Minor League - Who's Hot/Who's Not

Now that the minor league season is underway, it is time to take a look at those players who have been on a tear, and those that are spinning their wheels. In this first installment of a regular look at those players streaking within our system, we will check in on the quick and slow starts to the early parts of the 2004 campaign.

HOT – David Espinosa – RF – Erie Seawolves
David has displayed surprising early power from the leadoff spot, and has reached base safely in every game he has played (.353 BA / .436 OBP / .676 SLG). He needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but is off to a promising start in AA.

NOT – Nook Logan – CF – Toledo Mud Hens
A torrid big league spring training (.364 in 22 ABs), hasn't translated to AAA success at this early juncture. Logan is batting only .205, while getting on base at a lowly .222 clip to start the year. The lone bright spot, he does have 5 steals in 6 attempts through 12 games.

HOT – Curtis Granderson – CF – Erie Seawolves
Having also reached base in every game this season, Granderson has improved his walk rate, and seems to be handling centerfield duties admirably. Offensive production like this (.324 BA / .468 OBP / .432 SLG) could see him in Toledo before year's end.

NOT – Adrian Burnside – RP – Toledo Mud Hens
While Adrian is not considered a top-notch prospect, his control problems at Toledo are still of concern. He has walked 5, allowed 5 hits and 6 runs in his first 5 innings of 2004. The 7 strikeouts are nice, but won't help if he can't find the strike zone more consistently.

HOT – Juan Tejada – 1B – Erie Seawolves
Tejada continues to prove that he can flat out hit. An on-base machine last season in Lakeland, that trend appears to be continuing (.357 OBP). Early signs indicate the development of a needed power stroke as well (.632 SLG).

NOT – Don Kelly – SS – Erie Seawolves
The letdown continues for Kelly after a disappointing trip to the Arizona Fall League. While he has been able to maintain a decent walk rate at AA (5.1 AB/BB), his ability to make contact seems to be disappearing (.194 BA).

HOT – Wil Ledezma – SP – Erie Seawolves
One of last years Rule V selections, Ledezma is taking advantage of the opportunity to develop in the minors this season. In nine innings over two starts, he has allowed only 8 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 11 and posting a 2.00 ERA.

NOT – Max St.Pierre – C – Erie Seawolves
The prospect star continues to fade for this catcher. After a lackluster 2003 campaign, continued difficulties at AA (.091 BA / .192 OBP) could have him sliding of the organizational radar.

HOT – Vincent Blue – CF – West Michigan Whitecaps
Blue is off to a hot start in his first full season of professional baseball. Batting .280, with a .345 OBP and 5 steals in 6 attempts through 12 games, the speedy centerfielder appears to be figuring some of it out.

NOT – Anderson Hernandez – SS – Lakeland Tigers
He may be slick with the glove, but he sure can't hit! Entering his third full season in the Florida State League, Hernandez has yet to show any significant progress at the plate. He's off to an ugly start to the 2004 season, .256 BA / .286 OBP / .333 SLG.

HOT – Tony Giarratano – SS – West Michigan Whitecaps
Coming out of Tulane with an "all glove, no hit" label, Giarratano is proving that last seasons offensive performance at Oneonta was no fluke. Through 12 games, Tony is destroying Midwest League pitchers to the tune of a .386 BA / .481 OBP / .591 SLG. Continued success like this and the Tigers could be forced to promote him to Lakeland, taking over for the struggling Anderson Hernandez.

NOT – Wilton Reynolds – LF/DH – Lakeland Tigers
After a hot start and slow finish in 2003, it appears Reynolds is taking the opposite approach this time around. Batting .103 with two singles and a triple in 8 games would definitely qualify as a slow start. He needs to turn it on soon because at 24 in A-ball, age is not on his side.

HOT – Eric Rodland – 2B – West Michigan Whitecaps
Rodland needs to progress quickly through the system to remain on the appropriate age curve and with a start like this (.302 BA / .388 OBP), he'll do just that. With the injury prone and offensively challenged Mike Woods all that is standing in his way; he could find a spot in Lakeland soon.

NOT – Preston Larrison – SP – Erie Seawolves
Yet another former prospect failing to re-establish themselves. Larrison started right where he left off in 2003, struggling to get AA batters out consistently. Sporting a 9.35 ERA and a 1:2 strikeout to walk ratio after two starts, he's definitely got some work to do.

HOT – Andy Baldwin – SP – West Michigan Whitecaps
So far, so good, as Midwest League hitters don't seem to be able to keep up with Baldwin through two starts. In his first 18 innings, he has a stellar 1.50 ERA, with only 4 walks and 20 strikeouts. A promising sign for a recent draft pick getting his first taste of full season baseball.

NOT – Kody Kirkland – 3B – West Michigan Whitecaps
It's too bad potential and praise is not the recipe for early season success. Kirkland can't seem to make contact so far this season, as he has struck out 17 times in 41 at-bats, all while hitting a paltry .146.

HOT – Humberto Sanchez – SP – Lakeland Tigers
After holding his own during his first taste of full season ball in 2003, Sanchez is off and rolling again this season. Flashing a nifty 2.70 ERA, with only one walk and 13 strikeouts in 10 innings, Humberto is showing why the Tiger's brass thought so highly of him.

NOT – Jon Connolly – SP – Lakeland Tigers
He dominated Midwest League hitters in 2003, but that success hasn't translated to the more advanced Florida State League. Yielding 21 hits, 9 earned runs, and 5 walks in his first 16 innings, Connolly will have to adjust to become successful at this higher level.


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