Jeremy Hellickson, Durham
2-0, 1.29 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 15 SO
Jeremy Hellickson, who was named the MVP of the 2009 Triple-A National Championship Game, is picking up right where he left off. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Hellickson fanned seven over 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday against the Gwinnett Braves. He allowed just four hits and one walk, which amounted to a lone earned run. In his next start, Hellickson again limited the opposition to one run on four hits and a walk, this time piling up eight strikeouts and tossing 7 1/3 innings against the Norfolk Tides on Sunday. He enters the new week with a 3-0 record and a 1.42 ERA.
Pacific Coast League
Derek Holland, Oklahoma City
2-0, 0.46 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 19.2 IP, 17 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 SO
The Rangers' Derek Holland had a turbulent 2009, struggling with an 8-13 record and 6.12 ERA over 33 big league appearances. But if Texas hoped starting 2010 at the Triple-A level would provide the 23-year-old southpaw with some more seasoning and a renewed sense of confidence, the club bet right. After allowing a run on a solo homer on Opening Day, Holland has been positively lights out. He dominated the Round Rock Express over 7 2/3 four-hit frames on Tuesday, and on Sunday he beat the Memphis Redbirds with six scoreless innings.
Luis Perez, New Hampshire
2-0, 0.53 ERA, 3 G, 2 GS, 17 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 11 SO
Blue Jays farmhand Luis Perez struck out five over three perfect innings out of the bullpen on the first day of the season, and he's hardly relented in his two starts since. On Tuesday, the Dominican-born Perez stymied the Reading Phillies, surrendering just one hit and two walks in seven shutout innings. The homer he surrendered to Binghamton's Luis Hernandez on Sunday not only accounts for the only run he's allowed this year, it was also the only hit the B-Mets managed all day. The Fisher Cats bullpen took over after seven innings from Perez, preserving the win for the lefty.
Tom Cochran, Carolina
2-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 SO
Tom Cochran, who bounced around the Minors and spent time in an independent league before finding a home in the Reds system last year, is showing his comfort level in Double-A early on this season. He struck out seven over six innings of three-hit ball against the Birmingham Barons on April 10, and he pitched the Mudcats to victory over the Montgomery Biscuits on April 16. In that start, he whiffed eight over six shutout frames, allowing just two hits and a walk.
Federico Castaneda, Northwest Arkansas
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 G, 0 GS, 9 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO
The Royals' Federico Castaneda has five seasons of experience working out of the bullpen in the Mexican League under his belt, and he's continued to dazzle in the late innings at the Double-A level. He shut down the San Antonio Missions with 3 1/3 no-hit innings on April 9, fanned six over three scoreless innings to earn a save vs. Corpus Christi on April 12 and then frustrated the Hooks for 3 1/3 more innings and another save on April 18. Texas League batters are hitting just .121 against the right-hander.
Juan Nicasio, Modesto
1-0, 2.65 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 17 IP, 16 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO
Pitching in the hitter-friendly Cal League, Rockies prospect Juan Nicasio hasn't batted an eyelash. After impressing in the South Atlantic League last season (9-3, 2.41), Nicasio is off to a strong start in 2010. His only win came on Opening Day, when he gave up two runs -- one earned -- and struck out five over 5 2/3 innings against the San Jose Giants. He stayed sharp in his next two starts, holding Rancho Cucamonga to three runs on April 13 and allowing the Inland Empire 66ers just three hits on April 18. Most impressive? Over his three starts in the dry air, Nicasio's given up just one homer.
Michael Montgomery, Wilmington
1-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 19 SO
Michael Montgomery, one of the Royals' two first-rounders from the 2008 Draft, is knocking on the door to Double-A with his fantastic performance out of the gate this season. He's allowed two hits in each of two starts, first over a five-inning Opening Day outing against Myrtle Beach, and then over a 17-strikeout, two-hit silencing of the Kinston Indians on Tuesday. Carolina League hitters are batting .098 against the southpaw, and he's issued just one walk so far.
Florida State League
Hector Noesi, Tampa
2-0, 1.50 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO
Hector Noesi, pitching in just his second full season in the States, has continued to give the Yankees player development staff reason to smile this year. On Opening Day, he held the Lakeland Flying Tigers to two hits and a walk while striking out six over six innings to earn a win. On Tuesday, he surrendered two runs on three hits (one of which was a home run), but the Clearwater Threshers by no means had a fun time batting against him -- he notched 10 strikeouts in six innings of work.
Lian Hendriks, Beloit
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 17 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 20 SO
Liam Hendriks, who spent the 2008 season pitching in his native Australia and spent the 2009 season between the Appalachian League and the Midwest League, is winless this season, but the Twins prospect can hardly be blamed for that. He held the Cedar Rapids Kernels to one hit and struck out seven over five shutout innings on Opening Day, allowed the Peoria Chiefs just one hit over six scoreless frames on Tuesday and blanked the Clinton LumberKings while fanning eight over six innings on Sunday.
South Atlantic League
Nick Hernandez, Lakewood
2-0, 1.29 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 21 IP, 17 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 20 SO
Phillies prospect Nick Hernandez had a minor hiccup on Opening Day, allowing eight hits and six runs -- although only two were earned -- in his six-inning outing against Asheville, but he's been baffling to Sally League hitters since. He struck out seven over seven innings vs. Hagerstown on Tuesday, allowing one run on six hits and picking up his first win of the season. On Sunday, he carried a no-hitter into the fifth against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, striking out nine and allowing three hits total without issuing a walk over eight innings.