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.

Arizona Fall League Players – Peoria Saguaros
Pitchers – Lee Hyde; Craig Kimbrel; Jeff Lyman; Mike Minor
Hitters – (1B) Freddie Freeman; (SS) Brandon Hicks; (RF) Jason Heyward

Graduated Prospects
#1 (RHP) Tommy Hanson; #3 (CF) Jordan Schafer; #9 (RHP) Kris Medlen

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.

Honorable Mentions
#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.

  1. Bill says:

    A matter of semantics, but Josh Anderson was actually a product of the Astros system, being traded for Oscar “The Vulture” Villareal. If you wanted to replace him, you could always use Adam Wainwright as a dominant example.

  2. Lou Brown says:

    EverCab or iDesmond?

  3. and1mcgee says:

    CJ Wilson won the 5th spot in the Rangers’ rotation… whaddya say, Grey?

  4. Stephen says:

    @Bill: Good to know. Thanks for the correction.

    @Lou Brown: I personally like EverCab, but not by reaching for him. In my 20 team league, he was taken in the 7th round (pick 79).

    @and1mcgee: Meh, but name isn’t Grey.

  5. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @and1mcgee: I think if you rearrange the letters in “fifth starter” and “Rangers rotation” you get “Abandon your season if you even think of drafting this guy.”


    I can’t wait to hear what kind of you jokes you can make out of “Pianowksi.” Also, wasn’t last year’s champ Chris Liss, which sounds like a holiday for kids with speech impediments?

    Go easy on Behrens though. I like his columns. Also, I kind of liked “Sex Drive.”

  6. Mann of Sandd says:

    No mention of Teheran?? You’re killing me! (but thanks for the writeup)

    Have to make keeper decisions by tomorrow….pondering keeping Buchholz @ 9 (can keep him for three years after this one, although at escalating salaries)…too risky or keep him? He’d likely go for the same amount or more in the auction, and I don’t really have a legitimate keeper to put in his place (unless I keep Matt Thornton at $1 or Kuroda at $6)

  7. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: No idea who Sex Drive is. I don’t read them. Behrens seems like a decent enough guy.

    re: Chris Liss – ha!

    re: write up: I figured people wanted draft prep stuff over draft recap. But I have it written up, just needs to be posted.

    @Mann of Sandd: Go with Buchholz if that are your choices.

  8. GopherDay says:

    @Grey: I don’t mind some draft recaps…gives me a feel for whats going through your mind when you make decisions…

  9. Brian says:

    How would a league with weekly lineup changes alter your draft/roster strategy?

    I am thinking more SP so I can use them for their two-start weeks.

  10. Grey

    Grey says:

    @GopherDay: Well, it’ll be a-comin’.

    @Brian: Depends on the depth, but SPs can be more valuable if it’s deep. No excuse to go after Pirate pitchers though.

    @I’m Keith Hernandez: Thanks for the heads up!

  11. Stephen says:

    @Mann of Sandd: I was this close }{ to writing about him. However, he was just a wee bit too young. He’ll get a post sooner rather later – think a late season Scouting the Unknown if all goes well. He has an electric arm, but he only ~80 innings between Rookie ball and Low/Single-A.

    @Mann of Sandd: I agree with Grey.

    @I’m Keith Hernandez: Thanks for the update.

  12. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Is it in English?

  13. Steve says:

    @Grey: Depends whether you’ve watched the trailer yet or not (winks).

  14. mrbaseball says:

    nostradamus prediction has come true – Gooden on drugs again

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Dot NZ scares me. I like vowels. Yeah, I’ll watch the trailer later, thanks for the heads up.

    @mrbaseball: Ha!

  16. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Hey, that made a few top ten lists too.

  17. royce! says:

    Hey Stephen,

    I’ve been wondering for a long time what is going on in your photo… Are you blowing a bubble?

  18. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Grey: No I didn’t read the book. I couldn’t really imagine standing around at parties saying “Sure, ‘Sex Drive’ was okay, but the book was way better.”

  19. GopherDay says:

    @Grey: Standard 12 team 5X5 ROTO league…when’s the earliest you take the Freak?

  20. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Grey: Okay, I’m dumb: Who’s the Freak?

  21. mrbaseball says:

    I think he is talking about – The Barry Bonds Traveling Freak Show

  22. mrbaseball says:

    End of the 2nd means no freak for you

  23. GopherDay says:

    @mrbaseball: No….I take that as a last round flyer…Usually get a few: “What….I thought Barry retired!!!” Then a few chuckles. Sadly its not in the Yahoo data base :(

  24. David says:

    @Grey: Just had a pretty wonky draft (Kurt Suzuki went in the 7th round). I’d love to hear what you think. 12 team mixed points league that doesn’t deduct for strikeouts.

    C: Soto
    1B: A. Gonzalez
    2B: Utley
    SS: Andrus
    3B: Chipper/C. Davis/Headley
    OF: Kemp
    OF: Sizemore
    OF: Cruz
    Util: Pence
    SP: Haren
    SP: Ubaldo
    SP: Garza
    SP: Wandy
    RP: Wagner
    RP: Hoffman

    Bench: Jon Sanchez, Masterson, Corey Hart, Fowler, Harang, Desmond

    Thanks in advance.

  25. chet steadman says:

    Grey- I have a question about your tiers.. The middling pitchers you have are tiered (in order) as below:
    Slowey/B Anderson/Joba/Strasburg/Cueto
    W Davis/Tillman/Matusz/Latos

    My question is, would you really take Jurrjens over Webb over Anderson over Piniero/Happ over Correia over Harden over Floyd over Latos over Harang over Lilly? Or am I reading too far into your rankings? I kind of prefer some of the guys towards the end, and I’m not just talking about upside.


  26. Tony says:

    just finished my RCL draft with paulllienuts, simply fred, BRETT, and others…. oh wow, my head hurts, grey you’ve created monsters…. if we dont win the most competitive league i wanna know who does! Fred didn’t take an SP til the 14th? 15th? I can’t remember, it was wild, all owners were ridiculously patient…. when it was the 6th round i felt like i was drafting in the 10th round…. ughh…. i’ll post my team later.

    Good luck to all of my league, wow, what a draft, almost 3 hours….

  27. chet steadman says:

    For those of you in Yahoo leagues, I’ve compiled a quick list of position players who are undervalued by draft queue (Y! Default ranking – Razzball ranking > 20):

    Morneau: 46-21 = 25
    Granderson: 53-33 = 22
    Hamilton: 75 – 47 = 28
    Ethier: 74-48 = 26
    Quentin: 163-54 = 109
    A Jones: 78-56 = 22
    C Pena: 85-62 = 23
    Rios: 141-80 = 61
    Soriano: 114-79 = 35
    Weiters: 106-83 = 23
    Beckham: 135-84 = 51
    Beltran: 159-86 = 73
    Damon: 130-100 = 30
    J Lopez: 143-104 = 39
    C Jones: 134-111 = 23
    M Montero: 175-112 = 6
    Napoli: 148-124 = 24
    Soto: 171-125 = 46
    G Jones: 210-127 = 83

    Others in this category: Beltre, Hart, Fowler, Rasmus, Iannetta, Pierre, F Lopez, Headley, Loney, C Guillen, Delm. Young, M Bradley, Millege, R Henandez, EY2, Pierzynski, K Johnson, S Smith, Fox, An. LaRoche, Wood, Shoppach, Olivo, Flores

  28. Stephen says:

    @royce!: Yeah, I am blowing a bubble. I had a better picture where I had made the contrast much higher so it wasn’t so dark. I somehow lost it. Maybe I will go look for it now and have Grey update the picture.

  29. John says:

    This is somewhat off topic but today i was doing a mock draft and was reading stuff from the white sox listing Gordon Beckham as the starting 2b with teahen playing 3rd. If he gains eligibility there do you bump his value up significantly? Just wondering your thoughts on this gray as i think he might make a nice late round steal for at 2b

  30. Grey

    Grey says:

    @David: Why do you have 3 third basemen? Masterson’s not that great for a 12 team league. You have a lot of bench hitters which isn’t good. Overall, I think you’re weak on power and strong on speed, which isn’t terrific. Your pitching is plenty solid enough though.

    @chet steadman: That over over over sentence is pretty confusing. Just go by the top 300 spreadsheet. That’s up to date.

    @Tony: Nice!

    @chet steadman: That’s a good cheatsheet for Yahoo, thanks for doing that.

    @John: Yeah, he’s gonna play 2nd. It’s accounted for in the my rankings. He’s just above Stewart.

  31. Stephen says:

    @John: Gordon isn’t being drafted as a late round player. I’ve consistently seen him taking in the top 120, if not sooner, in the drafts I’ve done for real. Everyone knows about him and is on his wagon. But yes, his value is improved at second.

  32. John says:

    Ok that sounds good im liking him a lot at second and in all the drafts Ive seen yahoo rankings has Stewart ranked at about 110ish and Beckham is at like 120+ so i think i could maybe try and target either for my 2b option in the 10th with andrus in the 9th

  33. John says:

    just looked it up stewarts at 118 and beckhams at 135 on yahoos rankings

  34. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    @Tony: I am working on the War Room.

  35. matthole says:

    @Simply Fred:re – war room: im hoping figgins moves to 2B and to have loney CI….if you can account for that….good draft i have a feeling you’ll be a closer hound

  36. Adam says:

    What kind of season do you see Nick Johnson having? I didn’t see him in your top 300 and I’ve gotta believe he’s better than guys like Kelly Shoppach at the bottom of that…

  37. matthole says:

    @Grey: @<a href="#comment- jaime garcia has been named the Cards 5th starter. @Stephen wrote in his analysis that he could be good value in 2010 too…..flier worthy since hes under duncan? what are your thoughts

  38. Stephen says:

    @Adam: He doesn’t have them in the top 300 because Nick Johnson is always injured, plus Grey is a sucker for upside and not always the creaky old vet.

  39. Stephen says:

    @matthole: Good to know. I would take a flier on him for the right drop. In a 12 team league, I may hold off, but if you have a Todd Wellemeyer or a Jamie Moyer esque type player on your team, it would be worth swapping.

  40. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: @Adam: What I have found is that people are overvaluing him because he is batting in the 2hole at Yankee Stadium…..draft him at the end and then use him to sweeten a deal for another team. Its worked for me when I accidentally auto-drafted him…

  41. Bill Lumbergh says:

    Just finished up my draft in a 12 team H2H points league with 5 keepers. Pos: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, C (x2), OF (x4), U, SP (x5), RP (x2) plus 5 bench spots. First 5 picks were my keepers, then FA from there on out. Any thoughts on my performance?

    Rd 1 – Cabrera, Miguel 1B DET (Keeper)
    Rd 2 – Halladay, Roy SP PHI (Keeper)
    Rd 3 – Longoria, Evan 3B TB (Keeper)
    Rd 4 – Martinez, Victor C BOS (Keeper)
    Rd 5 – Pujols, Albert 1B STL (Keeper)
    Rd 6 – Phillips, Brandon 2B CIN
    Rd 7 – Nolasco, Ricky SP FLA
    Rd 8 – Hamilton, Josh CF TEX
    Rd 9 – Billingsley, Chad SP LA
    Rd 10 – Rodriguez, Wandy SP HOU
    Rd 11 – Gonzalez, Carlos LF COL
    Rd 12 – Stewart, Ian 3B COL
    Rd 13 – Cordero, Francisco RP CIN
    Rd 14 – Heyward, Jason RF ATL
    Rd 15 – Sheets, Ben SP OAK
    Rd 16 – Reimold, Nolan LF BAL
    Rd 17 – Santana, Ervin SP ANA
    Rd 18 – Davis, Wade SP TB
    Rd 19 – Ramirez, Alexei SS CHW
    Rd 20 – Matusz, Brian SP BAL
    Rd 21 – Garcia, Jaime SP STL
    Rd 22 – Nunez, Leo RP FLA
    Rd 23 – Moore, Adam C SEA


  42. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Bill Lumbergh: Really nice keepers… They make things easier. Overall, really solid team. I would’ve preferred when you got into the later rounds you just took solid contributors rather than upside guys because your team is already strong. Could’ve just went for the knock out rather than the Davises and Matuszes and Moores. It’s not like you’re going to keep them over Miggy, Pujols, etc. You should still be fine though.

  43. Frogurt says:

    Did a mock draft tonight. 12 team 5×5 rotisserie. I obviously took a different route with two 1B as my first 2 picks– Prince fills my Util spot. But not too shabby…? Ignore the #11 Elvis pick. User error. My biggest concern is my OF. Not the top tier, but enough speed to get by??

    1. Mark Teixeira (NYY – 1B)
    2. Prince Fielder (Mil – 1B)
    3. Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B)
    4. Brandon Phillips (Cin – 2B)
    5. Johan Santana (NYM – SP)
    6. Jason Bartlett (TB – SS)
    7. Adam Wainwright (StL – SP)
    8. Shane Victorino (Phi – OF)
    9. Cole Hamels (Phi – SP)
    10. Ricky Nolasco (Fla – SP)
    11. Elvis Andrus (Tex – SS)
    12. Chad Billingsley (LAD – SP)
    13. Michael Bourn (Hou – OF)
    14. Johnny Damon (Det – OF)
    15. David Aardsma (Sea – RP)
    16. Rafael Soriano (TB – RP)
    17. A.J. Burnett (NYY – SP)
    18. Billy Wagner (Atl – RP)
    19. Ryan Franklin (StL – RP)
    20. Frank Francisco (Tex – RP)
    21. Carlos Beltrán (NYM – OF)
    22. A.J. Pierzynski (CWS – C)
    23. Johnny Cueto (Cin – SP)

  44. Bill Lumbergh says:

    @Grey: Thanks Grey! Really appreciate the insight. You R the man!

  45. Stephen says:

    @royce!: It’s (the picture) has been updated.

    @Frogurt: I don’t like the Bartlett pick, but other than that, I like your drat. Maybe a bit heavy on saves and lite mid-tier power. I think the Tex-Fielder combo might balance that power out. Overall, I think you found good talent for their value in Cueto, picks 9, 10, 15, 19, and 20. If Beltran is even close to being healthy this year, that pick will be lovely. OVerally, not back, way to get Zimmerman in the 3rd and not bite the bullet on Beltre or Wood. Overall, this team could easily be a top 4 in a 12 team league.

  46. matthole says:

    @Grey: do you view pacman jones as a solid #2 or #3 OF

  47. One consideration may be how the acquisitions affect developing prospects in the minors, and another may be how well the 2012 team plays and the fan support it attracts.

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