2013 Top 20
1.) Julio Teheran, RHSP - Gwinnett - 22 - 6'2", 175
2.) J. R. Graham, RHSP - Gwinnett - 23 - 6'0", 185
3.) Evan Gattis, LF/1B/C - Gwinnett - 26 - 6'4", 230
4.) Mauricio Cabrera, RHSP - Rome - 19 - 6'2", 180
5.) Sean Gilmartin, LHSP - Gwinnett - 23 - 6'2", 190
6.) Lucas Sims, RHSP - Rome - 19 - 6'2", 195
7.) Alex Wood, LHSP - Lynchburg - 22 - 6'4", 215
8.) Jose Peraza, SS - Rome - 19 - 5'11", 167
9.) Zeke Spruill, RHSP - Gwinnett - 23 - 6'5", 190
10.) Nick Ahmed, SS - Mississippi - 23 - 6'3", 205
11.) Christian Bethancourt, C - Mississippi - 21 - 6'2", 219
12.) Aaron Northcraft, RHSP - Mississippi - 23 - 6'4", 225
13.) Tommy La Stella, 2B - Mississippi - 24 - 5'11", 185
14.) Luis Merejo, LHSP - Rome - 18 - 6'0", 175
15.) Todd Cunningham, OF - Gwinnett - 24 - 6'0", 200
16.) Cody Martin, RHSP - Mississippi - 23 - 6'2", 210
17.) Edward Salcedo, 3B - Mississippi - 23 - 6'3", 195
18.) William Beckwith, 1B/LF - Lynchburg - 22 - 6'2", 220
19.) Josh Elander, C - Rome - 22 - 6'1", 215
20.) Juan Jaime, RHRP - Mississippi - 25 - 6'1", 230
David Hale, RHP, Gwinnett; Navery Moore, RHP, Lynchburg; Carlos Perez, LHP, Lynchburg; Joey Terdoslavich, 1B, Gwinnett; Ross Hefley, 2B, Lynchburg
Youngsters To Keep Your Eye On
Fernelys Sanchez, OF, Rome; Connor Lien, OF, Rome; Andy Otero, RHP, GCL Braves; Iosif Bernal, OF, GCL Braves; Jose Rosario, RHP, GCL Braves; Luis Monasterio, 2B, GCL Braves
Another year, same old tune - the numbers on the calendar change, but the storyline looks familiar. An organization long known for its development of good pitching has a top prospect list that's extremely top-heavy with Pitchers. GM Frank Wren vowed to return the farm system to one known for continually producing a steady stream of arms capable of helping make the big league club remain competitive. He and his associates have certainly accomplished that, having developed and graduated such recent high-end talent as Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Craig Kimbrel, and Jonny Venters, and there seems to be plenty more where that came from.
Diehard fans and prospect watchers feel like Julio Teheran has taken forever to arrive, many even teetering on the edge of losing faith that he'll ever live up to the hype. They'll soon find out that he's been worth the wait. Hanson was traded in December to allow Julio and Delgado to compete for the final spot in the 2013 rotation, and after tinkering with his mechanics last season minor adjustments to them have been made to return him to his "old self" (prior to turning 21, that is). Some of these adjustments will be discussed when our Top 10 Prospect Capsules comes out within the next week.
As with any good story this one has multiple significant characters, and if you include Delgado (who is no longer considered a "prospect" despite his limited big league experience) there are six other Pitchers with upsides as # 2 or # 3 starters at worst. Delgado still has significant talent, and we've seen what Mike Minor was able to accomplish once he "got it". Graham and Cabrera are viewed as potential top of the rotation starters (albeit with substantially different ETAs). Gilmartin and Wood have the ability to be pushed quickly if needed, and Lucas Sims will have the luxury of being able to develop at his own pace without being rushed or pressured.
Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be nearly as much to be excited about when it comes to offense. It's a little tough to criticize the organization that has graduated Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons in the last three years, but outside of a couple guys there doesn't look to be much in the pipeline. While non-prospect (and non-Braves farmhand) Juan Francisco has trimmed down and looked impressive in winter ball and "old" prospect Evan Gattis has been a pleasant surprise, the rest of the system looks to be light on potential everyday talent. Both Bethancourt and Salcedo have been considered by many to have the tools to eventually be successful at the big league level, yet both have underwhelmed at the plate so far and questions remain as to whether Salcedo can even remain in the infield (having already been moved off of SS). Combine that with the fact that the fact that the players that have shown promise are likely staring position changes in the face if they remain in the system - Ahmed, Beckwith, and Terdoslavich certainly aren't likely going to displace Simmons and Freeman - the cupboard appears to be pretty bare. One player to monitor closely is Peraza, who has serious upside and is still extremely young. He and Simmons could potentially create the same kind of situation for the Braves in a couple years that Texas has now with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.
The organization has seemed to shift focus recently to drafting more athletic players with the hope that the tools they do possess can be sharpened and others can be learned. Many of these draftees also have been guys that are slightly older (often considered to be less risky) college players. While it is great to see kids that can really run, jump, and dive all over the place, the vast majority of success the organization has had has always been in gambling a little more with younger kids with greater upside - Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Heyward, Freeman, and Simmons all come to mind.