Written by Chris Slade
Hold up, this is the first HOTSHEET of the year, so let me run down what a HOTSHEET is…
1st Rule of HOTSHEET’S: Always capitalize HOTSHEET
2nd Rule: Don’t forget Rule 1
3rd Rule: I only include those from the Orioles minor leagues whom I consider legitimate major league prospects. So if some 30-year old journeyman is hitting .350 in AA, that’s great and all. But, he’s still in AA for a reason and will not be gracing us with his presence on the HOTSHEET.
What is a HOTSHEET you ask? It is a top ten list of all the hottest hitters and pitchers from the Orioles minor leagues.
Let me rephrase that. It is a list of the ten top performing hitters and pitchers over the last month of games.
What about the worst? We have a thing for those guys too. It’s called the Not Sheet.
Notice how I un-capitalized that. I mention those guys at the end of the column in a very disparaging manner. Not really, I like to be optimistic about all the Orioles farmhands, even the strugglers.
Okay, without further ado, here’s the HOTSHEET for the month of April…
1) Dariel Alvarez – OF – Bowie Baysox (AA)
OH Prospect Rank: 10
Alvarez appears to be the latest Cuban sensation to hit the Orioles minor leagues. He’s off to a outstanding start at AA with the only knock I can think of is the low walk rate. But he’s stroking the ball and has struck out in just 6.8% of his plate appearances, which is kind of amazing. He will likely be promoted to Norfolk midway through the year if this level of production continues.
2) Christian Walker – 1B – Bowie Baysox (AA)
OH Prospect Rank: 16
Christian Walker has been lighting it up down at AA which he’ll need to continue as a bat first prospect that’s limited to first base defensively. Despite the strikeout percentage jump, I’m glad to see my favorite Gamecock prospect showing more home run pop this season as well.
3) Hunter Harvey – RHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
OH Prospect Rank: 3
Command issues for the talented young stud have arose at times but its clear that his premium fastball-curveball combo have been #ToMuchToHandle for the majority of the Sally league hitters he has faced, evidenced by his opponent batting average and strikeout rate.
4) Steven Brault - LHP - Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
OH Prospect Rank: 17
He can sing the national anthem and pitch in the same game. That’s called efficiency. Brault entered the year as a sleeper among Oriole prospect die-hards and the early returns look very promising at Delmarva. He’s a touch old for the level though, so I’d imagine he’ll get bumped up to the Keys relatively soon if he continues to pitch effectively.
5) Glynn Davis – CF – Frederick Keys (High A)
OH Prospect Rank: Unranked
Davis has been lighting it up down at Frederick and while the lack of power numbers still sticks out, he has shown a much more comfortable approach at the plate and has been making consistent line drive contact. Always good to see the Maryland native’s doing well.
6) Tyler Wilson – RHP – Bowie Baysox (AA)
OH Prospect Rank: 27
The crafty righthander is off to a great start at Bowie and currently leads the Orioles farmhands in strikeouts. His improved groundball rate also sticks out to me which suggests that he is commanding the lower half of the strike zone supremely well.
7) Branden Kline - RHP – Frederick Keys (High A)
OH Prospect Rank: 24
Branden Kline off to an encouraging start with the Keys after his season was cut short in 2013 due to an ankle injury.
8) Mike Wright – RHP - Norfolk Tides (AAA)
OH Prospect Rank: 8
Wright is quietly putting up solid outings at Norfolk and is just a phone call away from Baltimore now at AAA.
9) Sebastian Vader - RHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
OH Prospect Rank: Unranked
“Darth” Vader makes his debut appearance on the HOTSHEET. The early returns from his full season debut look promising, suggesting that the projectable right hander may have seen a bump in stuff since last season. I’ve yet to see him in person so I can’t confirm that speculation.
10) Kevin Gausman - RHP - Norfolk Tides (AAA)
OH Prospect Rank: 1
Will we be seeing KG in Baltimore soon? The answer is no for now. He’s on the minor league DL due to pneumonia but should be back in action sometime in next few weeks. He’s been solid, but not exactly dominant either, so there’s no reason to rush him back up to Baltimore just because a segment of the fanbase has it in for Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and/or Bud Norris.
The Not Sheet…Uh Oh…
Henry Urrutia - RF – AAA – .220/.250/.293 in 82 at bats - One of the more discouraging stories of the minor league season is Big Hank’s early season struggles at Norfolk. Fresh off winning Orioles minor league hitter of the year, Hank had held high expectations coming into the 2014 season, especially with his 25 pound weight addition in the offseason that hoped to spawn more power production. He has yet to homer, and carries an ugly 4-to-23 BB/K ratio in 82 at bats. AND, he’s now on the DL with an abdominal strain.
Suk-Min Yoon - RHP – AAA – 0-4, 7.96 ERA, .397 AVG - I think Yoon takes the crown for the most discouraging story so far on the minor league front. The Taiwanese import, signed to a three year deal in the offseason, held somewhat high expectations coming to Baltimore. His stay down at Norfolk was supposed to be a “tune-up” as he acclimated to American baseball, but has instead been a series of disastrous stinkbomb outings that will prevent him from pitching in an Orioles uniform anytime soon.
Eduardo Rodriguez - LHP – AA – E-Rod, the Orioles No. 4 prospect, is currently on the DL with a sprained knee. However, prior to the DL landing, he wasn’t exactly dominating, showing inconsistent command of his arsenal while pitching to a 6.75 ERA in three starts.
Michael Ohlman - C - AA - .169/.288/.202 in 89 at bats – Ohlman had a huge breakout year at Frederick in 2013 which catapulted him into the top ten Oriole prospects by most evaluators. His adjustment to AA has been rough so far, which isn’t what we like to see from a prospect whose value is mostly tied in with his bat, considering his questionable defensive skills at catcher.
Parker Bridwell - RHP – A+ - 0-4, 6.60 ERA, .308 AVG – Bridwell has a good fastball and a “loose arm” but continues to show little feel for pitch command. I still think his ultimate destination is the bullpen if he’s to make it to the majors.
Chance Sisco – C – A – .245/.302/.306 in 49 at bats - Sisco, not to be confused with Sisqo, is off to a sluggish start with the Shorebirds and has struck out 17 times already in 49 at bats. He’s currently on the DL.
Conor Bierfeldt – RF – A – .149/.288/.253 in 87 at bats – Bierfeldt has been whiffing at everything under the sun lately and is looking more like an organizational slugger than a legitimate prospect, but I’ll give him more time before completely writing him off.
Becoming A Prospect?
Garabez Rosa - UTL – Bowie Baysox (AA)
Steve Melewski had a great writeup yesterday on Rosa that’s worth a read. He’s been around seemingly forever in the Orioles minor leagues but is still just 24 years old. He’s never hit for a high average and has always had extremely questionable plate discipline…until now? He stroked the ball throughout April (.356/.374/.517, 2 HR) and could be on his way to a breakout season that puts him on the prospect radar as a potential utility infielder in the majors.
Jimmy Yacabonis – RHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (A)
Yacabonis has been shoving down in Delmarva as the Shorebird closer and didn’t allow a single earned run in the month of April. He throws a 91-94 MPH fastball with great run and mixes in a decent slider too. He could move quickly up the ladder if he continues to dominate.
Dylan Bundy Update:
The Orioles top prospect (depending on who you ask) is still on the mend from TJ surgery but is throwing off the mound and should start pitching in extended Spring Training games by Mid-may according to Roch Kubatko.
Johan Santana Update:
The most recent reports on Santana are that he his velocity continues to inch up and that he touched 87 MPH recently. He is expected to start throwing in extended Spring Training games this upcoming week according to Eduardo Encina.
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