Each Friday, the Prospect Hot Sheet singles out the prospects who had the best week, weighing raw performance, prospect status, age compared to level and the environment in which they play. Bear in mind that this is not a re-ranking of our preseason Top 100 Prospects list--it's a snapshot of top performances by prospects during the period May 10-16.
Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Jim Shonerd.
1. Archie Bradley, rhp, Diamondbacks
Team: Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00,6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 SO
It’s a sample of two, so make no sweeping conclusions from this, but last year the Orioles did everything but wrap Dylan Bundy in bubble wrap in an effort to protect their prized pitching prospect. He started the season throwing three-inning stints before being slowly stretched out at higher levels. By contrast, the Diamondbacks let Archie Bradley--the second prep pitcher drafted in 2011--make a full allotment of 27 starts with no strings attached.
Now a month and a half into the 2013 season, the Orioles are hoping a platelet-rich plasma treatment will heal Bundy’s aching elbow, while Bradley has reached Double-A and thrived. He aced the California League already this season (1.26 ERA, 4.3 K-BB ratio in five starts), and now he’s dominating the Southern League to the tune of a 0.64 ERA in three starts. When talking about elite pitching prospects, one can’t mention many names before you get to Bradley, who ranks second in the minors with 63 strikeouts and fifth with a 1.05 ERA.
2. Luis Sardinas, ss, Rangers
Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Why He’s Here: .452/.471/.645 (14-for-31), 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 R, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SO, 3-for-3 SB
A prospect like Sardinas reminds us why tools and age are so important in player evaluations. His raw numbers last season at low Class A didn’t mark him as an elite prospect, though his feel for hitting, speed, range and youth all did. Sardinas put those tools to good use this week, legging out four extra-base hits and swiping three bags, and he’s now hitting .307/.361/.387 through 38 games on the season. He ranks among the Carolina League leaders in average, stolen bases (12) and hits (46).
3. Noah Syndergaard, rhp, Mets
Team: high Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 2.70, 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 10 SO, 0 BB
Since being lit up for seven runs in three innings during his April 18 start, Syndergaard has taken out his frustration on hapless Florida State League batters. In his last five turns he’s logged a 1.07 ERA over 33 2/3 innings, notching 33 strikeouts, six walks and allowing zero home runs. Scouts say his breaking ball has shown improved power and depth this season, and if that patterns holds then it may be time to start thinking of Syndergaard as an upper-tier pitching prospect.
4. Taylor Guerrieri, rhp, Rays
Team: low Class A Bowling Green (Midwest)
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 SO
Guerrieri's season was off to a nice if somewhat quiet start at Bowling Green, his first stop in a full-season league. Pitching only once a week in the Hot Rods' six-man rotation and being limited to no more than five innings in any start, he hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his first five outings. He was electric on Sunday against Lake County though, fanning a career-high 10 batters over five innings and permitting only one hit, a fourth-inning single.
5. Rafael DePaula, rhp, Yankees
Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 12 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 23 SO
What else is there for DePaula to prove in the South Atlantic League? Given that he had never pitched in the United States before, it made sense for the Yankees to start DePaula at their lowest full-season affiliate, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much benefit to leaving him there any longer. DePaula struck out 23 of the 45 batters he faced to re-claim the minor league strikeout league with 69 whiffs in 39 1/3 innings. With his 2.75 ERA and 15.8 strikeouts per nine innings and the potential for three plus pitches, DePaula is showing frontline stuff and has the potential to move quickly.
6. Drew Vettleson, rf, Rays
Team: high Class A Charlotte (Florida State)
Why He’s Here: .417/.517/.708 (10-for-24), 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB
Vettleson teetered perilously close to not-so-hot status in April, hitting .191 with a .496 OPS. The change in month has brought about a change in fortune for the lefty-hitting right fielder, who rapped four extra-base hits in six Florida State League games this week. He’s now hitting .385/.450/.635 with a pair of homers, five doubles and a triple through 13 games in May.
7. Kolten Wong, 2b, Cardinals
Team: Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Why He's Here: .423/.483/.692 (11-for-26), 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB
About the only thing Wong doesn't do as a top-of-the-order hitter is draw many walks (eight in 36 games with Memphis), but that's more forgivable since he carries a robust .302 career average in the minors. He makes hard contact and lots of it. He's registered multiple hits in four of his last five games to up his average to .314 after 156 at-bats on the season.
8. Anthony Rendon, 3b, Nationals
Team: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: .455/.520/.818 (10-for-22), 2 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBIs, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 SO
Rendon collected his first six big league hits while filling in for an injured Ryan Zimmerman last month, but his mastery of the Eastern League suggests that Nationals fans can expect many more offensive fireworks down the road in Washington. Only Erie catcher Ramon Cabrera and his .351 average stand in the way of Rendon leading the EL in all three slash stats--he’s hitting .348/.483/.620 through 92 at-bats--and he’s gone 18-for-44 (.409) with three homers since rejoining Harrisburg on May 4.
9. Christian Yelich, lf/cf, Marlins
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Why He's Here: .333/.455/.792 (8-for-24), 3 HR, 2 2B, 8 RBIs, 8 R, 7 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB
With the Marlins' willingness to bring young players up to Miami, it feels like just a matter of time before Yelich's call comes. In the meantime, he's continued raking against Southern League pitching, moving up to second in the league with a .337 average on the year. He did pretty much all his damage this week in two games, putting up consecutive three-hit games Wednesday and Thursday, including homers in his first two at-bats on Wednesday in Mobile.
10. Eddie Butler, rhp, Rockies
Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 SO
A supplemental first-rounder from Radford last year, Butler hasn’t let the South Atlantic League’s most unforgiving home park slow him down. He ranks third in the league in ERA (1.49), first in innings (48 1/3) and second in WHIP (0.85) after his latest masterpiece, a home start against Greenville that registered an 84 game score. If you’re expecting the Rockies to bump Butler to the California League right away, then you might want to consider the context. Colorado let 2011 first-round college lefty Tyler Anderson spend the entire summer (20 starts) in Asheville a year ago.
11. Carlos Contreras, rhp, Reds
Team: high Class A Bakersfield (California)
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
Bakersfield has the second-worst record in the minors (11-29), and among the 10 California League clubs they rank eighth in runs scored and seventh in ERA. Against that backdrop, Contreras has given the Blaze a ray of hope. Moved to the rotation after spending the past two seasons as a strong-armed reliever, he still sits 92-96 mph, has a good breaking ball and a usable changeup. Contreras has a 1-4 record, but he’s kept his team in almost every game he’s pitched, and a 3.40 ERA in Bakersfield is excellent, especially when it comes paired with 52 strikeouts and 13 walks in 42 innings.
12. Christian Villaneuva, 3b, Cubs
Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
Why He’s Here: .435/.500/.739 (10-for-23), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB
With Adrian Beltre on their big league roster and Mike Olt dominating in the upper levels of the minors last year, it made sense for the Rangers to include Villanueva in last summer’s trade to acquire Ryan Dempster. Villanueva got off to a sluggish start, but this past week has been better. He probably won’t see time in the big leagues this year, but he has a chance to be a contributor in Chicago by 2014.
13. Mike Wright, rhp, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Why He’s Here: 2-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 14 SO, 2 BB
What he lacks in terms of put-away stuff, Wright makes up for with durability and command of the strike zone. The 2011 third-rounder has completed six innings in each of his past four starts, in that time allowing just four runs (zero homers) and posting a 25-4 K-BB ratio over 24 innings.
IN THE TEAM PHOTO
Michael Wacha, rhp, Cardinals. St. Louis keeps waiting for 2012 first-rounder Wacha to trip at Triple-A Memphis so they can see how he responds to adversity. But after another strong outing this week (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 SO at Tacoma) the 21-year-old just hasn’t given the organization that opportunity. He’s 3-0, 1.40 in his last six starts, having allowed six runs on 21 hits in 38 2/3 innings with a nifty 29-9 K-BB ratio.
Victor Payano, lhp, Rangers. The 6-foot-5 southpaw ranks second in the Carolina League with 50 strikeouts and fourth with a .197 opponent average for high Class A Myrtle Beach. The 20-year-old Payano is riding high off two great starts in a row, during which time he’s struck out 13, walked five and allowed one run and five hits over 14 innings.
Josh Phegley, c, White Sox. The 25-year-old is hitting .342/.406/.693 and leading the International League in slugging for Triple-A Charlotte. The '09 supplemental first-round pick went 10-for-24 (.417) with three homers and four doubles this week, driving in eight and striking out just twice. The White Sox might not be able to resist calling up Phegley for much longer--Chicago backstops are hitting .189/.261/.346 on the year.
Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies. The breakout year for Franco continues. After hitting two home runs yesterday, the 20-year-old is up to .291/.341/.557 in 38 games in the high Class A Florida State League.
Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates. The 21-year-old bounced back from his worst start of the season with one of his best. After allowing seven hits and four runs over three innings for Double-A Altoona on May 7, Taillon stifled Richmond for six innings on Sunday, striking out eight and walking three. Being the youngest hurler in the Eastern League (born one month before Reading’s Jesse Biddle) hasn't fazed Taillon, as he's whiffed 47 batters in 44 2/3 innings for Altoona while putting up a 2.82 ERA, meaning he should be on the short list for best pitching prospect in the minors at the end of the year.
Alex Colome, rhp Rays. Colome ranks among the Triple-A International League leaders in both strikeouts (second with 51) and opponent average (fifth among starters at .209). The 23-year-old righty lowered his ERA to 2.84 with seven dominant innings this week, during which he struck out 11 and allowed two runs on three hits. It was his second straight double-digit strikeout game.
Yordano Ventura, rhp, Royals. Some of Ventura's numbers a getting downright silly for the Double-A level. The 21-year-old had a 16-inning shutout streak snapped Thursday, but he still hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his eight starts for Northwest Arkansas, putting together a 1.79 ERA while striking out 56 and permitting just 24 hits in 40 1/3 innings. He wound up fanning 13 while allowing five hits in 11 innings over two starts this week.
Daniel Corcino, rhp, Reds. Corcino's control, or lack thereof, has gone from troubling to rather alarming. His walk rate spiked last year to 4.08 per nine innings, up from 2.20 in 2011, and it's climbed further this year to 4.63 (18 walks in 35 innings) at Triple-A Louisville. He's not fooling batters, either, allowing a .327 average to go with a 7.20 ERA. He walked six, threw two wild pitches and hit a batter in 10 innings this week while giving up seven earned runs on 12 hits.
Donn Roach, rhp, Padres. The 23-year-old sinkerballer allowed his first three home runs of the season in his Monday start at Corpus Christi, an outing in which he allowed 10 runs on 10 hits over four innings. Roach has been tough to beat at home at the pitcher’s haven that is Double-A San Antonio (1.71 ERA in four stats), but it’s been a different story on the road (8.84 ERA, 30 hits, eight walks, eight strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings).
Hanser Alberto, ss, Rangers. Alberto’s bat-control approach enabled him to hit .299 across two Class A levels last season, but that same approach is going to lead to occasional 2-for-27 (.074) weeks like the one he experienced with Double-A Frisco this time. The 20-year-old has struggled to meet the speed of play in the Texas League, batting .248/.283/.284 through 37 games.
Pat Light, lhp, Red Sox. Light signed for $1 million as Boston’s supplemental first-round pick last year out of Monmouth, pitched well in the short-season New York-Penn League after signing and has been getting smoked in his full-season debut. The 22-year-old gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start, sending his ERA with low Class A Greenville up to 7.71 with 21 runs allowed in 21 innings. Given Light’s college experience, he shouldn’t be getting hit around like this in the South Atlantic League.
Henry Urrutia, rf, Orioles. Praver Shapiro Sports Management represented a handful of prominent Cuban prospects who signed last year using permanent Haitian residency documents despite openly living and training in the Dominican Republic. That raised eyebrows at the U.S. Consulate and got players like Urrutia, Cubs righthander Armando Rivero and Yankees lefthander Omar Luis stuck in Cuba for six months while they were waiting on visas. That proved most costly for Rivero and Luis, who are now being built back up and will likely be assigned to short-season clubs in June. For Urrutia, his visa issues delayed him getting started with Double-A Bowie until a month ago, but he’s been crushing the ball since he arrived. The 26-year-old is hitting .378/.440/.622 in 21 games, so given his age and track record in Cuba, it shouldn’t be long before he gets the bump to Triple-A.