clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Talking Chop's Atlanta Braves 2015 Minor League All Stars

2015 was one of the best minor league seasons for the Braves in a long while. So many players had fantastic seasons that it was difficult to narrow it down to one team, but we tried our best

In 2015, the Braves had two minor league teams battling for postseason spots. They produced 14 midseason league all stars and one Futures Game member, and had six players who appeared in MLB's Top 100 Prospects list at some point during the season. It was a long process to narrow down the best players, and for all the right reasons.

First, Let's start out with some rules:
  1. The players were chosen on performance alone -- prospect status and age WERE NOT considered
  2. There were some minor qualifications: Batters needed at least 200 PA, Relievers needed 30 IP, and starters needed 90 IP (i.e., no Manny Banuelos -- would have been a no doubter).
  3. Short season players with qualifying statistics are eligible.
  4. Major League performance was not considered. This is solely a minor league all star team.
  5. The roster will be se up as such.
  • 3 starting pitchers
  • 4 relief Pitchers
  • 1 starter from each defensive position
  • 1 Designated Hitter
  • 3 Bench Players

2015 Braves Minor League All Star Squad

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Starting Pitcher-Greg Smith

Gwinnett Braves

Greg Smith had the best season of his career in 2015, putting up a 2.71 ERA in 119.2 IP split between the bullpen and starting rotation. He was effective enough for Gwinnett to award him with their Pitcher of The Year Award at the end of the season. His 2.71 ERA was 4th among qualifying pitchers in the International League and led the Gwinnett roster. The 32-year-old lefty went six consecutive scoreless appearances between June 13 and June 28, making two starts and pitching 18.2 innings. Despite his great numbers, he had a bad run of luck with run support and finished the season just 6-7.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Starting Pitcher-Tyrell Jenkins

Mississippi Braves/Gwinnett Braves

Tyrell Jenkins was the second man in the Braves' first blockbuster of the offseason, and as Shelby Miller grabbed headlines Jenkins quietly put up the best season of his young career between Mississippi and Gwinnett. For the first time in his career he stayed healthy for most of the season (with a short bout of arm fatigue near the end) and set career bests in innings pitched, ERA, strikeouts, opponents' average, games, starts, and wins. Perhaps no one in the system increased his stock as much as Jenkins.

Full Scouting report on Jenkins

Starting Pitcher-Seth Webster

Carolina Mudcats

Webster was a late pick up from the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League, and the 26-year-old sidearmer instantly hit with the Mudcats. From his mid-May signing on he was one of the best pitchers in the system, making 19 starts with Carolina and posting a 2.82 ERA. He had one of the best walk rates I've ever seen, an incredible 0.55 BB/9IP. He ate up innings all season, and finished qualified for the ERA title despite not being in the league for over a month and a half. He finished 3rd in the league in ERA, and allowed fewer than half the walks of any pitcher with more than 120 IP in the league.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Relief Pitcher-David Carpenter

Gwinnett Braves

Another Gwinnett Braves award winner - G-Braves Reliever of the Year David Carpenter was fantastic all year long. He was 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA as a setup man, and even got a short cup of tea with Atlanta in July. He led the team with 10 holds, and added on 2 saves. He was especially spectacular earlier in the year, striking out at least one batter through each of his first 11 appearances and allowing just 1 earned run in that span for a 0.54 ERA. Despite a pre-all star break ERA of 1.73, he was somehow snubbed from the International League All Star team. We couldn't do the same.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Relief Pitcher-Ryan Kelly

Mississippi Braves/Gwinnett Braves

As bad as he struggled with Atlanta, Ryan Kelly was equally spectacular for Mississippi and Gwinnett this year. He posted a 0.77 ERA in 47 IP on the season, and saved 23 of 24 games. He struck out 48 batters and only allowed 25 hits all season. He basically demanded his first major league call up, and while his early numbers scream AAAA, he has been easily the best minor league reliever this season. Of all pitchers with more than 18 IP, Ryan Kelly led both Gwinnett and Mississippi in ERA.

Relief Pitcher-Kyle Kinman

Rome Braves/Carolina Mudcats/Mississippi Braves

Kinman blazed through the system this year, picking up 18 saves in 21 opportunities over 3 levels. His 2.09 ERA jumps off of the page, especially when you consider how quickly he had to adjust to new levels. He spent less than a month in High-A Carolina, so in 23 days he went from Low A to AA. He was a South Atlantic League All Star, and racked up gaudy strikeout totals at each stop. In total he struck out 65 batters in 51.2 IP and was the premier left-handed reliever in the system in 2015.

Relief Pitcher-Matt Custred

Danville Braves

Matt Custred was a 31st round selection out of Texas Tech, and perhaps no late-round selection made bigger noise this season for the Braves. He posted a ridiculous 1.38 ERA in 32.2 IP, most of that with the Danville squad. He struck out nearly a batter and a half per inning and has seemed to solve some of the walk problems that plagued him in college. He has a great frame standing 6'5" and weighing 205 lbs, and has a live arm that could make him a potential closer if he can continue the success he had in his half season of professional baseball.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Catcher-Christian Bethancourt

Gwinnett Braves

After a short stint with Atlanta, Bethancourt was demoted to Gwinnett to give him some more playing time. He did not disappoint, posting an .840 OPS in 52 games. Catcher was a particularly weak position in the Braves system this year, and Bethancourt stood out above the rest. He only allowed 1 passed ball in 48 games at catcher, and threw out 43.8% of attempted base stealers. The highlight of his season was a walk off single against Buffalo on August 8th, the 3rd game of a 10-game hit streak.

First Baseman-Jacob Schrader

Carolina Mudcats/Gwinnett Braves

First base was a problem are for the Braves system this year, but Jacob Schrader separated himself with his home run numbers this year. He lead all Braves minor leaguers with 15 home runs this season, and earned a short late-season call up to AAA. His .206 ISO was one of the best numbers in the system, and he easily led all first basemen with a .782 OPS. He also had 28 doubles, ranking just behind teammate Carlos Franco (30) for the most in the system. He was third on the team with 59 RBI, and had a great season despite being a victim of the Mudcats bus crash.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Second Baseman-Omar Obregon

Rome Braves

Obregon hit right behind Ozhaino Albies in the lineup for most of the year, and helped fuel that lineup with a .337 OBP. He stole 31 stolen bases on the season, and was second on the team with 51 RBIs. His 121 hits ranked just behind Albies for most on the team, and he ranked third on the team with 52 runs scored. He was at his best early in the season, and posted an OPS above .700 in both of the first 2 months. He ran into trouble in June, but rebounded with an OBP above .320 in each of the last 2 months.

Third Baseman-Austin Riley

GCL Braves/Danville Braves

Austin RIley struggled for about a week in professional baseball, but as soon as the calendar hit July his bat began to hit baseballs. From July 1st to July 30th he hit .310/.348/.619 with 7 home runs in 23 games. A call up to Danville did nothing to slow him down, as he hit.351/.443/.586 in 30 games with Danville. He flashed easy plus power and better than expected hitting skills, and has many Braves fans excited over his potential. He will likely start the season with Rome, and will make his full season debut just days after his 19th birthday.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Shortstop-Ozhaino Albies

Rome Braves

Albies missing the last month of the season with an injured finger was not enough for any other shortstop to unseat him as the organization's best, despite a few good candidates. Albies got off to a relatively slow April -- .273/.325/.338 -- but hit .348 in May and June, earning him a spot in the South Atlantic League All Star game and the Futures Game. He didn't face a single pitcher younger than him all season but still put up a .368 OBP with 29 stolen bases. He quickly rose to the top of every single Braves Prospect list, and is consensus Top 50 overall.

Full Scouting Report on Ozhaino Albies

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Outfielder-Mallex Smith

Gwinnett Braves/Mississippi Braves

Mallex Smith has been one of the most exciting hitting prospects the Braves have had in years. From Day 1 he was on fire, hitting .306/.373/.386 with 57 stolen bases between two levels. He led the system by getting on base 202 times (148 hits, 51 walks, 3 HBP) in 126 games. He displayed improved defense and has primed himself to take over as the starting center fielder in Atlanta as soon as next season. He has silenced scouts one by one with his play this year, and will have the benefit of being mentored by Michael Bourn in spring training next year.

Full Scouting Report on Mallex Smith

Outfielder-Connor Lien

Carolina Mudcats

Connor Lien had possibly the best all-around season of any prospect, showing flashes of all 5 tools throughout the season. He was voted best defensive outfielder in the Carolina League by Baseball America, and recorded a ridiculous 21 outfield assists on the season, a number that leads all of affiliated ball. He was no slouch with the bat either, slashing .285/.347/.415 and knocking 9 home runs. He led the team in runs scored with 72 and was 2nd in the Carolina League with 34 stolen bases.

Outfielder-Randy Ventura

DSL Braves

Randy Ventura had the most eye-popping stat line of any short season player in the system, leading the organization with 55 stolen bases despite only playing 58 games. The 17-year-old stole 20 more bases than anyone else in the Dominican Summer League, and posted a .421 OBP. He walked more times than he struck out, and easily led the team in batting average and OBP. His 61 runs scored tied for 4th best in the league. Should he make his way stateside next year he will be the most intriguing DSL grad in the last few seasons.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Designated Hitter-Cedric Hunter

Gwinnett Braves

The Gwinnett Braves named Hunter their team MVP for the season, and his performance on the field certainly warranted the title. Among players to play in at least half of Gwinnett's games, he led the team in games played, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases, OBP, Slugging Percentage, and OPS. His 77 RBI led the entire minor league system, and he produced 24% of the team's home runs. His 12 home runs were 7 more than anyone on the team. He played a pivotal role for the team during their playoff push, especially when he posted a system-long 21 game hit streak between August 6th and August 27th.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Bench - Daniel Castro

Gwinnett Braves

Castro bounced around a bit between Gwinnett and Atlanta this year, but that didn't slow him down one bit. He has always been known as one of the steadiest defenders in the Braves system, and his bat took a step forward this season as he hit .295 between Mississippi and Gwinnett. He was especially spectacular in his short stint with Mississippi, hitting .389 in 5 games. He doesn't have great tools, but has been a solid player for all season long for both Gwinnett and Atlanta.

Bench - Juan Yepez

GCL Braves/Danville Braves

Juan Yepez was one of the biggest international signings for Atlanta last year. He did not disappoint in his first taste of baseball stateside, and made it all the way to Danville. Like Ozhaino Albies, the Braves skipped the 17-year-old Venezuelan infielder over the DSL and instantly moved him to first base when he got stateside. He put up an .822 OPS between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues and had a nice .364 OBP. He may already be the best offensive first baseman in the Braves system, and he showed that down the stretch by hitting .455/.478/.705 over his last 11 games.

Bench - KD Kang

Mississippi Braves

The Braves signed KD Kang to a minor league contract this offseason and he was a steady presence in the middle of the lineup all season for Mississippi. A native of South Korea, Kang has had a long run in the minors since being drafted in the 15th round of the 2006 June Draft. His .347 ranked 2nd among Mississippi Braves with more than 60 games played, and he also ranked 2nd on the team in home runs and RBIs. He was unstoppable in July, slashing .381/.426/.567 with 3 home runs in 27 games.

Congratulations to all those that made it, although I doubt it really helps you sleep at night. You probably aren't going to read this anyway. Many of these players will go on to make an impact for Atlanta, and some of them already are. I know we say this all of the time, but the future is very bright in Braves Country.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power