Prospects of the Month - July

Each month, will evaluate the minor league farm clubs and elect among the prospects the player (position player or pitcher) that had the best month and was in turn that team's top prospect. Want to know which prospects are rising to the top of the group on each club, and who had the best month? Find out inside.

AAA Toledo - Starting Pitcher - Andy Van Hekken
Sometimes, performances aren't always pretty – but the bottom line is the end result. And you certainly can't argue with the end results Andy Van Hekken has been getting. For the month of July, Van Hekken went 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA. And more importantly, Van Hekken gave the Mudhens a chance to win every time he came out and pitched – never allowing more than 4 earned runs in any outing. Now, his secondary stats could have been much better (1.58 WHIP, 0.86 K:BB ratio), but Van Hekken's job is to win games, and in July, that's what he did. And if he keeps it going through August, he just might find himself with the Tigers – getting the opportunity he expected to get a year and a half ago.

AA Erie - Outfielder - Curtis Granderson
You can't find many players that had a better month than Curtis Granderson – especially after the All Star break. For the month, Granderson hit .348 with 4 Home Runs and 23 RBI. Add in August 1st, and he hit .368 with 6 Home Runs and 25 RBI. Want a reason why Billy Beane is sure to be salivating after this youngster? In his 23 games for the month, only once did he not get on base. For the month, his on base percentage was .464, as he took 20 walks for the month. That OBP certainly helped him score 26 runs for the month as well. More impressive is his power streak over the last 10 games of the month, where he had all 4 of his Home Runs (as well as 2 more on the first of August) and 16 RBI. The 23-year old Center Fielder might not have the speed or bunting ability of Alex Sanchez, but he's good enough to make Sanchez sweat come next Spring – especially if his power streak continues.

High-A Lakeland - Starting Pitcher - Joel Zumaya
While Tony Giarratano made a case to win prospect of the month for a second month in a row, Joel Zumaya's excellent month cannot be overlooked, and for it he takes prospect of the month at Lakeland. For the month, Zumaya went 1-2 with a 2.42 ERA, though he never pitched poorly enough to deserve a loss. Zumaya never allowed more than 3 earned runs in an outing, and gave the team 3 quality starts (6+ IP, 3 or less ER). And while Van Hekken at Toledo got the results, Zumaya had the secondary numbers that put a big smile on the face of Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the front office. Zumaya's WHIP was just 1.07, and his K:BB ratio was a solid 2.13. Zumaya walked just 8 batters in 22 1/3 innings, demonstrating that he's finally gaining some control – at the same time not losing his velocity or effectiveness. It wasn't a good month for the L-Tigers, but it was certainly a promising one for the future of Joel Zumaya.

Low-A West Michigan - Starting Pitcher - Virgil Vasquez
There weren't many standouts for the Whitecaps in the month of July, but Virgil Vasquez certainly didn't have a bad month. In fact, if you take out his start and last start of the month, he was an extremely tough pitcher to score on. For the month, Vasquez went 2-1 with a 4.06 ERA, but as always, that doesn't tell the whole story. Vasquez gave the team 3 quality starts (and was 1/3 inning short of having 4 for the month). His secondary stats were pretty good as well – 1.93 K:BB ratio and a 1.35 WHIP. It's been a rough year for West Michigan, but Virgil Vasquez has been a pleasant one to watch – and because of it, he takes prospect of the month for July.

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