Prospect Hot Sheet Chat: June 27

Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Hellickson close to making the list this week? 7 innings of 1-hit ball,
plus a promotion to Montgomery is certainly commendable by anyone’s
standards. Can’t wait to see how he performs tonight. Your thoughts?

Nathan Rode:
Welcome back to another Hot Sheet everyone. Hellickson is always a
candidate for the Hot Sheet and you’re right, his numbers are worth
considering, especially with the promotion. But with the pitchers we
had this week, only four strikeouts isn’t going to cut it. Other guys
had more innings and more whiffs. It’s no knock on Hellickson, just the
way the chips fall sometimes.

 Q:  Jim from Salt Creek, KS asks:
Do you think Chris Davis will stick in the majors with Texas, now that he’s been summoned? Thanks…

Matt Eddy:
He will give the Rangers a lot more stability at first base, in time,
than Chris Shelton or Ben Broussard. Davis may go through a few rough
stretches as he gets his big league career started, but he’s got true
70-80 power. That will play eventually.

Matt Eddy: It
wouldn’t be surprising, frankly, if he goes on a rookie home run
rampage, a la Ryan Bruan, Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard from recent years.

 Q:  Stevesy from Athens, GA asks:
No Richard Castillo? He’s only 18, in two games between A+ and A, he had a 9.1 IP, 1.92 ERA, 12 K.

Nathan Rode:
You’re right about the numbers, but the dates of those games suggest he
was demoted. Maybe he shouldn’t have been in High A in the first place,
but a demotion is a red flag on Hot Sheet consideration, whether your
numbers are good or not.

 Q:  James from Warrensburg, MO asks:
If Cody Johnson cuts his SO’s down just a little more do you think he could see an appearance on the hot sheet?

Jim Shonerd:
Certainly, he’s a good prospect and he’s in an age-appropriate league,
so he’ll merit consideration when he has big weeks. This was his first
big week in a while, as he’d gone over three weeks without a multi-hit
game, but he’s a guy we’ll keep a look out for. It’s good to see that
he’s cut down on the K’s, but he’s still not walking much either. So
he’s still got things to work on, but making more consistent contact is
a start.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Campbell has sort of come out of nowhere for me this year. Given the
uncertainty surrounding Aaron Hill’s status of late, could he be given
a look sometime this year? How does he compare with Emaus and/or
Tolisano? Thanks.

Matt Eddy:
Campbell, the New Zealand-born 10th-round pick from Gonzaga (2006),
entered the year with a career .393 on-base percentage, so he clearly
knows how to work a count. Unfortunately, he’s an average-at-best
defender at second and offers very little speed and no power. That’s a
tough profile to project as a regular. Aaron Hill is safe.

Matt Eddy:
Some question whether Emaus has the actions to stick in the middle
infield, but if he can’t stay at second, his bat may be good enough for
regular play at third or as a part-timer in the outfield.

Matt Eddy:
Tolisano, a switch-hitter taking in the second round in 2007, has by
far the most offensive potential of the three, but is a bit stiff at
second base, showing fringy range and struggling to turn the double

 Q:  Steve from Fairfax, VA asks:
kind of numbers/ growing pains should we expect from Wieters now that
he’s in AA? Also, how will his presence in the lineup affect Nolan
Reimold? Can Reimold expect to see better pitches now?

Nathan Rode:
It’s hard to predict future numbers, level by level, but as good as
Wieters is, I don’t think he’ll have any prolonged struggles. If he
does, that’s not a bad thing. You’d rather see a prospect struggle so
he can show you how he gets out of it. Also, I spoke to Wieters at the
Cal-Carolina League All Star game this week. He’s very mature,
confident and doesn’t seem fazed by anything. I doubt he’ll run into
much trouble and if he does, he’s the type of player that could get out
of it in a timely manner.

Nathan Rode: And just an
interesting side note: I stood behind the cage for Wieters’ BP session.
I haven’t seen such strength that close before. His bat speed was
incredible and the sound the ball made was somewhat deafening. It was
pretty impressive. Not too mention he’s a monster. Made me look a lot
shorter than I already am.

 Q:  Anton from the Bronx asks:
Brett Gardner finally closing in on those comparisons to Jacoby
Ellsbury? I know the power is still a question, but doesn’t that OBP
mark make Gardner just as valuable?

Matt Eddy:
Gardner could be a poor man’s version of Ellsbury, as they say, but his
top two tools — speed, defense — still fall short of the Boston
center fielder’s. And Ellsbury has more power and better bat control.
That’s not a knock, because Gardner could be quality leadoff batter,
capable of working deep counts and intelligently stealing bases.

 Q:  Greg from Los Angeles asks:
hot sheet, happy to see some new faces on there this week. I know this
might be a stretch, but Mike Jones of Greenville in the SAL has been
having a monster season. Is it hard for him and guys like him to break
the prospect list because they are in the lower levels (and in his case
has Lars Anderson blocking his promotion path) Keep up the great work

Jim Shonerd:
It’s not so much the level as it is his age. Jones is 23 and still in
Low A. We give extra credit to players who are young for their leagues,
but that goes the other way for guys like Jones. You’ll probably never
see a player over the age of 21 from Low A make the Hot Sheet. But
that’s why we created the “Men Among Boys” section, so that we can give
guys like Jones some kind of recognition.

 Q:  mikeyt from east hampton asks:
How good of a prospest is Ruben Tejada. he is 18 in High A St. lucie and after a tough start is hitting over .400 for June

Nathan Rode:
Tejada is interesting. He seemed to be in way over his head in the FSL
at the tender age of 18. The numbers spoke for themselves: .231 .300
.306 in April, .194 .257 .233 in May, but in June he’s shown some
maturity by sticking to it and working out of slumps. He’s hitting .373
.424 .482 in June. That’s a pretty good turnaround. Hopefully he can
continue to play well the rest of the way. It’s hard to say where he’ll
be in 4+ years, but he’s certainly a guy to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Wally from LA asks:
has Peter Bourjos done to progress so much this season? His overall
numbers are quite impressive, considering BA has questioned his hitting
the past couple seasons. How do his tools play out right now?

Nathan Rode:
Bourjos has great speed and has shown an improvement in making contact.
He can play the heck out of center field too. In his defense his 2007
season was probably affected by the hand injury he suffered on just Day
2. And he told us that his hitting isn’t a product of the Cal League
because he’s not a power hitter. He’s just making contact now and using
his speed on both sides of the ball. He’s got 37 stolen bases and has
been caught just twice.

 Q:  Gregory from Youngstown asks:
Michael Saunders and Aaron Cunningham comparable prospects? I love both
of their games! Of the two, who has the bigger MLB upside?

Matt Eddy:
Bet on Saunders between the two. The 21-year-old center fielder has
handled the transition to Triple-A well, and he’s got serious tools,
athleticism and ability.

Matt Eddy: He’s got 20-home run
potential in the majors, a good batting eye and tick above-average
speed that may attrition as he grows into his frame. Saunders has the
arm for right field, but he might be able to stick in center.

Matt Eddy: Cunningham is a gamer, but he doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, lending concern that he may be a tweener.

 Q:  Dan from England asks:
on Cahill and Anderson in their AA debuts? Did they get any
consideration? Anderson especially has been dominant since coming off
the DL

Nathan Rode:
Anderson had a quality start, plus double digits in strikeouts. Pretty
good for your first game at Double-A. I’m sure the two runs, thought
not bad, hurt him in consideration. There were just some outstanding
pitchers this week. Cahill also had a quality start, but he walked
three and hit two. That’s not Hot Sheet worth.

 Q:  Jorge V from Bronx, NY asks:
Rays are loaded w/ top prospect players. Tim Beckham this year and
Price last year. When would we see the day that the Rays do not get the
1st pick?

Nathan Rode:
Considering the Rays are in second place in the AL East and not
anywhere near the worst record in baseball, I would guess the day they
don’t get the No. 1 pick will fall somewhere in the first week of June

 Q:  mike from oakland asks:
Cahill/Anderson best combo of SP at the moment?

Nathan Rode:
You could argue that, but the Rays have a pretty ridiculous rotation at
Double-A now with Davis, McGee, Price and Hellickson. That’s just

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
the influx of promotions recently for young pitchers (all 21 or
younger) jumping to AA—Cahill, Anderson, Hanson, Hellickson,
Price…is this level the strongest right now for future MLB frontline
starters? Including Tillman, Inman, and Garrison, how would you rank
this list?

Generally speaking, Double-A always is home to the brightest prospects.
It’s the toughest jump in the minor leagues, and those who distinguish
themselves at the level are usually the best bets.

Matt Eddy:
Price, Cahill and Tillman would rank at the head of the Double-A class.
You can rearrange them however you like and have a defensible reason. I
like Hanson a bit more than Anderson and Hellickson, and then Garrison
and Inman in the next tier.

 Q:  Dan from Atlanta asks:
Schafer, Heyward, Hernandez, Jones, and Francoeur; Who are the odd man out for Braves outfield spots?

Matt Eddy:
Heyward is in the picture, definitely, and let’s give the benefit of
the doubt to Francoeur, assuming the Braves don’t trade him. (They’ve
renewed his contract each of the past two seasons, rather than reaching
an agreement on salary, and you wonder if that may affect their

Matt Eddy: That leaves two spots to fill.
Jones can’t match Hernandez or Schafer in terms of speed or defense,
and both outfield corners are already filled, so Jones is out.

Matt Eddy:
Hernandez vs. Schafer is largely a matter of taste. Hernandez bats
righthanded and offers better speed and defense, while Schafer bats
lefty and has proven himself at a higher level. Tough call, but I’ll
say Schafer.

 Q:  Mike from San Francisco asks:
Giants fans be worried about the low batting average and high amount of
strikeouts villalona has had? Is he going to be another Wily Mo Pena?

Jim Shonerd:
Villalona has shown he’s not overmatched as a 17-year-old in a
full-season league, which is impressive on its own. He just struggles
with righthanded pitching right now (whereas he’s slugging .594 against
lefties). He may wear down as the season goes on, but he’ll probably
end up with around 15 home runs and I wouldn’t fret too much about
wherever his final numbers end up. Plus he did have a walk-off hit the
other day, which is never a bad thing.

 Q:  Eric from Atlanta asks:
Many have called Hanson a mid rotation starter, but with increased velocity, why isn’t he considered more than this?

Nathan Rode:
It takes more than just velocity to be a top of the rotation guy. It
takes at least a couple of above-average pitches. Hanson’s fastball is
average to above and his curveball is probably above-average, but his
changeup is just average. He has command of all three however. And
there are so few pitchers that are actual top of the rotation material,
that’s tough company to be in.

 Q:  John from Wisconsin asks:
Weiters in Baltimore in 2009?

Nathan Rode: Yes. At what point is more of a mystery, but it will be hard to hold him back for long.

 Q:  Matt Hahn from San Fran, CA asks:
Is Daniel Bard destined for a career as a middle-reliever? Is he the air apparent to Pappelbon or will be a starter again?

Nathan Rode:
I think you mean heir apparent. He will not replace Papelbon. Papelbon
is just better and still young. Bard probably won’t return to a
rotation, but if he can get a hold of that fastball and find a
secondary pitch he could be an effective reliever.

 Q:  Max from Florida asks:
Will the D-Train ever pitch in the majors again?

Nathan Rode:
Being a Tigers fan, the D-Train situation this season has been slowly
killing me. Given his contract and the time he’s spent in the majors
before I would bet a lot that he’ll be back at some point. Whether
he’ll be effective remains to be seen. Excuse me while I go vent about
him now…

 Q:  Marcus from Silver Spring asks:
How would you rank these three low class A outfielders: Michael Burgess, Jason Heyward, Michael Stanton?

Jim Shonerd:
Heyward is the No. 1 of that group and in my mind he’s the best
prospect in Low A this year. Stanton and Burgess are pretty similar.
Both have excellent power. Both strikeout a lot right now, but are
gradually cutting down the K’s and upping their walks. That one’s
really a toss up, but I think I’ll go with Stanton since he could be
the better all-around player and he’s shown he can hit for a higher
average at this point. Both of them have big league power potential

 Q:  Nick from New York asks:
there any word about the possibility of a promotion to AA for Henry
Sosa? He’s been mowing down hitters in the hitter-friendly Cal League.

Nathan Rode:
I imagine they’ll be patient considering he’s recently coming off an
injury. He is pitching very well in a tough league so I wouldn’t be
surprised if a promotion is in order by the end of the year, but I’d
let him settle in first after missing almost the first two months.

 Q:  Ryan from Annapolis asks:
that the AS game is over, will Wieters and Arrieta join Tillman and
Reimold in Bowie? Also, with Arrieta hitting 96 at the AS game, what do
you see his ceiling to be?

Nathan Rode:
Well it was announced today that Wieters is going to Double-A. Arrieta
shouldn’t be far behind. He was consistently 95-96 in the all star game
this week.

Nathan Rode: And that’ll do it for me. Thanks again for great questions everyone. See you next week.

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
Freddie Freeman? He was 9-26, 2HR, 8RBI, 6R…as an 18-year old in the
Sally League! He’s been a force all year…did he garner a few second
looks? And, will he and Jason Heyward be on about the same
developmental curve, i.e., one league, one advancement each season?
Thanks for the chats!

Jim Shonerd:
Freeman was nominated, but overall this was a tough week for hitters.
Heyward and Freeman could well be a tandem as they head up the minor
league chain. Heyward’s abilities look advanced beyond his years with
the numbers he’s put up as an 18-year-old, but having a threat like
Freeman hitting behind him in the order certainly helps.