We continue our look at the best tools in the Braves minor league system by taking a closer look at the pitching tools in the Braves minor league system.
In case you missed our complete list of tools as well as a closer look at the position players in the minors, you can read that by clicking right here.
Best Pitching Prospect
Garrett says Max Fried
Yes he had Tommy John, but no player in our system except for this one has been compared to the best pitcher on the planet (Kershaw). His size and stuff is tantalizing and he is only going to get better. He's young and athletic and should bounce back to being one of the top 40 or so prospects in baseball after next season. Book it
Eric says Kolby Allard
Garrett must have hit his head on something. Admittedly, there are a lot of really strong choices (yes, including Sims....send your hate, it fuels me). I am hopeful Garrett is right about Fried, but I am just not going to say a guy is the top pitching prospect until I know he can actually pitch again. He was certainly a special talent, but he has to mentally be able to throw his curve without holding back AND execute it before he is going to compete for the top spot. I 'm going with Allard as he dominated in his short stint in rookie ball and has an entire offseason to heal and learn his craft during instructionals and whatnot.
Garrett says Mauricio Cabrera
No other player in the system throws 100 mph as often or as easily as Cabrera can. He's wild, but has the type of top end stuff that can make him a solid late game arm. Jason Hursh and his 94-97 sinker is the only one with the movement or velocity to even compete with Cabrera. Edge goes to Cabrera though.
Eric says Lucas Sims
Sims doesn't have the hardest fastball, but his has a ton of life on it and especially after his promotion to Mississippi it was a devastating pitch for him. Also evaluating it in context as his offspeed stuff improved enough that his fastball performed better. If you are looking for the hardest fastball, Mauricio is your man. However, I like my pitchers to throw at least the occasional strike and this is a nod to Sims taking a big step towards being the pitcher we all hoped he could be. He is not there yet, but if he continues to pitch off his fastball and refine his offspeed offerings, he will be in good shape for the future.
Best Breaking Pitch
Both: Touki Toussaint
We've all seen Touki Toussaint's curveball at this point, and it's a true knee-buckler. He can make professional baseball player look foolish, and it may be the only plus plus offspeed pitch in the entire system. In a system with a lot of good curveballs, such as that of Kolby Allard and Lucas Sims, it's amazing to see one that truly stands out above the rest.
Kolby Allard's curve deserves recognition here, but its not really a contest at this point. Both the Braves and the Diamondbacks basically told Touki to throw few curveballs because there really isn't anything else to learn for that pitch. Its a curve that embarrasses hitters and will test the mettle of even the most seasoned of catchers.
Garrett says John Gant
Gant's Vulcan Change is one of the best offspeed pitches in the system. It's an easy plus pitch that perfectly complements the rest of his pitching arsenal. The movement on the pitch is impressive. It's as if the Baseball Gods came down from the Diamond in the Sky and blessed him with the ability to throw a changeup.
Eric says Stephen Janas
I firmly believe that Janas' breakout has been set up by the progress with this changeup. The pitch sets up his downward running fastball and he gets bad swings at the changeup itself to where he has two pitches that generate groundballs all day long. He really had a better year than his line looks because of the usual pitfalls of MiLB defenders behind him plus some bad BABIP fortune.
Both: Seth Webster
Seth Webster walked 8 batters this year at Carolina. In 130 IP. Not many players have a 0.55 BB/9 rate, and while Webster isn't a true "prospect" at his age, he certainly has earned the nod on this list.
Seth Webster is sort of an unsung hero of the system this year. Between two levels he walked a grand total of 10 batters while striking out 103. His WHIP was 1.09 for the season as well. I would consider it unlikely that he makes the major league roster anytime soon, but Seth is a great organizational guy to have to show the younger players how to throw strikes and actually pitch as opposed to just throwing.
Garrett Says Jason Hursh
I know I'm going to get torn apart for this one, but Hursh stands out to me as one of the few potential late inning players in the system. He throws in the mid 90's and can touch 97 with his sinker, and the downward movement he can get is incredible. Not long ago Arodys Vizcaino would have topped this list and due to the struggles of Mauricio Cabrera, Hursh is really the only good power arm left at the upper levels.
Eric Says Kyle Kinman
I'm going to give the nod to Kinman although there are honestly a lot of worthy contenders here. A 25th rounder in the 2014 draft, Kyle started the year at Rome and ended it at Mississippi while sporting a 2.09 ERA throughout the season, making an All-Star game appearance, I expect to see Kyle in Gwinnett pretty early on next season with an outside shot of getting a call-up to help out in the Braves bullpen if next season is anything like this one.
Both: Brian Snitker
Brian Snitker took a team who made 277 roster moves this season to the brink of a playoff experience. Players came and went all season, but Snitker balanced the team and led them to their best season in years. No one did as much with as little, and every prospect that came through Gwinnett showed marked improvement from his first game to his last. He and his coaching staff had an incredible season
Snitker is a pretty easy choice here given all of the roster movement that he had to endure and manage through. I do want to give a special shout out to Luis Salazar who not only seemed to help bring great performances out of his players, he also helped get the Mudcats back on track after the bus accident that basically removed the top 6 players from the team for an extended period of time. Plus, the guy lost an eye in 2011 from a rocket foul ball during spring training and was back in the dugout a month later.