Finding a staff ace is the hardest thing in baseball. Teams give up plenty of talent each year…
Montgomery tops season's first Hot List
All statistics current as of April 18, 2010
1. Mike Montgomery, Wilmington
Montgomery exploded out of the gate this year, shutting down Myrtle Beach on opening day. The southpaw struck out six Pelicans over five frames while allowing just one unearned run on two hits and a walk. For an encore, Montgomery in his second start took a perfect game into the seventh inning against Kinston, striking out 13 Indians while allowing just a single run on two hits. On the young season, Montgomery is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 19 strikeouts and 12.0 innings pitched. He has allowed just four hits and one walk, and the Carolina League is hitting only .098 against him.
2. Eric Hosmer, Wilmington
If Hosmer keeps this up, he might be able to supplement his substantial signing bonus with additional income serving as a pitchman for LASIK surgery. Indeed, whatever vision problems the young first baseman suffered from last year appear to be a thing of the past. The 20-year-old slugger has hit safely in his first 10 games of the season, and he carries a line of .444/.512/.583 into this week's games. He's even stolen two bases in two attempts.
3. Derrick Robinson, NW Akansas
Earlier in the week, we highlighted Derrick Robinson's fast start, which might be due in part to a more upright stance from the left side of the plate. In the days since, Robinson has continued to rake, and he finished the weekend hitting a cool .341/.386/.488. His line is even better against righthanded pitchers, and he's currently hit safely in seven straight games. The 22-year-old outfielder has also swiped five bases in seven attempts so far this season.
4. Kila Ka'aihue, Omaha
After a somewhat disappointing 2009 season (compared to his breakout 2008 campaign), Ka'aihue appears determined to force the Royals into giving him another shot at a role in the big leagues. The big first baseman is hitting .297/.458/.622 with a club-best three home runs and nine RBI through his first 10 games.
5. Blaine Hardy, NW Arkansas
Blaine Hardy is frequently mentioned by the organization as a reliever who could be ready to contribute soon at the big league level. Despite skipping High-A this season, the 23-year-old southpaw is acquitting himself quite well at the Double-A level. Hardy made three appearances over the Naturals' first 11 games, and he's yet to surrender his first run. In 8.0 innings pitched, he's struck out four batters while allowing just three hits and one walk.
6. Manny Pina, NW Arkansas
Manny Pina was acquired last year in the Dan Gutierrez trade because the Royals loved his glove. If he keeps this up, they might love his bat as well. His first swing as a member of the Royals' organization produced a home run, and he's already had four multi-hit games. Through his first 10 games, the 22-year-old Venezuelan catcher is hitting .345/.441/.552 with three doubles, a home run, and five RBI.
7. Carlo Testa, Burlington
Long one of the organization's sleepers, Carlo Testa is finally getting a chance to play every day in full season ball, and he's responded with an outstanding start. The 23-year-old outfielder has been one of the few offensive bright spots for the Bees thus far, hitting .290/.450/.516 with two doubles, one triple, and one home run in 31 at bats. Testa has already drawn nine walks, which is second to Ka'aihue (11) in the entire organization and is the fifth-highest total in the Midwest League.
8. Federico Castaneda, NW Arkansas
In a Naturals bullpen loaded with potential big league talent, Federico Castaneda has arguably been its most effective arm in the early going this season. The 26-year-old non-drafted free agent from Mexico has made three appearances for NW Arkansas this season, pitching 9.2 scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and nailing down two three-inning saves. Castaneda has struck out 11 batters, and the Texas League is hitting just .121 against him so far.
9. Joey Lewis, Burlington
As a catcher at the University of Georgia, Joey Lewis hit .282 and slammed 19 home runs during his junior season in 2009. The Royals were intrigued by his power and selected him in the 41st round of the 2009 draft. Now a first baseman, Lewis has brought his power stroke to Burlington so far this season. The 22-year-old slammed four round-trippers in his first 11 games, and he carries a line of .250/.341/.639 into this week's action.
10. Everett Teaford, NW Arkansas
Just before the Naturals opened the season, Everett Teaford learned that he wouldn't be in the NW Arkansas starting rotation. He responded with an outstanding effort in relief of Aaron Crow on opening day, picking up the victory with 4.1 hitless, scoreless innings while striking out six San Antonio hitters. When Blake Johnson was placed on the disabled list with a blister, Teaford slid into his spot in the rotation on Sunday and delivered another beauty, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning while picking up his Texas League-leading third win of the season. The 25-year-old southpaw is now 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and has struck out 12 batters in 13.2 innings pitched.
Gerard Hall, Burlington - .270/.400/.486, 6 2B, 10 RBI, 8 BB, 3 SB
Salvador Perez, Wilmington - .348/.360/.391, 1 2B, 1 RBI
John Lamb, Burlington - 0-2, 0.71 ERA, 12.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 8 BB, 15 K
Aaron Crow, NW Arkansas - 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
Buddy Baumann, Wilmington - 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 1 SV, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
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