An annual entry here, with the 1st edition taking place 5 years ago, today we unveil the top 10 Braves prospects as we look for entertainment on a day where the HR Derby gives us none.
1). Christian Bethancourt - The top dog for 2013 is catching phenom Bethancourt. A defensive whiz with an A+ throwing arm, Bethancourt just finished his 2nd appearance in the Futures Game. Overcoming a slow start at the plate, Bethancourt is up to .262/5/25 in 55 games at AA Mississippi. If McCann walks after this year, Bethancourt is certainly in play as a part of the big club in 2014.
2). JR Graham - Has suffered a bit of a setback in 2013 with a mid-May shoulder strain that has kept him out of action the last 2 months, but nonetheless he remains the teams top pitching prospect. The 5'10 RHP went 12-2 In 2012 between High-A Lynchburg with a 2.80 ERA and will hopefully be back in action soon.
3). Lucas Sims - Sims was the Braves 1st round puck out of Brookwood HS in 2012 and has really started to develop into a big time prospect. Lucas was eased into the starting rotation at Class A Rome this year, but since making his 1st start on May 24th, has really performed well. He has thrown 45 innings in his 9 starts and only given up more than 2 runs once. He has a 2.94 ERA in 67 innings on the year and should be on his way to the Lynchburg rotation by the end of the year or the beginning of 2014.
4). Jason Hursh - Hursh just made his Rome debut 10 days ago, but could be on the same path Alex Wood took from Rome to Atlanta last year. The hard throwing righty hasn't given up a run in his limited innings in Rome, but has the stuff to be a big league reliever soon and a big league starter later.
5). Sean Gilmartin - After a solid first 6 weeks at Gwinnett, things have not gone so well for Gilmartin since then. He suffered back to back rough outings in early June and has been on the DL ever since. He's not far removed from a great 2012 though between Mississippi and Gwinnett and could be a nice end of the rotation pitcher in the next year or two when he gets healthy.
6). Matt Lipka - Lipka is a guy I've always liked as a competitor and athlete and he has really got it rolling in 2013. Playing CF for Lynchburgs, Lipka is currently hitting .281/5/34 with 19 SBs in 85 games. Matt has great athleticism and could be a nice piece on future Braves teams.
7). Cody Martin - A mid-season promotion to AAA did not phase the 2011 draft pick out of Gonzaga. A big RHP, Martin started the year in Mississippi, recording a 2.82 ERA in 67 innings with 71 K's. Since being McDonald up to AAA, Martin Is 2-1 with a 2.73 in 5 starts. Martin has really built on his stong 2012 season in Lynchburg and become a big name in the Braves system.
8). Victor Catarini - A 2013 draft pick, Catarini is a switch hitting 3B/C that can really swing it. He has hit .319 his 1st 20 games at Danvile and should end the year in Rome as he progresses.
9). Mauricio Cabrera - 19 year old Cabrera hasn't been lights out at Rome, but good enough at that level given his age to draw attention. Signd 3 years ago, Cabrera posted a 2.97 ERA last year at Danville and has a 4.29 ERA and 81 K's at Rome in 2013. His BB rate is high, but this kid has good stuff and is definitely a top prospect.
10). Robby Hefflinger - Hefflinger is a big power hitting corner outfielder that has really had a breakout 2013 season. A .286/21/52 line in 74 games earned Robby a promotion to Mississippi where he already has added 3 more HRs in 15 games.
There were certainly guys that would have made this list but have been called up to Atlanta in Alex Wood and Joey Terdoslavich but regardless the Braves system looks strong and, as usual, pitching heavy.