As is always done here at the All-Star break we are going to check in on our top minor league prospects to see how they stand up against each other. The schedule for the week will look like this:
Monday: Braves Mid-Season Top-25 Prospects: 11-25
Monday: Homerun Derby Open Thread
Tuesday: All-Star Game Open Thread
Wednesday: Braves Mid-Season Top-25 Prospects: 1-10
Thursday: Who are your Top-25 Braves Prospects (this is where you will be able to post your own top-25 list, so start thinking about it now)
Then over the weekend I’ll average out everyone’s top-25 list and we’ll have our combined list.
Below is the first group of prospects (11-thru-25) according to the way I feel they should be ranked. I’m sure there will be disagreement – there always is – but that’s half the fun of this activity. I try to keep a running tally throughout the year of where I think guys should fall on this list, and over the past week I’ve really been super-analyzing it. After doing these rankings for several years I’ve come up with some rules that I try to follow (although they are flexible):
- Prospects with super-star potential are listed first, star potential second, and solid major league potential after that. I don’t list anyone who looks like a utility guy or a mop-up man.
- I don’t put much stock in a player’s performance in rookie ball, I want to see at least some type of performance in a full-season league.
- Struggle is sometimes good for a prospect, but the important thing is how they deal with that struggle.
There are several other things I consider as well -- scouting reports, write-ups from prospect analysts – among other things. Anyway, here is the first group.
- Kris Medlen, RHP – He’s moved way up the prospect chart due mainly to his transition from relieving to starting and the success he’s had with that. Usually that’s a risky move in the middle of the season, but Medlen’s been able to pull it off. As a reliever he had a .306 batting average against, but as a starter he has only a .195 average against – a move that seems to be helping him become a more effective pitcher. It might take him another year to really get used to starting full time, but with all the kinks worked out he might be useful to Atlanta as a reliever before then.
- Tyler Flowers, C – Flowers has shown the ability to be a great all-around hitter, compiling an on-base percentage (.411) and a slugging percentage (.436) that’s far better than his batting average (.271). He profiles as having even more power than he’s showing this year, but combine these numbers with his showing in spring training this year and he should be considered one of the top power prospects in our system.
- Brandon Hicks, SS – He’s displayed tremendous power so far at Myrtle Beach, and despite hitting just .247 his slugging percentage is second on the team at .502. The team-high 96 strikeouts are a huge concern.
- Cody Johnson, OF – Johnson has shown so far that he is an all or nothing batter, with a team high 16 homeruns and a team high 125 strikeouts (in only 86 games). The strikeouts are a real concern, but Johnson is still young and has time to work on his strike zone judgment, and the raw power he has shown still gives us reason to talk about him as a top prospect.
- Charlie Morton, RHP – He’s been a bit combustible in the majors, but he showed dominant stuff at Richmond. If he can ever harness that dominance from one start to the next he will be a good major league pitcher, but his inconsistency (and historical inconsistency) keep him lower in these rankings.
- Travis Jones, 2B – This kid has been nothing but impressive at the plate since being drafted last year. He’s not as highly touted as Hicks or Flowers, but he’s shown the same consistent power and in a system devoid of second baseman, he easily stands out as the best.
- Kevin Gunderson, LHP – He seems to struggle at first with a new level. After dominating at the Beach this year he has struggled at Mississippi, but there are some signs he’s coming out of it. He could be a useful lefty in the bullpen for Atlanta by late next year if he continues to develop as he has been.
- Todd Redmond, RHP – Redmond scares me a bit as his stats remind me in some ways of a young Chuck James. The difference is that Redmond seems to be more of a workhorse (116 innings pitched) and he doesn’t issue many free passes (19 walks). He is a fly-ball control pitcher and he doesn’t miss many bats, so he could really go either way at this point.
- Richard Sullivan, LHP – Like Rohrbough last year, Sullivan is intriguing enough to put on the top-25 list in only his first season of professional baseball. After clearly needing more of a challenge than Rookie League baseball, Sullivan has earned a promotion to Rome. He brings with him a solid fastball and two plus breaking pitches. He has also shown great command early in his pro career with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings with zero walks.
- Eric Campbell, 3B – Why oh why do I still list him here? It was just two years ago that he was considered by some to be our top prospect, but with injuries, off-the-field problems, and a Betemit-like collapse at the plate he is looking like a complete bust… but still, I hold out hope that he can miraculously turn it around.
- Van Pope, 3B – Like Campbell many Braves fans hold out hope that Pope can figure it out, but in his second full year in Mississippi he still is not showing the ability to make consistent contact or hit for power – key for a corner infielder. He’s in danger of falling completely out of the top-25 list and losing his status as a prospect.
- Cory Gearrin, RHP – Another local college product out of Mercer University, Gearrin is a reliever who has found good success at both Rome and Myrtle Beach after a recent promotion. He’s doing a good job of missing bats, but he needs to get the walks down.
- Jon Gilmore, 3B – Still just 19, the Braves may have rushed him by putting him at Rome early in the season where he struggled to hit his weight. He has been swinging a good bat in Danville, including good power, but he has lacked patience at the plate with only two walks in 23 games.
- Scott Diamond, LHP – He signed last year as a non-drafted free agent for $50K out of Binghampton University after his junior year. Diamond mixes a curveball and changeup with a good fastball which produces a good ground ball ratio. He was one of the best pitchers at Rome (3.08 ERA) early in the season and after a promotion to the Beach (3.09 ERA) he hasn’t missed a beat. Add yet another interesting lefty-hander to the hoards of young lefty pitchers we already have in the low minors.
- Edgar Osuna, LHP – I went back and forth about who to put here, because there are a lot of other good arms in the system who could probably fall anywhere from 15 to 25 (Rodgers, Evarts, Ortegano, Heath, Parr, Pruneda, Barrett, Cordier, Rasmus), but in the end I kept coming back to Osuna. He did just as well as anyone else at Danville last year and he’s had good success at every stop along the way. I like his high strikeout totals and low walk totals. He also seems to be a more durable and flexible pitcher than some of the others. With all those pitchers I just mentioned not making the top-25, this gives me great confidence in the depth of our farm system, because there will undoubtedly be some of you who feel some of them should make it.