Each Sunday, I will try to highlight one player on each of our minor league affiliates. Many of our prospects are already off to great starts, but each of these four stand out.
Columbus Clippers: Ezequiel Carrera
Carrera is a marginal prospect given his limited ceiling, likely just a fourth or fifth outfielder on a contending team, but he is maximizing his skill set so far in 2011. Considered an above-average defender in center field, Carrera's offensive game is driven by speed and on-base abilities. Through the first 11 games this season, he's put up an OBP of .455 with five steals in six attempts. Carrera's power comes from his speed, and should he continue his current pace (two doubles and a triple), it would be good for his highest ISO (.108) since 2008.
Akron Aeros: Scott Barnes
Barnes, the product of the Ryan Garko trade, did not get a lot of love from prospect-mavens in the offseason, despite performing very well in the offense-friendly Arizona Fall League. I stated my interest in Barnes back in my November pitching prospect review. Starts like Thursday's (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K) are why. In his first two starts, he has gone 11 innings, racking up 17 strikeouts against just two walks, with no home runs allowed. Remember those numbers. Barnes was plagued by inconsistency last year, but here's hoping he can maintain his hot start a little better this year.
Kinston Indians: Drew Pomeranz
Hard to argue for a better pro debut from Pomeranz. Highlighted by Baseball America with the top spot on their weekly Hot List, Pomeranz has been sublime in his first two starts. So far he has covered 11 innings, racking up 17 strikeouts and just two walks (I told you to remember those numbers). His left-handed heat and power curve are far too much for A-ball hitters, but the constant question we're hearing is, how will he develop his changeup against better hitters? Hopefully, we will find out soon.
Lake County Captains: Giovanny Urshela
Urshela is perhaps the Indians prospect most likely to make a dramatic rise on prospect lists. A 19-year-old graded as an excellent defender at third, Urshela is making his full-season debut with the Captains this year. His ceiling is a function of his bat, and so far, despite his youth, Urshela has put up an eye-opening .381/.447/.500 line. Those numbers are inflated by an unsustainable BABIP, so it would be nice to see his peripheral plate discipline and power numbers improve. Still, it has certainly been a great start for the young Colombian.