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Atlanta Braves Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects in Review

This list was originally published October 23rd, 2008. This is a REVIEW of the PRE-SEASON list for 2009, not a revision of that list. This is a REVIEW of the old list. The grade listed is the OLD GRADE from before the season.

1) Jason Heyward, OF, Grade A-: How hitting .411/.492/.729 since reaching Double-A. Excellent plate discipline with improving power. Now the best prospect in baseball.

2) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Grade B+: Hitting .264/.317/.391 since reaching Double-A. Home run power a bit disappointing with just eight dings this year, but still a very fine prospect.

3) Thomas Hanson, RHP, Grade B+:  6-2, 3.22 with a 46/29 K/BB in 67 innings in the majors. Obviously very successful in his major league debut following excellent work in Triple-A.

4) Jordan Schafer, OF, Grade B+: Hit .204/.313/.287 in 50 major league games, now injured with a bad wrist. Was pushed to the majors without Triple-A experience and it showed.

5) Tyler Flowers, C, Grade B: Traded to White Sox. Hitting .302/.426/.529 between Double-A and Triple-A. Defense remains a question but bat looks strong.

6) Cole Rohrbough, LHP, Grade B: 6.04 ERA with 76/40 K/BB in 89 innings for Class A Myrtle Beach. Strikeout rate way down from last year, development has gone backwards.

7) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Grade B: 3.16 ERA, 90/36 K/BB in 51 innings, 14 saves combined between A-ball and Double-A. Love the strikeouts, needs to lower walk rate.

8) Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Grade B-: Traded to Pirates. Hitting .282/.331/.358 in Double-A, with poor plate discipline. Stock dropping.

9) Kris Medlen, RHP, Grade B-: 4.50 ERA with 48/22 K/BB in 46 major league innings. Looks like he's going to be a very useful pitcher.

10) Jeff Locke, LHP, Grade B-: Traded to Pirates. 5.03 ERA with 79/40 K/BB in 98 innings, 112 hits in the Carolina League. Development is stagnant right now.

11) Randall Delgado, RHP, Grade B-: 4.41 with a 112/45 K/BB in 102 innings for Class A Rome. Doing OK, still has a lot of forward potential.

12) Brett DeVall, LHP, Grade B-: 3.52 ERA with a 41/14 K/BB in 54 innings for Rome, currently on the DL with a sore elbow. Was doing well before he got hurt.

13) Zeke Spruill, RHP, Grade B-: 3.09 ERA with 99/22 K/BB in 117 innings between GCL Braves and Rome.

14) Brandon Hicks, SS, Grade C+: .223/.302/.315 for Double-A Mississippi. Lack of strike zone command has finally done him in, though at 23 there is still a chance he could improve.

15) Eric Campbell, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .246/.316/.322 for Mississippi. Strikeout rate is half that of Hicks, but otherwise numbers are similar.

16) James Parr, RHP, Grade C+: 4.50 ERA with 29/6 K/BB in 36 innings in Triple-A and GCL rehab, 5.79 in 14 major league innings with 12/5 K/BB. Held back by elbow problems.

17) J.J. Hoover, RHP, Grade C+: 3.53 ERA with 115/17 K/BB in 102 innings for Rome, 108 hits allowed. A personal favorite due to outstanding K/BB and K/IP ratios. Stock is rising.

18) Kala Ka'aihue, 1B, Grade C+: Hit .157/.302/.262 in Double-A, leading to his release. Signed with Oakland and is now in the California League. With Freeman on the way up there was no future for Ka'aihue in Atlanta, not sucking this badly.

19) David Francis, RHP, Grade C+: 4.25 ERA with 85/38 K/BB in 91 innings combined between Rome and Myrtle Beach, 100 hits allowed. Holding his own but I think he's capable of better.

20) Edgar Osuna, LHP, Grade C+: 3.77 ERA with 74/31 K/BB in 117 innings combined between Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, 4.26 with 37/20 K/BB in 63 innings at the higher level. Doing OK.

I had Julio Teheran as a Grade C+ and in the 21-25 range, worried about injuries and command. He was lights out in the Appalachian League (2.68 ERA, 39/7 K/BB in 44 innings, 36 hits) and was just promoted to Rome.

The development of Hanson into one of the best young starters in the majors, and Heyward into the best offensive prospect in baseball, takes the sting out of some of the other failures. Schafer was rushed and got hurt, so while he no longer qualifies as a rookie due to playing time, I wouldn't give up on him by any means.