Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects for 2011

Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects for 2011

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.

Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!

QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:

Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.

Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.

Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.

A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.

Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.

Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.

1) Julio Teheran, RHP, Grade A: Second only to Hellickson and Chapman in my view.

2) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Grade A-: Great Triple-A performance at age 20 is rare. You can make a case for a pure Grade A.

3) Mike Minor, LHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. I think he can be a number two starter. Right on the edge between those two grades for me.

4) Randall Delgado, RHP, Grade B+: Can also be a number two guy if all goes well.

5) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Grade B: Would also be a B+ if not for health concerns, but that's enough for me to hold him back a notch.

6) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Grade B: You can make a B+ case if you don't mind giving that high a grade to relievers. Future closer.

7) Matt Lipka, SS, Grade B: Lots of projection in this grade, but I like the athleticism.

8) Carlos Perez, LHP, Grade B: Great power sinker, but small sample size and some command issues mean I won't go higher than this without more data.

9) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Grade B-: Finished product, can be a number four starter or a very good reliever.

10) J.J. Hoover, RHP, Grade B-: I've been a big Hoover supporter since he was in junior college. I think he can be a durable inning-eater.

11) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Grade B-: Excellent defense and I think the bat has a chance to improve.

12) Michael Dunn, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Should be a valuable reliever, needs to lower the walks.

13) Todd Cunningham, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+: 2011 will tell us a lot; can his power increase?

14) Edward Salcedo, SS, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Extremely difficult to grade and rank. Grade A tools, Grade D skills, could be a superstar but also has a high chance to be a bust given his hacktastic approach. You could put him as high as number nine depending on what you emphasize as an analyst.

15) Christian Bethancourt, C, Grade C+: Like Salcedo, there is high bust potential here, especially offensively, but he's very young and has all the tools, especially on defense.

16) Scott Diamond, LHP, Grade C+: Could be a very nice number four starter.

17) Steven Kent, LHP, Grade C+: Aggressive ranking, but Australian lefty could break out huge in 2011.

18) Mychal Jones, SS, Grade C+: Not likely to hit for average, but does other things well.

19) Benino Pruneda, RHP, Grade C+: Relief sleeper, good stuff, great K/IP rate, only small size keeps him from being noticed.

20) Joe Leonard, 3B, Grade C+: I can't say I'm hugely impressed yet; defense is rough, needs better strike zone judgment.

21) Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Grade C+: Love the K/BB ratios.

22) Adam Milligan, OF, Grade C+: Love the power potential, but strikes out a lot and health problems have slowed his development.

23) Paul Clemens, RHP, Grade C+: Numbers don't stand out on the surface, but I think he could be a sleeper.

24) Dave Filak, RHP, Grade C+: Interesting small college guy, need to see at higher levels.

OTHERS OF NOTE: Juan Abreu, RHP; Willie Cabrera, OF; Erik Cordier, RHP; Dimaster Delgado, LHP; Brett DeVall, LHP; Cody Gearrin, RHP; Phil Gosselin, 2B; Cody Harrilchak, OF; Cody Johnson, OF; Willie Kempf, RHP; Chris Masters; LHP; Tyler Pastornicky, INF; Cory Rasmus, RHP; Elmer Reyes, 2B; David Rohm, OF-1B; Zeke Spruill, RHP.

Here you have the classic Atlanta Braves pitching depth, granted there will be some injury attrition. Other than Freeman, I'm not that impressed with the available hitting. Lipka, Simmons, and Jones should help cover middle infield needs in the coming years, but the shortage of useable power remains an issue and much rides on bats like Salcedo, Milligan, and Leonard living up to their potential despite big issues with their approach.

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