Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (26) | 2013 (26) | 2012 (15) | 2011 (2) | 2010 (9)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [79-83] NL East
AAA: [65-77] International League – Gwinnett
AA: [83-56] Southern League – Mississippi
A+: [68-71] Carolina League – Lynchburg (2015: Carolina)
A: [56-84] South Atlantic League – Rome
The Braves have a few interesting fantasy prospects in the pipeline, with Jose Peraza looking like the most relevant for 2015. The farm is on the thin side in general, but that could change if Atlanta decides to part ways with any of their major league stars. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are both free agents in 2016. Evan Gattis is another trade candidate. Starting pitching is up in the air with both Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang possibly leaving in free agency, while Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen are still recovering from injuries. This could give the younger arms in the system a chance to crack the rotation in 2015. The Braves were part of the affiliation shuffle as High-A Carolina is now affiliated with Atlanta. Change also came in the front office this fall. Interim GM John Hart named Brian Bridges the organization’s new scouting director.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Jose Peraza, 2B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2015
Peraza is the most fantasy relevant prospect of this group. It’s not just that he’s a talented player with plus speed and a good bat. He’s also close to the majors and plays a position at which the Braves could use a spark. A midseason call-up is definitely in the cards and he could be up even sooner than that. The Braves struggled to find a capable leadoff hitter last season, calling upon Jason Heyward to fill the role at times. Peraza could be that guy. He has 70 speed on the 20-80 scale and while there’s no power to speak of, he makes good contact. Peraza held his own as a 20-year-old in Double-A, slashing .335/.363/.422 with 25 stolen bases in 195 plate appearances.
2. Braxton Davidson, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
Davidson gets a high ranking on this fantasy list thanks to his plus raw power and the potential to be a middle-of-the-order hitter at some point. The Braves took him in the 1st round of the 2014 draft (32nd overall). It feels odd to say a guy with zero homers has plus raw power, but at just 18 years old there is still a long road ahead for Davidson to refine his game. In his first season he posted a .387 OBP, showing that he’s patient enough to take his walks. He profiles as a left fielder/first baseman and if his power develops as expected he should be a useful player in fantasy.
3. Lucas Sims, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Sims is the best pitching prospect in the Braves’ system with two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. The fastball is clocked in the low to mid-90s with good command. Sims improved in the Carolina league as the year progressed. After posting a 4.88 ERA, 3.6 BB/9, and 4.9 K/9 in the first half, the 20-year-old righty increased his strikeout rate to 7.5 per nine innings over the last two months of the season while at the same time lowering his ERA and walk rates. He should battle for a spot in the rotation at some point in 2016 and his ceiling is a #2 starter.
4. Christian Bethancourt, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Every once in a while I have to bite the bullet and rank a catching prospect in the top five, and Bethancourt is as good as any. A lot of his fantasy value comes from the fact that he is on the cusp of getting a full time role behind the plate in Atlanta. He has always been known as a defense-first catcher, but his offense has slowly come around. Bethancourt hit eight homers and stole seven bases with Triple-A Gwinnett, earning him a big league promotion in late 2014. In fact, he just missed graduating from this list with 113 major league at bats. There’s a good chance Evan Gattis gets moved in a trade, which would make Bethancourt the Braves’ everyday catcher. How much he’ll hit is still a question, but he’s worth a play in 2-catcher leagues and deeper formats for sure.
5. Jason Hursh, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Hursh was the Braves’ minor league pitcher of the year and could be in the major league mix at some point in 2015. He throws a mid-90s sinker as well as changeup and slider. In just his second season, Hursh threw 148 innings for Double-A Mississippi. While he’s not a strikeout artist, he induces lots of ground balls (55.1% GB%) and has good control and command of his arsenal. Of the pitching prospects listed in this year’s top ten, I think Hursh has the best chance to be fantasy relevant in 2015.
6. Garrett Fulenchek, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
Like Sims, Fulenchek has the potential to pitch at the front end of a rotation. He has a plus fastball and a good slider with a developing changeup that could quickly become another weapon for him. He struggled in his first season but scouts liked his low-90s sinker and there is plenty of time left to develop his mechanics and command. The 18-year-old righty probably won’t see the big leagues for another three years, which makes him more of an upside play in deeper leagues at the moment – but he’s an arm that could shoot up the rankings in the near future.
7. Kyle Kubitza, 3B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2015
Aside from the high strikeout rate, Kubitza brings a decent mix of power and speed. He could find his way into the Braves’ lineup at some point in 2015 as well. He’s “older” at 24 and there are questions as to whether his raw power can show up in major league games, but he’s a patient left-handed hitter with some speed who plays good defense at the hot corner. Whether that translates into a starter or not we’ll have to see, but even as a utility player he’ll have value in deeper leagues, especially those that are more focused on OBP. UPDATE: Traded to Los Angeles (AL)
8. Ozhaino Albies, SS | Age: 17 | ETA: 2018
With a youngster like Albies, there is a lot of development left and therefore a lot of risk. However, there’s also a lot of upside. Signed out of Curacao in 2013, Albies has shown that he is a capable hitter even at 17. He has plus speed, makes good contact, and he’s patient. A higher walk percentage than strikeout percentage is typically a very good sign. According to reports, he’s also a very good defensive shortstop and should stick at the position. In time, he could develop into a slick fielding, speedy shortstop prospect not unlike Francisco Lindor of Cleveland. Now’s a good time to roll the dice as his stock is rising.
9. Victor Reyes, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Reyes was signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela and was supposed to have decent power potential, but he has hit exactly zero homers in the minors up to this point. That said, he’s still just 19 years old, meaning there is plenty of time for his stroke to start yielding more long balls. Pretty much all of his fantasy value hinges on whether that power starts to show up as he continues to develop. If it does, he could be a corner outfielder with a starting gig. If it doesn’t, well, he’ll probably top out as a fourth outfielder.
10. Kyle Wren, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Wren is a name that will start popping up in SAGNOF columns on this site in the near future. He has the ability to hit for a high average and brings plus speed, but there’s not much else here. Even if Wren doesn’t end up as a starting outfielder, his speed will provide some value in fantasy. At 23 he’s older than some of the other names on this list, but he has already reached Double-A where he hit .283 with 13 steals for Mississippi. My guess is he’ll either be ignored or ranked too aggressively on prospect lists. His true value probably lies somewhere in between. UPDATE: Traded to Milwaukee