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Predicting the next surprise prospect for the Atlanta Braves

Every year a player comes out of no where to make an impact for the Braves. This season it was Williams Perez, and next year there will be a new face surprising everybody. It could be any number of guys, but I will try to predict who that might be.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It's an exciting time in the Braves system as an influx of new talent has rejuvenated a formerly barren system. While the focus this year has been on the top talents like Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, and Mike Foltynewicz, many future contributors have been forgotten by all but the most die hard of fans. The players on this list range from high ceiling athletic projects to underrated relievers. I will highlight one player from each level in the system that fans should keep an eye on.

Gwinnett-LHP Matt Marksberry


6'1" 200 lbs Born:8/25/1990

Throws L Bats L

Marksberry hadn't made a lot of noise in the system until this year, but after successfully making the jump from High A Carolina all the way to AAA Gwinnett he may be on the verge of breaking through to Atlanta. The Campbell graduate was drafted in the 15th round of the 2013 draft, and put up a 4.06 ERA in his first two seasons in the system. A full time move to the bullpen changed his story this year, as he has put up a 2.70 ERA between Carolina and Gwinnett. He pairs a mid-90's fastball with a good curveball, and could be a good arm for Atlanta to have in the bullpen going into their future. He underwent Tommy John surgery before his career at Campbell, but to my knowledge has since maintained a clean bill of health. Expect him to get some time in the bullpen very soon if the Braves decide to sell high at the deadline on Jim Johnson.

Honorable Mention: RHP Ryan Weber

Mississippi-RHP Tyler Jones

6'4" 250lbs Born:9/5/1989

Throws R Bats R

Tyler Jones is another college reliever who is having a breakout year for the Braves. He was an 11th Round pick by the Twins in 2011, and the Braves were quick to sign him after he was cut in spring training. He has been stellar out of the bullpen for both Carolina and Mississippi this year, posting a combined 1.35 ERA. He was a raw pickup out of LSU, but his size and stuff were enticing enough for both Minnesota and Atlanta to take a chance on. He strikes out more than a batter an inning with his mid-90's fastball and has made strides with his command (4.05BB/9 in 2014; 3BB/9 in 2015). If this season is an indication that Jones's raw talent is finally rounding into form the Braves may have found a true diamond in the rough

Honorable Mention: RHP Ryne Harper

Carolina-OF Connor Lien


6'3" 205lbs 3/15/1994

Throws R Bats R

Lien has been somewhat of a conundrum since being drafted out of Olympia High School 3 years ago. At times the athletic 12th rounder seems like the best player on the field, but at others he seems lost on the field. He has a frame that projects for above average power, and could be a solid middle of the order hitter if he can hit for a high enough average. He is a plus runner who can play every outfield position, though he may need to move to a corner if he bulks up to add power. He needs some work in the outfield, but his speed and plus arm strength could make him a good right fielder. He was raw out of high school but has advanced surprisingly well, and could turn out to be a major steal for the Braves. As long as he keeps progressing at the rate he has look for him to make some noise in 2017

Honorable mention: OF/2B Keith Curcio, RHP Jorge Zavala

Rome - RHP Zach Quintana

5'11" 180lbs 4/15/1994

Throw R Bats R

Quintana has had a breakout season after coming over to the Braves when they dumped Kyle Wren. The 2012 3rd rounder had a very rough start to his minor league career posting a 6.24 ERA in his first 3 seasons, but has rebounded with a stellar 2.21 ERA for Rome. He has benefited from a move to the bullpen by raising his strikeout rate and lowering his walk rate this year. He is undersized, so a bullpen move was likely from the start, and the results so far have been encouraging. His fastball can touch 95, and he features a sharp curveball and a change up that could develop into an average third offering. He has an easy, athletic delivery so durability should not be a problem. He may be a long way from the big leagues but he has shown some positive signs in his first few months in the Braves system

Honorable mention: RHP Dustin Emmons

Danville - RHP Ryan Clark


6'5" 220lbs 12/9/1993

Throws R Bats R

Ryan Clark was a former teammate of prospect Max Povse, and the tall righty hopes to take the same course as his UNC Greensboro counterpart. Clark's fastball sits in the low 90's and can get up to the mid 90's, and he has the frame to add more velocity as he matures. He has a good breaking ball but it will need some refinement. He is a boom or bust pick, but the Braves track record at developing pitchers speaks for itself. He had a successful career at UNCG, posting the 6th best ERA in team history. He has done a very good job at transferring those results to professional ball, but he has yet to really face many players his age. At this point it's uncertain whether his future is in the rotation or the bullpen, but Clark is definitely one to keep an eye.

Honorable Mention: 2B Luke Dysktra

GCL-OF Justin Ellison


6'2" 175lbs 2/6/1995

Throws L Bats L

Like Lien, Justin Ellison is a young, tools outfielder who was drafted in the 12th round. He hails from the same school as Andrelton Simmons, and actually put up better offensive numbers than Simmons across the board. He has a very athletic build, and has the speed and ability to play any position in the outfield. He has a frame that could develop above average to plus power, and has a solid swing that should allow him to hit enough to show that power. His speed is an easy plus tool, and he should be able to add some bulk and still maintain his speed to maturity. Like Most young players his defense needs work, but he should be able to adjust well. He doesn't have a ton of arm strength, which may limit him to left field and center field, but he has a lot of physical tools, though he will be slow to develop

Honorable Mention: RHP Dalton Geekie, LHP Jaret Hellinger

DSL-CF Randy Ventura

5'9" 165lbs 7/11/1997

Throws R Bats S

The teenager's debut has been nothing short of spectacular, as he has stolen 29 bases in 24 games. Obviously the speed stands out as plus plus, but his hitting has been just as impressive in his young career. He is hitting .391 and has shown patience at the plate, walking in 14% of his plate appearances. While DSL stats are not very reliable, what he has done so far is nothing to be sneered at. He will likely never grow into power, but if he can get enough strength to get the ball in the gaps he could be a triples machine. I admittedly do not know much about the guy defensively, so I really can't give you a Scouting report on that, but with his speed he clearly profiles as a center fielder. He is by far the farthest player from the majors on this list, but could be a carbon copy of Mallex Smith if his DSL numbers are any indication

Honorable Mention: OF Raysheandall Michel

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