Last week in Minor League Report, we reviewed the top 10 Braves prospects heading into the season. This week, Will Brown (who has been doing prospect profiles on many of the Braves top youngsters) and I have put together a mid-season Top Prospect list.
The BravesFTW prospect list is the average of our rankings, and no longer includes Freddie Freeman, Brandon Beachy, or Mike Minor because all have lost their rookie eligibility. The first three guys on the list have limited commentary, as they are no-brainers but Will and I have some explanations on everyone else. Will’s ranking come first in the parenthesis followed by mine.
1. Julio Teheran – Starting Pitcher (1,1)
This pick really needs no explanation. He has made a couple spot starts in the majors and absolutely dominated in AAA. The top pitching prospect in baseball has become the Braves first option if any starter gets injured.
2. Randall Delgado – Starting Pitcher (2,2)
Another player who has already debuted, Delgado doesn’t have the high ceiling of Teheran but could one day be a great starter at the next level. He has continued to play well at AA and might move up to AAA as the season progresses.
3. Arodys Vizcaino – Starting Pitcher (3,3)
Another no-brainer to be near the top of the list, Vizcaino is finally healthy and living up to his enormous potential. He hasn’t missed a beat since being promoted to AA and could make his MLB debut sometime in 2012.
4. Edward Salcedo – Shortstop/Third Baseman (4,4)
Will Brown: Salcedo’s been very good this year and is showing some of the promise that the Braves thought they were getting when they signed him. It looks like he’ll have a plus-bat in the future.
Brett Kettyle: His offense is coming around and he could be the eventual heir to Chipper Jones’ spot at third base.
5. Christian Bethancourt – Catcher (7,5)
WB: He has big time potential with the bat for a catcher. He is still three or four years away from the majors probably, but that would make him 22 to 23 years old.
BK: After a lost offensive season Bethancourt has reaffirmed his spot in the rankings. Good catching prospects are hard to find.
6. Carlos Perez – Starting Pitcher (5,8)
WB: Had a rough end of June, but has been good other than that. He has a bright future and is only 19.
BK: Inconsistent so far but could eventually be a front line starter. He’s still young and somewhat of an unknown quantity.
7. Tyler Pastornicky – Shortstop (8,6)
WB: I think he is one of the most underrated prospects that we have. He’s hitting .298 with 19 stolen bases and is good defensively at short. He should be ready for the majors fairly soon.
BK: He’s really developed offensively and could replace Alex Gonzalez next season. Not a star at the next level, but a solid contributor.
8. Matt Lipka – Shortstop (6,9)
WB: He hasn’t been good all year, but he’s still probably our highest potential position-prospect in the system. Just 19 so no need to panic, but he needs to show some improvement in the second half of the season.
BK: I’ve soured some on Lipka. The Braves have a number of SS prospects (though some may move to other positions) and Lipka comes off to me as an athletic player who needs a lot of seasoning still.
9. J.J. Hoover – Pitcher (9,10)
WB: Has been a starter up until the last few weeks when the Braves moved him to the bullpen. He seems a good bet to make it as a good reliever in the new few seasons.
BK: I would have had him ranked higher had he continued to start. Relief pitchers just aren’t as valuable and that lowers his ranking despite Hoover’s impressive season.
10. Andrelton Simmons – Shortstop (12,7)
WB: The smooth fielding shortstop is hitting .302 with 16 doubles. He likely won’t hit for any power, but he’s already considered MLB-ready with the glove and should be an elite fielder.
BK: I absolutely love what the Braves have in Simmons. He has continued to prove himself with the bat and could be a gold glove defender year in and year out.
11. Mycal Jones – Outfielder (10,12)
WB: Only hitting .228 after a poor June, but has an OBP of .366. His bat should come around because of his patience. Not a high-ceiling guy.
BK: While his patience has been impressive I want to see more from someone who is a terrific athlete. He has switched positions a lot in the system and needs to show more power.
12. Brett Oberholtzer – Starting Pitcher (13,13)
WB: Been a rough start in AA, but he has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation pitcher at some point if he can work out his kinks.
BK: I’ve always liked Oberholtzer but he has struggled lately. If Hoover is already moving to the bullpen I can’t see Oberholtzer sticking as a starter much longer.
13. Adam Milligan – Outfielder (15,11)
WB: Putting up a slash of .286/.344/.550 with 11 homers in 60 games. He’s no doubt our best power hitting prospect. He is 23, so he’s going to have to continue hitting like this to make the majors.
BK: Like Salcedo and Bethancourt, he’s recovered from a lost season to put up an impressive line in A+ ball. He has still been dealing with injuries which have held him back in the past.
14. Todd Cunningham – Outfielder (14,14)
WB: Probably doesn’t have anything to make him stand out, but was playing well before he got injured.
BK: I see him as a good fourth outfielder in the future as he lacks any special tools. A better option than the Quad-A players the Braves have at the top of their system.
15. Joe Leonard – Third Baseman (11, NR)
WB: I’d rather see Salcedo at the spot eventually, but Leonard is our most MLB ready third baseman. Doesn’t hit for homer power yet but is a good doubles hitter.
16. Paul Clemens – Starting Pitcher (NR, 15)
BK: Has cooled off after a hot start this year but overall has been one of the best pitchers in AA.