The Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet is out and heading the list is every fantasy expert's favorite prospect-blocked-by-a-nonsabremetrically-productive-player, Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds. I am not sure what his production would look like in Cincinnati given he isn't taking walks at AAA (11 with 145 ABs) and has struck out 34 times. Given the challenge of playing CF between two DHs, I wonder if the adjustment offensively and defensively would lead to a slash stat line not much better than that nonsabremetrically-productive player blocking him.
This week's list offers a lot of good news for Baltimore Orioles fans as three of their team's top prospects make the list. There are also two players ripping-up their leagues who could see time in the majors this year. The first is Texas Rangers AA 1B Chris Davis, and the other is Detroit Tigers 2B Mike Hollimon.
Davis could finally get the call if 1b Chris Shelton proves to be nothing more than a 4A player, and Hollimon could see time if the Tigers decide to a.) pack-in the season or b.) inject some energy into the offense by adding another young, hungry (not Miguel Cabrera hungry) player to the roster.
No. 2 CHRIS TILLMAN, RHP
The Scoop: The youngest pitcher in Double-A right now is Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw. The second-youngest? That would be Tillman, who is now 4-0, 2.41 in eight starts. Sure, the walks were a bit high this week, and he has walked 20 batters in 37 1/3 innings, but he is also facing significantly older competition, as most of Tillman's peers are still in high Class A or even low Class A. Despite Tillman's youth, he still has 38 strikeouts—more than one per inning—and he's allowed just 22 hits. Sometimes minor league pitchers get away with marginal stuff with an advanced feel for pitching and the ability to locate pitches against inferior hitters. That's not the case with Tillman, who has a plus fastball and a plus curveball. Tillman mixed both of those pitches yesterday against Erie in his best start yet, when he had nine strikeouts, two walks and allowed three hits in six shutout innings, his best performance yet this year.
No. 3 MATT WIETERS, C
The Scoop: Wieters has been consistent all season, collecting plenty of hits, while drawing walks. He's also simply destroyed lefthanded pitching to the tune of .405/.436/.892 with five home runs in 37 at-bats. Pitchers seem more willing to pitch to him with no one on, rightfully so, as seven of his nine home runs are of the solo variety. Three of those came in a span of just two games this week. But, he's also been flashing some good defense. Wieters leads the Carolina League in throwing out base stealers, nailing 46 percent of the runners that have dared try to swipe a bag.
No. 5 JAKE ARRIETA, RHP
The Scoop: Arrieta's pro debut has gone swimmingly so far, as he's looking like a fifth-round steal for the Orioles. Arrieta dropped in last year's draft because of a high price tag ($1.1 million) and a poor junior season. We've found that Arrieta likes wood bats. After compiling a 3.01 ERA at Texas Christian as a junior, he's 4-0, 1.74 this year. He was able to the keep the walk count down this week, but has struggled in that department, issuing at least three free passes in five of his starts.
No. 7 CHRIS DAVIS, 1B
Why He's Here: .565/.593/.913 (13-for-23), 6 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 1 SO
The Scoop: Davis has always had big-time power. The 2006 fifth-round pick is now up to .340/.384/.607 with 10 home runs and 10 doubles in 150 at-bats. With 61 home runs in 986 minor league plate appearances, Davis is averaging a whopping 37 home runs per 600 plate appearances. That figure has gotten a boost from some of the hitter-friendly environments that Davis has played in, but nobody questions his tremendous power. The biggest knock on Davis' offensive game has been his plate discipline; he had 58 walks and 215 strikeouts entering the season, and he has 12 walks and 37 strikeouts in 2008. So it was also impressive that Davis continued to hit for power despite striking out only once in the past seven days.
No. 13 MICHAEL HOLLIMON, 2B
The Scoop: Hollimon is not your typical second baseman. Offensively, the switch-hitter resembles a power-hitting corner outfielder who's unafraid to work deep counts. Defensively, he's fine at second base, but lacks the arm to regularly play on the left side of the infield. No matter. A middle-of-the-diamond player who's capable of reeling off weeks like Hollimon did this time around will find work at the next level. And then there's this, Hollimon's .354 isolated power would rank third in the International League, behind corner infielders Mike Hessman and Brad Eldred, if he hadn't missed two weeks at the outset of the season, thus disqualifying him for the batting title at the moment.