Saunders (.440/.462/.680) has shown the five-tool potential and athleticism in his first foray to Double-A as a 21-year-old. While he’s not drawing the walks ideal for a leadoff hitter, he’s hitting more than enough for the role, one he might reprise for Canada’s Olympic team this summer . . . Mets 1B Mike Carp (.556/.586/.889) is doing his best to resuscitate his prospect status
and had as good a week as any minor leaguer, with a 15-for-27 week that
included two homers at Double-A Binghamton. Most encouraging, he’s off
to an 8-for-23 start against lefthanded pitchers with three homers
after posting a .418 OPS against LHPs last year. He’s going to have to
keep that up (or a reasonable facsimile) to avoid being a platoon
player in the future, however.


Colby Rasmus, cf, Cardinals. The big league Cardinals have enough outfield depth to let Rasmus (.120/.290/.120 this week) develop at his own pace—even if he was demolishing the PCL. He’s not, so Rick Ankiel, Brian Barton, Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick can carry on as they were.

John Jaso, c, Rays. Jaso (.095/.240/.095 this week) struggled with his receiving abilities and controlling the running game this week. Normally Jaso, the catcher for Double-A Montgomery, tries to make up for it with an above-average bat, but he managed only a pair of singles this week and grounded into three double plays. On the positive side, Jaso’s patience remained steady as he drew four walks.

Jason Place, cf, Red Sox.
Place (.154/.185/.192 in 26 at-bats this week), the Red Sox first-rounder in 2006, advanced to high
Class A Lancaster to take advantage of the altitude and winds. The
hoped-for confidence boost has not materialized, as he hit just
.154/.185/.192 in 26 at-bats and has one extra-base hit this season

Kevin Ahrens, 3b, Blue Jays. The Jays’ 2007 first-rounder (3-for-21) has continued his
malaise from last year’s pro debut (.230/.339/.321 in the GCL). The
Lansing third baseman hit a triple Thursday night, his first extra-base hit in 10


Terry Tiffee, 1b/3b, Triple-A Las Vegas (Dodgers). He’ll be 29 on Sunday, and Tiffee was skipped over by the Dodgers on several occasions this spring despite their need for help at third base. Guess that means he’s a 4-A guy. In other wonderful news, his batting average dropped 103 points last week, from .613 to a minor league-best .510, and his 26 hits lead the minors as well. Hitting at Vegas’ Cashman Field all season, Tiffee should put up some sick numbers—he’s already 19-for-31 at home with eight extra-base hits. If you haven’t snagged him in your PCL fantasy league, what are you waiting for?


Reds GM Wayne Krivsky could use a big year from righthander Daryl Thompson (Double-A Chattanooga), considering he was a piece of that Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns for Bill Bray, Gary Majewski & Co. trade back in 2006. Thompson first burst on the scene back in 2003 for the late, lamented Gulf Coast League Expos, ranking 18th in the Expos’ Top 30 Prospects that year. The scouting report included a fastball that touched 94 mph with boring action, a quick downer curve and nascent changeup. With a trade and labrum surgery since then, but his velo’s back in the 90s, and he’s given up one lonely run and one lonesome walk in 17 2/3 innings while fanning 20 this season. At 2-0, 0.51, he’s back on the map at age 22 . . . Sally Leaguers Felix Doubront (Red Sox) and Chris Archer (Indians) have very different approaches and have yielded superficially similar, impressive results. Doubront, a 20-year-old Venezuelan lefty, got destroyed in a first-half stint at low Class A Greenville, going 3-7, 8.93 in 11 starts, and was a bit shell-shocked in the second half at short-season Lowell. The sinkerballer has found his bearings this season with the Drive, winning all three starts and pounding the lower half of the strike zone to the tune of a 17-1 K-BB ratio. He’s 3-0, 0.57. At 1-1, 0.63, Archer has similar numbers, but the 2006 fifth-round pick has a nasty curveball that helps him miss bats, to the tune of three hits allowed in 14 1/3 innings (.068 average). However, Archer also has walked 12 while striking out just 10. He’s athletic enough that control should develop, but obviously to this point it has not.