Looking at the stars of the first third of the season
June 3, 2008
See also: Previous Prospect Hot Sheets
Because the draft will occupy so much of our attention on Friday, we're presenting a special Tuesday Prospect Hot Sheet that will honor the top performers of April and May.
This is a chance for prospects' entire bodies of work to be recognized—not just the ones who've reeled off a good week here or there.
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 through games of June 2.
No. 1 JAY BRUCE, CF, REDS
Team: Triple-A Louisville (International)
Why He's Here: .364/.393/.630 (67-for-184), 10 HR, 9 2B, 5 3B, 37 RBIs, 34 R, 12 BB, 45 SO, 8-for-9 SB
The Scoop: Bruce began the season ranked as the game's top prospect, and he's lived up to those expectations—and more—through the season's first two months. More accurately, Bruce was very good in April (.316/.340/.561) before busting loose in May, batting .419/.453/.709 in 86 at-bats before his well-deserved big league callup.
Big league pitchers have proven to be even worse at retiring Bruce. Through 26 at-bats, he's batting .577/.667/1.038 with three homers (one of them a walk-off winner), three doubles, seven RBIs, six walks and only one strikeout. If you're looking for further encouragement, consider that Bruce has already shown a more refined batting eye in Cincinnati than he did in the minors, or that he handled lefties better than righthanders in Triple-A this season (.389/.386/.685).
Bruce closes the book on his minor league career with .308/.366/.555 averages in 1,341 at-bats in the Gulf Coast, Pioneer, Midwest, Florida State, Southern and International leagues. He hit a home run (61) once every 22 at-bats, made contact in 75 percent of his at-bats and compiled a remarkable .247 isolated power.
Perhaps you'd rearrange them slightly, but it's been so far, so good for the first-round high school outfielders from the 2005 draft: Justin Upton (No. 1), Cameron Maybin (10), Andrew McCutchen (11), Bruce (12) or Colby Rasmus (28). Upton and Bruce are making an impact in the big leagues, McCutchen and Rasmus are in Triple-A and Maybin is in Double-A.
No. 14 DARYL THOMPSON, RHP, REDS
Team: Double-A Chattanooga (Southern)/Triple-A Louisville (International)
Why He's Here: 5-2, 1.55, 75 1/3 IP, 54 H, 21 R, 13 ER, 2 HR, 16 BB, 68 SO
The Scoop: Thompson had a lot to prove entering the season, and he's proven it . . . and then some. After labrum surgery cut short his 2005 season in July, and limited him to 21 innings in 2006, Thompson spent last year domination A-ball batters. While that was impressive given his medical history, it did little to separate him from many other young, hard-throwing pitchers. Thompson has eased many of those concerns this season with his fine performance versus Double-A and Triple-A competition. (In two starts for Louisville, he's struck out 12 in 14 innings while walking two and giving up two runs on 10 hits.) He commands an explosive low-90s fastball and gets good separation on his changeup, but the development of his breaking pitches will determine his timetable. Thompson has been pro long enough to have been drafted by the Expos (eighth round, 2003), but he's just now coming into his own, meaning he's officially no longer just the throw-in to the Austin Kearns-for-relievers trade.