Prospect Hot Sheet: June 18

See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheet

Our list this week is dominated by pitchers from the 2006 draft, with Max Scherzer, Joba Chamberlain and Clayton Kershaw all in the top 10–and Wade LeBlanc just outside it.

Because he’s found high Class A California League to his liking, Scherzer charts the highest here. And with 30 strikeouts in 17 innings, who can argue?

You might feel like arguing about the exclusion of a trio of Triple-A players, however: Rick Ankiel, Ian Stewart and . . . Nick Blackburn. Ankiel, who ranked No. 13 on last week’s Hot Sheet, hit four more home runs for Memphis since then to move into second place in the minors, four behind leader Craig Brazell.

Stewart, the Rockies’ third baseman, has hit for average all season with Colorado Springs, but has only recently increased his power output, hitting six of his nine home runs in June. In fact, he hit all six in a seven-game span.

If you haven’t been following the exploits of Blackburn, a Twins’ righthander, this month, here’s what you’ve missed: a pair of nine-inning shutouts and another start of eight scoreless frames. Since being called up to Rochester from Double-A New Britain, the 25-year-old Blackburn, a 2001 draft-and-follow sign, has gone 3-1, 2.03 for the Red Wings.

1. Adam Jones, of, Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners)

Jones has been steadily climbing the charts, ranking 15th and then third on our last two Hot Sheets. Not happy with his ranking, Jones took it up another level last week, hitting .387 with three homers, three doubles and seven RBIs in seven games for Tacoma.

The 21-year-old center fielder is now batting .408/.455/.817 in June with seven homers and six doubles in 16 games. After three straight Hot Sheet appearances, we’ve run out of superlatives for Jones, the Mariners’ top prospect, and criticizing any aspect of his play right now would just be nitpicking.

2. Max Scherzer, rhp, high Class A Visalia (Diamondbacks)

The 2006 first-round pick is proving that he was worth the wait. After showcasing his skills with independent Fort Worth before signing with Arizona just before the deadline, Scherzer has been overpowering in his three starts with Visalia–including a nine strikeout, three-hit gem on Sunday. He’s 2-0, 0.53 with 30 strikeouts and two walks in 17 innings.

3. Brandon Watson, of, Triple-A Columbus (Nationals)

It’s hard to be any hotter than Watson’s been over the past 43 games. His hit Sunday extended his hit streak to 43 games, surpassing Jack Lelivelt’s 95-year-old International League record. Just seven players in minor league history have had longer streaks. The question remains: Would the Nationals call him up during his run at history?

4. Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)

Chamberlain is finding the jump to Double-A easy. In fact, he’s finding it easier than high Class A, as his 1-0, 0.82 numbers in two starts attest.

5. Radhames Liz, rhp, Double-A Bowie (Orioles)

Since Liz threw a no-hitter and struck out 11 in a one-hitter, we’re willing to forgive a poor start (5 IP, 5 ER) in between.

6. Landon Powell, c, Double-A Midland (Athletics)

The switch-hitting Powell has hit .431/.513/.759 this month with five home runs. But the most shocking stat is his pair of triples.

7. Clayton Kershaw, lhp, low Class A Great Lakes (Dodgers)

Ten days of rest didn’t throw off Kershaw, as he pitched seven strong innings against Lansing to bring his ERA under two (1.89) on the year. He hasn’t allowed more than three walks in an outing since May 13.

8. Wade Davis, rhp, high Class A Vero Beach (Devil Rays)

After nearing double-digit strikeouts in each of his previous three starts, the 2004 third-round pick finally crossed the threshold by striking out 13 in 6 2/3 innings on June 11. Over his last four starts, Davis has yielded six earned runs while striking out 38 over 20 innings.

9. Henry Sosa, rhp, low Class Augusta and high Class A San Jose (Giants)

After an almost invisible ERA with Augusta, Sosa was called up to San Jose at the all-star break. In his first start for the Giants he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits and five strikeouts.

10. Steven Pearce, 1b, Double-A Altoona (Pirates)

After tearing through his second stint with high Class A Lynchburg earlier this season, Pearce has continued his success at the next level by hitting .312/.376./.573 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. He’s hit in 14 of his last 15 games and is .421/.435/.825 with five homers in June.

11. Eric Hurley, rhp, high Class A Frisco (Rangers)

The 21-year-old righthander is more than holding his own in the Texas League. And he’s proving to be a strikeout machine in June with 17 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.

12. Garrett Olson, lhp, Triple-A Norfolk (Orioles)

Already in Triple-A after being drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft, Olson, 23, has been one of the International League’s top pitchers, with 4-6, 3.75 numbers and a healthy 75-22 strikeout-walk ratio. He’s turned it on in June, going 1-1, 1.35 with 21 strikeouts and four walks in 14 innings.

13. Wade Leblanc, lhp, high Class A Lake Elsinore (Padres)

The Padres 2006 second-rounder has been touched for a few runs of late–five over his last three outings–but his walks-to-strikeout ratio has been impressive: 33-to-1 over his last 27 innings.

14. Jay Bruce, of, high Class A Sarasota (Reds)

Seemingly the only question surrounding the Reds’ 2005 first-round pick is how long he’s going to stay at Sarasota. The Hot Sheet regular has hit in six straight games, going 11-for-24 with six doubles during the stretch, upping his season averages to .327/.381/.581 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs.

15. Bryan Anderson, c, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals)

The Cardinals push their players aggressively, and the 20-year-old Anderson, a fourth-round pick in 2005, already has reached the Texas League. While it would be impressive if he were just holding his own, Anderson hit .579 last week and is now hitting .315/.383/.438 on the year.

16. Samuel Deduno, rhp, Double-A Tulsa (Rockies)

The light bulb has gone off for Deduno in his past two starts. After an ERA above 5.00 in May, Deduno allowed two runs in his past two starts, striking out 21 in 15 innings.

17. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, high Class A Clearwater (Phillies)

The Phillies top-ranked prospect got hit around early this season–yielding 17 earned runs in his first 32 innings–but has settled into a groove lately. He tossed a complete-game three-hitter in his last outing June 11, striking out nine with no walks, and has given up just one run while striking out 20 over last 24 innings (three starts).

18. Neil Walker, 3b, Double-A Altoona (Pirates)

When Walker moved from catcher to third base he said it would help his bat during the hot summer months. His .444/.500/.704 numbers in June bear that out.

19. Tyler Herron, rhp, low Class A Quad Cities (Cardinals)

Herron, a supplemental first-round pick in 2005, picked up a save in his only appearance this week, but it’s his work in the June that caught our attention. With 3-0, 0.53 numbers–with 21 strikeouts and just one measly walk–Herron’s ERA has been bettered only by Kershaw among Midwest League pitchers in June.

20. Wes Hodges, 3b, high Class A Kinston (Indians)

Hodges has hit safely in 10 straight games since returning to the lineup from a two-week stint on the disabled list with a broken tow. He’s hitting .475/.543/.625 with a home run and nine RBIs during the stretch.


Wade Townsend, rhp, low Class A Columbus (Devil Rays)

The Rays’ first-round pick in 2005, Townsend continued to struggle this week after giving up eight earned runs in five innings. After going 3-1, 2.25 in April he went 0-3, 5.19 in May and is now 1-1, 8.40 in June.

Colby Rasmus, of, Double-A Springfield (Cardinals)

While his fellow 20-year-old teammate Bryan Anderson is raking, Rasmus is cooling off as the weather heats up. He’s hit .100 (4-for-40) over the past 10 games with 12 strikeouts.

Evan Longoria, 3b, Double-A Montgomery (Devil Rays)

Longoria’s season has been what the Devil Rays expected, as he’s hit for power (15 home runs) and gotten on base (.392 on-base percentage), but he’s struggled in June, hitting .152 with four RBIs in 13 games.

Kyle Waldrop, rhp, Double-A New Britain (Twins)

Waldrop appeared on the fast track after going 4-2, 2.86 with 41 strikeouts and 10 walks with high Class A Fort Myers and earning a promotion to Double-A. But Waldrop has yet to duplicate that success and has struggled with his control in five starts with Rock Cats–going 1-3, 6.21 with 19 strikeouts and nine walks in 29 innings. He was touched for seven earned runs in six innings in his last start on June 8.

Zach Segovia, rhp, Triple-A Ottawa (Phillies)

Segovia’s June has been unimaginably bad: 14 2/3 innings, 29 hits, four walks and five strikeouts. The predictable results: 0-3, 9.82.


Anthony Recker, c, high Class A Stockton (Athletics)

A 2005 18th-round pick from Division-III Alveria (Penn.) College, Recker was a raw project when he signed. Two years later, the 23-year-old catcher has made massive strides. He’s hitting .319/.402/.609 for the season and has been even better this month (.344/.432/.797).

Josh Kroeger, of, Double-A Tennessee (Cubs)

Kroeger, the minor league batting leader with a .389 mark, is no stranger to huge seasons. Now with his third organization, the 24-year-old outfielder batted .332/.376/.587 in half a season with Triple-A Tucson in 2004–and hit almost identically well at Double-A El Paso that year. Kroeger, who was selected by the Diamondbacks in the fourth round of the 2000 draft, has hit .542 in June to wrestle the batting title lead from Nathan Haynes and to bump his season line to .389/.456/.620.

Manny Parra, lhp, Double-A Huntsville (Brewers)

Signed for $1.55 million as a 2001 draft-and-follow, Parra has been effective when healthy, but injuries have limited him to an average of fewer than 100 innings per year in his four full seasons. The 24-year-old Parra has gone 7-3, 2.68 in 13 starts this year, but it’s his work in June that gets him the nod here. In 22 June innings, Parra has gone 2-0, 1.64 while striking out 21 and walking just six. Parra has retained his plus fastball velocity–up to 94-95 mph–and now his control is beginning to come back after ongoing shoulder injuries.