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.

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