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Braves Mid-Season Top-25 Prospects: 1-10

Here are my top-10 mid-season Braves prospects. There’s a lot of talent in this group, and a lot of excitement for the future of Braves baseball. Tomorrow you will be asked to post your own top-25, so keep working on your list.

  1. Jason Heyward, OF – Like the Tina Turner song says, “simply the best, better than all the rest.” He’s shown he’s talented beyond his age this year at Rome. Everyone who follows the Braves prospects have been calling for him to be promoted to Myrtle Beach, but the Braves seem to be taking it easy with Heyward, allowing him to get settled into a full season team. He’s their top dog and that’s not going to change, but at some point he’s going to make great leaps through the minor leagues.
  2. Tommy Hanson, RHP – The no-hitter was the icing on his season so far. After dominating at the Beach he struggled some at Mississippi before figuring it out, but sometimes struggling is what a prospect needs to get better, and Hanson is indeed getting better. This year may be too early for his arrival in Atlanta, but he’s a definite possibility for the rotation next year.
  3. Jordan Schafer, OF – He’s got the stain of an HGH suspension to follow him around, but he’s got too much talent to let it distract him for too long. While he’s not hitting for a great average at Mississippi, his power numbers and on-base percentage are right about where they need to be. His timetable may have to be pushed back from a 2008 arrival in Atlanta to a 2009 arrival, but he’s young enough to where that’s probably a good thing.
  4. Gorkys Hernandez, OF – After getting off to a hot start he has cooled down some, but he’s still got some of the best talent in the system, and at the end of the year his stats will be right where they should be.
  5. Julio Teheran, RHP – Teheran has been slowed this year at Danville due to some nagging injuries and the Braves are being super-cautious with him, and rightfully so. He’s still very young (he was born in 1991) so he has plenty of time to work out the kinks before he’s expected to be major league ready. We have yet to see any proof of all the hype that surrounded Teheran as the top prospect in Latin America last year, but his hype and super-star potential will still get him listed high on this list.
  6. Jeff Locke, LHP – Locke got off to a terrible start at Rome, but again, working through struggles is usually good for a prospect. And he has indeed worked through his early season problems and is beginning to dominate. His ERA has gone from 5.63 in April, to 4.13 in May, to 3.26 in June, to 1.29 in July. He’s also averaging almost six innings a start, proving that in addition to a very talented pitcher he may be counted on as a workhorse in the rotation.
  7. Brent Lillibridge, SS – He’s struggled at Richmond and he’s struggled in the majors, but he still has a lot of talent and a chance to be a very good major leaguer. He may need more time in the minors, but it looks like for the immediate future he will get a chance to fill in for Escobar and serve as a utility player in the majors.
  8. Cole Rohrbough, LHP – He has struggled this year with injuries and control, but the stuff is still there. It would be nice to see a bit more in the results department or some other guys may pass him in these rankings.
  9. Brandon Jones, OF – Like Lillibridge, Jones has struggled some at both Richmond and in the majors. At Richmond his power has been absent and his strikeouts are up. In his stint in the majors his power has been present, but his strikeout rate is still way too high. He is yet to play a full year at triple-A and may benefit from some more time in the minors.
  10. Freddie Freeman, 1B – As good as Heyward has been at Rome, Freeman has been right on his tail all year long and has arguably been just as good. He has displayed more power while striking out less than Heyward. If he has a good second half he will find himself even closer to the top of this list.

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