April 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Prospects, Scouting
Number 30: Jose Ortegano – LHP (21) 6′1″ 145 LB
This lanky lefty had a decent season for Rome last year striking out 83 in 85 and 2/3 innings while allowing only 25 walks on his way to a 4.62 ERA. Hits were a problem at Rome (90), but that’s probably due to the shoddy defense behind him as his BABIP was 0.357. You’ll frequently find that in the lower minor leagues defenses aren’t as good and BABIP’s are higher, so it’s more important to pay attention to the K/9 and K/BB. He’s been good in that department. As his frame fills out (if it does), he projects to add MPH on his fastball and as long as he can control his pitches, he’ll make it to the big leagues. 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’.
Number 29: Cory Gearrin – RHP (23) 6′3″ 200 LB
The former Mercer University closer will head back to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach in 2009 to work on his control. Myrtle Beach is a great place to work out issues, but he struggled there last year, walking 21 in 23 and 2/3 innings. The good news? He struck out 36 during that span. He actually had identical K and hit numbers at Class A Rome in 2008 as he did at Myrtle Beach, but allowed 6 more to reach via base on balls at Myrtle Beach. His 15 walks in 22 and 1/3 innings at Rome weren’t good, but better than 21 in 23 and 2/3. Overall, if Gearrin ever learns to quit walking so many people he could be a serviceable mid-relief/set-up type reliever. He’s got the experience. He throws from a side-arm delivery making it very difficult to pick up his pitches, especially for right-handed batters. When he challenges the hitters, he gets outs. When he nibbles, he racks up a ton of K’s and issues a ton of free passes that frequently come around to score. There’s not a great deal of upside here, but he could probably pitch in a big-league bullpen in 1 year.
Number 28: Steven Evarts – LHP (21) 6′3″ 180 LB
When scouts look at this kid they generally see a Cole Hamels or a Steve Avery type pitcher. He has a great change-up, a low-90′s fastball (there’s room to add a few MPH as his frame fills out), and a developing curve. He throws from a 3/4 delivery that makes his fastball move a ton. He projects as a number 2 or 3 starter on a first division team if he does pan out. He’s ranked 28 because there’s not a huge probability he will as a 21 year old that’s yet to see Class A Advanced. He’s got a career minor league ERA of 2.30 in 98.0 innings, though. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John so we’ll see what the Braves decide to do with him after he’s healthy.
Number 27: Chad Rogers – LHP (21) 6′3″ 185 LB
Rogers was cruising through the minor leagues before he struggled allowing too many hits at Class A Rome last year. He allowed 96 hits in 91 and 1/3 innings. Again, part of this was the crappy defense behind him as the balls put in play off of him fell for hits 33.5% of the time. He’s efficient and has good control posting a 77/28 strikeout to walk ratio last year. Projects to be a Randy Wolf type blue-collar starter and nothing more, but he’s got a high probability of eventually contributing at the big league level.
Number 26: Jose Cabrera – OF (22) 5′11″ 185 LB
Yes, we have position players in our farm system. 12 of them cracked the top 40, and Jose “Willie” Cabrera shot his stock up enough this year to be included in that group. Cabrera’s numbers weren’t impressive at all through 2007. His career minor league OBP hovered around .320 and his career minor league SLG % sat around .380. However, at Myrtle Beach in 2008 he took off and became one of the better hitters in the league, earning him a late-season promotion to Class AA Mississippi. His combined line for the year was .289/.344/.469. If he continues to get better at putting the ball in play he could become a starting OF, but his eventual role will probably be that of a 4th OF.
Number 25: John Johnson – OF (20) 6′4″ 195 LB
You probably know him better as Cody Johnson. Cody had a really weird season at Rome (well, not weird for him, but he’s a weird player). He hit .252, posted an OBP of .307, walked 40 times, and struck out…… wait for it…. 177 times. 34.4 % of his plate appearances ended in strikeouts. However, he did show off his power, blasting 26 HR and 26 2B with a .479 SLG % (ISOP of .227, excellent ISOP). Basically, a 3 true outcomes guy. Doesn’t walk nearly enough to be an Adam Dunn type, but more of a Dave Kingman or Marcus Thames type. Looking at Kingman’s 1972 season, he batted .225, posted an OBP of .303, slugged at a .462 clip (ISOP of .237), walked 51 times, and struck out 140 times. They’re remarkably similar seasons. Let’s hope Ross learns to be more patient or make solid contact more often, though that’s doubtful as scouts see him as a pure power-hitter who will never hit for a huge average. We’ll see how he does alongside Jason Heyward at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. I’d also like to see him bat in a line-up without Heyward.
Number 24: Richard Sullivan – LHP (22) 6′3″ 235 LB
Big Lefty who only has 54 and 2/3 professional innings. He has a sweeping cross-body delivery that will deceive hitters (and virtually guarantees he’ll make it to the bigs as a LOOGY at worst). He throws a fastball that sits in the low 90′s, a big sweeping curveball, and he’s developing a change-up. That change-up will determine how his career progresses. With it he’ll have a chance to become a starter, without it, he’ll be relegated to the bullpen and most likely as a LOOGY. In his 54 and 2/3 professional innings, he’s struck out 49 and walked only 4 while posting a 2.30 ERA (interestingly, that’s also Steven Evarts’ career minor-league ERA). He went to the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Number 23: Isaiah Ka`aihue- 1B (24) 6′2″ 230 LB
In 2007, Isaiah “Kala” Ka`aihue’s performance at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach earned him a mid-season promotion to AA Mississippi where he struggled mightily. Last year however, a repeat of AA served him well as he went on to post a .274 average, a very impressive .417 OBP, and a .457 SLG %. His homers have declined every year from 28 in 2006 to 22 in 2007 to 14 in 2008. If he can get that part of his game figured out he’ll have a future in Major League Baseball. He won’t have much of a future in our organization, though, for reasons you’ll come to realize as I finish these rankings. He’s about a year away and he’ll play at Class AAA Gwinnett in 2009.
Number 22: Todd Redmond - RHP (24) 6′3″ 210 LB
Redmond complemented Tommy Hanson at the top of the Class AA Mississippi rotation after coming over from the Pirates in the Tyler Yates deal a year ago. Redmond is another one of those control pitchers. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, doesn’t profile as a guy who will miss a ton of bats, and doesn’t project to be much more than a 4th starter. That being said, he’s close to being ready to contribute at the big league level after polishing off an excellent 2008 campaign. Redmond tossed 166 and 1/3 innings exclusively at Mississippi with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP while walking only 33 and striking out 133. He was very home-run prone allowing 17. He’s a candidate to be off this list next year because he’ll probably either be in the bigs, out of the organization, out of baseball, or will have lost most of his value by this time next year. He’ll work to build on his 2008 success at Class AAA Gwinnett in 2009.
Number 21: Ross Francis – RHP (21) 6′1″ 200 LB
Ross “David” Francis’ stock shot through the roof after hurling a 6 inning no-hitter for the Class Rookie Advanced Danville Braves in which he struck out 16 of the 18 batters he retired on July 22 of last year. He finished the season posting a 2.35 ERA in 53 and 2/3 innings striking out 69, walking 17, and posting a WHIP of 1.03. He’s got a good fastball in the low to mid 90′s, a good curveball, and a change-up with substantial movement. He’s a high-upside guy and we’ll see how the minor leagues treat him as he progresses through them. Class A Rome will be his next test.
View the complete top 40 list here.