Prospect Hot Sheet: May 21

Pedigree matters when it comes to the Prospect Hot Sheet. So when we have a week like this one, where some of the brightest stars all have great weeks, it makes for an easy selection process. Stephen Strasburg is already a household name, and Carlos Santana, Mike Minor and Mike Moustakas may one day join his company.

You may have noticed that the Prospect Hot
Sheet looks a little different this year. The content is the same, but
we’ve partnered with Bowman Baseball to present Hot Sheet. So in
addition to getting the skinny on which prospects are doing the
most to help their stock, you can also get a glimpse at the baseball
cards of some of baseball’s best prospects.

As we
have warned for years now, remember that this is not a re-ranking of
the Top 100 Prospects. This is a snapshot of which top prospects are
excelling and which ones are struggling right now. Stats cover the
dates May 14 through last night, May 20.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Jim



Team: Triple-A Columbus (International)

Age: 24

Why He’s Here: .375/.467/.782, (9-for-24), 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: The only race in which the Indians are still alive is for the distinction of being baseball’s most disappointing team, where the Orioles are giving them a run for their money. Cleveland’s staring catcher, Lou Marson, is hitting just .213/.278/.258, so you may wonder why Santana is still playing for Columbus. After all, there’s no real question that his bat is ready for the big leagues.

Santana has been one of the most consistent hitters in the International League all season. He leads the IL with his .446 on-base percentage and ranks in the top 10 in batting (.336) and slugging (.588). The one thing holding Santana back: his receiving isn’t that polished yet. According to opposing managers, he needs to work on framing pitches. He’s also struggling to throw out baserunners, as his 6-for-30 (20 percent) success rate is worst in the IL. But with a bat like Santana’s, it pays to be patient.



Team: Double-A Mississippi (Braves)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: When the Braves drafted Minor, they were supposed to be getting a polished lefty with a feel for pitching and good command—but a less-than-impressive fastball. But this year Minor’s 88-89 mph fastball has sat 90-93 and has touched 95. He hasn’t really overhauled his delivery, so the velocity seems to have come from just getting an offseason to rest and recover after a busy college/amateur career. It took a little while for Minor to harness that increased velocity, but now that he has, he’s been dominating Double-A. He was thought of as a relatively safe pick but with limited upside, but no expectations have been adjusted upward.



Mike MoustakasTeam: Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Texas)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .444/.531/.926 (12-for-27), 4 HR, 1 2B, 12 RBIs, 7 R, 4 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: After a subpar year in one of the toughest hitter’s parks in one of the toughest hitter’s leagues, Moustakas is emerging as an elite prospect in Double-A. He hit just .205/.266/.373 in 63 home games last season while playing for Wilmington in the Carolina League. Free from those confines, Moustakas has hit .489 (23-for-47) with eight home runs at home this season, while his 10 homers overall put him in a nine-way tie for eighth place in the minors. Coming off consecutive seasons of 22 and 16 home runs, Moustakas is on pace to breeze past those totals. But don’t read too much into the walk total above just yet—he drew one intentional pass this week, and the same is true for four of 13 walks on the season.



Stephen StrasburgTeam: Triple-A Syracuse (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9 SO, 2 BB, 7/2 G/F

The Scoop: Strasburg gave up four runs in his final start with Double-A Harrisburg, but no one can touch him in Triple-A, where he’s now strung together 18 1/3 scoreless innings. (The recent standard bearer among IL hurlers: Rochester’s Nick Blackburn went 44 1/3 straight innings in 2007 without allowing an earned run.) The scary thing regarding Strasburg’s stint with Syracuse: he’s given up just four hits in his three starts, to go with a sparkling 22-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. On the season, he’s has gone 6-1, 0.89 through eight starts, striking out 49, walking 10 and allowing just 17 hits in 40 1/3 innings. No, Strasburg may not be far behind fellow 2009 first-rounder Drew Storen on the road to Washington.



Jordan LylesTeam: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Sure, maybe the Astros skipped Lyles over high Class A Lancaster because they didn’t want to subject him to the most brutal park for pitchers in the minor leagues. But the teenaged righthander is demonstrating that even Double-A hitters can’t make him work up too much of a sweat. Unless Lyles all of a sudden starts to scuffle in Triple-A, there’s a pretty good chance he could be in the Astros’ big league rotation as a 20-year-old, which would put him in elite company. His 2.47 ERA in 51 innings ranks sixth in the Texas League and his 42 strikeouts are tied for third. Lyles doesn’t have overpowering velocity or a knockout pitch, but he’s an outstanding athlete with the ability to locate that’s well beyond his years.



Julio TeheranTeam: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)

Age: 19

Why He’s
0-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: The No. 6 spot on the Hot Sheet has seemingly been reserved for young Braves pitchers. Two weeks ago, Teheran occupied this spot. Last week he relinquished it to teammate Randall Delgado. But Teheran has moved back in this week. Actually Teheran and Delgado could have shared the position after they both pitched on one of the longest days of baseball in Myrtle Beach history. Delgado pitched well in the first game of the doubleheader, while Teheran threw the first seven innings of a 20-inning marathon in the nightcap. Teheran is one of the youngest pitchers in the league, but with an easy 92-95 mph fastball, his stuff more than makes up for what he lacks in experience.



Kyle GibsonTeam: Double-A New Britain (Twins)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.26, 14 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 16 SO, 22/5 G/F

The Scoop: When Gibson developed a stress fracture in his right forearm that caused his fastball to drop to the mid-80s in his final college start, it just might have been the best thing to happen for the Twins in last year’s draft. Worries about Gibson’s health dropped the Missouri pitcher’s stock, but the Twins took a gamble on him with the 22nd overall pick. Consider it a wise investment. Gibson had no difficulties in his first two Double-A starts this week, and between Double-A and high Class A Fort Myers, Gibson has a 1.97 ERA in 50 1/3 innings. He has shown good control and is averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. What really separates Gibson, however, is a lethal low-90s sinker, which has helped him get nearly six times as many groundouts as flyouts.



Dayan ViciedoTeam: Triple-A Charlotte (International)

Age: 21

Why He’s Here: .333/.355/.667 (10-for-30), 4 2B, 2 HR, 5 R, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1 HBP

The Scoop: Let’s start with the good. After struggling mightily in his first pro season last year with Double-A Birmingham, Viciedo is batting .294/.325/.523 with nine home runs in 40 Triple-A games. He’s been a masher at home, benefiting from a hitter-friendly park in Charlotte to the tune of .327/.383/.691, and he’s crushed lefthanded pitching. A defensive liability last year at third base, Viciedo has moved to first base and made just one error. Yet there are still reasons to be skeptical. Viciedo has drawn just four walks all season, and away from Charlotte he’s hit .276/.290/.429. The power is very real, but Viciedo will have to do a better job recognizing offspeed pitches and working the count if he’s going to be able to make his good start sustainable.



Hak-Ju LeeTeam: low Class A Peoria (Midwest)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .375/.464/.542 (9-for-24), 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBIs, 7 R, 4 BB, 5 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Lee endured a cold stretch in late April and early May that saw his average dip as low as .234, but his bat’s been warming up since. He has hits in eight of his last 10 games and has been considerably more patient in recent weeks than he was in the first month of the season. He’s already drawn 10 walks in 17 games in May after drawing just five in all of April. Lee is still having his ups-and-downs in the field, with 15 errors through 36 games at shortstop, but the fact that he’s holding his own in a tough hitter’s league as a teenager is encouraging enough.



Reymond FuentesTeam: low Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .370/.370/.667 (10-for-27), 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 3B, 9 RBIs, 4 R, 7 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: After keeping his head above water in his first month of full-season ball, Fuentes has come on since the calendar turned to May. He hit .246/.319/.377 in April, not terrible for someone his age and experience level, but he’s gotten hot in May, batting .309/.347/.500. He’s also proven to be an adept basestealer for someone his age, as the former high school track athlete has gone a perfect 13-for-13 stealing bags, including three this week. The highlight of his week came Sunday in Lexington, when Fuentes went 4-for-5 and came within a home run of the cycle.



Steven HensleyTeam: Double-A West Tenn (Southern)

Age: 23

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 SO, 0 BB, 12/6 G/F

The Scoop: Hensley tossed eight shutout innings in a win at Mississippi this week, but his run of dominance extends farther back than that. In his past four starts for the Diamond Jaxx, he’s gone a perfect 4-0, 0.70, while striking out 25, walking seven and allowing just 12 hits. An unmatched competitor with the system’s best slider, Hensley got off to a rough start, walking eight and allowing five runs in his first two starts. But that hasn’t inhibited his overall line. Hensley leads the Southern League with a 1.03 ERA while also holding opposing batters to a .160 average, which also paces the circuit.



Jorge ReyesTeam: high Class A Lake Elsinore (California)

Age: 22

Why He’s Here: 2-0, 1.50, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 12 SO, 2 BB, 17/5 G/F

The Scoop: After a star-crossed career at Oregon State, Reyes signed at the deadline last year for $200,000—nice money for a 17th-round pick. He used a strong Cape Cod League showing to entice San Diego to fork over the dough. Reyes made just three starts in the short-season Northwest League after signing, so he embarked on the California League this season as one of the circuit’s greenest pitchers, at least in terms of pro experience.

So while Reyes has had his hiccups in high Class A, he also turned in the two fine starts above (at home against Lancaster and Stockton) for a first-place Lake Elsinore squad. In fact, if you remove his disastrous May 4 start (eight runs in 2 1/3 innings), Reyes’ ERA plummets from 4.43 to 2.82. Either way, his peripherals have been very encouraging, especially the fact that he has yet to surrender a home run through 40 2/3 innings.



Arodys VizcainoTeam: low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)

Age: 19

Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Coming off his worst start of the year, when he was touched up for six runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings at Savannah on May 13, Vizcaino responded beautifully, shutting down Charleston for eight innings on Tuesday. Vizcaino’s low-to-mid 90s fastball and plus curveball are enough to dominate almost any low Class A lineup, and he has a 40-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio to show for it through 43 2/3 innings. The teenaged righthander has started 5-3, 3.71 and, if he can find a bit more consistency, might not be far behind Julio Teheran on the road to Myrtle Beach.



High Class A Inland Empire OF Kyle Russell’s career has been filled with qualifiers. He led college baseball in home runs as a draft-eligible sophomore, but scouts weren’t so sure his swing would translate to wood bats, so he went back to Texas for his junior season. After being drafted in the third round in 2008 by the Dodgers, Russell hit 26 home runs in Great Lake last year, but that came with a couple of caveats—he also struck out 180 times and was old for the league. This year Russell, 23, is doing much of the same—he’s batting .329/.422/.599, and he hit four home runs this week, but he’s also struck out 49 times in 40 games and he’s producing those numbers in the hitter friendly California League. Concerns about Russell’s strikeouts will continue, but if he keeps hitting home runs, he’ll keep getting chances to move up . . . Triple-A Louisville LHP Travis Wood (Reds) would have been the Reds’ fifth starter coming out of spring training if it wasn’t for Mike Leake and his straight-from-college-to-MLB act. Leake has pitched well enough that Wood clearly isn’t going to get a shot unless there is an injury, but he’s been busy enough trying to straighten out his own season. Wood had allowed 11 runs in his past 11 1/3 innings before throwing a gem on Tuesday. He tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts as he allowed one run in eight innings . . . Indians RHP Joe Gardner is quickly rising up the organization’s prospect list. The 22-year-old made two starts this week for high Class A Kinston without allowing an earned run (though he did allow three unearned runs in his first start) over 11 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts and five walks. Gardner does an outstanding job pitching off his sinker, a low-90s offering with heavy action that gives his infielders plenty of work . . . Giants LHP Eric Surkamp threw the high Class A California League’s first complete game shutout of the season Sunday against Bakersfield. The 22-year-old with San Jose went the full nine innings allowing just two hits, one walk. He struck out seven. Surkamp isn’t overpowering, but he led the Giants’ system in strikeouts last year with 169 and has handled the jump to the Cal League with ease, going 2-1, 2.05 through 44 innings . . . Angels RHP Fabio Martinez registered his third double-digits strikeout performance of the season last Sunday when he fanned 12 Clinton batters in seven innings. He struck out nine in another one of his starts, meaning that the 20-year-old fireballer, who pitches for low Class A Cedar Rapids, has registered nine or more strikeouts in four of his seven starts. Naturally, he leads the Midwest League with 59 whiffs. What made Martinez’s May 16 outing so encouraging was that he didn’t walk a batter (he’s still averaging six per nine innings on the year), while allowing two runs on four hits . . . Low Class A Clinton’s Nick Franklin (Mariners) went 7-for-20 (.350) this week while smacking a double, a triple and three home runs (.950 slugging). He even drew a pair of walks and struck out just four times in six games. Franklin’s eight home runs rank third in the Midwest League, while he trails only first baseman Jerry Sands when it comes to slugging, extra-base hits and total bases. Did we mention that Franklin is a 19-year-old shortstop in his first full professional season? . . . Triple-A Fresno LHP Madison Bumgarner (Giants) got rocked for 11 runs on 21 hits in his first two Pacific Coast League starts. But after a seven-inning, complete-game shutout Monday at Oklahoma City, the 20-year-old had quietly strung together a run of strong outings. In his past six starts, Bumgarner has gone 3-0, 1.54 while striking out 26, walking 11 and allowing just 22 hits (only one home run—back on April 19) in 35 innings.


Todd Frazier, lf/3b/1b, Reds. The Reds stationed Frazier at third base last week (partly because Juan Francisco is recovering from an apendectomy) after giving him a long trial in left field, with a few games at first base interspersed throughout. However, none of the positions have served to get the 24-year-old’s bat going with Triple-A Louisville. Frazier’s batting line dropped to .192/.285/.317 (23-for-120) on the season after a brutal 2-for-24 (.083) week in which he struck out 10 times.

• Martin
, lhp, Rangers.
With the caveat that’s he’s pitching in Double-A at the age of 19, Perez has nevertheless been roughed up in his last couple of outings for Frisco. He gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings against Corpus Christi last Friday, then allowed Midland seven runs on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings Wednesday. His ERA jumped from 2.45 to 4.91 after those two outings, his first losses of the season. Corpus Christi and Midland were facing him for the third and second time, respectively, and with there being just eight teams in the Texas League, we’ll see how Perez responds to some adversity against
teams that are growing familiar with him.

Matt Moore, lhp, Rays: Stuff is not a question with Moore. He throws 89-93 mph, has a wipeout curveball and a promising changeup that could become a plus pitch in time. Yet Moore’s biggest issue has always been command. While he made great strides in that area in the second half of last season, the 20-year-old’s control has been shaky this year with high Class A Charlotte, where despite 50 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings, his ERA sits at 6.51 ERA with 25 walks allowed. Moore’s latest start certainly didn’t help, as Tampa rocked him for seven runs (six earned) in five innings with four walks, two hit batsmen and a wild pitch.

Ryan Jackson, ss, Cardinals. Jackson was a glove-first shortstop coming out of Miami, where the Cardinals took him in the fifth-round last year. He hit .360 as a sophomore for the Hurricanes in 2008 but has struggled to put up numbers ever since. The 22-year-old went just 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts and one walk this week with low Class A Quad Cities, dropping his line for the season to .239/.372/.316 through 117 at-bats. Even though Jackson is best known for his defense, a college player should be able to put up better numbers against low Class A competition.


Alex Caldera, rhp, Royals. Caldera gathered some interest when he went 12-6, 2.90 for low Class A Burlington in 2008. But as a command-and-control righthander with a less-than-average fastball, he’s the kind of pitcher who will have to prove himself at every level. So when he went 5-10, 4.77 last year at high Class A Wilmington, it pretty much ensured that he would fade from sight. But Caldera did pitch much better in the second half of the season last year, and this year he’s been outstanding while repeating the level. Caldera, 24, struck out 14 batters in 13 2/3 innings this week, allowing only nine hits and one unearned run. He has three pitches he can throw for strikes, which has proven enough to keep Carolina League hitters off balance.


• Tony Pena Jr., rhp, Giants. Sergio Santos has been nothing short of a revelation coming out of the bullpen for the White Sox. The Giants hope they have another a diamond in the rough on their hands with Pena, who like Santos is converted shortstop. The Royals starter early in the 2009 season, Pena went 5-for-51 with one extra-base hit, which translated into a comical -33 OPS+ figure. It was a satisfying conclusion to a punchless career as a position player. Pena hit .228/.247/.298 in parts of three seasons with Kansas City—and he wasn’t much better in the minors, where he hit .252/.285/.332 in more than 2,500 at-bats.

So Pena headed back to low Class A to convert to pitching. But if he blossoms now it won’t be for the Royals, who designated him for assignment last July. The Giants signed Pena to a minor league deal in November, and he earned a ticket to Double-A Richmond with a fine spring training showing. He proved he could throw strikes with a low-90s sinker and a slurvy, mid-70s breaking ball, and he’s off to a fine start in the Eastern League. Pena has gone 3-0, 1.09 through 15 games, with 21 strikeouts and five walks in 24 2/3 innings.


Robbie Erlin, lhp, Hickory. When Conor Glassey was making draft calls last year, he kept hearing from scouts that Erlin would have been a first-round prospect if he was just a little bigger. He has an above-average curveball, a solid-average fastball and a developing changeup, but because he’s only 5-foot-11 he lasted until the third round. Pitching out of the Hickory bullpen, Erlin has proven to be nearly unhittable, and given a chance to make his first start of the season this week, he threw five perfect innings, striking out nine. That outing lowered his ERA to 0.36.