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Minor League Barometer: Hot Summer Days

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Hot enough for you these days? Some prospects are surging and enjoying the sweltering heat. Others, not surprisingly, have remained cold despite the high temperatures. Here's a look at who's sweating it out in the minors of late, for better or worse.

UPGRADES

1. John Lamb, P, KC
- In like a lion, out like John Lamb? That could be the slogan for the 2010 season with the way the Royals pitcher has been performing lately. The 20-year-old lefty has not allowed an earned run in his last five starts, a span of 28.1 innings. He's fanned 38 batters during that stretch, while walking just five. The 2010 minor-league ERA leader, Lamb is an absolute must-own prospect at this time.

2. Wade Miley, P, AZ
- A relative unknown signed in 2008, Miley is having a breakout season for the Diamondbacks. The 23-year-old lefty worked his way toward a promotion to Double-A this year and has not disappointed. In 35.1 innings for Double-A Mobile, Miley has compiled a 1.27 ERA. Although his K:BB ratio isn't good (23:15), he has held opposing batters to an anemic .193 BAA, while yielding an inordinate amount of ground balls (2.64 GO/AO). As a result, he has limited the damage from the high walk total. Miley projects as a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater.

3. J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR
- When you're hot, you're hot. Arencibia simply can't be stopped these days, mashing seven home runs in his last 10 games en route to a delicious 27-home run, 66-RBI total through 78 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. Again, he's blocked by All-Star John Buck and defensive standout Jose Molina, but with Buck working on a one-year deal, the Jays may just let him go and give Arencibia the reins starting in 2011.

4. Jaff Decker, OF, SD
- It's taken Decker a while to get going after battling a hamstring injury earlier this season, but over his last 10 games for High-A Lake Elsinore he's hitting .351/.468/.459. He hasn't homered over that span, but Decker's greatest asset has always been his plate discipline, which was surprisingly absent the first half of the season. He's just 20, so the Padres believe his power stroke will eventually take hold, and it's nice to see him starting to regain his eagle eye in the batter's box.

5. J.D. Martinez, OF, HOU
- A 20th-round pick in 2009, Martinez hasn't met a level he hasn't liked in his short career. He skipped High-A altogether after batting .362/.433/.598 with 15 home runs and 64 RBI for Low-A Lexington. The 22-year-old from south Florida is 3-for-7 with two RBI in his first two games for Double-A Corpus Christi, and is a huge sleeper for the 'Stros, who could certainly use some good news in regard to their lackluster farm system.

6. Brandon Beachy, P, ATL
- Another starting pitching prospect for the Braves? Apparently, the rich continue to get richer, as Beachy has thrived since being thrust into the starting rotation for Double-A Mississippi. In five starts for the Braves, the 23-year-old righty has allowed three earned runs in 30 innings. He's punched out 44 batters over that span, including a 13-strikeout performance in his last start on July 15. The sample size is small, but clearly the Braves must like what they see from the converted reliever.

Honorable Mentions

1. Jake Odorizzi, P, MIL
2. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY
3. J.J. Hoover, P, ATL
4. Wilmer Flores, SS, NYM
5. Jacob McGee, P, TB

DOWNGRADES

1. Derek Norris, C, WAS
- Norris has always had an exceptional eye at the plate, and he actually has more walks than strikeouts at this point in the season for High-A Potomac. However, his power numbers are markedly down this year, as he's hit just five home runs in 53 games after bashing 23 in 2009. Likewise, his average has dipped to .230, including an abysmal .172 over his last 10 contests. Norris must be able to either hit for average or hit for power, or both, if he is to succeed at the higher levels.

2. Logan Forsythe, 2B, SD
- Forsythe is in a similar boat as Derek Norris; his plate discipline remains stellar, but he has just two home runs and 21 RBI in 58 games for Double-A San Antonio. Likewise, he's hitting .277, which isn't terrible, but also not great for a guy with limited power. Combine that with the fact that Forsythe isn't a monster stolen-base threat, and the 23-year-old may just miss when it comes to big-league aspirations.

3. Casey Crosby, P, DET
- Crosby is done for the season due to a left elbow injury. He appeared in just three games for the Tigers this season, after being named Detroit's 2009 minor league pitcher of the year. Crosby is still just 21 and remains one of the better prospects for the Tigers. However, his checkered injury past, including Tommy John surgery in 2007, makes him a risk.

4. Michael Bowden, P, BOS
- For now, it appears Bowden's days as a starter are over. Although he was successful in the Triple-A rotation, he was moved to the bullpen to make him useful at the major-league level, since there is simply no spot for him with the current Red Sox as a starter. With Josh Beckett on his way back as well, Bowden is being groomed to be used as a multi-faceted reliever. As a result, he'll get to the big leagues and stick sooner, but his fantasy value will be severely diminished.

5. Tanner Scheppers, P, TEX
- Scheppers has been roughed up lately, allowing 11 runs and 20 hits in his last two starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Rangers are still stretching out Scheppers from his earlier relief role, but he's struggled as his innings have increased. As a result, many are calling for his conversion back to a reliever. The sample size is still small, but the situation should be monitored closely, as a relief role would clearly diminish his fantasy value as well.

6. Eric Arnett, P, MIL
- Perhaps no 2009 first-round pick has had a worse first full season than Arnett. The 6-5, 230-pound righty has been moved back and forth between the Rookie League and Low-A, posting a bloated 6.97 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio isn't bad at 62:27, but he's allowed 12 home runs, and opposing hitters are batting .301 against him. All in all, the 22-year-old's 2010 campaign has been a nightmare, and the Brewers are hoping Arnett isn't already a bust.

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