Prospect Hot Sheet: June 27-July 5

Not enough of a prospect for the Hot Sheet, too young for Blast From
The Past and too old for Helium Watch, it is a conundrum that we often
face when putting together this list.

This week, the player that fits that bill is Dodgers righthander T.J. Nall. The
25-year-old moved into the Double-A Jacksonville rotation on May 28 and
since then he has won all eight of his starts. In those eight starts,
he has 77 strikeouts in 61 innings with a 1.33 ERA. Opponents are
hitting just .167 against him.

An eighth-round pick in 1999 out of Schaumberg (Ill.) High, is having
by far the most successful season of his career. The only other stop in
his minor league career that would approach it would be his 43 innings
of relief for low Class A South Georgia in 2002 when he posted a 0.63
ERA. He didn’t make Hot Sheet because he is not enough of a prospect (short righthander with fringe-average stuff) at
this point, but his performance warrants mentioning.

This week’s list is headlined by Homer Bailey, whose performance gets
better and better as he moves up the minor league ladder. We also
worked in Edinson Volquez, who finally cracked the list.

Remember, this is not a rewrite of our Top 100 prospects list. This is simply a snapshot of which prospects are currently riding the biggest hot streaks.

If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail Chris Kline or Matt Meyers with your kudos or complaints.


1. Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds (Double-A Chattanooga)
reports on Bailey over his first three starts–all wins–in the
Southern League have been as impressive as his numbers there. In 17
innings, the 20-year-old righthander has yet to allow an earned run,
given up seven hits, struck out 22 and walked just four. His fastball
has been in the 96-97 mph range, topping out at 98, and his 12-to-6
curveball has been a major asset. The big news concerns his changeup,
which has developed into an average to above-average offering this
2. Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville)
he dominated the high Class A Florida State League, but has kicked it
into second gear in his first two starts after being promoted to
Double-A. He’s worked seven innings in each, whiffing 16, walking two
and holding opponents to a .167 average.
3. Brandon Wood, ss, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
started off slowly in the Texas League this season, but has upped his
average to .300 for the first time since April 27 after another solid
week. The 21-year-old shortstop now has 30 doubles to go along with his
18 bombs, but those strikeouts remain high. In 307
at-bats, Wood has fanned 100 times. The good news, however, is he’s
walked 40 times, compared to just 48 in 2005.
4. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Diamondbacks (High Class A Lancaster)
has come on like gangbusters as he hit .424 in June with two
homers. He is working on improving that power, though, as he is 5-for-13 in July with
three homers.
5. Edinson Volquez, rhp, Rangers (Triple-A Oklahoma)
last start was mediocre, but he earns a spot for his incredible June
performance. Consider this a Hot Sheet “makeup call.” In June he was
1-0, 0.84 with just nine hits allowed in 32 innings.
6. Shin-Soo Choo, of, Mariners
was a big week for Choo as he went 18-for-31 with three homers for
Triple-A Tacoma before getting promoted to the big leagues to replace
the injured Jeremy Reed.
7. Jay Bruce, of, Reds (Low Class A Dayton)
Boss is back and there are a list of numbers that prove he belongs. Was
it is his .520 average last week? His .404 average in June? Maybe it is
the fact that he leads the Midwest League in slugging, extra-base hits
and slugging? You choose.
8. Scott Elbert, lhp, Dodgers (High Class A Vero Beach)
Elbert ended a stellar month of June with a flourish, striking out a career-high 13 in 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against Daytona last week. That effort improved him to 2-1, 1.01 with a 40-13 K-BB ratio in 27 June innings. He followed it up with four scoreless in his first start of July. And he’s still just 20 years old in the Florida State League.
9. Donald Veal, lhp, Cubs (High Class A Daytona)
Veal, a second-round pick a year ago out of an Arizona community college, pitched his way out of the Midwest League with a 5-3, 2.69 first half at Lansing, and he’s been even better in three starts since a promotion to Daytona. Veal has yet to allow an earned run in his first 18 2/3 Florida State League innings, and he picked up his first high Class A win with seven innings of three-hit ball Tuesday against Brevard County.
10. Reid Brignac, ss, Devil Rays (High Class A Visalia)
Visalia played seven straight games against Stockton, sandwiched around the all-star break, and Brignac posted multiple hits in six of those contests. He also was named the outstanding player for the California League in the all-star game against the Carolina League even though he made two errors and was picked off a base–at the plate, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI.


Robbins, 3b, Twins (Low Class A Beloit):  Pro ball has yet to
prove difficult for this Georgia Tech alum. He skipped short-season
ball and in his first seven games as a pro he is hitting .500/.545/.846.
Matt Sulentic, of, Athletics (Short-season Vancouver): No
high schooler had better stats then Sulentic this year, and he keeps
hitting as a pro and against mostly college kids to boot. He has begun
his career 16-for-46 and is seventh in the Northwest League in hitting.
Howie Kendrick 2b, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake):
Never known for his power, Kendrick exploded for nine home runs in
June. If this pop is for real, he could be better then we thought.
Deolis Guerra, rhp, Mets (Low Class A Hagerstown): The
17-year-old is being given more innings and is coming on strong. In
his last six starts he is 3-1, 1.77 with a 21-8 strikeout-walk ratio in
30 innings.
Dana Eveland, lhp, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville): It was a fine week for the husky lefthander as Eveland allowed only one run in 13 innings while striking out 20.
Matt Maloney, lhp, Phillies (Low Class A Lakewood): Like
Volquez, his last start was rough by his standards, but his June was
too good to be ignored. He was 3-0, 0.33 for the month in 27 innings.
The one blemish was 14 walks.
Shairon Martis, rhp, Giants (Low Class A Augusta): After
no-hitting Panama in the World Baseball Classic, Martis posted a 5.91
ERA through May. Since then, he is 2-1, 1.50 and has allowed only one
run in his last 19 innings.
Delmon Young, of, Devil Rays (Triple-A Durham):
Gives a licking, and keeps on hitting. Young has shaken the rust off
after his 50-game suspension and went 13-for-24 last week while hitting
his first home run of the season. 
Jesse Litsch, rhp, Devil Rays (Double-A New Hampshire): He
struck out five and walked none in his first Double-A start as he
continued to demonstrate the fine strikeout-walk ratio he had in the
Florida State League, where it was 80-8.
Michael Bowden, rhp, Red Sox (Low Class A Greenville): He outdueled Greensboro’s Sean West last night and has allowed just two earned runs in his last 26 innings.
Chris Iannetta, c, Rockies (Triple-A Colorado Springs): Raked
at Double-A and hasn’t stopped in the Pacific Coast League. Since being
promoted on June 26, Iannetta is 11-for-27 with a pair of homers.
Jamie D’Antona, 3b/1b, Diamondbacks (Double-A Tennessee):
Currently riding a 16-game hit streak, D’Antona is putting his down
year in 2005 behind him and re-establishing his prospect status for the
Billy Butler, of, Royals (Double-A Wichita): Four multi-hit games in his last seven, Butler continues to mash just 181 miles away from Kansas City.
Adam Loewen, lhp, Orioles (Triple-A Ottawa): Sure,
he’s coming down from the big leagues and tasting Triple-A for the
first time in his career, but Loewen could be back in Camden Yards soon
after going 1-0, 0.00 with a 17-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 14 innings
with the Lynx.
Mark Reynolds, if/of, Diamondbacks (high Class A Lancaster): The versatile Reynolds leads the Cal League with 22 homers and is second in batting (.335) and RBIs (73). He has seven bombs during his current 18-game hitting streak.


Jared Lansford, rhp, Athletics (Low Class A Kane County)
he threw a no-hitter and flirted with another, his peripherals
indicated he was bound for a rude awakening. He got it in June when he
was 2-3, 7.66 with 11 strikeouts and 10 walks. On the season, his ERA
is still a respectable 3.76, but he has 30 walks and 29 strikeouts in
65 innings.
Zach Simons, rhp, Rockies (Low Class A Asheville)
the Old Cowboy in The Big Lebowski said, “Sometimes you the eat bear,
and sometimes, the bear, well, he eats you.” Simons has been getting
eaten lately. Eaten alive. Opponents hit .415 off of him in June and he
has allowed at least five runs in five of his last six starts.
Dustin Nippert, rhp, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Tucson)
gopher ball has been his undoing of late as he has allowed four in his
last two outings. Beyond that, he has surrendered 21 runs in his last
21 innings.
Felix Pie, of, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa)
wheels have come off for Pie, whose 4-for-31 week is just a symbol for
his struggles since April. Coming out of the gate hot, it appeared Juan
Pierre was just a temporary fixture in center field at Wrigley. However,
Pierre can rest easy, as Pie is hitting just .227 since the start of
May. During that time, Pie has struck out 64 times in 229 at-bats.
Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Phillies (Double-A Reading)
you can say anything good about Gio’s recent string of starts, it’s
that he hasn’t lost the ability to strike batters out. Since June 1,
Gonzalez has labored mightily, posting a 6.49 ERA with 18 walks in 34
and 2/3 innings. However, the stuff is there, as Gonzalez has struck
out 40 batters.  The main problem has been the longball, as
Gonzalez has allowed 10 home runs during that streak, including at least one in
his last eight starts.


Zack Greinke, rhp, Royals (Double-A Wichita)
still just 22 and with 328 major league innings under his belt, tossed
a two-hitter Monday night against Springfield to improve his season
line to 3-1, 5.91. On the heels of four straight shaky starts, the
Royals were hoping Greinke, formerly their No. 1 prospect and 14th-best
in baseball entering the 2004 season, had turned a corner with his
taming of the Cardinals. The righthander struck out the final three
batters of the game and reportedly hit 95 mph in the ninth.


Steven Johnson, rhp, Dodgers (Rookie-level Ogden) 
son of ex-major leaguer Dave Johnson, Steven turned heads last spring
when he beat Brandon Erbe in a contest of Maryland’s top two prep arms.
His senior spring included a perfect game, a no-hitter, two one-hitters
and two two-hitters. Wooed away from Boston College after being selected
in the 12th round, Johnson has been fantastic in the
Rookie-level Pioneer League. In his last two starts, the righthander
hasn’t allowed a run in 13 innings, striking out 18 while allowing just
6 baserunners.