August 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues
First off, if you haven’t read Ethan’s scouting notes on Braves 2012 second-rounder Alex Wood, do so. He goes much more in depth with the mechanics than I can, especially body-wise, while my focus is more on arm action and stuff.
While I don’t have video as proof, I can confirm Wood didn’t hop a single time in his outing in Savannah. If they addressed this over the past few weeks, this is great news for Wood’s mechanics. I felt the hop prevented Wood from finishing his motion, essentially cutting himself short. But when I saw him, he had a much smoother finish than during his time at Georgia. This should help his command.
Perhaps the one fault I saw in Wood was his arm action. He stabs the ball behind his body Ubaldo Jimenez style, and he also has the rock back before coming forward, like Ubaldo. The reason I’m not a fan of this, aside from the added stress it puts on the arm, is the added mileage the arm travels could cause lapses in command.
However, based on the video and reports I read when Wood was in college, I was bracing myself for a circus act on the mound. It just wasn’t there. Wood’s mechanics are certainly different, but they aren’t so out of the ordinary that anyone can say they will hinder his future as a professional pitcher.
Fastball: Wood commanded his fastball well. It has above average movement boring in on left-handers, and while he spotted it well arm side, he struggled to hit the glove side with consistency, as Ethan noted in his report. Also, his arm will lag from time to time, causing the pitch to be left up and flat. However, overall, I was very pleased with how he commanded such an exciting pitch. I wasn’t able to catch a radar reading, so I can’t say what the velocity was, but it’s been reported in the low-to-mid-90s.
Changeup: Wood’s changeup is a gorgeous pitch when it’s working. I saw two strikeouts to right-handers on the pitch, both framed perfectly on the outer half, both plus. He also threw several more plus changeups, and it was clearly the best offering of his three. If it isn’t a plus pitch already, it will be. I’m confident in that.
Breaking ball: I don’t know what Wood calls his breaking pitch, whether it’s a slider or curveball, and it doesn’t really matter to me. It was the pitch I paid the most attention to, because it was the one scouts said needed the most work. While there were times where he didn’t have a feel for it, especially early, I came away impressed with the pitch. It showed good, late snap, and he made left-handed batters look silly on a couple occasions.
Wood needs to find more consistency with the breaking ball before I say it’s above average, but based on the movement, I think it has the potential to get there. More than anything, I was impressed with the way it got better as the game went on. By the time he reached the fourth and fifth innings, it showed better location and movement. In his fifth and final inning, I saw four above average breaking pitches, including one he buried on the feet of a right-hander for a strikeout. The breaking pitch had better location glove side, while his attempts to spot it arm side resulted mostly in flat offerings.
Obviously, Wood is going to require some smoothing out. He came in with strange mechanics from Georgia, but it appears he has come a long way already, including a smoother finish. He still struggles with command, but it comes with time. I’m not prepared to say Wood has three above average pitches now, but he certainly has the potential, including a plus changeup. As I said on Twitter, I haven’t had that much fun watching a pitching prospect in a long time, and Wood really vaulted himself up in my book. You’ll be hearing about him in the upper levels soon.
July 12, 2011 at 11:39 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues, Prospects
Peter and I put together our own lists and I put the results together to come up with the final list. Peter has seen more of these players in person than I have, so when a tie was reached I sided with his first-hand knowledge as most of my analysis is based off of statistics and scouting reports. Below is Peter’s list, my list, and the aggregate list with details on each prospect.
1. Julio Teheran
2. Randall Delgado
3. Edward Salcedo
4. Arodys Vizcaino
5. Sean Gilmartin
6. Tyler Pastornicky
7. Paul Clemens
8. J.J. Hoover
9. Brett Oberholtzer
10. Christian Bethancourt
11. Andrelton Simmons
12. Adam Milligan
13. Carlos Perez
14. Todd Cunningham
15. Zeke Spruill
16. Nick Ahmed
17. Mycal Jones
18. Matt Lipka
19. Joseph Terdoslavich
20. Barrett Kleinknecht
21. Juan Abreu
22. Cory Gearrin
23. Seth Moranda
24. David Filak
25. Kyle Kubitza
1. Julio Teheran
2. Randall Delgado
3. Arodys Vizcaino
4. Edward Salcedo
5. Tyler Pastornicky
6. J.J. Hoover
7. Sean Gilmartin
8. Christian Bethancourt
9. Adam Milligan
10. Brett Oberholtzer
11. Nick Ahmed
12. Zeke Spruill
13. Carlos Perez
14. Paul Clemens
15. Matt Lipka
16. Andrelton Simmons
17. Phillip Gosselin
18. Todd Cunningham
19. Billy Bullock
20. Mycal Jones
21. Joseph Terdoslavich
22. Juan Abreu
23. Abraham Espinosa
24. Kyle Kubitza
25. Cody Martin
1. Julio Teheran – 6”2, 175lb RH SP, Current Level: AAA
Teheran was the World Team starter in the futures game and one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He should be in the rotation consistently some time next season, although he has already made two MLB starts.
2. Randall Delgado – 6”3, 200lb RH SP, Current Level: AA
Delgado has struck out 90 batters in 97.2 innings at double-A this year and made his MLB debut against the Rangers earlier this season. He should be ready to stick in the rotation some time next year, but may be used more as a sixth starter due to the glutton of MLB level starters.
3. Edward Salcedo – 6”3, 195lb RH 3B, Current Level: Low-A
In Salcedo’s first full season in the states he is proving why he was such a big signing for the Braves. Salcedo has the best bat in the system and while he has struggled defensively, does not profile as a below average defender. We will not see Salcedo for a few seasons, but he should be the team’s top prospect when he debuts.
4. Arodys Vizcaino – 6”0, 190lb RH SP/RP, Current Level: AA
Vizcaino started the year at high-A Lynchburg but pitched well enough to earn a promotion after nine starts. His exceptional two pitches may force him to the back-end of a bullpen, which he could be ready for this year. He still has a chance to stay in the rotation.
5. Tyler Pastornicky – 5”11, 170lb RH SS, 21yo, Current Level: AA
Pastornicky was acquired in the Yunel Escobar trade with Toronto and has improved offensively since joining the Braves. His stolen base rate has slightly declined, but his power numbers and hit tool have improved. He may be ready to start at shortstop some time next season.
6. Sean Gilmartin – 6”2, 195lb LH SP, 21yo, Current Level: Unsigned
Gilmartin was the first round draft pick for the Braves this year, and features a deadly changeup with an average fastball. As a college arm, Gilmartin should be able to advance rather quickly, though likely not as fast as Mike Minor has.
7. J.J. Hoover – 6”3, 215lb RH SP/RP, 23yo, Current Level: AA
Hoover began the year at double-A Mississippi and was promoted to Gwinnett after a handful of starts. He struggled in his two starts at triple-A, one of which I was in attendance for, and was demoted back to double-A. His past eight appearances have been out of the bullpen, where some believe he may end up, but this may just be to give him a bit of a breather.
8. Christian Bethancourt - 6”2, 190lb, RH C, 19yo, Current Level: High-A
Bethancourt got off to an inauspicious start at the plate but eventually tore up Rome and earned himself a promotion to high-A Lynchburg. He has struggled at Lynchburg since, but his catch and throw skills behind the plate compare with some of the best in all of baseball.
9. Brett Oberholtzer – 6”2, 230lb LH SP, 22yo, Current Level: AA
It has been more of the same for Oberholtzer, who continues to develop and perform in that second tier of Braves starting pitching prospects. The K/BB ratio of 5.48 from last season was bound to drop as he moved to double-A, but he has remained a steady starting pitcher as he has posted a 3.41 FIP for Mississippi.
10. Paul Clemens – 6”4, 180lb RH SP, 23yo, Current Level: AA
This is Clemens’ first season as solely a starting pitcher and he has progressed as expected thus far. His walk and strikeout rates are nearly identical to last season’s through 17 starts. Clemens was my 24th ranked prospect before the season and was unranked by Peter, so his performance this season has been one of the more delightful surprised in the entire system.
11. Adam Milligan – 6”3, 210lb LF/RF, 23yo, Current Level: High-A
Milligan’s biggest problem has always been health. In just six more games he will have matched his highest amount of total games played in any given season. He has the most power in the system, compiling 32 extra base hits so far, but you would like to see the walk total of 16 increase.
12. Carlos Perez – 6”2, 195lb LH SP, 19yo, Current Level: Low-A
It has not been a banner season for the 19-year-old Dominican left-hander, as he has posted a 5.13 ERA through his first 17 starts. However, his K/BB has improved to a 2.18 and this is just his first full season worth of starts. He has very good stuff, and his 8.0 K/9 is still impressive.
13. Andrelton Simmons – 6”2, 170lb RH SS, 21yo, Current Level: High-A
After skipping low-A completely, Simmons bat has actually performed better than expected this season. He still has little power and his stolen base rate has been awful this year (11 SB, 10 CS), but he is known more for his defensive skills and arm than anything. Having fully committed to shortstop rather than pitcher, Simmons’ defense has been shaky at times this season as he has compiled 17 errors.
14. Nick Ahmed – 6”3, 205lb RH SS, 21yo, Current Level: Rookie League
Ahmed is the second 2011 draftee to appear on our list. He is a very athletic player with a solid arm and speed that help make up for his so-so range at the position. He is a big shortstop, sort of in the Derek Jeter-type mold where he relies on bat control and fields the balls hit at him very well. Not saying he will ever be that type of player, but that’s the kind of guy you are looking at rather than a 6”3 power hitter.
15. Zeke Spruill – 6”4, 184lb RH SP, 21yo, Current Level: High-A
It feels as though Spruill has been in the system forever, but he is still just 21-years-old and has developed nicely so far. He has displayed extremely good control at Lynchburg, walking just 18 batters in 116.1 innings and has rebounded nicely from a poor 2010 season. He may get moved up to double-A if a spot in the rotation opens up.
16. Todd Cunningham – 6”0, 200lb SH OF, 22yo, Current Level: High-A
There is no one tool that specifically stands out about Cunningham, but he has shown a respectable ability to get on base. His power is lackluster, as he only has 12 extra base hits this season, but he has his uses as a switch-hitting outfielder who can play all three positions.
17. Matt Lipka – 6”1, 188lb RH SS/2B/CF, 19yo, Current Level: Low-A
Lipka has probably been the biggest disappointment in the system this year. Prior to the start of the season he was eighth on my rankings and ninth on Peter’s, and his drop has obviously been significant. Peter stated he was not very impressed when he saw him in person at spring training this year, and his slash line of .230/.288/.269 has been atrocious. He also has 16 stolen bases and has been caught nine times, which is not quite the pace you are hoping for with such a speedy player. Hopefully, Lipka is able to get it going and revamp his status.
18. Mycal Jones – 5”10, 170lb, RH CF, 24yo, Current Level: AA
It’s looking more and more like Jones is destined to be a utility player at the major league level. The braves have moved him to center field this year and he has performed decently despite injuries. His slash line of .212/.343/.324 is not impressive on its face, but a .343 OBP combined with a .112 ISO is respectable from an up-the-middle player.
19. Joseph Terdoslavich – 6”1, 200lb SH 1B, 22yo, Current Level: High-A
“The Terd” has had quite the season so far, racking up 44 extra base hits in just 83 games played. His 30 doubles are quite impressive as are his 13 home runs. A .333 OBP is lower than his career marks, but his power has helped his OPS remain at a very nice .842 this year.
20. Juan Abreu – 6”0, 180lb, RH RP, 26yo, Current Level: AAA
Abreu is kicking the door on a MLB call-up as we speak. With Scott Proctor struggling and Fredi Gonzalez seemingly losing faith Jair Asencio, Abreu may be the next in line if Proctor is designated for assignment. Abreu is sporting a 2.14 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 42 innings. The walk rate of 4.7 is a bit alarming, but you take the good with the bad.
21. Phillip Gosselin – 6”1, 190lb, RH 3B, 22yo, Current Level: High-A
.289/.346/.438 is certainly respectable from a second basemen. He has not provided much over-the-fence power, hitting just six career home runs in 615 plate appearances in professional baseball, but his 23 doubles and five triples this year are the main reason for his quality offensive line.
22. Billy Bullock – 6”6, 225lb RH RP, 23yo, Current Level: AA
Bullock was acquired for Scott Diamond at the close of spring training, as Diamond was not set to make the Twins’ roster and was going to be sent back to Atlanta if no trade was made. Bullock’s ERA of 4.89 looks bad, but his 49 strikeouts in 35 innings certainly does not. Much like Abreu, his walk rate of 4.6 per nine is far from good, but when a pitcher is striking out 12.6 per nine you can justify pitching him in high leverage situations, which is the type of reliever he profiles to be.
23. Barrett Kleinknecht – 6”0, 200lb RH IF, Current Level: High-A
Another Lynchburg position player, Kleinknecht has struggled in 174 plate appearances this season. He plays all over the field, making appearances at every infield position in just 46 games played, but he has primarily played third with Lynchburg and first in his stint with Rome before his promotion.
24. Kyle Kubitza – 6”3, 190lb LH 3B, 20yo, Current Level: Rookie League
Kubitza is the third and final 2011 draftee to make our list. The 20-year-old third base prospect has power, patience, and tools to be a solid defensive third basemen. He struggled with errors at the hot corner in college, but has skills to perform well defensively and is a solid athlete.
25. Abraham Espinosa/Seth Moranda.
Espinosa – 6”1, 175lb RH SP/RP, 18yo, Current League: Dominican
Abraham is in his second season in the Dominican League and has started five of the eight games he has appeared in. His strikeouts have not been exceptional, but he has walked just 18 batters in 101.2 innings over the past two seasons.
Moranda – 6”2, 180lb RH SS, 18yo, Current League: Rookie League
Moranda was slated to attend Fresno State but the Braves wound up signing him. He was a two-way player in high school and is a solid athlete. He was also the first high school player taken by the Braves, who grabbed him from Buchanan High School in Clovis, California.
October 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Economic Analysis, Front Office, Links, Minor Leagues, Prospects, Tim Hudson
Updated: 10/16/2009 6:52 PM EST - See first and last bullet points.
Some links and analysis for your viewing pleasure.
- The Braves have parted ways with Reid Gorecki Vladimir Nunez (Baseball America got it wrong and has since corrected it), Jorge Campillo, and Buddy Carlyle (Hat Tip: Chop-n-Change). They were outrighted to AAA to make room on the 40-man roster for various off-season acquisitions and elected free agency over an outright AAA assignment. Vladimir Nunez is rather old and probably doesn’t have any future in the organization. I’m not so sure Campillo and Carlyle wouldn’t have been useful in 2010, though. Campillo, as most of you know, had season-ending shoulder surgery early in the season. He’s a soft-tossing junk pitcher, but he throws strikes and doesn’t walk many hitters (2.2 BB/9 in 2008). However, the Braves seem to have another similar guy at AAA in Todd Redmond, so maybe the free roster space is worth more than having Campillo on it. Carlyle is perhaps the most intriguing one. In 2008, he added a cutter to his repertoire and the results were very good. He was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2009 and spent most of the year rehabbing. Braves scouts know more than I do, but I figured he might be a useful piece in 2010. Oh well, I’ll be pulling for him wherever he goes. Vladimir Nunez Reid Gorecki was also outrighted and accepted his assignment to AAA . While he remains with the organization, he no longer occupies a spot on the 40-man roster.
- As many of you know, now former Braves’ scouting director Roy Clark has accepted a position with the Washington Nationals to become their director of scouting and player development. The Braves wasted no time finding a replacement, naming Tony DeMacio their new scouting director shortly after Clark’s departure. As Jim Callis of Baseball America notes (subscription required), DeMacio doesn’t have an impressive track record from his days in Baltimore, but his drafts were sabotaged by a great deal of ownership interference. Clark was very good at his job and will certainly be missed, but unlike Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports, I don’t consider this to be a significant blow to the organization. My belief is that people generally overstate the impact of scouting directors. Don’t get me wrong, they are important. But I believe the that the organization’s philosophy, the scouts themselves, and the general manager are more important. People considered losing Paul Snyder to be a huge blow but the organization soldiered on, largely un-phased. I suspect people will consider losing DeMacio a huge blow after he comes and goes, but life goes on.
- Tim Hudson has gotten a lot of attention in the past few weeks. There was some initial speculation, but a report by Ken Rosenthal that suggested Tim Hudson would likely void the $12 million club option if the Braves were to exercise it and, instead, elect free agency prompted much of the mental energy spent on the issue. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs gives his take, Matthew Pouliot of NBCSports speculates Hudson could get $50 million over 4 years on the open market, and JC Bradbury of Sabernomics makes his case. The report prompted the two Braves beat writers, Mark Bowman of MLB.com and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to publish articles with quotes from Tim Hudson himself, refuting Rosenthal’s report and suggesting Hudson’s primary desire is to remain in Atlanta. My take: Hudson has never filed for free agency and this season probably represents his last opportunity to land a big contract on the open market. Still, he makes his permanent home in Auburn, Alabama and I believe he is sincere when he states his desire to stay in Atlanta. I believe he probably signs an extension with Atlanta. Perhaps after testing free agency, but I believe he will, in the end, find Atlanta to be the most attractive option.
- Baseball America has released their list of top-20 prospects for each of the 6 leagues in which the minor league affiliates of the Braves participate. I’ll link to them. Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, South Atlantic League, Carolina League, Southern League, and International League. Several Braves are mentioned. Speaking of prospects, I’ve finished my list and write-ups of the Braves’ top-40 prospects. It was a rather large undertaking, consuming the majority of my baseball endeavors over the past month. Though I’m glad to have finished, it was very fun to do. The new list now appears on the Top Prospects page. You’ll find links to all the goods there.
- Mac Thomason of Braves Journal provides some excellent insight and analysis in his latest post: Where Do We Go From Here? 2009: I. Do the Braves need offense? I generally agree with everything Mac writes. Not only is this article no exception, but it’s particularly insightful. There will undoubtedly be more installments to this series and I’ll most likely continue to link to them.
- Brian McCann underwent a second Lasik Surgery. Fingers crossed is my only comment.
I’ve decided to do an AFL report every Friday in conjunction with my Friday Links segment. I’ll recap the past week’s action. I may add a Monday AFL report segment as the off-season grows and I begin running out of things to talk about.
The Peo Saguaros season kicked off on Tuesday night with Braves 2009 first rounder Mike Minor delivering the first pitch. Minor exited after two innings (he was on a pitch count, standard procedure) having allowed 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run. Jason Heyward got the start in right for the season opener and went 2-4 with 2 doubles and a stolen base. Wednesday night, every Braves representitive except Minor got in the game. Heyward again got the start in right and went 1-4 with a double, Freddie Freeman got the start at 1B and went 0-3 with a walk, Brandon Hicks got the start at 3rd and went 0-3. Jeff Lyman was the starting pitcher and allowed 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run in 2 innings. Lee Hyde and Craig Kimbrel each pitched in a scoreless inning in relief, Hyde allowing a hit and a walk, and Kimbrel allowing 2 walks. Hyde recorded a strikeout in the game and Lyman recorded two. Thursday night Heyward got his third consecutive start in right and went 1-4 with a walk. Brandon Hicks got the start at SS this time and went 2-5.
October 16, 2009 at 11:33 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues, Prospects
For the second straight year, Cole Rohrbough failed to impress, regressing in almost every important category. He finished the season with a 5.77 ERA, a 1.513 WHIP, and a 100-to-48 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 117 innings for the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Off-field issues surrounded Rohrbough’s on-field struggles. He’s a new father and rarely gets to see his child. It was reported that he suffered from some depression in 2009 and contemplated quitting baseball at one point. Because of the high ceiling he possesses and the fact that scouts still seem impressed, I’m more than willing to give Rohrbough the benefit of the doubt, but his clock is ticking. He’ll be 23 next season and can’t afford another lost season. Rohrbough throws a low-90′s fastball and a plus curveball with sharply breaking movement that he’ll throw in any count to both sides of the plate as either a chase pitch or a get-me-over type.
Milligan was drafted by the Braves three times. The third and final time was in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. Despite his strong commitment to Vanderbilt, the Braves were able to sign him. He missed all of the 2008 season with an injury, but came back in 2009 with an impressive campaign that caught a lot of attention. He’s a very athletic guy who was an equally apt football player. He’s got plus plus raw power and he’s an average runner, though he profiles best as a left fielder. He finished the 2009 season hitting .344/.393/.592 with 13 HR, 3 3B, 20 2B, 15 BB’s, and 58 K’s in 285 PA’s between Danville, Rome, and Myrtle Beach. He’s a rather raw hitter who needs to refine his approach at the plate to succeed in the upper minors, but the tools are certainly there. He’ll most likely begin 2010 at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach.
The 2008 draft may turn out being one of the better ones in Braves’ history. Hoover, who was taken in the 10th round of said draft, showed a lot of very good things in his first full season. He finished the year with a 3.47 ERA, a 1.223 WHIP, and a 150-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 137 and 1/3 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. He throws a mid-90′s fastball, curveball, slider, and change-up. All of his pitches have a chance to be above-average. There’s a great deal of upside here and if he keeps improving, he could be at the top of this list very soon. He’ll begin 2010 at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach.
Zeke Spruill was taken in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft and has put together back to back impressive campaigns. In 2009, he pitched 135 and 2/3 innings with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.275 WHIP, and a 118-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He did most of his damage at Class-A Rome, but was sent to the GCL for disciplinary reasons and made 4 starts for the rookie-level team. It was reported that he was repeatedly late to meetings and practices, causing the demotion. He throws a low-90′s fastball, and three secondary pitches–curveball, slider, and change-up–that have a chance to be average pitches. Spruill is still very young and has shown a lot of promise. I am expecting good things from this kid.
Randall Delgado, who signed with the Braves out of Panama before the 2007 season, possesses one of the highest ceilings in the system. He’s got a live arm and effortlessly throws in the mid-90′s. His secondary stuff is a work in progress, but he’s still been met with excellent results. In 2009 he posted a 4.35 ERA, a 1.387 WHIP, and a 141-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 124 innings for the Class-A Rome Braves. His strikeout rate is particularly encouraging, especially for his age. He’ll most likely begin the year at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and will be regarded as one of the farm’s crown jewels before too long.
Kimbrel throws serious heat. His fastball has touched triple digits at times, but mostly sits in the high-90′s. He also throws a slider that scouts call “a true out pitch right now”. Hopping around the minors like Kenny Lofton did the majors, Kimbrel made 5 different stops in 2009. He started at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, was demoted to Class-A Rome, was promoted to Myrtle Beach, was promoted to Class-AA Mississippi, and was again promoted to Class-AAA Gwinnett to finish the season. Kimbrel posted a 2.85 ERA, a 1.250 WHIP, and a 103-to-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 60 innings between the four levels. The walks were a problem for him and he’ll have to learn to minimize them if he wants to be a successful major-league pitcher. Due to his frame and delivery, he’s strictly a reliever. He’s not an athletic guy so the control problems do raise a significant question mark, but if he can overcome them, we’re looking at a dominant reliever. He may see major-league action in 2010, especially if he puts together a good AFL campaign.
Christian Bethancourt signed with the Braves out of Panama at the age of 16. He was considered the top catching prospect on the international market at the time. Since then, he’s done nothing but impress. In 2009, between the GCL and Appy league, he hit .277/.342/.446 with 4 HR, 1 3B, 14 2B, 17 BB’s, and 38 K’s in 187 PA’s. He also stole 8 bases in 9 attempts. The numbers themselves don’t impress, but the fact that he’s a catcher make them more significant. Oh yeah, he was also seventeen years old when he compiled these numbers. For his efforts, he was named the top prospect in the GCL by Baseball America. He does some things very well defensively, including his plus arm and ball blocking abilities. He’s a young, exciting, high-upside guy that Braves fans will certainly enjoy watching develop.
Freeman is a big, tall, powerful hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. He played through a wrist injury for most of the 2nd half, leading to a rather pedestrian line of .282/.363/.408 with 8 HR, 27 2B, 37 BB’s, and 60 K’s in 466 PA’s between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi, but he still possess a great deal of upside. He figures to hit ~.300, post a good OBP, belt 20-25 homers, and contribute with the glove, as he’s a good fielder even though he’s rather slow and has below-average range. Don’t let the down year fool you, Freeman is still the real deal. He’ll probably begin the 2010 season at Class-AA Mississippi and has a decent shot at making it to the big leagues by May, 2011.
Julio Teheran has more upside than any pitcher in the system. The same was true last year when I put together these rankings and Tommy Hanson was still a prospect. He was signed out of Colombia (he makes his permanent home in Cartagena, Colombia. I’ve dubbed him “The Cartagena Kid”) and immediately began to impress scouts. He throws a mid-90′s fastball that he can dial up to 97 when he wants to. Additionally, he generates a great deal of life on the pitch with his 3/4 delivery. He also throws a plus change-up with great life and a developing curveball. The lack of consistency with the curveball and a mechanical hitch in his delivery are the only knocks on Teheran. Most experts don’t believe Teheran’s mechanics will be problematic because he repeats them so well. Teheran will begin his first full season at Class-A Rome and I am very excited to see what 2010 has in store for him. He has a chance to be very special.
In 2006 the Braves finished 79-83. 18 games behind the first place New York Mets in the NL East. They not only had their first losing season since 1990, they were out of the playoffs for the first time since 1990. The 14-year run had come to an end and things were looking rather grim. However, this may have been one of the most important seasons in Braves history. Not because of anything directly related to what went on in the field. Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Matt Diaz, Martin Prado, Adam LaRoche, Tim Hudson, and Peter Moylan were the only players on that 2006 team that were also on 2009′s squad in any capacity. Certainly the development of Moylan, Prado, Diaz, and McCann were important, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
No, the fact that the Braves finished 79-83 is what is important here. Finishing 79-83 gave the Braves the 16th best record in MLB, giving them the 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft. And with that pick the Braves selected Jason Heyward, who will most likely have more impact on the future of the organization than anything that went on in those 162 miserable games.
Jason Heyward is the complete package. He not only possesses all of the tools you’re looking for in your top prospect (ability to hit for average, ability to hit for power, ability to run, ability to throw, ability to field, general athleticism, etc.. By the way, I named the 5 tools of a 5-tool player there, and Heyward is a 5-tool player), but he couples it with an extremely advanced approach, vast knowledge of the game, intelligence, poise beyond his years, and an outstanding attitude. There really aren’t enough good things to say about Jason Heyward.
In 2009, between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, Class-AA Mississippi, and Class-AAA Gwinnett, Heyward hit .323/.408/.555 with 17 HR, 4 3B, 25 2B, 51 BB’s and 51 K’s in 422 PA’s. He also stole 10 bases in 11 attempts. Scouts believe he’ll do all of that in the majors in addition to hitting 20 more home runs. He’s going to be a super-star for a very long time.
For his efforts, Heyward was named the number 1 prospect in the Carolina League by Baseball America, the number 1 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America, USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year, and Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. When the various top-100 prospect lists come out, he’ll most likely sit atop each one of them.
I am generally opposed to over-hyping prospects. However, I don’t think that’s possible with Jason Heyward. He’s just too good. He’ll be a staple in the middle of the Braves’ batting order for years to come. He could get that chance starting in April of 2010 or he could get that chance in June of 2010, but he won’t be in the minors much longer.
He’s currently playing in the AFL, furthering his resume as baseball’s top prospect and the crown jewel of Atlanta’s farm.
October 15, 2009 at 8:00 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects
2009′s third rounder played his high school ball at Walker High School in Marietta, Georgia before going to Princeton, where he was met with rather pedestrian results. He has the stuff to be a front-line starting pitcher. He throws a mid-90′s fastball with good tailing action, an above-average change-up that he throws ~20 MPH slower than his fastball, and a developing slider that could be an average pitch. His 3/4 delivery generates the tailing action on his pitches. His ERA at Princeton in 2007 and 2008 was 4.88, though. You would expect a guy like Hale with good stuff to have better results against weak Ivy League competition. His command is spotty. When it’s on, he is. When it’s not he does things like post a 4.88 ERA in the Ivy League. In 16 innings for the Danville Braves this season, Hale posted a 1.12 ERA, a 0.750 WHIP, and a 12-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There’s a great deal of upside here, but he needs to get a lot better. Class A Rome will probably be Hale’s 2010 destination.
The Braves took Tyler Stovall in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft and signed him to a significantly over-slot bonus. He should’ve made the list last season, but injuries and oversight on my part kept him off my map. This season, with the Danville Braves, Stovall pitched 52 innings with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.769 WHIP, and a 57-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It was the strangest of seasons. Stovall throws two above-average pitches right now, his fastball and curveball. However, he doesn’t trust his fastball (something I’ve dubbed “Clay Buchholz Syndrome”) and frequently uses his curveball as his primary pitch. Thus the 56 walks in 52 innings. He’s an athletic guy, which usually bodes well for control, so I don’t anticipate walks will be a huge problem going forward, he just needs to trust the fastball. Like Hale, he’s got the stuff to be a front-line starter. I imagine he’ll join Hale in Class-A Rome’s rotation in 2010.
Ortegano is a Venezuelan product that saw his stock increase as he made a seamless transition to the upper minors in 2009. In 117 and 1/3 innings between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi, he posted a 3.22 ERA, a 1.159 WHIP, and a 101-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio. I wrote the following about him last year: “He’s a control guy, and he won’t ever miss enough bats to bee a Scott Kazmir, but his future is brighter than Chuck James’”. He’s gotten better and better as he’s progressed through the system and has a fairly good shot at making it to MLB. He’ll probably start the 2010 season at Mississippi, and with a good year there, he could find himself competing for a job out of 2011 Spring Training. Or even sooner. Though he doesn’t possess a whole lot of upside.
A little guy. 5’9″, 170 LB, and only 20 years old. But he somehow throws a 100-MPH fastball. Due to a funky delivery and lack of much to go with his heater, he’s strictly a relief prospect and has made all of his professional appearances in relief. In 2009, he pitched 59 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and posted a 4.73 ERA, a 1.508 WHIP, and a 77-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The only thing that stands out about his game is his ability to strike batters out (thus the 100-MPH fastball). It’s easy to fall in love with this ability, but I’m skeptical as to whether or not it will translate into success in the upper minors or MLB. While his walk rate is alarming, he’s still one of the more interesting relief prospects in the system. There’s no need to rush him, and I think he’ll begin his 21-year old season at Myrtle Beach.
Cody Johnson was taken in the 1st round (24th overall) of the 2006 draft. Since then, he’s been impressing scouts and prospect huggers alike with his 80 raw power, but showing plenty of other limitations. In 2009, he hit .239/.342/.500 in 518 PA’s with 32 HR, 18 2B, 67 BB’s, and 180 K’s. He made marginal progress with his walk rate, but his contact rate is still miserable. People are generally impressed with power because it’s sexy, but striking out in nearly 35% of your PA’s won’t cut it. Major league hitters can be productive striking out that much, but we’re talking about a Class-A Advanced hitter. The contact issues lead me to question whether or not his bat will continue to play as he reaches the upper minors. He’s not a good fielder and will be limited to LF if he ever makes it to MLB. Still, there’s a great deal of upside here and he’s still very young, so don’t give up hope yet. If he could overcome his contact issues, he’d be in consideration for the various top-100 lists encompassing all of MiLB. Class-AA Mississippi is likely where he’ll begin the 2010 season.
2009 was sort of an 11th hour turn-around for Matt Young. He profiles as the typical left-handed hitting, lead-off, center fielder. In 2009, he increased his walk rate, posting a line of .284/.414/.403 with 5 HR, 10 3B, 23 2B, 97 BB’s, and 64 K’s in 600 PA’s between Class-AA Mississippi and Class-AAA Gwinnett. He also stole 43 bases in 60 attempts (71.67% success rate). I normally wouldn’t rank a player this old, much less at number 15, but the turn-around he experienced in 2009 was too much to ignore. With the glut of left-handed hitting outfielders with no power, I doubt he gets any shot at a big-league job out of spring training, but a promising 2010 season at Gwinnett could land him on a big-league roster (either the Braves’ or another) by late 2010.
Dimaster Delgado (aka “the other Delgado”) is a Panamanian import who has shown a great deal of promise with outstanding strikeout and walk rates throughout his minor league career. In 2009, for instance, he made 17 starts for the Class-A Rome Braves, posting a 3.61 ERA, a 1.154 WHIP, and a 104-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 99 and 2/3 innings. It was an extremely good campaign for his first full season. He throws a high 80′s fastball, a decent show-me curveball, and a developing change-up. Developing that change-up will be key for him, as the curveball doesn’t figure to be an out-pitch further in his career. He locates all of his pitches very well. There’s not a great deal of upside here and scouts wonder if he’s not as good as his numbers, but three very good seasons in a row is too much to ignore. He’ll probably begin 2010 at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach.
2009′s polarizing first rounder (7th overall) was taken after three years at Vanderbilt and a pair of very impressive showings for Team USA. He throws a low-90′s fastball, a change-up that can be above-average at times, an average slider, and an average curveball. His 14 Class-A innings in 2009 aren’t particularly meaningful, but he did post a 0.64 ERA, a 0.714 WHIP, and struck out 17 batters while walking none. We’ll have more meaningful data and more scouting information after his AFL campaign, which kicked off two days ago as he allowed an unearned run on a hit and 2 walks in 2 innings, getting the start for Peoria Saguaros. His ceiling is probably that of a “number 3 starter” (I hate using that term), but he’s a polished college product and should advance through the system rather quickly.
Osuna is a Mexican pitcher who is utilized as a starter in the Braves’ system and a situational lefty in the Mexican League. Like Ortegano, he’s a soft-tossing lefty who locates his pitches. He made 27 appearances (26 starts) between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi in 2009, posting a 4.02 ERA, a 1.273 WHIP, and a 105-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 150 innings. The dip in his strikeout rate is concerning, but he worked very efficiently in 2009, averaging over 5 and 2/3 innings per start. Like a lot of lefties, the question isn’t so much if he’ll make it to the big leagues, but when and as what. If he improves in 2010, his future could be rather bright as a starter. If not, he’ll probably be relegated to a relief role in the big leagues.
For the 2nd straight season, Brett DeVall, a 2008 compensation round pick, saw his season hampered by injuries. He totaled only 53 and 2/3 innings for the Class-A Rome Braves. The numbers were good, as he posted a 3.52 ERA, a 1.193 WHIP, and a 41-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in those 53 and 2/3 innings. Still, concerns about his durability leave him out of the top-10. DeVall is a prototypical pitchability lefty, throwing a high-80′s fastball, a good change-up, and a solid curveball. Like Minor, his ceiling is probably a mid-rotation starter, but he’s younger and has more time to develop. The next step for DeVall is getting through an entire season without an injury. I don’t know if he’ll get that chance with the Class-A Rome Braves or Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2010, but it will likely be one of the two.
October 14, 2009 at 8:00 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects
Luis Sumoza signed out with the Red Sox of Venezuela and was later shipped to the Braves for Mark Kotsay in 2008. In 2009 he showed a lot more of why the Red Sox were willing to part with him than why the Braves were excited to acquire him. In 534 PA’s between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach he hit .265/.311/.353 with 4 HR, 2 3B, 28 2B, 31 BB, and 109 strikeouts. He stole 8 bases in 19 attempts. While he played good defense in right, his power completely disappeared. After hitting 11 HR and posting a .236 ISO in 2008, his .088 ISO and 4 HR are extremely measly. He’s still very young, he’ll be 21 next year, and he still has a great deal of upside, but he needs to do a better job of using his tools in game situations. He’ll probably begin the 2010 campaign at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, but don’t rule out a return to Rome.
2009 was not kind to Brandon Hicks. He spent the entire year at Class-AA Mississippi and was met with rather terrible results. In 534 PA’s he hit .237/.319/.373 with 10 HR, 4 3B, 25 2B, 53 BB’s, and 131 K’s. His contact rate actually improved from 2008, but his walk rate took a hit. Additionally, his power evaporated. He hit 20 HR with a .232 ISO in 2008 but only 10 HR wit a .136 ISO in 2009. Coming into 2009 the contact issues were there, but overshadowed by his excellent defense and plus power potential at SS. He performed well defensively, but with the power gone and contact issues only marginally improved, his stock is way down. There is still some potential, but the contact issues may be too great to overcome as he’ll be 24 in 2010. I imagine he’ll repeat Class-AA Mississippi in 2010. If he doesn’t improve in 2010 you can probably kiss his hopes of reaching the majors goodbye. He’ll also be joining others from this list in the Arizona Fall League, which started yesterday.
2009′s 20th rounder pitched three years at the University of Virginia with pretty crappy results for his stuff and approach. However, he turned in two solid Cape Cod League campaigns and the Braves’ scouts figured he’d play better against wooden bats. In 2009 he began to prove them right, posting a 4.09 ERA, a 1.303 WHIP, and a 42-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 innings for the Danville Braves. He never posted a K/9 > 7.0 in his college career, so the 11.5 is very encouraging, even if he was facing weaker competition in the Appy league than he did in the ACC. He’ll probably advance through the system rather quickly, but he’ll most likely report to Class-A Rome in 2010.
2009′s 8th rounder out of Community College did not fail to impress in his professional debut. In 174 PA’s between the Appy League and the GCL, he hit .293/.397/.354 with 1 HR, 1 3B, 4 2B, 20 BB’s, and 21 K’s. He also stole 27 bases in 31 attempts (87.10% success rate) and played excellent defense in Center Field. He isn’t going to hit for any power, but he displays an impressive approach at the plate. He has a chance to be the prototypical lead-off CF’er, good avg, OBP, tons of SB, and plus defense in center to off-set his lack of power.
The comp is Carl Crawford. Good average, good approach, a bit of pop, lots of speed, good defense, etc.. He hit .324/.401/.441 in 253 PA’s for the Rookie Danville Braves. He hit 2 HR, 5 3B, 10 2B, drew 27 walks and struck out only 22 times, and stole 19 bases in 21 attempts. Unlike Crawford, he possesses the arm to play Center or Right, where he mostly played in 2009. Harrilchak was the Braves’ 2009 14th rounder out of Elon University, where he posted a 1.109 OPS in his career. He also pitched, thus the good arm.
Brewer was a 14th rounder in 2007, but injuries limited him to 32 and 2/3 innings his first two seasons (all in 2007). He came back in 2009 as a 2o-year old and pitched 44 and 2/3 innings in the GCL, posting a 2.82 ERA, a 1.142 WHIP, and a 65-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Even though he was rather old for the league, Baseball America named him the number 17 prospect in the GCL. He throws a low-to-mid 90′s fastball and a good, tight curveball. He’s developing the change and command issues–leading to the 31 walks–hindered him a bit in 2009. I imagine he’ll be ready for a full-season assignment in 2010, so Class-A Rome is the logical destination.
Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg got the attention of a lot of bloggers after jumping off to a hot start at Danville. The 2009 16th rounder finished the year hitting .359/.411/.543 in 263 PA’s with 8 HR, 19 2B, 16 BB’s, and 37 K’s. It was certainly a good line, but his walk rate was, simply, bad and a lot of his power was batting average driven. The .184 ISO, for instance, is lower than fellow 1B prospect Gerardo Rodriguez posted in 2009. He has plus power potential, but defensively he’s limited to 1B. He was also rather old for the Appy League at 21. Displaying more secondary offense is what “RSF” needs to do in 2010. He’ll probably have to do it against South Atlantic League pitching. He just missed being ranked in Baseball America’s Appalachian League top-20.
2009′s 11th rounder put up one heck of a showing in Danville during his professional debut. He pitched 69 and 2/3 innings, posting a 1.42 ERA, a 0.890 WHIP, and a 85-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The numbers speak for themselves, but keep in mind Masters was old (21) for the league and faced stiffer competition at Western Carolina University for the past three years. He throws, and commands very well, a low-90′s fastball, but needs to develop his secondary stuff. He also just missed ranking in Baseball America’s Appalachian League top-20.
Oberholtzer was an 8th round pick in the 2008 draft and has gotten off to a great start of his professional career. He throws a high-80′s to low-90′s fastball with good life, an average curveball, and an average change-up. He walked only 6 hitters in 67 innings for the Danville Braves, displaying his exquisite control. He does a good job of holding runners, he fields his position, and he handles the bat well. As Baseball America says (he was ranked the 20th best prospect in the Appalachian League): Though he lacks a knockout pitch, the sum of his abilities gives him a chance to pitch at the back of a big league rotation. He’ll probably make his full-season debut in 2010–presumably with Rome. He profiles as the typical pitchability back-end lefty. I’m expecting good things from Oberholtzer in 2010.
There were a lot of things to like about what 2009′s 4th rounder did in his professional debut. Playing every day and batting 2nd for the Danville Braves, Jones hit .258/.337/.430 in 282 PA’s. He hit 4 HR, 6 3B, 18 2B, drew 26 BB’s, struck out 55 times, and stole 19 bases in 23 attempts. He was also good defensively at SS, displaying above-average range and an average arm. His walk rates and contact rates, while good, could stand to improve a bit. He displayed an advanced approach at the plate and impressive strike-zone knowledge. While he was rather old for the Appy league, there is still a lot to be encouraged by what he did and where he’s headed. Rome or Myrtle Beach will be his 2010 destination.
October 12, 2009 at 11:16 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues, Prospects
Here’s a short report on what all of the prospects who will appear on my top-40 list for the first time did in the minors in 2009. This excludes 2009 draftees. I covered the entire draft class here.
Christian Betancourt – C (17) 6’2″ 175 LB.
Christian Betancourt had an excellent 2009 season, posting a .277/.342/.446 line in 187 PA’s between the GCL and Appalachian league. He hit 4 HR, 1 3B, 14 2B, stole 8 bases in 9 attempts, walked 17 times, and struck out only 38. Did I mention he is 17 years old?
Adam Milligan – OF (21) 6’3″ 210 LB.
Milligan was drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 draft and, despite a strong commitment to Vanderbilt, the Braves were able to sign him. He made his professional debut in 2009 and didn’t fail to impress, posting a .344/.393/.592 line (.248 ISO) with 13 HR, 3 3B, 20 2B, 15 walks, and 58 strikeouts in 285 PA’s between Danville, Rome, and Myrtle Beach. The plus power potential from the left side he showed in 2009 makes him a very good prospect.
Matt Young – CF (26) 5’8″ 175 LB.
Matt Young increased his walk rate and generally showed more offensive potential in 2009, such that he’s now legitimately on the prospect map again, even at the age of 26. In 600 PA’s between Mississippi and Gwinnett, he hit .284/.414/.403, with 5 HR, 10 3B, 23 2B, 97 BB’s, and 64 K’s. He also stole 43 bases in 60 attempts (71.67% success rate) and played plus defense in center.
Tyler Stovall – LHP (19) 6’1″ 180 LB.
Stovall should’ve been on the 2009 list, I left him off simply due to oversight, but he did increase his stock in 2009. The 2008 2nd rounder pitched 52 innings for the Danville Braves, posting a 3.12 ERA, a 1.769 WHIP, and a 57-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He walked a ton of batters mainly because he didn’t really trust his fastball and threw his curveball too much.
Caleb Brewer – RHP (20) 6’3″ 205 LB.
Injuries wrecked Brewer’s 2008 campaign, but he returned to the GCL (where he last pitched in 2007) in 2009 and posted a 2.82 ERA, a 1.142 WHIP, and a 65-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 and 2/3 innings. His career basically started all over again in 2009, but the numbers were solid and scouts seemed impressed for a guy who hadn’t pitched in a year.
Gerardo Rodriguez – 1B (21) 6’1″ 195 LB.
Rodriguez continued to show off his tools in 2009. In 501 PA’s between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, he hit .269/.315/.487 (.218 ISO) with 23 HR, 7 3B, 18 2B, 27 BB’s, and 141 K’s. Those 23 HR’s rank 2nd in the system to Cody Johnson’s 32. This includes MLB.
Angelo Paulino – RHP (22) 6’4″ 190 LB.
In 64 innings for the Class A Rome Braves, Paulino posted a 2.67 ERA, a 1.328 WHIP, and a 78-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Overall, a very solid season. He was used exclusively as a reliever.
Yeliar Castro – RHP (21) 6’3″ 180 LB.
Castro turned in a solid season in 2009. He posted a 4.43 ERA, a 1.373 WHIP, and a 78-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 67 innings for the Rome Braves and Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He made 3 starts for Rome, but was primarily used as a reliever.