Where experience and readiness collide
Mat Latos, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
Monday's stats: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 12 K
The Padres' top prospect finally got touched up for a few runs Monday night, but still, it's hard to get more dominant than 12 of 16 outs coming via the whiff. The 6-foot-6 righty also got up to 96 mph on several occasions. With Jake Peavy out of the picture for quite a while, it seems too early to give Latos, who has less than 170 innings of pro experience, a big league look ... or does it?
Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre)
Monday's stats: 3-for-4, 2B
With Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera doing a serviceable job as the Yankees' center-field tandem, one can't help but wonder whether Jackson would be an upgrade. While it's unlikely that he's in line for anything more than a September call-up, the top prospect in the Yankees' system is stating his case for something earlier, as he's hit at least .328 every month this season as part of an overall line of .345/.415/.459 (average/on-base/slugging) while going a perfect 12-for-12 in the stolen base department.
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Stuck in the middle with you
James Darnell, 3B, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Monday's stats: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
For now, Darnell is kind of stuck in the Midwest League, although he clearly doesn't belong there -- he's a 22-year-old former college player with an intriguing combination of tools and skills. Now 11-for-19 in his past five games with three doubles and batting .320/.466/.519 overall, Darnell ranks second in the minor leagues with 55 walks, but the guy he is trailing is Logan Forsythe (57), the San Diego third-base prospect who is one step ahead of him at High-A Lake Elsinore. For now, he's just biding his time and remaining patient.
Little guy, big bat
Caleb Gindl, OF, Brewers (High-A Brevard County)
Monday's stats: 1-for-2, HR (8), 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB
While he's only 5-foot-9, Gindl is one of the more impressive offensive prospects in the Milwaukee system, with good plate discipline, gap power and at least average speed. The power has been for more than the gap variety of late -- with three home runs in his past four games, the 2007 fifth-round pick is now batting .287/.371/.470 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Like waking up from a long nap
Matt Dominguez, 3B, Marlins (High-A Jupiter)
Monday's stats: 2-for-4, RBI, K
The Marlins' first-round pick in 2007, Domiguez hit .296/.354/.499 in 2008 in his full-season debut. That line combined with his plus-plus defensive ability led some to think he looked like a right-handed Eric Chavez. Moving to the Florida State League proved to be a far more significant challenge than expected, however, as his averages sat at a miserable .216/.277/.287 at the end of May. While his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) is up to only .662 since then, the good news is he's definitely found his stroke, batting .351 in his past 13 games with a .630 slugging percentage.
For more than just a sleeper
Thomas Neal, OF, Giants (High-A San Jose)
Monday's stats: 2-for-4, HR (12), R, RBI, K
A draft-and-follow signed in 2006, Neal bounced back from shoulder surgery and earned some praise for a solid season in the Sally League, but he really has exploded this season in California. And now that the scouting reports are coming in, it's looking like this guy is legit. With a stocky build one evaluator likened to that of an NFL running back, Neal generates tremendous leverage in his swing. He has been hitting balls all over the place lately, going 18-for-39 in his past 10 games with 37 total bases to raise his season averages to .346/.426/.626. This isn't a sleeper, folks -- this is a very real prospect.