Top 20 PRE-SEASON Braves Prospects in Review
This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with Mike Hessman autographed bat.
1) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Grade A-
Plagued with injuries, and hitting just .197/.311/.297 on the year. The good news is that his defense is reportedly improved. But the bat is very disappointing.
2) Chuck James, LHP, B+
3-0, 2.87 ERA in 31 innings for the Braves, 2.67 ERA with 25/6 K/BB in 34 innings in Triple-A. Looks fine to me, all he needs is experience.
3) Elvis Andrus, SS, B
Hitting .273/.335/.364 in 75 games for Class A Rome, with 16 steals. Still rather raw, but is very young and very promising.
4) Joey Devine, RHP, B
Has thrown just four innings this year, due to a back injury.
5) Yunel Escobar, SS, B
Hitting .275/.365/.379 for Double-A Mississippi. Lack of power appears to be a problem.
6) Max Ramirez, C, B
Hitting .279/.400/.438 for Class A Rome. High walk rate boosts his OBP, though I'd like to see a bit more home run power down the line.
7) Eric Campbell, 3B, B
Hitting .296/.336/.505 for Rome, with 13 homers and 10 steals. Becoming a favorite of mine and a candidate for a major breakthrough in 2007.
8) Brandon Jones, OF, B
Hitting a combined .257/.327/.429 between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Mississippi. Has stolen 11 bases. Intriguing tools but still trying to put together his skill base.
9) Beau Jones, LHP, B
4.60 ERA in 63 innings for Rome, 60/38 K/BB ratio. Lots of potential but still in the early developmental stages.
10) Anthony Lerew, RHP, B-
Combined 1-6, 8.13 in 14 starts between Richmond and Mississippi, the Jarrod Saltalamacchia of pitchers. Collapse in all component ratios is a bad sign.
11) Jairo Cuevas, RHP, B-
5.54 ERA in 14 starts for Rome, 80/41 K/BB in 80 innings. Good stuff but command is problematic.
12) Macay McBride, LHP, C+
4.62 ERA in 32 games for the Braves, 13/20 K/BB in 25 innings. I don't like the K/BB at all.
13) Jake Stevens, LHP, C+
6.00 ERA in 15 starts combined between Myrtle Beach and Rome. Another disappointment, with sharp declines in component ratios.
14) Scott Thorman, 1B, C+
Was hitting .324/.394/.570 for Richmond, a breakout season. 7-for-38 (.184) for the Braves. A bright spot for the Atlanta farm system.
15) Martin Prado, 2B, C+
Hitting a combined .281/.324/.354 for Mississippi and Richmond. Lack of power and mediocre on-base skills limit the utility of his batting average. 1-for-5 for the Braves.
16) James Parr, RHP, C+
4-5, 4.97 in 11 starts for Myrtle Beach, 56/22 K/BB in 71 innings, 75 hits allowed. What can we say, another guy not living up to expectation.
17) Brayan Pena, C, C+
Hitting .259/.312/.305 in 52 games for Richmond, 9-for-28 (.321) for the Braves. His Richmond numbers are a closer estimation of his abilities than his small-sample performance with Atlanta.
18) Will Startup, LHP, C+
Combined 2.18 ERA in 29 games between Myrtle Beach, Mississippi, and Richmond, 44/13 K/BB in 41 innings. I think he can be a very effective LOOGY and possible emergency closer eventually.
19) Matt Harrison, LHP, C+
8-6, 3.52 in 16 starts combined between Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, 76/20 K/BB in 100 innings. Good control pitcher but doesn't have blistering stuff.
20) Jeff Lyman, RHP, C+
2.58 ERA in 52 innings combined between Rome and the Gulf Coast League, 51/19 K/BB. A long way from the majors.
Salty is a big disappointment, although he's been banged up physically. It will be very interesting to see how various prospect experts grade him at the end of the year. I am undecided on that myself. It doesn't fit with their reputation, but there have been several pitching disappointments in this organization this year. I still love Chuck James though, and Startup looks intriguing.