Prospect Hot Sheet

Brandon Wood slugs his way to the top of the list

See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheets

Remember as always, this is not a re-ranking of our Top 100 Prospects list. Instead, it's a snapshot of who are the hottest prospects in baseball right now, with stats from the past week (July 18-24) getting the most consideration. The Why He's Here line in the capsules refer to each player's stats during that time.

Contributing: Ben Badler, Matt Eddy, John Manuel, Nathan Rode, Jim Shonerd, Anthony Tynan.

Team: Triple-A Salt Lake (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .429/.484/1.000 (12-for-28), 5 HR, 1 2B, 10 RBIs, 10 R, 3 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Wood crushed a trio of 420-foot home runs last weekend at Fresno to kick off the week in style. But he didn't stop there. He also homered in Salt Lake on both Wednesday and Thursday, and collected four multi-hit games on the week.

As we know, Wood's game is all about power, and as his slugging percentage has climbed this month (.758), so has his strikeout rate (29 percent of at-bats). This has been true throughout his career, but for a guy who can fit at shortstop or third base, the sort of outburst Wood displayed this week could make him attractive to other teams as the trade deadline approaches.

With nearly two full seasons of Triple-A experience, Wood has had ample time (732 at-bats) to show what kind of player he can be. In that time he's batted .275/.340/.518 with 42 home runs (one every 17.4 at-bats) and 71 walks and 200 strikeouts (.35-to-1 ratio).


Team: Double-A Midland (Texas)
Why He's Here:
1-1, 1.93, 14 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 13 SO
The Scoop:
Anderson has become one of the game's best pitching prospects in an organization replete with quality young pitchers. With Anderson and Triple-A lefty Gio Gonzalez, the A's can make a strong case as having the best one-two punch of lefthanded pitching prospects, especially now that the latter half of the Rays' David Price and Jake McGee has fallen victim to Tommy John surgery. Anderson won't light up the radar gun, though he does have a plus fastball, but he doesn't need to throw flames to be successful. Instead he relies on his premium command and his secondary pitches that are frequently plus offerings.


Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Age: 24
Why he's here: .536/.581/.786 (15-for-28), 6 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: Craig turned 24 a week ago, which is when his streak of five straight multi-hit games began. It hasn't just been one hot week for Craig, who is batting .298/.364/.493 in 406 at-bats for Springfield. Craig has hit .368/.417/.641 in 117 at-bats since the Texas League all-star break, showing good bat speed and power to all fields. He's a little bit old for Double-A, but his stock has risen considerably since the Cardinals made him an eighth-round pick out of California two years ago.

Team: high Class A San Jose (California)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: 2-0, 2.45, 11 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: The beat goes on for the 2007 first-round pick, who won again Thursday. In his first full pro season, the Giants righthander ranks second in the Cal League in victories (11), eighth in ERA (3.16), fifth (96) in strikeouts and first in youngest age (19).


Team: short-season Brooklyn (New York-Penn)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: 1-0, 11 1/3 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 21 SO
The Scoop: Holt makes his second straight appearance on the Hot Sheet after a two-start week where he fanned 21 batters in 11 1/3 innings. Holt struck out 14 in six innings on Thursday, running his season strikeout total up to 51, tops in the NYP. The only worse news for league hitters is that Holt told a reporter that he has been throwing his curveball more, meaning he may have been successful in developing that second pitch.


Team: Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: 1-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 SO
The Scoop: Even the boldest Samardzija backer could not have foreseen this. From just getting by in Double-A to making the big leagues, Samardzija has been one of July's most surprising—and for the Cubs, pleasant—developments. He rattled off five strong starts in six tries with the I-Cubs on his way to Wrigley, striking out 40 and walking 16 in 37 1/3 Triple-A innings. Samardzija did allow five home runs (two of them in Albuquerque) but otherwise kept the ball on the ground, posting a 1.39 groundout-to-fly out mark. Yes, the results finally seem to reconcile with Samardzija's raw stuff.


Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Why He's Here:
.609/.640/.652 (14-for-23), 1 2B, 5 RBIs, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop:
It looks like Montero may have been inspired by his trip to Yankee Stadium for the Futures Game. The young catcher has hits in eight of nine games since rejoining the RiverDogs, including hits in all five games he appeared in this week. Although his hits this week were mostly an abundance of singles, Montero has put up a .529 slugging percentage so far in July, the highest mark he's posted since slugging .550 in April. A couple of big games highlighted Montero's week, as he went 4-for-5 on Sunday in Greensboro, then came off the bench two days later and delivered a game-winning pinch-hit single in the ninth. His hot July has allowed Montero's average to climb into the SAL's top 10, where he currently stands seventh with a line of .314/.364/.455.


Team: Double-A New Hampshire (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .417/.533/.917 (10-for-24), 9 R, 10 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: After returning from the Futures Game and the Eastern League all-star game, Campbell went on a tear, getting on base and hitting for power. Campbell's three home runs this week make up nearly half of his season total of eight, so he's not normally a power threat. Yet the New Zealand native leads the EL in average (.340) and is second in on-base percentage at .433. Campbell has always shown good strike-zone judgment, always posting high OBPs but with little power. The .340 average is bound to come down, but if Campbell get keep getting on-base at a high clip and show at least moderate pop, he could be a valuable big leaguer.


Team: Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast)
Why He's Here:
.407/.528/.852 (11-for-27), 3 HR, 3 2B, 8 RBIs, 9 R, 8 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-1 SB
The Scoop:
With Ichiro installed in right field at Safeco, Balentien has seen most of his time in left and center in Tacoma. But until this month, no amount of fly catching would have made his bat palatable. Balentien hit .196 for Seattle in May and then .178 for the Rainiers in June—but with modest power—before finding his stroke in July. In 77 at-bats for Tacoma this month, he's hit .312/.417/.662 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 21 games. Also of note, he's drawn 15 walks while striking out 16 times, as his pitch recognition and discipline continues to improve.

Team: low Class A Beloit (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: .480/.500/.640 (12-for-25), 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBIs, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Revere's been absent from the Hot Sheet for a few weeks, but that doesn't mean he's stopped hitting. He's picked up base hits in 16 of his last 17 games, and his average is still above the .400 level after 280 at-bats, as it currently stands at .404/.456/.539. His best game of the week came on Monday, when he went 4-for-4 with a double and two steals against Wisconsin.

Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Why he's here:
.440/.611/.480 (11-for-25), 1 2B, 4 RBIs, 11 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-2 SB
The Scoop:
"You don't walk your way on to the Hot Sheet" was a phrase used in this week's meeting, but Fowler's back yet again with another big week. He had only one extra-base hit this week—and scouts still have concerns about whether the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Fowler will ever develop legitimate pop—but he continued to show an excellent knowledge of the strike zone. In 382 at-bats, Fowler's slash stats are at .332/.429/.505 with 61 walks and 79 strikeouts. But with his plus defense in center field and his ability to hit for average and get on base, even moderate power would make Fowler an above-average big leaguer.

Team: high Class A Inland Empire (California)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .444/.515/.815 (12-for-27), 6 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Gallagher ranked seventh in the Rookie-level Pioneer League last year, but he was still considered raw. That's what makes Gallagher's season even more impressive. Since joining Inland Empire in late May, Gallagher is batting .326/.372/.522 in 230 at-bats at just 19 years old. Gallagher is a power-hitting third baseman, though he isn't flexible and may end up moving to first base. Gallagher, who is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, also played basketball and football in high school before the Dodgers made him a third-round pick last season. Now that he's focused on baseball full time, Gallagher has raised his prospect status by moving surprisingly quickly.


Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop: O'Sullivan is the fifth-youngest pitcher in the Cal League, and it took him longer to get a hang of it than Alderson, but get the hang of it he has. The stocky righthander had an ERA as high as 6.35 as recently as June 19, but it's under 5.00 now, and he's won eight straight decisions. He's no Livan Hernandez either, giving up seven hits and striking out 12 over 14 innings in his last two outings.


It's been a stellar season for Double-A Reading SS Jason Donald. The 23-year-old Phillies farmhand has an .894 OPS this season, made the Olympic team and has emerged as one of the organization's top prospects. Donald batted .379/.457/.724 (11-for-29) this week with two homers, one triple, two doubles and five walks. . . . Twins' first-round CF Aaron Hicks is lighting up the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He went 7-for-16 (.438) this week with five stolen bases and his second home run. The 18-year-old Hicks has struck out just four times in 33 at-bats over his last 10 games . . . Low Class A Kane County 2B Jemile Weeks (Athletics), Oakland's first-round pick, got off to a slow start to his pro career. Weeks, 21, was just 1-for-17 through his first five games, but has since reeled off a nine-game hitting streak. He hit .464/.531/.643 (13-for-28) this week, has turned in four straight multi-hit games and hit his first professional home run in last night's game against Fort Wayne . . . High Class A High Desert SS Carlos Triunfel (Mariners) has missed time this season with a team suspension and with an abdominal strain. But the 18-year-old seems to be getting into a groove after hitting .556/.556/.815 (15-for-27) this week with four doubles, a home run, eight runs scored and six RBIs . . . Just 21, Binghamton LHP Jon Niese (Mets) has succeeded in Double-A by cutting his fastball and showing the ability to consistently pitch inside to righthanded hitters. While he's shackled lefthanders to the tune of a .597 OPS (and no home runs) over 92 at-bats, he's more than held his own against righthanders, limiting them to a .698 OPS and striking out 88. Niese's curveball can be a plus pitch when he locates it, which isn't consistently right now, but the more he shows he can pitch off the fastball and locate it enough to combat righthanded hitters, the closer he is to the big leagues. He went 1-0, 2.63 this week, with 15 strikeouts, four walks and 14 hits (no home runs) in 13 2/3 innings . . . Just try to pin a position on Dan Murphy. The Mets have given him a long look at second base, but at least one scout contacted by BA says the move won't take. Murphy, 23, made four errors in the 14 games he's played at second, and scouts doubt he has the agility needed for the position. He can hit, though, batting .320/.485/.640 on the week with two homers, two doubles, seven RBIs, eight walks and only one strikeout. And Murphy should have enough bat for first base, third base or even left field, the three positions he played in addition to second in the last week. "He's a grinder who can really hit," one pro scout said. He's moved up to fifth in the Eastern League in RBIs and continues to hit lefties (.297, .831 OPS) as well as righties (.310, .867 OPS) . . . The Blue Jays surprised some by taking California 1B David Cooper with the 17th overall pick, but he might be ready for Toronto sooner than later. His polished college bat has helped the 21-year-old make the Midwest League look like child's play, as he slugged .704 for the week with a pair of homers. He's hitting .379/.419/.586 through his first 14 games with low Class A Lansing.


Reid Brignac, ss, Rays. Though he's among the better defenders among Triple-A prospects, and he's still just 22, Brignac's bat has been in a month-long slumber. The trouble began when he went 0-for-10 in his big league debut earlier this month and continued with Triple-A Durham when he went 5-for-his-first-29 (.172) back in the minors. Throw in zero extra-base hits, 12 strikeouts and two walks in those eight games and that's a recipe for Not-Hot status.

Jordan Schafer, cf, Braves. Has anyone had a worse year than Schafer? The top prospect in the Braves system entering the season, Schafer has been surpassed by Jason Heyward, but that's been the least of his problems. With Andruw Jones out of the center-field picture, Schafer played in just four games before being hit with a 50-game suspension for human growth hormone. Since returning to Double-A Mississippi on June 2, the results haven't been good for Schafer—he's batting just .218/.354/.371 in 170 at-bats and he hit .150/.190/.150 (3-for-20 with six strikeouts) this week. Keep in mind that Schafer is still just 21 and is at least getting on base by drawing walks, but it's far from how the Braves would have scripted his development.

Ross Detwiler, lhp, Nationals. Detwiler struck out nine in back-to-back starts for high Class A Potomac in late May, but since getting hit hard on May 30, he's struggled mightily, with a 5.80 ERA in 45 innings over nine starts. There's no one culprit—20 walks, five homers allowed, 55 hits allowed—it's all been rough, and it's not what the Nationals envisioned when they drafted the 22-year-old sixth overall in 2007.

Jeff Locke, lhp, Braves. After a rough start for low Class A Rome, Locke was heading in the right direction for most of May and June, but he's now lost his last three starts, and had one of his worst outings of the year Wednesday against West Virginia. The 20-year-old lefty surrendered 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in just four innings of work, dropping his record to 4-10, 4.23 in 117 innings.

Casey Kelly, ss, Red Sox. Kelly's first week in the pros was forgettable, as he took until his 17th at-bat to reach base (a double) in the GCL. That double was his only hit in a 1-for-20 start to the season, but the 30th overall pick, who signed for $3 million, struck out in two of his next three at-bats and has eight strikeouts already and no walks. 


Bruce Billings, rhp, Rockies. Prior to Wednesday night, Billings' best claim to fame was that he was the one who convinced Justin Masterson to transfer to San Diego State when the two were teammates in the Cape Cod League in 2005. Billings, 22, had been having a relatively unremarkable season for low Class A Asheville, going 7-7, 4.03 through his first 19 starts. But that was before Wednesday's game against Lakewood, when Billings threw the first no-hitter in the South Atlantic League since 2005. He was just a walk and an error short of a perfect game, and struck out eight while completing the game in 112 pitches.

Francisco Liriano, lhp, Twins. Liriano has nothing left to prove at Triple-A Rochester—he has given up one run in four July starts—but the Twins' big league rotation, until recently, had been cruising. Perhaps that changes now that Minnesota has lost four in a row. Regardless, the 24-year-old Liriano's mid-90s fastball and sharp slider are back, and 33 strikeouts and four walks in 28 July innings suggest that his command is, too.


Nelson Cruz, rf, Rangers. Though he's locked in a battle with Dallas McPherson for the minor league home-run title, Cruz doesn't have Albuquerque's favorable hitting conditions to fall back on. But that doesn't mean the 28-year-old Cruz doesn't like hitting in Oklahoma City, where he's batted .350/.439/.811 with 19 of his 34 homers. Though he fizzled in Arlington in 2007, striking out 87 times in 307 at-bats and hitting just .235/.287/.384, Cruz has rebounded with Triple-A Oklahoma to the point where he warrants another big league look. In addition to his second-place ranking on the minor league home run board, he leads everybody in slugging (.718) and ranks second in runs (86), total bases (237) and RBIs (86).


Team: Rookie-level Danville (Appalachian)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: 1-0, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 SO
The Scoop: Francis turned in an otherwordly performance by striking our 16 batters in a no-hitter last week. He was a 12th-round pick by the Braves from Walters State (Tenn.) CC in June. His arsenal includes an 88-94 mph fastball and a good curveball and an above average changeup. Another reason Francis may be otherworldly is his "Vulcan" changeup, which is gripped between the middle and ring fingers.

Team: high Class A Inland Empire (California)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .357/.486/.500 (10-for-28), 4 2B, 7 RBIs, 10 R, 8 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: The Dodgers plucked Santana out of the Dominican Republic in 2004 and he's always been well-regarded for his defense behind the plate, but his bat has really taken off this year for high Class A Inland Empire. After hitting just .223/.318/.370 in low Class A last year, Santana is batting .323/.431/.563 this year, and his name can be found all over the Cal League's leader boards. He leads the minors in RBIs (96) and his league in on-base percentage and runs scored (88).