Top 20 Atlanta Braves PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review
1) Andy Marte, 3B
Hit .275/.372/.506 in Triple-A at age 21. Struggled in a 24-game trial with the Braves, but given his age and track record, I remain confident in his long-term outlook.
2) Kyle Davies, RHP
Went 7-6, 4.93 in 21 games, 14 starts for the Braves, 62/49 K/BB in 88 innings. Needs to improve his command, but I think he has a bright future.
3) Jacob Stevens, LHP
Went 10-9, but with a high 4.93 ERA in 28 starts for Myrtle Beach, with 102/62 K/BB in 148 innings. All component ratios deteriorated from last year. No obvious health problem, but his status has slipped a bit. Still just 20 years old.
4) Jeff Francoeur, OF
You know the story here. Played OK in Double-A (.275/.332/.487), then went on a huge tear after being promoted to the majors. Slumped late but still finished at .300/.336/.549. I think he will need a consolidation season in '06.
5) Brian McCann, C
Hit .278/.345/.400 in 59 games after being promoted to Atlanta. Can hold the job just fine until Jarrod Saltalamacchia challenges him in a year or two.
6) Chuck James, LHP
Pitched well at three levels, particularly in Double-A where he went 9-1, 2.09 with a 104/18 K/BB in 86 innings, 16 starts. I like him a lot.
7) Anthony Lerew, RHP
Went 10-6 in 27 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A, ERA 3.70, combined 117/55 K/BB in 148 innings. Should be ready to contribute next year, in long relief or the back end of the rotation.
8) Ryan Langerhans, OF
Hit .267/.348/.426 for the Braves, used as a semi-regular outfielder. I think he will improve gradually, but not a star.
9) Kelly Johnson, OF
Hit .241/.334/.397 in 87 games for the Braves. I think he will do better than that in time, emerging as a .270-.280 hitter with moderate power and a good OBP.
10) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Hit .314/.394/.519 for Class A Myrtle Beach, with 19 homers. Has power and decent plate discipline, also improving his defense behind the plate. Another guy I like a lot.
11) Chris Vines, RHP
Went 6-7, 4.80 in 19 starts for Class A Rome, 104/31 K/BB in 129 innings. I thought he was a major sleeper entering 2005, but he did not meet expectations. At age 20, it is too early to give up.
12) Luis Atilano, RHP
Went 8-9, 4.17 in 24 starts for Rome, 66/32 K/BB in 136 innings. Did OK, but his K/IP is very low, and at this point I have some skepticism. Like Vines, he is still just 20 and has time to improve.
13) Macay McBride, LHP
Completed conversion to bullpen duty. Posted a 22/7 K/BB in 14 innings for the Braves, although his other numbers weren't as good, including a high 5.79 ERA. He should have a long career but he won't be the ace that he looked like a couple of years ago.
14) Brayan Pena, C
Hit .326/.383/.415 for Triple-A Richmond. Can supplement McCann until Saltalamacchia is ready to take over. Wealth of young catching is a major organizational asset.
15) Kevin Barry, RHP
Seldom mentioned as a prospect, but always pitches well. 2.85 ERA at Richmond, with 73/44 K/BB in 60 innings. Command needs some work, but can help someone in relief. 340 career strikeouts in 284 innings.
16) Wilson Betemit, 3B
I had just about given up on him after three lackluster seasons in Triple-A. But he hit .305/.359/.435 in 115 games for the Braves, restoring his status as an intriguing young player. This was the best season he'd had since 2001.
17) J.C. Holt, 2B
Hit .268/324/.367 for Rome, disappointing performance from a college-trained (LSU) product who was supposed to advance quickly.
18) Martin Prado, 2B
Hit .306/.353/.411 in 75 games for Myrtle Beach, then .280/.354/.364 in 39 games for Double-A Mississippi. Steady contact hitter, runs well, doesn't have much power, has some room to grow at age 21.
19) Blaine Boyer, RHP
Posted 3.11 ERA in 43 games for the Braves, doing good work in the bullpen. This should continue.
20) Bill McCarthy, OF
Limited by injury to just 66 games at Richmond, where he hit .226/.295/.339, compared to the .354/.407/.539 mark he put up for the same team in 2004 in 54 games. At age 25, approaching his expiration date as a prospect.
What I find remarkable about the Braves this year is how they successfully integrated several rookies onto the major league roster while still ending up in the post-season.