October 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Prospects
Selected in the 7th round of the 2008 draft out of Junior College, Paul Clemens made the most of his first professional year, making it all the way to Class-A Rome. His full season debut wasn’t nearly as strong, though. He posted a 5.91 ERA, a 1.805 WHIP, and a 64-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 85 and 1/3 innings. Clemens throws hard, touching 97 with his fastball, but he’s desperately in need of a secondary pitch. He also needs to refine his command. While the velocity is there, he doesn’t generate a lot of movement on his fastball. I imagine he’ll start 2010 at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, but don’t rule out a return to Rome, given the lousy results.
Travis Jones entered the year as the number 18 prospect in the organization, having become a rather interesting middle infielder. However, Jones struggled mightily after making the jump to the upper minors, posting a .249/.350/.355 line in 434 PA’s with the Class-AA Mississippi Braves. While his walk rates and contact rates remained the same as they were in 2008, his power completely disappeared, hitting only 5 home runs after belting 16 while playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly Myrtle Beach stadium in 2008. What a difference a year makes. Though that’s probably misleading, as he’s probably just as good of a player but just can’t hit against upper minor-league pitching. I imagine he’ll repeat Class-AA next season, which might be his last shot at making it to the major leagues.
David Francis got a year older in 2009, but didn’t get a lot better. And now that the memory of his 16-strikeout, 6-inning no-hitter is a distant one, his prospect stature is fading. After advancing to a level more appropriate for his age in 2009, he failed to put up dazzling numbers, posting a 4.20 ERA, a 1.524 WHIP, and a 95-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 105 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. Generally, his secondary stuff didn’t make enough progress to succeed in full-season ball, but he also struggled with command. He’ll probably start 2009 at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach.
Yeliar Castro was signed as an international free agent out of Panama and 2009 was his 5th year in the Braves’ system. He throws hard (94 MPH), but his secondary pitch, a slurvy breaking ball, is so-so and he needs to refine his command. He’s advanced like a snail through the system, topping out at Class-A Advanced this season, which isn’t concerning thus far given his youth, but he’s finally at an age-appropriate level and needs to begin improving. 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 in 2009. He’ll likely return to Myrtle Beach to kick off the 2010 campaign.
Paulino was one of those guys who never really stood out enough to get much attention, but as he compiles innings, his results become more and more statistically significant. He’s now to the point of “prospect consideration”. He’s an international signing out of the Dominican Republic. Over the past three seasons, he’s compiled a 3.40 ERA, a 1.308 WHIP, and a 190-to-70 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 159 innings. I imagine he’ll start the 2010 season at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and will need to move to the upper minors at some point in 2010 to continue climbing the prospect rung. He could turn into one of the better relief prospects in the system.
Like many prospects–the Braves’ own Travis Jones included–Diamond struggled to adjust to the upper minors. His strikeout rate held steady, but his command suffered, causing his BB/9 to jump from 2.3 in 2008 to 3.6 in 2009. It also resulted in his being generally more hittable, allowing 10.4 hits per 9 innings after allowing 2 fewer in 2008. He’s not an overpowering pitcher, so lapses in command can be detrimental. I believe he’ll repeat Class-AA in 2010, a crucial year for him.
Rodriguez was originally signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic, but released before the 2008 season, for which the Braves signed him. Last season, 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. He’s the typical lower-minors power-hitter. Lots of XBH and K’s, few walks and a low average. There are definite contact and plate discipline issues he needs to sort out, but his plus power potential gets him on the list. It’ll probably be Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach for Gerardo Rodriguez to start off the 2010 campaign.
Gearrin was a difficult one to rank. There’s a lot to be encouraged by what he did in 2009, but he was 23 years old and cracking the upper minor leagues for the first time. He’s a former fourth round pick, but he doesn’t possess a ton of upside–having been used exclusively as a reliever in his professional career. He displayed fantastic control, walking only 1.8 hitters per 9 innings and posted generally good numbers–peripherals included–a 2.30 ERA, a 0.951 WHIP, and a 52-to-11 strikeout to walk ratio in 54 and 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class AA Mississippi. In general, there’s a lot to like about him, but not a lot to love. It’ll probably be Mississippi again for Gearrin to begin the 2010 season.
Palica had a nice 2009 season and may be looking at a breakout season in 2010. He pitched 61 and 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class AA Mississippi with a 3.23 ERA, a 1.288 WHIP, and a 68-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s hard not to be somewhat optimistic about a 21-year old lefthander reaching AA, but he’s strictly a reliever at this point, his numbers weren’t wowing (they were certainly solid, but not wowing), and he regressed a bit in AA. If he can hold his own at AA, where he’ll begin the 2010 season, he may be looking at competing for a big-league job out of Spring Training in 2011.
Tyrelle Harris had a fairly disappointing College career at the University of Tennessee, but the stuff was there to be a successful big-leaguer. He was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft and he began to show his talent in his first professional season, posting a 1.04 ERA, a 0.865 WHIP, and a 24-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 and 1/3 innings between Danville and Rome. I don’t know what the Braves will do with their high-upside 23-year old in 2010, but I imagine it will either be Rome or Myrtle Beach. The fact that he got such a late start to his professional career–leaving no time for his development to miss a beat–keeps him from ranking higher on this list.
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