October 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
Number 10: Brett DeVall – LHP (19) 6′3″ 215 LB
Brett DeVall’s season was once again hampered by injury. He ended up making just 10 starts for the Class-A Rome Braves. In those 10 starts, the numbers were fairly good. He posted a 3.52 ERA, a 1.193 WHIP, and a 41-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 53 and 2/3 innings. South Atlantic League Scouts were also impressed with his command of his fastball and off-speed offerings (change, curve), though his velocity was down this season. It’s going to take a full, healthy season for DeVall to make it back into the top-10.
Number 9: Brandon Hicks – SS (23) 6′2″ 200 LB
Brandon Hicks had a fairly god awful season in 2009. In 534 PA’s at Class-AA Mississippi, he hit .237/.319/.373 with 10 HR, 53 BB’s, and 131 K’s. Though the average was fairly miserable and his ISO was down, his contact rate–something that has plagued him his entire career–has actually increased. But, his walk rate also dipped. Hicks will be 24 next season and most likely making his third stint at AA. His prospect stock is significantly down. I’m still a fan of his potential, but realistically it would be irresponsible of me to not knock him out of the top-10. Most likely he’ll be out of the top-20.
Number 8: Cole Rohrbough – LHP (22) 6′3″ 205 LB
For the second straight year, Cole Rohrbough struggled with command leading to nasty results. In 23 games (22 starts), Rohrbough pitched 117 innings and posted a 5.77 ERA, a 1.513 WHIP, and a 100-to-48 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strikeout rate is down significantly, from 10.4 K/9 in 2008 to 7.7 K/9 in 2009. There were also a few off-field issues with Rohrbough. He’s a new father and rarely gets to see his child. It was reported that he suffered from some depression in 2009 and contemplated quitting baseball. On account of these off-field issues and the fact that scouts were still extremely impressed, I’ll be giving Rohrbough the benefit of the doubt and he’ll probably appear in the top-10 again. But he’ll be 23 next season, and with one more season like this his stock will be way down.
Number 7: Jeff Locke – LHP (21) 6′2″ 180 LB
Got traded to the Pirates in the deal for Nate McLouth.
Number 6: Randall Delgado – RHP (19) 6′3″ 175 LB
The much anticipated full-season debut of Randall Delgado was extremely impressive. Delgado made 25 starts for the Class-A Rome Braves, posting a 4.35 ERA, a 1.387 WHIP, and a 141-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 124 innings. The strikeout rates are what jumps out at everyone, but Delgado was also rather efficient. Scouts were very impressed with his big fastball and plus curve. Ranking Delgado 6 last year may have been considered a bit of a stretch, but as it stands right now, he’s the 2nd best pitching prospect in the system. I’ve got him penciled in as the number 4 prospect for 2010. That ranking likely won’t change.
Number 5: Julio Teheran – RHP (18) 6′2″ 150 LB
There really aren’t enough good things to say about Teheran’s 2009 season. After an impressive showing in his first 7 starts for the Class-Rookie Advanced Danville Braves, The Cartagena Kid (as I’ve dubbed him) was promoted to Class-A Rome where he continued to impress. He finished the year with a combined 3.65 ERA, a 1.180 WHIP, and a 67-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 81 and 1/3 innings. The strikeout rate could stand to improve, but Teheran also did a great job of working efficiently in large part to all the ground balls he induced. He ended up averaging over 5 and 2/3 innings per start, which is rather impressive for an 18-year-old. There’s loads of upside here and he’s currently the Braves’ best pitching prospect. I’ve got him penciled in as the number 2 prospect in the system. That won’t change.
Number 4: Gorkys Hernandez – CF (21) 6′0″ 175 LB
Got traded to the Pirates in the deal for Nate McLouth.
Number 3: Fredrick Freeman – 1B (19) 6′5″ 220 LB
Freeman’s 2009 was hampered by a wrist injury that led to his general decline in his power numbers. After hitting 18 HR in 2008, Freeman hit just .282/.363/.408 with only 8 HR, 37 BB’s, and 60 K’s in 466 PA’s between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi. His approach at the plate–shown in his contact and walk rates–was still very advanced and there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about his future. I’ve got Freeman ranked number 3 on the 2010 list. A lot of lists will have him at 2, but I think Teheran’s upside makes him a better prospect than Freeman.
Number 2: Thomas Hanson – RHP (22) 6′6″ 210 LB
Hanson was promoted to MLB in early June and no longer qualifies as a prospect. Oh yeah, he was pretty good there, too.
Number 1: Jason Heyward – OF (19) 6′4″ 220 LB
Heyward’s 2009 surpassed the expectations of anyone. In 422 PA’s between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, Class-AA Mississippi, and Class-AAA Gwinnett, Heyward hit .323/.408/.555 with 17 HR, 51 BB’s, and 51 K’s. He also hit 25 doubles, 4 triples, and stole 10 bases while being caught only once. The numbers speak for themselves, but the scouting reports further enhance his resume as the top prospect in all of baseball. He turned 20 in August and was still able to mash AA pitching. Heyward is the whole package. An extremely smart player with one of the best approaches in minor league baseball to go along with all of his above-average tools. He was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year and will most likely be their top prospect for 2010. He’ll be number 1 on my list.
View the entire top 40 list here.