Atlanta Braves 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (6) | 2008 (8) | 2007 (16) | 2006 (7) | 2005 (5) | 2004 (4)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [86 – 76] NL East
AAA: [81 – 63] International League
AA: [65 – 73] Southern League
A+: [53 – 84] Carolina League
A: [66 – 73] South Atlantic League
R: [47 – 21] Appalachian League
R: [26 – 34] Gulf Coast League
The Run Down
In the past couple of years, the majors has seen several prospects that have come from the Braves organization. For example, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Joey Devine, and Josh Anderson; those are just players on other teams. The Braves have also graduated Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Jordan Schafer, and Kris Medlen. They also have traded Gorky Hernandez and Jeff Locke for Nate McLouth, and used Tyler Flowers as part of their trade to get Javier Vazquez. Their system has been loaded for quite some time – 2007 was the only year Baseball America has ever had them outside the top 10. With Jason Heyward (Outfielders to Target and Fantasy Outlook) leading the charge of youth in 2010, the Braves are hoping the infusion of younger players will push their team back to the playoffs. A lot of the reason why the Braves have such good depth (ranked 13 overall in 2010) are the prospects in the lower minors. Consequently, this review will lack some of their higher upside youngsters. One more caveat of note before the prospect review, Jason Heyward will not be mentioned beyond what Grey has written.
Players of Interest for 2010
All rankings are from Baseball America 2009
#5 Freddie Freeman | 1B | A+/AA | 19 | .282/.363/.408 | 404 AB | 35 XBH | 8 HR | .126 ISO | 60:37 K:BB | .311 BABIP | 43.l GB% | 16 LD% | 40.8 FB%
Struggled mightily at Double-A (.248./.308/.343) but was hampered by a sore wrist and was easily one of the youngest players in the Southern League. Not to worry, there was no hamate bone break. Freeman possesses great skills at first base while fielding and projects to have 20 to 30 homer power. He doesn’t take many walks or strikeout often, which has both some pros and cons. With comparisons to the likes of Mark Grace (think above average first baseman), Freeman could anchor a nice middle of the order with Jason Heyward for years to come. He’ll begin the year at Double-A and shouldn’t be a factor until the 2011 season, unless injuries force the Braves hand and Freeman rakes.
Matt Young | LF | AA/AAA | 26 | .284/.414/.403 | 486 AB | 38 XBH | 5 HR | .119 ISO | 43/17 SB/CS | 64:97 K:BB | .315 BABIP | 50.2 GB% | 18.2 LD% | 31.6 FB%
Talk about a guy that is tough to write about, there is nearly nothing to gauge his value with. Truly too old to be a prospect, Young has developed great strike zone judgment (career 309:356 K:BB ratio), gap power and, from what archaic defensive metrics can tell, average to slightly above-average defense. With Eric Hinske, Jason Heyward, Jordan Schafer, Gregor Blanco and Matt Diaz all holding priority over Young for major league playing time, he looks like a career minor league player. Nothing wrong with having some organizational depth, God knows the Mets wish they had that. With only 29 plate-appearances at Triple-A in his career (2009), Young’s chances of making the majors have diminished considerably.
Luis Valdez | RHP | AAA | 25 | 9.5 K/9 | 2.4 BB/9 | 71 1/3 IP | 3.28 ERA | 2.78 FIP | 1.19 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 8.3 H/9 | .302 BABIP | 48.2 GB% | 13.3 LD% | 26.3 FB%
With a fastball that typically sits between 88 to 92 mph (tops out at 95 mph on a good day) and a quality changeup, Valdez could provide some bullpen help when injuries happen.
#29 Todd Redmond | RHP | AAA | 24 | 6.6 K/9 | 1.3 BB/9 | 145 IP | 4.41 ERA | 4.66 FIP | 1.37 WHIP | 1.3 Hr/9 | 9.4 H/9 | .299 BABIP | 32.4 GB% | 22.9 LD% | 40.5 FB%
Much like Matt Young, Redmond looks like he’s peaked out, but at Triple-A. With few prospects ready for the majors, Redmond’s 90 mph sinker and marginal repertoire project for long relief stints more than the middle of the rotation. His sinker didn’t induce many groundballs last year (32.4 GB%) and his home run rate was gross (1.3 Hr/9). Now you know and knowledge is power.
#12 Cody Johnson | LF | A+ | 20 | .242/.345/.500 | 422 AB | 51 XBH | 32 HR | .258 ISO | 11/7 SB/CS | 171:64 K:BB | .315 BABIP | 41.8 GB% | 12 LD% | 46.2 FB%
Um, finally some interesting prospects, too bad he isn’t going to be ready for the majors until at least late 2011. Remember Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds? Yeah, they slashed .283/.393/.509; .304/.425/.525; and .280/.360/.525 for their minor league careers respectively. Johnson has slashed .251/.328/.497 in his four minor league seasons. I am only comparing Johnson to these major league players as they are more similar in his skill set – power, power, and some slight speed, oh and more power. He had only 25 at-bats at Double-A in 2009 and he’ll return there to prove himself in 2010. Johnson will have to have success against better pitchers to show that his “all-or-nothing” approach is as good as the major league players I’ve just mentioned.
Also, Mark Reynolds never stole more than 4 bases in a minor league season and only had 11 as his high before his 24 in 2009.
Adam Milligan | LF | A | 21| .345/.393/.589 | 197 AB | 26 XHB | 10 HR | .244 ISO | 43:12 K:BB | .390 BABIP | 35.8 GB% | 20.5 LD% | 43 FB%
Milligan proved himself as a solid prospect ranking behind (#9) Cody Johnson in Baseball America’s newest lists. This was only due to Johnson being a level ahead. Nevertheless, some scouts like Milligan more than Johnson citing Milligan’s better strike zone judgment and defense. However, some scouts question Milligan’s strike zone judgment and his long term potential. Aided by an extremely high batting average on balls in play (.390 BABIP) and a small sample size, Milligan is going to need to repeat this success at High-A in 2010.
#13 Randall Delgado | RHP | A | 19 | 10.2 K/9 | 3.6 BB/9 | 124 IP | 4.35 ERA | 3.55 FIP | 1.39 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 8.9 H/9 | 45 GB% | 18.3 LD% | 26.7 FB%
At just 19, Delgado put on a show in the Sally League (South Atlantic League) which rocketed up his stock. Harnessing fastball that tops out at 96 mph, a curveball and a changeup, he is able to overpower hitters and dominate. On the flip side, he will, at times, lose control of his pitches resulting in pitches that are left up. This pitcher is one you’ll want to keep an eye on as his age, power arm, and potential are sky high.
#18 (NYY) Arodys Vizcaino | RHP | A(ss) | 18 | 11.1 K/9 | 3.2 BB/9 | 42 1/3 IP | 2.13 ERA | 1.16 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 7.2 H/9 | .322 BABIP
Speaking of sky high potential. Know how Neftali and Elvis Andrus were the gems of the Texiera trade with Texas? Well, Vizcaino is the gem from the Javier Vazquez trade to the Yankees. Throwing a 90 to 94 mph fastball that tops at 96 mph, a sick-nasty curve was said to be second only to A.J. Burnett while still with the Yankees, and a changeup that needs a lot of work, Vizcaino has the potential to be a dominant, top-of-the-rotation pitcher. His strikeout rates were awesome, his walk rates were average and to think he is only going to be 19. 2010 will be his first full season of baseball, and if all goes well, he’ll develop the same kind of hype that Tommy Hanson and Clayton Kershaw received before they were promoted to the majors.
Lee Hyde | LHP | R/A+/AA | 24 | 11.4 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9 | 35 2/3 IP | 2.27 ERA | 2.71 FIP | 1.04 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 5.6 H/9 | .259 BABIP | 40.2 GB% | 11 LD% | 43.7 FB%
Keith Law believes Hyde is one of the better prospects in the Braves system, however, injuries have hurt Hyde every year. He has the potential for high strikeouts, but he’ll probably struggle proving his worth if he can’t pitch in a full season.
#15 Zeke Spruill | RHP | A | 19 | 7.4 K/9 | 1.9 BB/9 | 116 IP | 3.03 ERA | 3.66 FIP | 1.24 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 9.3 H/9 | .311 BABIP | 56.8 GB% | 13.3 LD% | 26.3 FB%
19 IP at Rookie ball.
One of the Braves top 2008 draft picks, Zeke produced well in 2009. He lost some velocity on his fastball from high school, 90 to 93 mph in HS and now 87 to 90 mph. He also throws a curve and a slider and is working on a changeup. Spruill could be a fascinating prospect to watch progress through the minors. His groundball rate, walk rate and decent strikeout rate have all the making of a mid-rotation pitcher. Doesn’t have the same upside as Vizcaino or Delgado, but should provide some worth in 2012.