Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Atlanta Braves Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review
I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, beginning the new month with the Atlanta Braves. This list was originally published October 21, 2010. We will look at the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, the San Diego Padres on Thursday, the New York Yankees on Friday, and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.
The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.
1) Julio Teheran, RHP, Grade A: 12-1, 1.90 ERA, 99/32 K/BB in 114 innings, 90 hits, at age 20 for Triple- Gwinnett. For some bizarre reason that I can't understand, a few people seem disappointed in this, but I don't see how or why this can be spun as anything but a terrific year.
2) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Grade A-: Hitting .297/.365/.479 with 15 homers, 39 walks, 96 strikeouts in 384 major league at-bats. Pretty damn good for a 21-year-old rookie I would say.
3) Mike Minor, LHP, Grade B+ 3.14 ERA with 91/24 K/BB in 95 innings for Gwinnett, 4.59 ERA with 26/15 K/BB in 33 major league innings. Just needs a chance.
4) Randall Delgado, RHP, Grade B+: 4.00 ERA with 103/45 K/BB in 110 innings for Double-A Mississippi, 111 hits. I think he will need a year of Triple-A, but he's only 21 so that's not a real surprise.
5) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Grade B: Season split between three levels: 2.45 ERA with 37/10 K/BB in 40 innings for High-A Lynchburg, 3.81 ERA with 55/18 K/BB in 50 innings for Mississippi, 2.25 ERA with 6/0 K/BB in four relief innings for Gwinnett. Just 20 years old. He's doing fine.
6) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Grade B: 2.04 ERA with 84/21 K/BB in 53 innings for the Braves, 33 hits, 31 saves. Obviously no complaints here, I should have given him the B+.
7) Matt Lipka, SS, Grade B: .236/.293/.279 for Low-A Rome, 19 steals, 30 walks, 60 hits in 398 at-bats. Total lack of power will be a major handicap unless it improves. Just 19 years old but stock down significantly in my eyes.
8) Carlos Perez, LHP, Grade B: 5.02 ERA with 91/42 K/BB in 100 innings for Rome, 114 hits, 1.46 GO/AO. Has the power sinker, but command needs a lot of work. Just 19 years old.
9) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Grade B-: 3.27 ERA with 91/27 K/BB in 85 innings for the Braves, 74 hits. Very successful rookie season.
10) J.J. Hoover, RHP, Grade B-: Pitched well as a starter for Mississippi (2.84 ERA, 65/21 K/BB in 67 innings, 52 hits) but converted to relief anyway and has been strong (1.56 ERA with 18/7 K/BB in 17 innings, 13 hits). I would have given him a chance to start at higher levels but they didn't ask me.
11) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Grade B-: .291/.328/.368 with 20 walks, 37 strikeouts in 378 at-bats for Lynchburg, 16 steals. Strong defense. Bat is questionable but he makes contact.
12) Michael Dunn, LHP, Grade B-: 3.75 ERA with 57/28 K/BB in 50 major league innings, 38 hits. Successful rookie season.
13) Todd Cunningham, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .273/.365/.368 with 11 steals, 21 walks, 30 strikeouts for Lynchburg in 220 at-bats before getting hurt, just started rehab assignment in Gulf Coast League.
14) Edward Salcedo, 3B, Grade B-: Hitting .267/.334/.448 with 32 walks, 81 strikeouts, 11 homers, 14 steals in 386 at-bats for Low-A Rome. Just turned 20, has made substantial progress turning tools into skills, stock moving up.
15) Christian Bethancourt, C, Grade C+: Hit .303/.323/.430 with eight walks, 27 strikeouts in 221 at-bats for Rome, but just .237/.242/.289 with one walk and 18 strikeouts in 97 at-bats for Lynchburg. 19 years old. Approach at plate is weak but he still has time. Has thrown out 39% of runners but gives up a lot of errors and passed balls.
16) Scott Diamond, LHP, Grade C+: Picked in Rule 5 draft by Twins, then traded there. 5.17 ERA with 74/34 K/BB in 101 innings for Triple-A Rochester, 126 hits, 1.56 GO/AO. Still a chance he could be useful but stock down.
17) Steven Kent, LHP, Grade C+: He was excellent in 2010, but was so bad in 2011 (7.77 ERA with 74 hits allowed in 49 innings for Rome) that he got released. I knew I was taking a chance with this one but he really disappointed.
18) Mychal Jones, SS, Grade C+: .240/.357/.379 with four steals, 39 walks, 57 strikeouts in 233 at-bats for Mississippi. This won't get it done, especially now that he's an outfielder.
19) Benino Pruneda, RHP, Grade C+: 4.05 ERA with 53/31 K/BB in 47 innings for Rome, 39 hits. Still has the strong K/IP ratio, but command is too wobbly.
20) Joe Leonard, 3B, Grade C+: .259/.323/.408 with 28 walks, 62 strikeouts in 294 at-bats for Lynchburg, defensive performance mediocre as well. Disappointing.
21) Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Grade C+: Just trade to Astros in Michael Bourn deal. 3.74 ERA with 93/42 K/BB in 128 innings for Mississippi, 119 hits. Decent season overall.
22) Adam Milligan, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .291/.345/.557 with 12 homers, 16 walks, 76 strikeouts in 237 at-bats for Lynchburg, good power but walk rate is low. Currently on disabled list with sore knee.
23) Paul Clemens, RHP, Grade C+: Traded to Astros in Bourn deal. 3.73 ERA with 93/44 K/BB in 109 innings for Mississippi, 103 hits. Solid season, making progress.
24) Dave Filak, RHP, Grade C+: 7.54 ERA with 32/33 K/BB in 45 innings for Rome resulted in demotion to short-season Danville, where he has a 7.42 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB in 30 innings and 45 hits allowed. Quite disappointing given solid start to his pro career in '10.
The system still needs more hitting depth in general. Of course, Freeman has been great, and most of the pitching on his list is doing well.