The Futures Game is Christmas and New Year's rolled into one for Baseball America writers and fans. It's a great chance to see many of the game's best prospects in one place for the best all-star game in baseball.

There is one minor drawback. Because they took off time to travel to Phoenix for Sunday's game, many of the game's best prospects aren't really candidates for this week's Hot Sheet. For position players who took off Saturday to travel to the game and then returned to their team on Monday, that's a three-game gap that's hard to make up for. Add in the Triple-A and Eastern League all-star games and this is arguably the youngest Hot Sheet of the season, as low Class A and short-season players abound.

Remember that the Prospect Hot Sheet 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 period from July 8-15.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Dugan, Matt Eddy, Michael Kanen, John Manuel and Jim Shonerd.

Cheslor Cuthbert
Team: low Class A Kane County (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .526/.522/.842 (10-for-19), 2 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: The Corn Islands are situated little more than 40 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, with a combined population of fewer than 10,000 people. It's not exactly buzzing with baseball prospects or pitchers throwing 90 mph, but it's where teams had to go if they wanted to scout Cuthbert two years ago. The means of transportation to the islands could charitably be described as "retro."

For the Royals, it was well worth the trip, as they beat out the Pirates to sign Cuthbert for a $1.35 million bonus, a record for a Nicaraguan amateur. While it would be understandable if a player from his background spent multiple years trying to figure things out in the Dominican Summer League, Cuthbert has shown he's advanced beyond his years on the baseball field. He joined Kane County on May 20, hit two home runs in his first four games and hasn't looked back. He's batting .335/.380/.510 with six home runs through 41 games, showing the potential to hit for average and power with a good hitting approach and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Twins shortstop Miguel Sano were supposed to be the jewels of the 2009 international signing class, but so far, Cuthbert has outperformed both of them.

2011 Stats

Team: low Class A Lansing (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: .440/.481/.760 (11-for-25), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-3 SB
The Scoop: One could argue the Rangers have had the best year in the minors this year, but the Blue Jays aren't far behind. Toronto placed three players (Brett Lawrie, Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Gose) on the Midseason Top 50 Prospects list, and they have several other prospects like Drew Hutchison and Marisnick who would have likely made a Top 100.

Marisnick is showing just what you would hope to see from a talented outfielder who is adding skills to go with his tools. His .318/.384/.490 batting line is a significant improvement over his 2010 debut, and the righthanded batter has shown the ability to hit both lefties and righties. Marisnick has been billed as a potential five-tool prospect ever since the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round in 2009, but like many "five-tool" prospects, the big question was whether the hit tool would live up to that billing. He's a long way from the big leagues, but he is showing that the answer could be yes.
2011 Stats

Team: low Class A Quad Cities (Midwest)
Why He's Here:
.464/.531/.786 (13-for-28), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-3 SB
The Scoop:
This is how baseball's draft used to work. First-round picks got drafted, then signed in short order and went off to play pro ball within weeks of being selected, getting their debuts out of the way and learning to adjust to pro ball. Wong, who signed June 25 for a $1.3 million bonus, is one of just seven first-round picks to sign so far, and he's taking advantage of his early exposure to the pro game. After hitting .378/.492/.560 for Hawaii this spring, Wong has picked up where he left off, capping a red-hot week in Quad Cities. He has five straight multi-hit games during his current 10-game hitting streak, batting 18-for-44 (.409) in that stretch. The only downside so far: Wong has been caught stealing in five of his six attempts. Nobody's perfect.

2011 Stats

Team: high class A Clearwater (Florida State)
Why He's Here:
1-0, 2.08, 2 GS, 13 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 19 SO
The Scoop:
His command sometimes wavers a little, and his delivery isn't picture-perfect, but when May has everything in sync, few pitchers can generate as many swings and misses. May's 91-95 mph fastball is a plus pitch on the basis of its velocity, but it's the life and angle on the pitch that seems to make it nearly impossible for hitters to square up. May's 10 strikeouts on Thursday night were the fourth time this year he's reached double digits in strikeouts.

2011 Stats

Team: low Class A Wisconsin (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: 1-0, 2.00, 9 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: The 43rd overall pick in last year's draft has dazzled in his first full season, holding a 2.66 ERA over 71 innings while striking out 90 batters. In his start this past Wednesday, he quickly put a rocky two-run first inning behind him and went on to retire 24 of the next 25 batters, allowing only a single in the top of the fourth. It was a dominant outing for one of the youngest everyday players in the Midwest League, and another reminder that Walker is one of the minors' most promising young pitchers. Among MWL full-time starters, Walker holds the lowest hit rate (6.0 per nine innings) and highest strikeout rate (11.4 per nine), an enviable combination to say the least.

2011 Stats

Team: low Class A Quad Cities (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .545/.556/.773 (12-for-22), 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBIs, 6 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO
The Scoop: A breakout prospect on last year's Appalachian League-champion Johnson City Cardinals, Taveras has excelled this season when he's been on the field. Unfortunately, he played in just 21 games during the first half (but batted for a 1.004 OPS) because of persistent hamstring trouble. But in steady play since June 27, Taveras has lived up to the advance billing, going 19-for-56 (.339) with four doubles and two triples (.482 slugging) in 15 games.
2011 Stats

Team: high Class A Stockton (California)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .400/.423/.640 (10-for-25), 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: Choice returns to the Hot Sheet after a No. 1 ranking last week, when he belted homers in five straight games. He didn't match those numbers this week (who could?), but he extended his lead in the Cal League home run race with two more long balls, giving him 24 on the season. He hasn't just been cranking homers lately either, as Choice is also riding a 13-game hitting streak. He's batting .390/.457/.732 in 82 at-bats in the second half of the season.

2011 Stats

Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 1-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 11 SO, 1 BB
The Scoop: Armed with mid-90s heat, Paxton had little difficulty missing bats in the low Class A Midwest League, where he ran up 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings—though he also walked 30 in 56 innings. Those trends, strikeouts and walks, continued after a two-level jump (over high Class A High Desert's launching pad) to Double-A. Paxton's contrasting strikeout rates in his two Southern League starts tell us a lot about the quality of competition faced. In a July 3 start versus Chattanooga (a .522 club), he fanned only one of the 23 batters he faced. Against Carolina (.367, second-worst in the minors) yesterday, he struck out 11 of 19 Mudcats batters.
2011 Stats

No. 9 ZACK COX, 3B
Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .519/.536/.704 (14-for-27), 5 2B, 6 RBIs, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO
The Scoop: As they did with 2008 first-rounder Brett Wallace, the Cardinals quickly pushed Cox to Double-A. Both Wallace and Cox spent about 40 games at the Class A level prior to their promotions to Springfield. Wallace hit the ground running at Double-A, batting .305 with power in about two months at the level. Cox, on the other hand, started slowly in the Texas League this season, hitting just .180 with five extra-base hits in 27 June contests. He's been a different player in July, showing the bat speed and carry that make him St. Louis' top position-player prospect. In his last 10 games, Cox is batting 18-for-49 (.450) with five doubles and seven RBIs.
2011 Stats

Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .375/.385/.708 (9-for-24), 2 HR, 2 2B, 10 RBIs, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-2 SB
The Scoop: Songco tailed off in the second half of last year in low Class A, and it looked like the same thing might be happening again after he hit .237/.248/.495 in June. But Songco had other ideas this time around, as his bat's been rejuvenated in the first half of July, batting .300/.327/.620 in 50 at-bats. Songco has the potential for average power, and his two homers this week, both of which came Thursday against Lake Elsinore, gave him 16 for the season, surpassing last year's total of 15. The only drawback has been his recent lack of walks. His ability to get on base has historically been one his strengths, but he's drawn just five free passes over the last month.
2011 Stats

Team:  low Class A West Michigan (Midwest)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .318/.333/.636 (7-for-22), 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBIs, 4 R, 1 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop: Coming out of the 2010 draft, where he was the No. 44 overall pick, concerns about Castellanos centered around how much contact he'd make. His strikeout totals have been a little high, with 84 in 321 at-bats, but he's shown plenty of promise as well. After a slow start, Castellanos has hit .366/.396/.552 in 145 at-bats since the start of June, raising his line for the year to .305/.344/.455. He hasn't tapped into his power a lot with just six homers, but the Midwest League is a tough environment for power hitters. Still, Castellanos had his first career two-homer game last Saturday against Bowling Green.
2011 Stats

Team:  low Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .280/.308/.600 (7-for-25), 2 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBIs, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0-for-1 SB
The Scoop: Bogaerts wasn't even supposed to make it this far this soon. The teenage shortstop, whom Boston signed for $410,000 out of Aruba in 2009, made his U.S. debut with Greenville on June 9, and he's the third-youngest player in the South Atlantic League. Bogaerts has one of the most promising young bats in Boston's system, and he got off to a fine start, hitting .314/.375/.549 through his first 51 at-bats. He hit a bit of a lull when he had just three hits from June 28 to July 9, but then all three were home runs. He got going with a pair of multi-hit games this week, including a 3-for-5 effort Wednesday against Lakewood.
2011 Stats

Team: low Class A Dayton (Midwest)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .364/.440/.636 (8-for-22), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO
The Scoop: Petroleum, aluminum and steel are among Venezuela's top exports. Somewhere further down that list is pint-sized second basemen. Between Alexi Amarista, Jose Altuve and now Torreyes, there's no shortage (pun intended) of undersized middle infielders who lack physical projection or knockout tools but who just find a way to hit. Since joining Dayton last month, Torreyes has struck out just six times in 96 plate appearances and is hitting .364/.417/.534. For the Reds, it's looking like $40,000 well spent.
2011 Stats


Angels RHP Garrett Richards has been lost in the fray of Los Angeles' solid 2009 draft haul that included Mike Trout and Tyler Skaggs, in part due to his less than stellar career at Oklahoma. However, a Double-A Texas League all-star game appearance this year with Arkansas is helping to alter perceptions. Richards pitches at 92-93 mph with good sink and deception and an above-average curveball, helping him limit opponents to a .224 average this season. Richards, 23, worked six shutout innings this week, allowing only one walk and three hits while recording his 10th win for the Travelers . . . Rangers RHP Roman Mendez has proven he has a short memory. Part of Texas' haul for Jarrod Saltalamacchia last July, Mendez has put an ugly start for low Class A Hickory behind him. After a forgettable June, during which opponents hit .388 off him, Mendez posted three consecutive solid starts in July, including two this week. He combined to throw nine innings and strike out 12 while yielding just two runs. The 20-year-old Mendez has 94 strikeouts in 88 innings on the year . . . After a rough outing on June 27 (4 1/3 innings, five earned runs), Cardinals RHP Tyrell Jenkins has rebounded with Rookie-level Johnson City. His most recent effort against Pulaski was the best of his young career. The 18-year-old Jenkins spun six innings of two-hit ball, while walking two and striking out eight. He retired name-brand Guillermo Pimentel twice by way of groundout and swinging strikeout. It's only 20 innings in the Appalachian League (3.10 ERA), but Jenkins is doing his best to reaffirm the Cardinals' $1.3 million bonus . . . Giants LHP Eric Surkamp one-upped his 11-strikeout effort on Independence Day by whiffing 12 in his July 10 start against  Harrisburg. The 23-year-old opened the game in top form, striking out 6 of the first 9 batters he faced. The Double-A Richmond southpaw currently ranks third in the Eastern League with 114 strikeouts . . . After a seven-runs-in-four-innings drubbing on May 11, low Class A Lexington RHP Mike Foltynewicz'sERA stood at 6.63. If anything, the Astros's 2010 first-rounder appeared headed for an assignment to short-season ball in June. But then the 19-year-old reeled off three straight strong outings (three runs in 18 innings, 12 strikeouts) to begin the process of redeeming his full-season debut. In 11 starts since he bottomed out, Foltynewicz has gone 5-1, 2.70 with 40 strikeouts in 60 innings. A power pitcher who can run it up to 95 mph, he still needs to refine his secondary stuff and cut down on the walks (3.9 per nine innings this season), but his last two starts represent an encouraging step: 11 1/3 innings, 12 strikeouts, five walks, three runs allowed (2.38 ERA) on nine hits . . . Indians RHP Felix Sterling, 18, was one of the most dominant pitchers in the Rookie-level Arizona League this week. Cleveland's No. 13 prospect entering the season, Sterling had a 14-1 K-BB mark and allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings on the strength of his power fastball/slider combination . . . Dominican CF Alfredo Morales showed flashes of his potential last year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, but he couldn't put it together for the entire season. Through 18 games this year, the Mariners prospect is hitting .414/.463/.629 as an 18-year-old in the AZL, where he's one of the league's more intriguing sleepers.


Simon Castro, rhp, Padres: A year ago, the Padres righthander topped the Double-A Texas League in WHIP and opponent average on his way to a No. 3 ranking among the organization's prospects. It's been an entirely different story this year. First, Castro fizzled out with Triple-A Tucson (10.17 ERA in two starts) to earn a demotion to San Antonio, where he has showed flashes of his former self. He turned in so-called quality starts—six runs over 19 innings, with 14 strikeouts—in three straight appearances from June 22 to July 2 to lower his ERA to 3.18. But then disaster struck. The 23-year-old Castro got shellacked in his two outings this week (against Northwest Arkansas and Midland), allowing 13 runs on 14 hits over three innings. Castro faced 26 batters in his abbreviated starts, with 17 of them reaching base (good for a .654 OBP). On the plus side, he walked just two and allowed only one homer.

 Adeiny Hechavarria, ss, Blue Jays: Since signing a major league contract worth $10 million after defecting from Cuba in 2009, Hechavarria has yet to show that he can hit his way to Triple-A, much less the big leagues. He managed to hit .273 for Double-A New Hampshire last season, briefly raising expectations. But in his second go-round with the Fisher Cats, he's managed a .217/.255/.338 batting line, and he seems even further away from Toronto. Hechavarria has walked just 17 times in nearly 400 plate appearances, and this past week he went 0-for-18 in four games. Hechavarria's plus glove will buy him time, but the 22-year-old has a long way to go at the plate.

• Wagner Mateo, cf, Diamondbacks: Mateo was all smiles as a 16-year-old at a July 2, 2009, press conference in the Dominican Republic, where the Cardinals announced their new $3.1 million signing. Since then, things haven't gone according to plan for Mateo, who had his deal with the Cardinals voided when the Cardinals say they found a problem with his vision during his physical. Mateo ended up signing with the Diamondbacks last year for $512,500, then showed raw power and an ability to rack up a few too many strikeouts in the Dominican Summer League. His introduction to the Rookie-level Arizona League hasn't been pleasant, as he already has 33 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances and a .186/.305/.286 batting line. At 18, Mateo still has potential, but the strikeout rate for a guy whose bat will have to carry him is a significant concern.

Reymond Fuentes, cf, Padres. Fuentes has held his own despite being one of the high Class A California League's youngest players at age 20. He ran into trouble this week, though, batting 1-for-16 to drop his season line to .278/.349/.341 in 334 at-bats. The good news is that Fuentes struck out just twice. Also, he has 34 stolen bases in 44 attempts for Lake Elsinore.


Marlins LF Kyle Jensen mashed three home runs this week for high Class A Jupiter, giving him 18 for the season to tie him with Brevard County's Brock Kjeldgaard for the Florida State League lead. Those 18 bombs also match Jensen's output for low Class A Greensboro last season, an impressive accomplishment given the 180-degree reversal in home-park context. The catch: Florida made Jensen a 12th-round pick out of St. Mary's in 2009, so he's already 23 years old. (That's a year and a half older than Marlins slugger Mike Stanton.) But Jensen can't control his minor league assignment—all he can do is continue mashing. He's batting .322/.397/.565 in 301 at-bats and leads the FSL in slugging and ranks fourth in the batting race. The three batters ahead of Jensen have totaled 10 home runs in 884 at-bats.


It's been a little over three years since RHP Chien-Ming Wang injured his right foot while running the bases in an interleague game pitting his Yankees against the Astros. Wang has yet to pitch an inning in the majors since 2009, but the Nationals are hopeful that his recent performance for Double-A Harrisburg (no runs allowed in his last 11 innings) is an indicator that the $3 million they've committed to him since 2010 won't be wasted money. On Thursday, Wang went 6 innings without surrendering a run against Akron. While no one ought to expect him to immediately step back into the form that made him a 19-game winner in 2007 and 2008, he could prove to be a useful veteran presence at the back of Washington's rotation.


Luigi Rodriguez, cf, Indians: Rodriguez signed as a switch-hitting second baseman, but the Indians moved him to center field last year to put his speed to better use. Rodriguez ranked as one of the top prospects in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and has shown why through his first two weeks in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 18-year-old hit two home runs this week and has a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's also swiped five bases. At 5-foot-11, speed and getting on base will be more of Rodriguez's game than pure power, though he's done a bit of everything early on with a .372/.404/.558 line through 13 games.