Friday, November 17, 2006

Arizona Fall League Results

The Arizona Fall League is over and here are the stats from the Braves participants. The results can be pretty much summed up by saying the pitchers sucked but our position players raked.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia-
Jarrod played only 6 games before a minor injury kept him out for the remainder of the games. However, those 6 games were phenomenal. He hit .565 with 3 homers and 12 RBI's in 23 at-bats while slugging 1.000. His defense wasn't good but the sample size is so small I wouldn't be worried.

Yunel Escobar-
Escobar won the batting title by hitting .407/.463/.558. That is very encouraging after seeing him display almost no power in 2006. He also continued to show good strike zone judgement with 9 walks and 7 strikeouts.

J.C. Holt-
Holt was on fire as well as he hit .388/.453/.507. J.C. hit one home run while driving in 8. He also stole 3 bags in 4 attempts.

Josh Burrus-
Burrus may have been the only player who didn't torch the AFL but he made some major contributions. Josh only hit .261 but he led his team with 4 homers and 24 RBI's. He really made his hits count. He also stole 4 bases without getting caught. Burrus has a lot of tools and I hope he rebounds with a strong 2007.

Sean White-
Now on to the pitchers where it is a whole different story. White started 5 games, losing 3 to go with 2 no-decisions while compiling a hefty 6.35 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. He walked 11 and struck out 12. And this is just the beginning.

Anthony Lerew-
After dominating AA in the second half of the season, Lerew came to the AFL and stunk it up again. In 14.2 relief innings, Lerew had a 5.52 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, and walked 12 while striking out only 8. Those numbers are even worse than White's.

Will Startup-
In 9 innings, Will has both White and Lerew beat. He gave up 16 hits and 17 runs on his way to a 13.00 ERA and 2.44 WHIP. He walked 6, struck out 6, and gave up 4 home runs.

Joey Devine-
Devine wasn't good but he looks great compared with the others. In only 8 innings, Devine walked 7 and struck out 9 for a 4.50 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. He also collected 2 saves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Notes over Sickels' Top 20

  • There seems to be two camps of people when it comes to the Braves top prospects. The camp that thinks Salty is the top prospect and the camp that thinks Campbell is the top prospect. Sickels goes so far as to rank Salty third behind Elvis Andrus. That is very interesting because Andrus is fairly low on some lists because of his performance but his potential alone warrants this ranking.
  • Matt Harrison has solidified himself as the organizations top pitching prospect and John Sickels sees it no differently ranking him #4.
  • Jamie Richmond is the first guy who jumps out at you. John admits that it is an aggressive grade and that Richmond doesn't have the raw talent of some other young arms, but his performance is hard to overlook. This is the first list where I've seen him crack the top 10.
  • Chase Fontaine has a good looking bat at shortstop but he was just drafted so a top 10 ranking seems very optimistic. I hope he is right.
  • Jo-Jo Reyes seems a little low at #12 given all the talk about his good season. However, I tend to agree with John. Reyes started out really well upon his promotion to Myrtle Beach but was erratic after that. Also, his performance in previous seasons is not in par with last season so I would like to see him do it again in '07.
  • Neftali Feliz is getting the credit he deserves despite his 4-something ERA in Danville. He throws 98 mph and struck out 42 in 27 innings last year.
  • Kris Medlen is another guy who is finally getting some recognition. He put up the same ridiculous numbers as Richmond but also put up the strikeouts as well.
  • The list rounds out with some good young arms with high ceilings. Left-handers Locke and Evarts along with right-handers Rasmus and Hanson provide some low-level, high potential pitching prospects.
  • Van Pope is a strange omission but he said this is a preliminary list and Pope may end up in the top 20.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

John Sickels' Top 20

Here it is. Analysis will come later.

2007 Top 20 Atlanta Braves Prospects

  1. Eric Campbell, 3B, Grade B+ really like his bat)
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS, Grade B+ really like his birthday, lots of development potential)
  3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Grade B (I am more worried
    about reports of excess weight gain and defensive problems in the
    Arizona Fall League more than his erratic regular season)
  4. Matt Harrison, LHP, B
  5. Brandon Jones, OF, B
  6. Joey Devine, RHP, B (he has been handled poorly but still has a good arm)
  7. Yunel Escobar, SS, B can read the comment I wrote below)
  8. Jamie Richmond, RHP, B (an aggressive grade but the numbers are great and my intuition likes him)
  9. Scott Thorman, OF-1B, B- (below 150 at-bats so he goes in the book)
  10. Chase Fontaine, SS, B-
  11. Anthony Lerew, RHP, C+
  12. Jo-Jo Reyes, LHP, C+ (nice rebound season but slumped down the stretch)
  13. Neftali Feliz, RHP, C+ (terrific arm but a long way from the majors)
  14. Kevin Gunderson, LHP, C+
  15. Kala Kaaihue, 1B, C+ (sleeper bat, watch this guy)
  16. Kris Medlen, RHP, C+
  17. Jeff Locke, LHP, C+
  18. Cory Rasmus, RHP, C+
  19. Steve Evarts, LHP, C+
  20. Tommy Hanson, RHP,C+
Others: Gregor Blanco, OF, Francisley Bueno, LHP; Dustin Evasn, RHP,Tim Gustafson, RHP; J.C. Holt, 2B; Lee Hyde, LHP; Cody Johnson, 1B;Beau Jones, LHP; Jeff Lyman, RHP; Brayan Pena, C; Tony Pena, C; Van Pope, 3B (may end up in top 20); Chad Rodgers, LHP; Jamie Romak, OF:Zach Screiber, RHP; Will Startup, LHP; Jake Stevens, LHP.

Bad News

I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on a piece of bad news. According to some sources discussed over at; Matt Wright, Arthur Santos, Onil Joseph, and Cody Clark have all signed minor league contracts with Kansas City as they were all 6 year minor league free agents. The one that hurts the most is obviously Matt Wright, although Santos was a good looking relief prospect as well. Wright and Harrison were about our only chances of having some young faces in the rotation and now the most advanced of the two is gone.

On a lighter note, John Sickels over at is going to post the Braves top 20 prospects today. I would encourage everyone to take a look at that and I will post the list on this site as well.

Friday, November 10, 2006's 2007 Braves Top 10 Prospects

J.P. Schwartz compiled this list of top 10 prospects for the Braves but he didn't do any analysis of his picks. I'll list who he picked and try to give you a little insight into why he may have picked them or why I may disagree with the ranking.

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
No argument from me on this pick. Although his numbers took a huge dip this year, he had a big second half and is currently tearing up the Arizona Fall League. Another reason I have never doubted Salty is that in 2006 spring training, Bobby Cox said Salty looked like a special hitter with the way the ball exploded off of his bat. You don't just lose that overnight. He'll be fine and he deserves this top spot.

2. Elvis Andrus SS
As far as ceiling goes, this is an appropriate spot. Nobody doubts Anrus's ceiling because he is so young and talented. The problem is that his results haven't been too great so far. However, the managers he has played for thus far have said that there is something special about Andrus as well. I think he just needs a little more time to tap into his full potential.

3. Matt Harrison SP
Harrison is ranked correctly, in my opinion, as the top pitching prospect in the organization right now. He isn't flashy but he gets the job done while maintaining an adequate strikeout rate. Being a lefty makes him even more valuable. He's the kind of guy that I could see making an easy transition to the majors once he makes it. He's here because he is more of a sure thing and not because of his upside.

4. Beau Jones SP
Beau is the complete opposite of Matt Harrison except for the fact that they are both lefties. He has a ton of talent but has had poor results up to this point, especially in 2006. Control has been a huge problem so far. If he can start throwing strikes, it's only a matter of time before he quickly moves through the system. However, this ranking seems rather high given his extremely poor results in Rome this year. I was even thinking about dropping him off of my top 15 list. But the talent is there; no doubt about that.

5. Van Pope 3B
Number five is a pretty high climb for Pope but I think he deserves it. He was Myrtle Beach's most consistent offensive threat and he is a big guy with a lot of power with the potential to develop even more power. I agree with J.P. that he has burst onto the scene as a top prospect but I would be hesitant to rank him above Eric Campbell.

6. Eric Campbell 3B
Speaking of Eric Campbell, he comes in at number six. Eric had a fantastic year in Rome after winning co-mvp honors in the Appalachian League in 2005. He is a level behind Pope but he produces in ever phase of the game. He hits for power, average, and has some speed on the bases. I probably would rank him higher. He is probably here because he has yet to play above low-A ball.

7. Anthony Lerew SP
This is an interesting pick. Lerew was absolutely atrocious in Richmond this year before being sent down to Mississippi where he dominated. So it's hard to tell which one is the real Lerew. I have never been a big fan of Lerew because he relies too much on a decent fastball and doesn't have much confidence in his secondary pitches. In the majors, you can't make it on your fastball unless it is a great one, like Joel Zumaya's.

8. Yunel Escobar SS/3B
Some people might have Escobar higher that this but he did take a small step back this year. He really showed nothing in the way of power and struggled with defense. He is an older prospect so he may develop quickly but he needs to start now before it is too late.

9. Tim Gustafson P
This is where J.P. might now something that I don't. Gustafson didn't even pitch in Atlanta's minor league system last year after going to the World Series with Georgia Tech. His teamate Lee Hyde and Kevin Gunderson of the champion Oregan State Beavers did pitch for Rome and pitched well, or extremely well in the case of Gunderson.

10. Cory Rasmus P
Cory is here because of his talent. He pitched a little bit in the GCL and it didn't go well. However, he has an overpowering fastball and could be a fast riser. We'll se how he does in 2007.

Friday, November 03, 2006

2006 Richmond Braves

C- Brayan Pena
Pena started the year slowly but was on fire in the second half. He hit .357 in the second half vs. .271 in the first half. He only hit 1 homer but that is not part of his game. Hopefully he will be Atlanta's backup catcher next year. The Braves don't need to go out and sign another washed up catcher like Todd Pratt. Pena's line in 2006 .302/.342/.372 will hopefully convince Atlanta that this is true.

1B/LF- Scott Thorman
Scott didn't play the entire season in Richmond but he made the most of his time there. He was hitting .298/.360/.508 when he was promoted to Atlanta. He also showed great power with 15 homers and 48 RBI's. His time in Atlanta come with some mixed results but I think that overall he showed a lot good signs including some nice opposite field power.

OF- Gregor Blanco
Blanco split the season between Mississippi and Richmond and performed very well at both stops. He actually played better upon his promotion in the second half to Richmond. Before this year, Blanco was just another good speed, no power, light hitting outfielder. However, Blanco showed something this year as he hit .290 with an OBP of .403. He still didn't show any power with zero home runs but he stole 14 bases and played some great defense.

3B- Wes Timmons
Wes had another solid yet unspectacular year with the bat in 2006. He missed some time with an injury so he only logged 281 at-bats. In those at-bats, Timmons hit .281/.393/.406. He walked 45 times and struck out only 24 times all year. He is definitely the best contact hitter in the organization. His power isn't very good as he only hit 6 homers but it is decent enough for him to be a utility guy in the majors some day. He really handles the stick well and will likely get a look in Atlanta sometime soon especially if Giles is traded.

2B- Martin Prado
Prado played the first half of the year in Mississippi and the second half in Richmond. The thing I like about Prado is he improved upon his promotion to AAA. I always like to see that in a prospect. Overall, Prado hit .281/.321/.360. Prado is a solid middle infielder who hits for decent average but not a lot of power or speed. He will probably get a legitimate shot at winning the starting 2B job if Giles is traded.

SP- Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry had a really solid year in Richmond but his time in the majors proved that he just doesn't have what it takes at that level. He may be a 4-A player. Barry had his ups and downs in Richmond and finished 4-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Barry had a really long scoreless streak in the middle of the season and was Richmond's best starting pitcher for most of the year. He even started out in Atlanta with 11 scoreless inning, but the rest is history I guess. I doubt we'll be seeing much more of him in Atlanta.

RP- Wayne Franklin
Here is another guy who dominated in Richmond but didn't pitch well at all in Atlanta. In Richmond, Franklin struck out 52 guys in 53.1 innings with a 2.36 ERA and 1.05 WHIP out of the bullpen. That is a really excellent year but he couldn't translate it into major league success unfortunately.

RP- Manny Acosta
Acosta is on here because he pitched well in Mississippi before coming to Richmond and saving 17 games. His ERA and WHIP steadily rose throughout the season to 3.63 and 1.57 respectively in Richmond. He struck out 44 in 44.2 innings but walked 32. I am not all that impressed with Acosta but he did improve a lot this year so we'll see what he does next year.

RP- Will Startup
Startup flew through the organization before settling down in Richmond. After some early struggles, Will settled down to a 3.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He struck out 38 in 42 innings while walking only 11. Startup is probably going to get a shot at winning a bullpen spot in Atlanta next year. As bad as the other guys have been, I like his chances.

RP- Paul Bush
Paul Bush, 28, is old for a prospect but I think he has what it takes to contribute at the major league level. After being called up to Richmond, Bush recorded a 3.60 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while striking out 36 in 40 innings. Bush has made some great strides over the last couple of years and I hope Atlanta gives him a shot at the bullpen sometime soon. If they don't, he may become the next Kevin Barry.

RP- Phil Stockman
Stockman is up here because he put some ridiculous numbers up in Richmond. In 33.1 innings, Stockman struck out 41 while allowing only 13 hits and 3 runs for a 0.81 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. That is just absolutely dominant. I still think Stockman would have stuck in Atlanta longer if he didn't get hurt shortly after his first callup. However, he is still a journeyman and is unlikely to repeat this performance next year.
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