October 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
David Hale was taken in the third round of the 2009 draft out of Princeton University, though he makes his permanent home in Marietta, Georgia. He pitched 16 innings for the Danville Braves the year he was drafted, then–having been sent to Class A Rome–made his full-season debut in 2010. He made seven disastrous starts before the organization moved him to the bullpen where he took off. Despite starting the year badly, he finished with a 4.13 ERA, a 1.505 WHIP, and a 69-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 93 and 2/3 innings, allowing only 1 home run. As previously discussed when reviewing his year, it’s difficult to explain the drastic contrast between his performance as a starter and his performance as a reliever, and perhaps it means his game is better suited for relief. He was always a guy most thought would do better in relief, but with a big fastball, a plus change up, and a serviceable breaking ball he has the stuff to make it as a starter. We’ll see what the organization elects to do with him in 2011.
Number 29: Jesus Saldeno – RHP (18) 6’0″ 170 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Jesus Saldeno was a 2009 sign out of Venezuela. He didn’t receive a large signing bonus, but looked to be worth one in his professional debut. Pitching 60 and 2/3 innings for the Dominican Summer League Braves, Saldeno posted a 2.67 ERA, a 0.989 WHIP, and a 57-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing 2 homers. A classic “lottery ticket”, Saldeno has a lot to accomplish stateside before he makes it to MLB, but his live arm is encouraging.
The Braves took Todd Cunningham early in the second round of the 2010 draft with the pick they received from Baltimore as compensation for Mike Gonzalez declining Atlanta’s arbitration offer and electing to sign with Baltimore as a free agent. Cunningham is a Jacksonville State University product with nice tools for the 2nd round, but without a very promising profile. The Braves selected him as a third baseman, but that apparently didn’t work and they’re using him as an outfielder. Cunningham can hit and run, but he probably won’t move well enough to stick in CF–where he saw the most action in 2010. His arm is below-average and he hasn’t displayed any power yet, hitting only .260/.341/.338 in 263 PA’s during his pro debut in the South Atlantic League. He could develop into a below-average corner outfielder or a guy who hits enough to make up for his defensive limitations in CF, but he’s most likely destined to become a good 4th outfielder.
Number 27: Ernesto Silva – RHP (19) 6’4″ 180 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Ernesto Silva was a July 2, 2008 sign out of Panama. The Braves gave him a $225,000 bonus, but he’s looked to be worth way more than that through his first two professional seasons. With an ideal frame and loose arm action, Silva eventually projects to effortlessly generate plus velocity. His control is excellent, having walked only 18 batters in 73 and 2/3 professional innings. His curveball has plus potential as well. Silva was limited to 21 and 2/3 innings in the GCL during 2010–his stateside debut–and a lot of things have to go right for him to make it to the majors. If he does make it, he has serious star potential. Another classic lottery ticket.
Number 26: Eduardo Castillo – RHP (20) 6’2″ 170 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Eduardo Castillo was a July 2, 2008 sign out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year old. He spent all of 2009 and the first half of 2010 in the DSL before finishing the latter stateside in the GCL. His walk rate dramatically improved in 2010. With a strong arm, clean delivery, and favorable frame, Castillo has top-of-the-rotation potential, but like the other young Latin American arms mentioned here, he’s a long way away. Castillo’s fastball already touches the mid-90′s and he throws two potentially above-average secondary pitches, a curveball and change up.
Number 25: Juan Abreu – RHP (26) 6’0″ 180 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
The Braves signed Juan Abreu as a minor-league free agent during the 2010 pre-season. He had previously spent five years in the Kansas City Royals organization. Abreu is a relief prospect with a big arm, throwing his fastball at 97-99 MPH. He doesn’t have a whole lot to go with it and is surprisingly unrefined for a relief prospect his age. He has the talent to be an impact arm out of the bullpen, though. He finished his inaugural season with Atlanta with a 4.35 ERA, a 1.417 WHIP, and a 62-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 60 innings across two levels–Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and primarily Class AA Mississippi.
Cory Gearrin was taken by the Braves in the 4th round of the 2007 draft. He’s slowly climbed the organizational ladder and developed into a nearly finished product. Gearrin is a side-armed relief prospect who profiles as a classic right-handed ground-ball specialist. He spent all of 2010 at Class AAA Gwinnett, posting a 3.36 ERA, a 1.295 WHIP, and a 66-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 80 and 1/3 innings while allowing 6 homers. Though the K/BB ratio isn’t ideal, he’s not a player that has to post a tremendous K/BB ratio to be successful. If the Braves decide to part with Peter Moylan and need a cost-effective internal replacement, Gearrin is the logical candidate.
Number 23: Lee Hyde – LHP (26) 6’2″ 205 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Lee Hyde was taken by the Braves in the 4th round of the 2006 draft out of Georgia Tech. He fell off the prospect map in 2008 when he was limited to only 10 and 1/3 innings, but his good performance in the 2009 Arizona Fall League drew a lot of attention which allowed him to regain his prospect status. In 2010 Hyde split the season between Class AA Mississippi and Class AAA Gwinnett, finishing the year with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.484 WHIP, and a 52-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing 4 homers in 60 in 2/3 innings. He throws a fastball with above-average velocity and an above-average knuckle curve. If injuries strike the Braves’ relief corps or the organization elects to part ways with Eric O’Flaherty, Hyde could get a look in 2011.
Number 22: Hector Garcia – OF (19) 6’2″ 170 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Hector Garcia was a July 2, 2008 sign out of Colombia and he’s spent the last two years in the Dominican Summer League, though his 2010 was a much more successful campaign than 2009. He’s a switch-hitting outfielder that profiles as a classic 5-tool right fielder. He can run very well for his size, he has an above-average arm, and has the potential to hit for average and power at the next level. He’s an outstanding athlete that figures to develop as fast as his feel for the game does. He’s a long way away from becoming a household name, but has serious star potential. One of the most underrated international signings the Braves have made.
Benino Pruneda was taken by the Braves in the 31st round of the 2007 draft out of San Jacinto Junor College in Texas. He’s slowly climbed the organizational ladder, making it to AA most recently as a 21-year-old. Pruneda is strictly a relief prospect due to his size and delivery, where he uses his big fastball–touching triple digits on occasion–to overpower hitters. In 64 and 2/3 innings this year between Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class AA Mississippi Pruneda struck out 93 batters. The problem is control, he’s walked over five batters per nine innings the past two years. Though like Juan Abreu he doesn’t have a whole lot to complement his fastball and he’s still very much a thrower, rather than a pitcher, Pruneda has the potential to be an impact bullpen arm.