October 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects
Number 40: J. J. Hoover- RHP (21) 6′3″ 215 LB
Hoover was, perhaps, the most valuable starter for the Rome Braves in 2009. Being the most valuable starter for any Atlanta Braves’ minor-league affiliate is usually an honor, but this one is particularly meaningful considering the rotation included, at some point, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Brett DeVall, Zeke Spruill, Dimaster Delgado, Paul Clemens, Richard Sullivan, and Mike Minor. There was more pitching talent on the Rome Braves this year than any other Braves’ minor-league affiliate, and Hoover was their horse. Hoover posted a 3.35 ERA, a 1.191 WHIP, and a 148-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 134 and 1/3 innings for the Class Single-A Rome Braves. He also got a “cup of coffee” with the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans and pitched 3 innings. He showed plenty of polish, as he should for a 22-year-old playing in the South Atlantic League. He’s one of those prospects who are difficult to gauge, but overall, with his excellent, yet un-astonishing, performance in 2009, he’s moved himself from the “fringe prospect/filler” category to “on the prospect map”. There’s a good chance he’ll crack the top-2o when I finalize my rankings.
Number 39: Michael Mehlich – RHP (21) 6′2″ 180 LB
It was a rough year, statistically speaking, for Michael Mehlich. He posted a 6.82 ERA, a 1.686 WHIP, and a 55-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64 and 2/3 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. His walk rate, HR/9, and H/9 all climbed this season while his K/9 dipped significantly. This, of course, resulted in overall ineffectiveness. For review, Mehlich is very raw and new to pitching. He was a 2-sport standout in high school and never pitched before he was drafted. I won’t know how to properly evaluate his season until I talk to some knowledgeable people about his progress, but the result likely isn’t good. Though with a good review, he could be top-30.
Number 38: Thomas Palica – LHP (21) 6′3″ 215 LB
Thomas Palica had another impressive season and has officially joined the ranks of the many relief prospects in the upper minors of the Braves’ system. Palica, in 61 and 1/3 innings between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi, posted a 3.23 ERA, a 1.288 WHIP, and a 68-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His strikeout rate is slightly down from last year and his walk rate is slightly up, though not enough to cause concern. Overall, a very good building season. If next season goes as well as 2009 did, Palica could find himself fighting for a big-league job out of Spring Training in 2011.
Number 37: Brett Oberholtzer – LHP (19) 6′2″ 190 LB
Brett Oberholtzer had an excellent season for the Danville Braves, pitching 67 innings in 12 starts with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.776 WHIP, and a 56-to-6(!) strikeout-to-walk ratio. He pitched well enough to be named Baseball America’s 20th best prospect in the Appalacian League. The control specialist allowed only 1 HR in his 12 starts. He showed that he may be capable of being more than just an innings-eater and certainly increased his prospect stock. He may rank in the top-20, but he’ll most likely miss the cut.
Number 36: Van Pope -3B (25) 6’0″ 200 LB
Sucked. In 368 PA’s with AAA-Gwinnett, he hit .202/.279/.286/.565. He played some great defensive 3B, but he’s 25 years old and he probably isn’t ever going to hit. Verdict: Bust.
Number 35: Diory Hernandez – 2B (25) 5’11″ 175 LB
Diory Hernandez led the minors in hitting for awhile, hitting .355 at AAA Gwinnett before he was called up to replace Omar Infante as the utility infielder with the big club. He was terrible with the Atlanta Braves, but posted a final line of .319/.399/.422 at AAA, which isn’t so bad. He’s 25 years old and will likely never be more than a spare part. He played horrible defense and hit .141/.198/.212 in 93 PA’s with the big club. His outlook would probably be better if he hadn’t exposed himself in MLB this year.
Number 34: Jacob Thompson – RHP (22) 6′6″ 215 LB
Bad year for Jacob Thompson. He pitched 154 and 2/3 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. In those 154 and 2/3 innings, Thompson posted a 4.25 ERA, a 1.409 WHIP, and a 119-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, and hits are up. Basically, he took a step backwards in every important category this year. That doesn’t bode well for his ranking and he’ll most likely be off this year’s top-4o.
Number 33: Kyle Cofield – RHP (22) 6′5″ 190 LB
It amazes me how Kyle Cofield is able to prevent runs. This year he pitched 140 and 2/3 innings for the Class-AA Mississippi Braves and posted a 3.90 ERA despite a 1.500 WHIP and a 87-to-89(!) strikeout-to-walk ratio. A high strand rate and the fact that 13 of the 74 runs he surrendered were scored “unearned” deflates his ERA, but his phereprials tell the real story. He didn’t show much this year and his prospect stock is way down.
Number 32: Dimaster Delgado – RHP (20) 6′2″ 180 LB
Dimaster Delgado did an excellent job of building on his solid 2007 and 2008 campaigns, making 17 starts for the Class-A Rome Braves. In those starts, he posted a 3.61 ERA, a 1.154 WHIP, and a 104-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The solid across the board season has increased Delgado’s prospect stock and he’ll likely make the top-20 in the new rankings.
Number 31: Paul Clemens – RHP (21) 6′4″ 170 LB
Paul Clemens had a very bad 2009 season. In 85 and 1/3 innings for the Class-A Rome Braves, he posted a 5.91 ERA, a 1.805 WHIP, and a 64-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Every one of his phereprials took a step backwards. The 7th rounder isn’t off the prospect map, but his performance won’t warrant much consideration for anything beyond his current position in the rankings.
View the complete top 40 list here.