With the first weekend of minor league action under our belts, it's time to do our weekly look at the hot and cold prospects so far this year. While it's probably too early to draw any conclusions, a couple of guys are off to hot starts and are worth talking about. Who's hot and who's not?
The prospect to generate the most buzz out of Reds camp, a lot of fans were disappointed to see Sappelt get sent to AAA to start the year after his torrid spring. He hasn't slowed up a bit, hitting .438/.500.500 to start the season in Louisville. 7 hits in 4 games is a nice start, let's see if he can sustain it throughout the year.
Break up the Blaze! We could have put a lot of guys from this stellar Bakersfield offense on here, but Josh Fellhauer has performed the best out of the bunch so far. He's batting .500/.563/.571 with 6 RBI in 3 games, and is a pleasant surprise after a disappointing 2010.
This is an intriguing one. All we've been hearing is that Willis was brought to Cincinnati to be a reliever, and that's the role he performed in all spring, but here he is starting games in Louisville. Not only that, he threw 6 shutout innings on Sunday, the best starting performance of any Reds prospects so far. Is he a candidate to spot start at the next level, or will he move to a bullpen role full-time eventually? Weird to see him in a role we weren't expecting, but let's hope he can keep up what he's doing.
For a guy who's probably playing to keep his starting role, the Coz isn't off to a very good start. .077/.235/.077 in 4 games, with just one hit so far this year. If that doesn't change, Kris Negron could be getting lots of ABs.
Here's another guy who turned heads this spring, and looked to be another prospect poised to break out, but hasn't looked good so far. He's Carolina's leadoff hitter, which isn't really helped by his .118/.118/.176 line so far. Yikes.
Not a good start for Mr. Webb. 7 runs in his 3 2/3 innings of his start, along with 4 walks to only 1 strikeout. It's likely that he'll be able to lower that 17.18 ERA.
On to this weekend's games...
- Louisville went undefeated in their three weekend games against Toledo to take their record to 3-1 on the year and gain control of first place in their division. On Friday, they won 5-3 on a strong night by the offense. Daniel Dorn went 3-for-4 with a double and a RBI, and Dave Sappelt and Jeremy Hermida had two hits apiece, with Hermida hitting his first homer of the year. The pitching was solid all around, with Matt Klinker pitching a quality start, going 6 innings of 3-run ball with 6 strikeouts and only one walk. Kyle McCulloch pitched two shutout innings, and Carlos Fisher earned his first save of the year. They had an even closer encounter on Saturday, pulling out a 2-1 win. Chad Reineke pitched 5 innings and only gave up 1 run to earn the win, and Jeremy Horst stepped up big with 3 shutout innings of relief. Jerry Gil got the save in that one, leading to rampant speculation about who the closer will be in Louisville for this season. It's safe to say that Rick Sweet and Dusty Baker don't exactly see eye to eye on that front. Dave Sappelt had 3 more hits in this game to lead the offense. Dontrelle Willis stepped up and was a stud on Sunday, leading the Bats to a 5-1 win. D-Train went 6 shutout innings with 5 strikeouts, and Danny Ray Herrera pitched a 1-2-3 inning of relief to nail down the win. Firepower was the name of the game on offense, as Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, and Kris Negron all homered and Michael Griffin led the team with 3 hits. Up next: Tom Cochran takes the hill at 6:35 against Columbus.
- Conversely, Carolina went the other way this weekend, dropping all three of their home games to Mobile to fall to 0-4 on the year. They lost 5-2 on Friday, despite a quality start by James Avery. Jake Kahaulelio and Chris McMurray drove in the 'Cats 2 runs. They didn't do much better on Saturday, with a 5-3 loss in a game shortened to 6 innings by rain. Dallas Buck started the game and gave up 5 runs in 5 2/3 innings, and Felix Perez drove in 2 of the 3 Mudcat runs. Things only got worse on Sunday, when they got beat 11-3 on a dismal pitching performance by Travis Webb. Webb gave up 7 runs and couldn't get out of the 4th inning. Neftali Soto and Chris McMurray had two hits each. Up next: Jordan Hotchkiss makes his first start of the year in the series finale against Mobile. They'll try to avoid the sweep at 11 AM today.
- Bakersfield won 3 of their 4 games against Visalia to start the year. On Friday, they won 4-1 behind a solid outing by Pedro Villarreal. He struck out 9 hitters in 5 2/3 innings and only gave up 1 run. His bullpen was even better, as Scott Gaffney, Mace Thurman, and Doug Salinas combined for 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief. Brodie Greene and Henry Rodriguez had two hits each. On Saturday, the Blaze won 12-9. Josh Fellhauer and Eric Campbell had 4 hits each to account for most of the offense, making up for a lackluster start by Curtis Partch. They split a doubleheader on Sunday, winning the first game 13-7 and dropping the second one 7-5. In Game 1, J.C. Sulbaran gave up 2 earned runs in 5 innings to get the win, and 8 of the 9 Blaze hitters had at least 2 hits in an effort that ended up with 20 as a team. Ryan LaMarre homered, and Brodie Greene and Chris Richburg drove in 4 and 3 runs respectively. Clayton Shunick started Game 2, giving up 4 runs (only 2 earned) in 4 innings. 4 errors added up to be costly for the Blaze, who gave up 5 unearned runs to give up a lead and drop their first game of the year. Josh Fellhauer was 2-for-3 with a homer on offense. Up next: Lance Janke takes the hill as the Blaze start a new series with Modesto at 10 PM.
- Dayton dropped 2 of their three games against Bowling Green on the weekend. They lost 12-5 on Friday, following a rough start by Daniel Corcino. Corcino gave up 5 runs (4 ER) in 4 innings, and even though the offense was able to string some hits together, it wasn't enough. Dominic D'Anna led the way there, going 3-for-5, Yorman Rodriguez hit his first homer of the year, and Billy Hamilton, David Vidal, and Donald Lutz all had two hits each. They were able to turn their luck around on Saturday, winning 5-4. Juan Duran drove in 2 2 runs with his 2 hits, and Tanner Robles had a solid start, giving up 2 earned runs in 5 innings. Pat Doyle pitched 3 shutout innings in relief, and Blaine Howell notched his first save of the year. They lost a slugfest 12-9 on Sunday, despite homers by Dominic D'Anna, Donald Lutz, and Jaren Matthews. Billy Hamilton also stole two more bases to bring his total to 5 after 4 games. Unfortunately, the pitching. Tim Crabbe and Porfirio Martinez combined to give up 9 runs in the 7th and 8th innings, ruining a quality start by Daniel Tuttle. Up next: Daniel Renken will get the start as our boys try to bounce back on the road at Lake County, a 7 PM start.