Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Top Ten Prospects

Here is a list of the Braves top ten prospects at the beginning of this year and how they performed this past season.

1. Jeff Francoeur, of .275/.322/.487 335AB 13HR 62RBI 21BB 76K's 13SB
AA Mississippi
Atlanta

I think we all know what kind of progress Jeff made. His candidacy for Rookie of the Year speaks for itself. What is so surprising about Francoeur this year is that he actually improved after his jump from double-A Mississippi to Atlanta. I guess that's why he earned the nickname "The Natural". The guy just knows how to play baseball and will be a star for years to come. He brings all of the tools to the table including average, power, speed, defense, and arm strength. His strike zone judgement is not good but he makes up for it by being able to hit bad pitches a long way. He also showed improvement in that area during his stay in the big leagues. There has been talk of letting him play a little while in triple-A next year but I hope he is Atlanta's starting RF on opening day next year and for years to come.

2. Andy Marte, 3b .275/.372/.506 389AB 20HR 74RBI 64BB 83K's 0SB
AAA Richmond
Atlanta

Marte has hopefully played his last season in the minor leagues. He really has nothing left to prove. He struggled somewhat in his few short stays in the majors but in no way looked overmatched. Marte has excellent offensive potential and hopefully will start in left field or first base in Atlanta next season.

3. Brian McCann, c .265/.359/.476 166AB 6HR 26RBI 25BB 26K's 2SB
AA Mississippi
Atlanta

It really surprised people when McCann was brought up this season. Considering his 166 double-A at-bats were his only experience above single-A, those feelings were well founded. However, McCann proved that he belonged be outplaying his counterpart, Johnny Estrada. McCann has 30+ home run potential and good patience at the plate. His defense was satisfactory this past season but he needs to improve his ability to throw out runners. Teams really took advantage of McCann later in the season. It will be interesting to see what the Braves do with both McCann and Estrada. They could trade Estrada for some bullpen help or they could go with a platoon next year.

4. Kyle Davies, rhp 13GS 5-2 73.1IP 66H 34BB 62K's 3.44
AAA Richmond
Atlanta

Sheurhoulz chose to keep Davies this past offseason over Dan Meyer and Jose Capellan. It looks like a pretty good choice right now. Davies looked brilliant in his first handful of starts and then tapered off quite a bit before spending some more time in tiple-A. However, I saw some things that bode well for him becoming a good starting pitcher. He has control of three major league pitches with a good fastball, curveball, and changeup. He struggled a little bit with control but showed great poise on the mound. Once he learns how to pitch in the majors, Davies should have a good career ahead of him.

5. Anthony Lerew, rhp 27GS 10-6 148IP 133H 55BB 117K's 3.71
AA Mississippi
AAA Richmond
Atlanta

Lerew played this season in triple-A and then became a September call-up in Atlanta. His year in triple-A came with somewhat mixed results. He pitched well with his 3.71 ERA, but his strikout rate was a little low considering his main weapon is his fastball in the mid 90's. He will probably battle Chuck James and Kyle Davies for a rotation spot next spring.

6. Jake Stevens, lhp 28GS 10-9 148IP 167H 62BB 102K's 4.93
A Myrtle Beach

Jake was one of the most dissapointing prospects for the Braves this past season. There were some very high expectations for him and his just didn't pitche well at all. He gave up lots of hits, lots of walks, and didn't strike many people out. And this all took place in single-A Myrtle Beach which is one of the best pitcher's parks in the minor leagues. We'll see if he can rebound in the upcoming season.

7. Luis Hernandez, ss .243/.315/.311 415AB 2HR 32RBI 41BB 56K's 5SB
AA Mississippi

I don't really know what people really see in this guy. He plays really good defense but just can't hit. He has absolutely no power, doesn't steal bases, and doesn't hit for a high average. Just another minor league shortstop with a good glove and no bat. If he doesn't improve his hitting, it looks like he will become a career minor leaguer.

8. Kelly Johnson, of .310/.438/.581 155AB 8HR 22RBI 34BB 22K's 7SB
AAA Richmond
Atlanta

Kelly was another Brave prospect who played a major role with the big league club this year. Before his call-up, Kelly tore up triple-A pitching with a great OBP and Slugging percentage. Once in Atlanta, he shook off a miserable start to show his ability to hit for a good average and get on base with his incredible plate discipline. However, he slowed down later in the year before dissappearing in September. We now know that he may have seen a major decrease in his playing time because of a knee injury. Next year he will seek playing time in a crowded Atlanta outfield. He can hit for some power and put up some great OBP numbers.

9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c .314/.394/.519 459AB 19HR 81RBI 57BB 99K's 4SB
A Myrtle Beach

Jarrod or "Salty" arguably had the best season by an offensive player in the Braves minor league system this year. Jarrod just tore up single-A pitching and even did it while playing the entire season at Myrtle Beach, which as I mentioned before is a pitcher's haven. Salty's offensive ability could eventually lead to him switching positions or he could force McCann to switch positions.

10. Blaine Boyer, rhp 14G 8GS 2-4 48.1IP 62H 18BB 40K's 5.03
AA Mississippi
Atlanta

Boyer was called up from double-A to the big leagues despite the fact that he struggled in Mississippi while he was there. The stats are not pleasing to look at. But he did seem to find it at the major league level like his other Mississippi buddies (Francouer and McCann). He actually came to be the Braves most reliable relief pitcher outside of Farnsworth until he ran out of gas and hurt his shoulder at the end of the year. He really would have helped them in the playoffs. Boyer doesn't have overpowering stuff but showed that he can be an effective middle reliever which is likely what the Braves will use him as next year.

Comments on "Top Ten Prospects"

 

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