Lone Star Dugout Prospect Hot List (4/22-5/1)

It's time for the inagural edition of the Lone Star Dugout Prospect Hot List. Once again this season, we take a bi-weekly look at who's hot and who's not throughout the Rangers organization.

Who's hot?

1. Ian Gac (1B, Clinton)
- All hail the mighty Gac: This hefty hitter is absolutely destroying opposing pitchers in the Midwest League to the tune of nine homeruns, 24 runs batted in, and an absolutely insane .395 average. A move up to Frisco may soon be in the cards for the 22-year old masher.

2. Nelson Cruz (OF, Oklahoma) – Though technically not a "prospect", Nelson Cruz's efforts can't go unnoticed. To go along with a batting average that's approaching the .400 mark, Cruz currently ranks near the top of or leads all of the minor leagues in on-base percentage, on-base plus slugging, homers with nine, and runs batted in. He's also second in the minors in walks – which has always an area of concern for the outfielder.

3. Chris Shelton (1B, Oklahoma) – Shelton enjoyed a prosperous first month of the season in Oklahoma, batting .354 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 14 games with the Redhawks. His efforts earned him a call-up to the big league club following an injury to Hank Blalock and the demotion of Jason Botts. Now, with Ben Broussard still struggling to find his swing and no real first baseman on the roster behind him, Shelton finds himself with some prime real estate on the Rangers' roster.

4. Kennil Gomez (RHP, Clinton) – Gomez has been absolutely outstanding for the L-Kings through the first month of action, posting a sterling 4-0 record and a miniscule 1.55 ERA through 29 innings. He's also been racking up strikeouts: 23 of them to just two walks. In his last start, Gomez allowed only two runs, walking none while striking out seven as Clinton swept the Great Lakes Loons.

5. Jose Vallejo (2B, Bakersfield) – Coming into last Monday's affair with the High Desert Mavericks, Jose Vallejo had collected just five homeruns in 360 professional at-bats. That night, he connected on a two-run homer to give him four round-trippers on the season. The second baseman finished April on a hot note, hitting right around .300 over his last 10 games while swiping 11 bases in the month for Single-A Bakersfield.

6. Andrew Laughter (RHP, Bakersfield) – The righty contributed three scoreless innings last Wendesday to seal the victory for Evan Reed and pick up his third save of the season in the process. Through 14 innings of work, Laughter has yet to be scored upon this season while fanning eight opposing batters.

7. Max Ramirez (C, Frisco) – Although fellow catcher Taylor Teagarden was recently promoted to Triple-A, some might make the argument that Ramirez should have earned the promotion. The 23-year old has let his bat do the talking for him this year, with a .364 average and six homeruns.

8. Tommy Hunter (RHP, Bakersfield) – Hunter's most recent start happened to be his finest of the season. The righty took a shutout into the ninth inning last Tuesday before leaving with two outs to go. Although he was charged with the one run (unearned), he fanned 12 batters and didn't walk anybody en route to picking up his third win of the year.

9. Julio Borbon (OF, Bakersfield) – Friday night against Modesto, Borbon doubled, walked twice and stole his 7th base base of the season in a 9-7 loss to the Nuts. He's on fire over his last 10 games, carrying with him a .349 average at the plate, and is up to .284 on the season.

10. John Whittleman (3B, Bakersfield) – Bakersfield's third baseman had a go-ahead double this past Wednesday to plate Jose Vallejo and break a scoreless tie against Modesto. Though he's struggled since his promotion to the Blaze last summer, Whittleman is hitting over .300 with three longballs and nine runs driven in over the last two weeks of action.

Who's not?

1. Eric Hurley (RHP, Oklahoma)
– It's a bit concerning to see the prized possession of the Rangers minor leagues sit atop this list. Alas, Eric Hurley gave up six runs in five innings in his start on April 25th. The rough outing ballooned his ERA to 6.93, and the PCL owns an unsettling .327 average against him on the year.

2. Elvis Andrus (SS, Frisco) – Andrus has found himself in a bit of a funk lately. The shortstop is hitting barely over .200 in his last 10 games and owns just one extra-base hit: A triple aided by the swirling Corpus Christi winds last Monday. However, he could be showing signs of breaking out after a three RBI performance on Thursday night.

3. Nate Gold (1B, Oklahoma) - First baseman Nate Gold's 2008 campaign has been a lackluster one so far. Through 22 games, Gold owns a low .235 average thanks in part to a two week stretch where the Utah native struggled to stay above the Mendoza line, batting just .194.

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