April 23, 2009 at 11:42 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Prospects, Scouting
Number 20: Scott Diamond – LHP (22) 6′3″ 190 LB
Another tall, lanky lefty in the system. Diamond may have the best chance of them all at a successful big-league career. He signed with the Braves after his junior year in college and wasted no time blowing through the lower minor leagues. He skipped rookie ball all-together (which isn’t uncommon for college pitchers) and earned a mid-season promotion from Class A Rome to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. In 26 games last year (24 starts), he tossed 152 and 2/3 innings giving up 142 hits, 39 walks, and 8 homers while striking out 123 and posting a 2.89 ERA. Once again, more of a 3rd-4th starter type based on his current stuff. We’ll have a more sufficient sample size after his 2009 season at Class AA Mississippi.
Number 19: Craig Kimbrel – RHP (21) 5′11″ 205 LB
He’s only pitched 35 and 1/3 professional innings, but he’s logged some of the most dominant innings the Minor Leagues have ever seen. He’s allowed 16 hits, 15 BB, and 2 ER. Oh yeah, he also struck out 56 batters. He’s a bit heavy for his frame and he’s not that athletic, which scouts seem to constantly be concerned with for good reasons. Sort of a Bobby Jenks type, I guess, more fit than Jenks but you get the idea. He’ll spend the 2009 season back at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, most probably as their closer, and he should be ready to take on the upper minor leagues in 2010 with a 2011 ETA to the majors. If he pans out, of course.
Number 18: Travis Jones – 2B (23) 5′9″ 190 LB
Ah, the illusive position players on the list. Travis Jones had a tough season in 2008 and I bet you can guess where he played. That’s right, he spent all of 2008 at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, the pitcher’s haven of our farm system. He wasn’t that bad, really. His average took a major hit dropping to .248, but he still found ways to produce getting on base at a .361 clip and slugging .428 (.180 ISOP, a healthy ratio), and hitting 16 HR (up from 12 the previous year). As always, he found plenty of ways to contribute with his glove as he’s one of the system’s best fielders. Getting out of Myrtle Beach will help his numbers and I’m predicting a breakout year for Travis at Class AA Mississippi.
Number 17: Eric Campbell- 3B (23) 6′0″ 195 LB
Well, based on raw tools he’s one of the best position players in the system. He’s got a nice contact-oriented swing that is still capable of hitting 20-30 HR in MLB and he’s patient at the plate. Defensively he’s excellent. He’s got great instincts, reflexes, range, footwork, glove, and a cannon for an arm. He’s one of the most talented players in our farm system. The problem is he can’t stop pissing off every executive and coach he ever meets in the organization. This has lead to many people questioning his make-up. He’s had a few team suspensions over the past two seasons and at one point almost got kicked out of the organization. I have a feeling he’ll either experience a Schafer-like attitude adjustment or be out of the organization next year so I’d say he’ll be either near the top of this list or off of it this time next year. Hopefully the former as he’s one of the two players in the organization that could possibly assume the hot corner when Chipper departs. Not that that’s currently an issue. We have an excellent back-up and signed Chipper to an extension, so we don’t need Chipper insurance. But it would be nice to see Campbell get it together and be a part of the club’s future.
Number 16: Stephen Marek- RHP (25) 6′2″ 200 LB
Marek came to the Braves along with Casey Kotchman from the Angels in the Mark Teixeira deal. As a result he had 2 minor league stints last year and both were at Class AA. His combined line was 60 and 2/3 innings pitched, 51 hits, 27 walks, 3 home runs (after serving up 17 in 134 innings the previous year with the Angels’ Class A Advanced team), 68 strikeouts, 3.56 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. He really could walk fewer than 1 batter every 2 innings, but other than that his numbers are pretty good. He had a mediocre spring with the big club and was assigned to Class AAA Gwinnett. I imagine he’ll be with the big club at some point this year even as a September call-up (he’s on the 40-man roster). He’s a future back-end of the bullpen guy. Whether that turns out to be a 7th inning guy, set-up, or closer remains to be seen.
Number 15: Luis Sumoza – OF (20) 6′0″ 170 LB
Like Marek, Sumoza came over in Braves mini-fire-sale 2k8, this time from the Red Sox for Mark Kotsay straight-up. I originally had Sumoza ranked around 25 based on previous scouting reports until I saw that he hit 11 HR in 237 PA’s last year. Sumoza is a raw, raw outfielder. He’s really toolsy. A very athletic player who plays great defense in the OF, runs well, and has great raw power. He’ll need more refinement before he gets to the higher minor-leagues, but there’s plenty of time as he’s only 20. The more I hear about him the more I like him. He’ll repeat Class A this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the call to come to Myrtle Beach mid-season.
Number 14: Edgar Osuna – LHP (21) 6′1″ 165 LB
He’s a starter in the Braves’ farm system and a LOOGY in the Mexican league during the off-season. The organization likes him as a starter but I’m sure they’re also glad he’s getting some experience as a reliever too. Osuna had a great 2008 at Class A Rome tossing 125 and 1/3 innings striking out 135, walking 31, allowing 121 hits and 9 homers on his way to a 3.38 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Expect big numbers from him in 2009 when he settles in to the pitcher-friendly Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach.
Number 13: Kristopher Medlen – RHP (23) 5′10″ 175 LB
A control specialist who has been used by the organization as both a starter and a reliever. He’d be a pretty good swingman right now and he’s pretty much MLB ready. He pitched well enough to break camp with the club this spring but he has options so the club will get him some innings down at Class AAA Gwinnett. He had a great 2008 tossing 120 and 1/3 innings with a 3.52 ERA while striking out 120 and walking only 27. His ceiling is that of a 3rd starter, but his basement is a long reliever. Barring a career-ending injury, Kris Medlen is going to pitch in the big leagues.
Number 12: Benino Pruneda – RHP (20) 5′9″ 170 LB
How on earth someone 5’9″ 170 LB’s and 20 years old can throw 100 MPH blows my mind, but Pruneda can hit 100 with his fastball. He is being groomed as a closer because his frame + delivery do not equal starting pitcher. He pitched at Class A Rome this past year tossing 57 and 1/3 innings, striking out 73, walking 23, posting an ERA of 2.83 and a WHIP of 1.33. He could stand to cut back on his walks, but he’s only 20. I can’t wait to see how he wrecks havoc on Carolina League hitters when he pitches for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach in 2009.
Number 11: Ezekiel Spruill- RHP (19) 6′4″ 184 LB
A long, lanky righty ala Charlie Morton. Zeke, as he’s commonly called in the organization, has a low-to-mid 90′s fastball, an average slider, and a developing change-up. Like a lot of prospects everywhere, if he develops that change-up he’ll likely have a chance to make it as a starter. If not he’ll still have a chance at a big league career, but as a bullpen arm. He had a nice season for the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Braves pitching 40 innings, striking out 32, walking 8, posting an ERA of 2.92, and a WHIP of 1.25. Overall he’s still raw and lanky. He needs to fill out and get stronger, but he has a projectable arm and could be a big-time front of the rotation starter if he pans out.
View the entire top 40 list here.