This is not MLB.com’s Atlanta Braves prospect list. This is my own list that I have compiled after watching Braves minor league games and keeping stats halfway through the season.
I will put the # that MLB.com had them ranked preseason beside each pick, so you can see where these young Braves minor league players stack up. For me, some players have hurt their prospect status significantly this season, while others have added themselves to the list.
1. Lucas Sims (3)- RHP (Rome Braves)
Sims was the Braves first pick in last year’s first year player draft. He was drafted 21st overall by the Braves. Sims started the season in the bullpen and had 10 appearances, before being moved to a starter. He has been a strikeout machine, as he has K’d 53 batters, in just 47 IP. His record is only 2-2 for the season, but he has a 2.87 ERA and opponents are only batting .190 against him. To me, Sims has increased his stock so far this season. He has only made 5 starts so far this season, and I believe the #’s will continue to get better as he pitches more innings. Sims will probably move through the Braves system pretty quickly if he keeps form.
2. Cody Martin (10)- RHP (Gwinnett Braves)
In my eyes, nobody deserves to move up in the prospect rankings more than Martin. He has been great at both Mississippi (AA) and Gwinnett (AAA). With that being said, he has only started 2 games at the AAA level at this point. In his 2 starts, he has owned batters. With time combined between the 2 clubs, Martin has a 5-3 record, 2.44 ERA, and 84 K’s over 81 IP. He has really made a name for himself among Braves fans with his play this year. I have him ranked #2 because I believe if the Braves need a spot starter (besides Alex Wood) then Martin would be the guy.
3. J.R. Graham (1) – RHP (Mississippi Braves)
It is hard for me to even put Graham in the 3 spot for the mid season rankings. MLB.com had him ranked #1 prior to the season, but Graham has been injured much of the year. JR Graham has not pitched in a game since May 13th as he has suffered from a shoulder strain. When Graham has pitched, he has not been that impressive. He sports a 4.04 ERA over 35 IP. I have not seen/heard much about Graham in a while, but people are saying he has a huge upside. He was dominant last year, but I would like to see him pitch more, and be dominant, before I can move him up on my own list of prospects.
4. Christian Bethancourt (2)- C (Mississippi Braves)
Christian Bethancourt is a monster behind the plate. His defensive skill is the only thing that puts him so high on my prospect list. His bat is nowhere neare where it needs to be for the Major League level. His struggle with patience is why I could not put him too much higher on the list. At the mid-season point this year, he’s continued the same old trend of not having patience. Bethancourt only has 4 walks this season and he is hitting .258. While the bat still has some coming around to do, the defense is crazy good. Honestly, the Braves may have time to wait on his bat to come around with the emergence of Evan Gattis.
5. Matt Lipka (7) – CF (Lynchburg Hillcats)
People have not had much to go on when grading Matt Lipka as a prospect. I have him ranked higher than MLB.com, because he has been a constant and consistent hitter over the last couple seasons. This season Lipka is batting .279. The part of his game people rave about is his speed and he has showed that this season, as he has accumulated 17 SBs. The Braves outfield looks to be set for a few years, which will give Lipka more time to develop at the Minor league level. I personally would not be surprised to see him take over Jordan Schafer‘s role as the Braves 4th outfielder in a few years.
6. Todd Cunningham (8) – OF (Gwinnett Braves)
Cunningham had a great season last year in AA Mississippi. So far this season he has continued with his good approach at the plate. He has had some great patience at the plate, as he has walked 31 times and only 40 K’s. His great approach at the plate is what makes Cunningham such a good prospect for the Braves. I see Cunningham being the same type player as Lipka. Lipka has longer to go so Cunningham may fill that 4th outfielder spot until Lipka is ready. He is batting .291 with 11 SB this season. If the Braves outfield gets hit with the injury bug, I believe it will be between Cunningham and Joey Terdoslavich if they need a fill in.
7. Sean Gilmartin (4)- LHP (Gwinnett Braves)
A horrible start to the 2013 season has dropped Gilmartin on the prospect list. To be honest, with his start to 2013, I struggled to even put him as the 7th best prospect. Gilmartin did have a great 2012 season as he had a 3.84 ERA in 157 IP. This year has been a different story, as he is sporting a 5.83 ERA over his 71 IP. Gilmartin has the stuff to turn his season around and get back as one of Atlanta’s top prospects. Even though he has struggled, I believe Gilmartin would be in the talks with Cody Martin if the Braves needed a spot start. I would believe that Martin would get the honors based on his #’s this season, but Gilmartin’s experience may give him the edge. Gilmartin is still a high prospect, but has got to get things going in the 2nd half of 2013.
8. Mauricio Cabrera (6)- RHP (Rome Braves)
Like Gilmartin, Cabrera has had a rough start to his 2013 campaign. However, Cabrera is only 19 yrs old and still has a lot of time to figure things out. The biggest problem for Cabrera this season has been contro,l as he has walked 39 batters in 68 innings. This season in Rome, Cabrera is 1-4 with a 4.74 ERA. I’ve read that Cabrera has a good change up and curve, but control continues to be a problem. At 19 yrs old, Cabrera has plenty of time to work things out, but the control issue needs to be the 1st priority. I’m sure we will continue to see Mauricio Cabrera on the prospect list as the control is the only big issue holding him back.
9. Edward Salcedo (15)- 3B- (Mississippi Braves)
Salcedo has an inconsistent bat and struggles with his defense. The bat has been starting to come around for him as of late. He has started making contact and hitting for power in the last couple of weeks. Salcedo is only 21 years old so I’m sure the Braves will give him a couple of more years to develop and refine his skills. This season he is batting .271 with 9 HR, and 37 RBI. His .336 OBP helps him move up my prospect list. A lot of people like Salcedo for his bat, but struggle ranking him even higher as he struggles with the glove. More consistency with the bat, and refining defensive skills, would move Edward Salcedo up the prospect list.\n
10. Joey Terdoslavich (14)- OF- (Gwinnett Braves)
Joey Terdoslavich has done nothing but help his case for moving up the prospect list. Terdoslavich and Cunningham both have the same problem, which is that the Braves outfield is set for a number of years. With that being said, I believe Cunningham or Terdoslavich would be in line for a call-up, if something did happen and the Braves needed an outfielder. Terdo is hitting .327 in his first full season at Triple A Gwinnett. He has 17 HR, and 56 RBI’s to go with that + 300 average. He has seen his prospect status rise, and will continue to see it rise, if he continues on this pace. I have read that Terdo may be a piece the Braves are willing to give up if their need for bullpen help continues. Terdoslavich is catching the eyes of a lot of people this season and hopefully that will continue the rest of 2013.
Well that is my top 10 prospects mid season. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Below is a list of my 11-20 of Braves prospects at the mid season point.
11. Juan Jaime (9) RHP (Mississippi Braves)
12. Aaron Northcraft (11) RHP (Mississippi Braves)
13. Jose Peraza (18) SS (Rome Braves)
14. Ian Thomas (20) LHP (Mississippi Braves)
15. David Hale (19) RHP (Gwinnett Braves)
16. Robby Hefflinger (NR) OF (Lynchburg Hillcats)
17. Tommy La Stella (16) 2B (Mississippi Braves)
18. Josh Elander (NR) OF (Rome Braves)
19. Carlos Franco (12) 3B (Rome Braves)
20. Luis Merejo (17) LHP (GCL Braves)
Hope you enjoyed my Top 20 prospects at the midway point of 2013. I hope to do another one at the end of the season and see where everyone stacks up.