Monday, August 9, 2010

Top Braves prospects...

With Mike Minor now in the big leagues, it is time for the 3rd annual ranking of the top 10 Braves prospects currently in the minor leagues. Here is a quick link to the last 2 rankings, where Jason Heyward came in at #1 in 2009 and Jordan Schafer took the top spot in 2008.

1) Freddie Freeman - It's become very apparent that Freddie is ready to step in next season and hit somewhere in the 5-7 range and play every day at first base. Through Sunday, Freddie is .306-15-71 and should have instant success in Atlanta.

2) Julio Teheran - Julio still needs another year and change before he is ready, but he looks every bit the part of a front-line starter. He is 7-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 2010 with 138 K's in 119 innings.

3) Craig Kimbrel - Craig has spent some time in the big leagues this year and looked pretty good. He projects as a closer with his mid-to-upper 90's fastball. Should compete for the 8th or 9th inning guy in 2011.

4) Arodys Vizcaino - Out with an injury since late June, Arodys was dominant the 1st half of the season. Before the injury, he was 9-3 with a 2.34 ERA in Rome.

5) Randall Delgado - Another top-notch pitching prospect, Randall has a 2.95 ERA and 136 K's so far this year in 23 starts for Myrtle Beach and Mississippi. There is a good chance Randall is used as trade bait in the off-season as he is about ready but the big league club doesn't have room for him.

6) Christian Bethancourt - The big catcher from Rome looks like a future big leaguer. He has shown power and is excellent behind the plate. At only 19 years of age, he could be the heir to Brian McCann.

7) Brett DeVall - Brett was a high pick out of high school and has established himself as a strong prospect while pitching in Rome this year. He is 7-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 18 starts so far in 2010.

8) Adam Milligan - After a huge finish to 2009 (.344-13-49), Adam has struggled a bit, but has only played 21 games so far. Once he gets back in a groove, he should move up the ladder rather quickly.

9) Zeke Spruill - Zeke looked real good his last start in Myrtle Beach and still possesses a live arm and excellent stuff.

10) Matt Lipka - I put Matt, the Braves 2010 top pick from Texas, on here due to his strong performance in the Gulf Coast League. When drafted, Frank Wren talked about how the organization needed more athleticism and speed. Matt has given the Braves this and has hit .310 with 15 stolen bases in his first 35 minor league games.

You may notice that last years #3 prospect, Cody Johnson is no longer on this list. Cody has seen his average and power slip and struggled to get to .200 in Myrtle Beach. C0le Rohrbough is also off the list after posting a 12+ ERA in his 4 appearances so far in 2010.

Just like last year, there is still a lack of hitters in the system. Fortunately, arguably the Braves do have one of the best groups of starting pitching prospects. After having a long line of shortstops, the system doesn't have much between Alex Gonzalez and the 19 year old Lipka. Look for 2011 to be a draft where more hitters are taken early once again with just as much emphasis on speed and athleticism at 2010.

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