Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top 10 Braves Prospects

Welcome to the 5th annual edition of the top 10 Braves prospects, an annual summer blog that looks at current minor league players for the Braves and ranks them based on potential and success so far in 2012.  Side note for the 2012 edition is that Aroyds Vizcaino will not be included, as he was a lock for the big league bullpen before the season and even though he is not with the team now and recovering from Tommy John surgery, he won't be on the list.  Here is your 2012 edition, with players 2011 ranking in parentheses.

1)  Julio Teheran (1)- Even with his recent struggles and questions about attitude, Julio still tops the list and is currently boasting a 6-5 record and a 4.92 ERA at AAA Gwinnett.  Teheran still has the stuff and make up to be a front line starter as early as 2013.

2)  Christian Bethancourt (5) - Up 3 places from last year is catching phenom Christian Bethancourt.  His defensive skills have been wow-ing scouts for years, and he is close to becoming the next big thing in the big leagues.  Bethancourt boasts a sub 1.8 pop time to 2nd base and has an elite arm to go along with elite quickness, the likes most haven't seen since early 90's Ivan Rodriguez.  His offense still has room to grow, but he projects quite well there as well, he is currently hitting .254 with just 4 extra base hits in 52 games in Mississippi.

3)  Edward Salcedo (4) - Playing in Advanced-A Lynchburg, the 21 year old third baseman is hitting .273-9-38 as he is likely the long-term 3B replacement for Chipper Jones.  Salcedo still needs some time, at least 1 full season above Advanced-A before he gets a shot, but look for his in the Atlanta lineup in 2014 if he continues to progress.

4)  Sean Gilmartin (NR) - Gilmartin was the Braves 1st round pick in the 2011 draft out of FSU, and he has been extremely effective at AA Mississippi.  Through 17 starts in 2012, Sean is 5-6 with a 3.42 ERA and he is getting better each time out.  Seven of his last 10 outings have been 6+ innings with 3 or fewer runs allowed, topped off with a complete game 4 hitter his last time out.  A lefty that knows how to pitch, Gilmartin has a chance at cracking the big league rotation in 2014.

5)  JR Graham (NR) - Graham, another 2011 draft pick, was a 4th rounder out of Santa Clara.  Pitching at Lynchburg, Graham is currently 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA and is showing tremendous ability to throw strikes and get people out.  Look for this righty to continue to improve with a possibility of moving to the bullpen in order to make the MLB club.

6)  Evan Gattis (NR) - The fact that Gattis is playing pro ball, let alone on a list like this is quite remarkable.  If you don't know his story, click here to read all about it.   Gattis, a catcher, hasn't played in over 6 weeks with an injury, but was hitting .336-13-43 in just 37 minor league games before getting hurt.  He is still improving as a receiver, but his power is what makes him such an intriguing prospect. 

7)  Joey Terdoslavich (NR) - Terdo had a rough start to 2011, hitting .180-4-20 in 53 games at AAA Gwinnett before his demotion.  Clearly, the 23 year old switch hitting corner infielder has a ton of talent, but wasn't quite AAA ready yet.  Joey has rebounded nicely in AA, hitting .287 with 12 extra base hits in 28 games and still projects as an excellent prospect.

8)  Lucas Sims (NR) - Sims, the Braves top pick last month, has gotten off to a quick start in the GCL, striking out 10 in his 1st 7 innings, while giving up only 2 hits.  He has a power fastball and good command, but it will be a while before you see him anywhere near Atlanta.

9)  Matt Lipka (8) - Matt has moved to CF where he can use his speed a little more, and his bat is coming around nicely as well.  Matt was hitting .271-2-13 with 12 SB's hitting leadoff for Lynchburg, before being sidelined with an injury a few weeks ago.

10)  Todd Cunningham (NR) - I am very pleased to put Todd on this list in 2012, as I first met Todd when he was still a collegiate player at Jacksonville State.  Following his career since being the Braves 2nd round pick in 2010, he is really putting things together this year in Lynchburg, making the All-Star team and leading the league in hitting for most of the season.  Todd is currently hitting .307 with 15 doubles and 31 RBI in 74 games and providing the organization with the type of athlete and character they hope to develop each draft.  

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