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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (26) | 2012 (15) | 2011 (2) | 2010 (9) | 2009 (6)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [96-66] NL East
AAA: [60-84] International League – Gwinnett
AA: [76-63] Southern League – Mississippi
A+: [69-70] Carolina League – Lynchburg
A: [73-66] South Atlantic League – Rome

Arizona Fall League PlayersScottsdale Scorpions
John Cornerly (RHP); Juan Jaime (RHP); Aaron Northcraft (RHP); Shae Simmons (RHP); Kyle Kubitza (3B); Tommy La Stella (2B); Elmer Reyes (SS); Robby Hefflinger (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Evan Gattis (C/OF); Julio Teheran (RHP); Alex Wood (LHP); Anthony Varvaro (RHP); Luis Avilan (LHP); Cory Gearrin (RHP);

The Run Down
The high-impact fantasy potential on this list starts and ends with Lucas Sims.  Still, I view this Braves farm system as an underrated group, in that, there are a number of intriguing college arms here, and Atlanta, as an organization, has proven itself in recent years to be quite adept at developing college pitchers into MLB assets. (See Mike Minor and Alex Wood.)  On the offensive side of things, there’s far less appeal.  Hitting prospects like Bethancourt, La Stella, and Salcedo could all be spending time with the big club in 2014, and they each bring a glimmer of fantasy upside, but it’s the variety of upside that barely garners consideration in mixed leagues.  With a decent amount of talent pushing through the upper levels, this is a group worth monitoring early on next season, but there’s truly nothing here to get too excited over until Sims makes his way to Turner Field.

Top Ten Prospects
1.  Lucas Sims, RHP:
  With three pitches (FB, CB, CH) that have plus projection, Sims is a front-end starter and a high-impact fantasy piece in the making.  In his first year of full-season baseball, the 19-year-old posted a 2.62 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and a K/9 at 10.3 across 116 IP in the South Atlantic League.  He’s a must-own guy in dynasty formats, a top-25 pitching prospect.  Depending on how things go for him in Lynchburg next spring, Sims could surface in the upper levels by by year’s end.  ETA:  2015

2.  J.R. Graham, RHP:  After his phenomenal 2012 brought on big expectations for 2013, Graham ended up missing the bulk of the season due to a shoulder injury.  Superb command of a repertoire deep with plus pitches (FB, SL, CH) has the 23-year-old projected as a solid #3 starter with front-end upside.  The shoulder injury is concerning, of course, but reports are optimistic for a healthy 2014 season.  He’ll likely return to Double-A to begin the season, and he’ll be under consideration for a starting gig in Atlanta as soon as there’s a need.  ETA:  2014

3. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP:  Cabrera had some command-fueled struggles in his first year at the full-season level (4.18 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), but his long-term outlook remains strong thanks to a darn fine fastball and some projectable secondary stuff.  The 20-year-old brings the heater with elite velocity, touching 100 MPH on occasion, so it’s easy to see why there’s significant upside in the fantasy game.  With improved command, Cabrera could push through the next levels quickly and skyrocket up prospect lists.  He’ll be one to keep an eye on in High-A next spring.  ETA:  2016

4.  Jason Hursh, RHP:  Hursh was drafted 31st overall this past June out of Oklahoma State.  His fastball is a weapon, and it’s close to MLB-ready as-is, but his secondary offerings are lagging behind.  The Braves are hopeful that his slider and changeup will make strides in 2014, allowing the 22-year-old a chance to surface in the upper levels sometime next summer.  A mid-rotation starter is what most folks are projecting for Hursh, but I believe there could be more here if everything clicks.  ETA:  2016

5.  Christian Bethancourt, C:  If I’m rating Braves prospects without fantasy spin, Bethancourt would probably  come in at #2.  Plus defensive receivers are as valuable as any commodity in the game, and that’s precisely what this 22-year-old is.  His skill set behind the dish almost assures him a regular role in the bigs as soon as an opportunity presents itself.  His bat, by the way, improved greatly in his second full year of Double-A ball, raising his OPS from .566 to .741.  That aspect of his game should only continue to improve as he matures.  ETA:  2014

6.  Jose Peraza, SS:  In his first year of full-season ball, Peraza hit .288/.341/.371 with 64 stolen bases through 504 PA at Low-A Rome.  He’s a plus-plus runner with an advanced approach and a solid hit tool, which is a skill set that should land him at the top of a big league batting order some day.  Provided he can cut it defensively up the middle — and reports suggest that he can — Predraza could make for a useful fantasy MI a few years from now.  ETA:  2016

7.  Tommy La Stella, 2B:  La Stella can hit, and he’s ready for a look in the bigs now, but Dan Uggla and his absurd contract might delay his arrival for a little while longer.  The 24-year-old La Stella batted .343/.422/.473 at Double-A in 2013, and he’s the type of hitter who could provide immediate fantasy help in AVG and OBP.  There’s very little appeal outside of those two cat’s, so his overall impact isn’t overly sexy.  ETA:  2014

8.  Edward Salcedo, 3B:  Salcedo is a toolsy 3B with major upside at the plate, but he’s yet to translate his raw ability to on-paper success.  The 22-year-old posted an unimpressive .675 OPS through 132 games at Double-A last season, which was his first taste of upper levels baseball.  The Braves are hopeful he’ll begin to tap into his considerable power next year, in what will likely be a return trip to Mississippi.  ETA:  Late 2014

9.  Sean Gilmartin, LHP:  Gilmartin took a couple steps backward in 2013 as he battled a shoulder ailment for most of the season, but Atlanta is hopeful he’ll return to form in 2014 as he return to Triple-A Gwinnett.   The 23-year-old is a soft-throwing lefty who relies on deception more than pure stuff (although, his changeup is a very nice pitch).  These finesse-types don’t often make for exciting fantasy arms, but Gilmartin should bring enough polish to cut it as a back-end starter once he arrives.  ETA:  2014

10. Cody Martin, RHP:  Martin had a bit of a breakout year in 2013, posting a 3.16 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and a K/9 at 9.0 through 132 innings of work between Double-A and Triple-A.  The 24-year-old isn’t the type of arm who’ll overwhelm opponents with stuff, but he mixes four pitches with confidence, and he commands his entire repertoire.  Martin will be an option to earn some starts for the Braves in 2014 if/when they need rotation help.  ETA:  2014

  1. apoxonbothyourhouses says:
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    Wren should be in here, too. Not the GM, but his kid. He’s been pretty good so far. Peraza should be MUCH higher, IMHO. I’m thinking #2 on this list.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @apoxonbothyourhouses: Wren’s not far from the list — he could maybe turn into a SAGNOF type OF with decent AVG, but that seems to be his ceiling right now, so it’s tough to get too excited. There’s certainly an argument to be made for Peraza to rank higher, but I like to see more XBH production out of him.

  2. Jay

    Jay says:
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    Great stuff Scott.

    If we did see La Stella (I know, I bother you about him all the time!), do you think there’s 20+ home run potential there?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Jay: Thanks, Jay. I think 10 HR pop is a more reasonable expectation for his first few seasons, but he as great ability to drive the baseball & his hand/eye is top of the range. That skill set usually indicates a player who’ll develop after a few big league seasons — I could see him in the 15-20 range a few years down the line, but I’d be surprised if he starts blasting at that rate immediately.

  3. Gregorius Chant says:
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    I kinda have always had a soft spot for Atlanta. Bummer that their minor leagues are pretty thin. As always, great analysis! BTW, who is next?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Gregorius Chant: Thanks! I leave my biases behind when writing about prospects, but truth be told, I hate the damn braves & all their trash throwing & tomahawk-chopping. No soft spot for me!

      Athletics are next.

  4. Gregorius Chant says:
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    I kinda have always had a soft spot for Atlanta. Bummer that their minor leagues are pretty thin. As always, great analysis! BTW, who is next?

  5. Buddo Chezuski says:
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    Scott, what are your thoughts on Trevor May’s career prospects going forward?? Thanks.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Buddo Chezuski: Elite-level stuff w/ garbage command. Been waiting two years for him to put it together & thought change of scenery would suit him well. It didn’t. I won’t close the book on him entirely, but his window of opportunity is closing if he can’t figure it out soon. He has the type of stuff that could make him a #2 type starter if everything clicks.

      • Buddo Chezuski says:
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        @Scott Evans: Thanks for the reply! You think he’ll start in AA and have to pitch well to get a call up?

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Buddo Chezuski: It’d be his third consecutive year in AA, so I’m thinking they’ll try to force him up to AAA & see how it goes. If it doesn’t start smoothly, my guess is they’ll transition him to a bullpen role with haste.

  6. Wake Up says:
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    Down goes Buxton…down goes Sano…2016 and 1/2 now?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Wake Up: Tough to say how significant these setbacks will be in terms of timetable… obviously gotta hit the pause button on any offseason development, but I think 2015 is still a possibility for both prospects. If Sano needs surgery to repair the UCL, then we can start to wonder about 2016 or later… And really the big kicker here is that the Twins have no good reason to rush either of these guys — these injuries might allow for everyone to take a step back & apply a more reasonable ETA for Sano/Buxton.

      • Wake Up says:
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        @Scott Evans: completely agree…

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