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Atlanta Braves Top 20 2013 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

We continue with our reviews of the Top 20 2013 pre-season prospect lists, turning our attention this morning to the Atlanta Braves. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. It is NOT a new list!! These are pre-season grades!

This list was originally published November 8, 2012, and revised on April 4, 2013.

1) Julio Teheran, RHP, Grade B+: Very successful rookie campaign, 3.25 ERA with 100/25 K/BB in 119 innings over 19 starts. Can't complain about this; put difficult 2012 Triple-A season behind him and then some.

2) J.R. Graham, RHP, Grade B: Posted 4.04 ERA with 28/10 K/BB in 36 innings for Double-A Mississippi before going down with a shoulder injury. Wait and see at this point.

3) Alex Wood, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. 1.61 ERA with 62/17 K/BB in 62 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; 2.45 ERA with 26/8 K/BB in 22 major league innings. Does he start or relieve? Either way, he's been effective.

4) Luke Sims, RHP, Grade B-:
Borderline B. 3.03 ERA with 83/31 K/BB in 77 innings for Low-A Rome, 53 hits. Very solid campaign from 2012 first-round pick; stock up a notch.

5) Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Grade B-: 5.83 ERA with 47/30 K/BB in 71 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett, 89 hits. Out since mid-June with shoulder soreness; was pitching without his usual command or stuff before being disabled.

6) Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Grade B-: 4.12 ERA with an 86/52 K/BB in 96 innings for Low-A Rome. Upper-90s heat, but needs better command; at age 19 he has plenty of time to develop it.

7) Tommy La Stella, 2B, Grade B-: Hitting .355/.440/.476 in 49 games between High-A and Double-A, mostly at the higher level. All he does is hit and hit and hit; career .302/.404/.494 hitter. Scouting reports are muted due to questions about his defense, but the guy rakes and I think his glove is underrated. Excellent strike zone judgment too.

8) Jose Peraza, SS, Grade B-: Hitting .278/.346/.354 with 42 steals in 50 attempts in Low-A, not bad for full-season ball at age `19. Venezuelan with speed, defense, and a chance to improve offensively.

9) Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Grade B-: 3.99 ERA in 98 innings for Double-A Mississippi, 81/37 K/BB, 1.96 GO/AO. Sinker/changeup type throws strikes and has exceeded expectations, I've generally liked him more than I should but he has a shot as a fifth starter or reliever.

10) Cody Martin, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+: 2.86 ERA, 108/42 K/BB in 101 innings, 91 hits between Double-A and Triple-A. Throws strikes with four average pitches, stock is up, could be fourth starter. Seems like someone who other teams would look for in trades.

11) Evan Gattis, OF-C, Grade C+: Borderline B-. .257/.314/.545 with 14 homers in 187 major league at-bats. I took grief for rating him this highly, and I took grief for rating him this low, too. A remarkable story overall and a good reminder that age-relative-to-league is just one factor in player analysis, not the only one.

12) Edward Salcedo, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .258/.324/.414 with 10 homers in 93 games for Mississippi. Continues to tantalize with his tools, but not quite put everything together. He's made some progress with contact.

13) Christian Bethancourt, C, Grade C+: .272/.301/.439 with 11 walks, 43 strikeouts in 228 at-bats for Mississippi. Excellent defender, hitting has improved with more power this year but impatience remains a hindrance. Scouts love him, performance hasn't caught up with his reputation yet, but they aren't as divergent as they used to be.

14) David Hale, RHP, Grade C+: 3.03 ERA, 45/22 K/BB in 65 innings in Triple-A, 69 hits. Used mostly as a starter but in the long run I think he relieves, good fastball and slider, changeup is erratic. Good trade bait.

15) Luis Merejo, LHP, Grade C+: Just activated recently, has thrown 16 innings in rookie ball with 12/9 K/BB, 12 hits, no earned runs. Low-90s fastball but secondary pitches and command still in progress, would also be good trade bait under the right conditions.

16) Navery Moore, RHP, Grade C+: Went on the disabled list at the end of June after posting 6.45 ERA with an 58/31 K/BB in 84 innings with 107 hits allowed in High-A. Ugly numbers and he's hurt now.

17) Todd Cunningham, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .281/.361/.355 with 16 steals in Triple-A. Runs well, good glove, hasn't developed much power and doesn't appear likely to do so at this point. Could be useful reserve outfielder.

18) William Beckwith, 1B, Grade C+: Power bat that I liked as a sleeper, but he's really asleep now, on the suspension list after a DUI incident. He was hitting poorly before he was benched, just .229/.341/.420 in 188 at-bats. He hit very well in April but performance collapsed after he was arrested in May, which does not seem like a coincidence.

19) Josh Elander, OF, Grade C+: Hit .318/.381/.536 in 81 games for Low-A Rome, but just .229/.368/.300 in 21 games after promotion to High-A Lynchburg. Being used as an outfielder instead of listed pre-season position as a catcher.

20) Joey Terdoslavich, 1B, Grade C+: .318/.359/.567 in 85 games for Triple-A Gwinnett led to recent major league promotion. I think he's a solid bat if they can find room for him; more trade bait?

Despite the headline acquisition of the Upton brothers last winter, homegrown talent remains a key factor for the Braves, with farm products Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, Mike Minor, Kris Medlin, Luis Avilan, Cory Gearrin, and Craig Kimbrel holding key roles. Rookie producers Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and future movie topic Evan Gattis have all produced everything the Braves could have hoped.

Of the talent still in the minors, shoulder injuries have struck down Graham and Gilmartin, not good, but Lucas Sims has stepped forward and Cody Martin continues to produce. Joey Terdoslavich has revived his stock, and it now looks somewhat-less-impossible that Christian Bethancourt can hit adequately enough for his glove to matter.

They could use more hitting in the system. Kyle Kubitza and Matt Lipka at Lynchburg have shown some signs of life but don't seem like impact types. La Stella has been excellent and has outplayed numerous players with better tools. Can he keep that up in Triple-A? 2013 draftee Victor Caratini is off to a good start in rookie ball, and Kyle Wren looks like a real prospect (.379/.426/.552 with 16 steals in his first 21 pro games) rather than a nepotism draft.

Overall, graduations and injuries have resulted in some churning but it is hard to complain about a system that's built a first-place team with much home-grown talent .

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