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Talking Chop's Minor League Silver Sluggers

In this edition of our Minor League Awards series, we highlight the best hitters of the 2015 season. The pitchers have gotten all of the attention this year, but there were plenty of great offensive performances to choose from.

Justin Upton was the last Brave to win the Silver Slugger (unfortunately he accepted in a Padres uni)
Justin Upton was the last Brave to win the Silver Slugger (unfortunately he accepted in a Padres uni)
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 minor league season had some great offensive performances all around the system. From the 144 game marathoners to the short season players, there were offesnive contributions at every level. Every single team above DSL has at least 1 player represented in this list, with Rome leading the way with 4 winners. Without further ado, here are your 2015 Braves Silver Sluggers.


Jonathan Morales

It was a 2 man battle for the best hitting catcher in the system, but Morales's late season surge barely edged out Christian Bethancourt for the spot. He had very limited playing time this year, but easily led all catchers with more than 100 at bats in OPS. He hit .304/377/.511 with 7 home runs in 46 games. The Puerto Rico native was spectacular down the stretch and hit .338/.407/.649 with 6 home runs in August.

First Base

Jacob Schrader

1st base was a weak point for the Braves this year, but Schrader's performance all year for the Mudcats was solid. He led the system with 15 home runs and led the Mudcats with a .790 OPS. Had he not fallen victim to the bus crash he likely would have had an even better season. At the time of the crash he was leading the Carolina League with a 1.025 OPS. He really solidified a very good Mudcats lineup that was just a victim of injuries and call ups all year.

Second Base

Luke Dykstra

The name is the first thing you notice about Dykstra, but the nephew of 3 time all star Lenny Dykstra has some game of his own. He was stuck in short season ball this year, but managed to end near the tops of the system with 19 doubles in just 58 games. His .318/.353/.422 slash line was easily the best among all second basemen in the system, and he really excelled after his call up to Rome. In 26 games in A ball he hit .348/.378/.478 with 10 doubles in 26 games.

Third Base

Austin Riley

Riley has been the talk of the system since not long after being drafted 41st overall. He lit Rookie Ball on fire with 12 home runs in 60 games. He ranked top 5 amongst all drafted high school players in total bases, batting average, hits, at bats, and runs, and led that group in slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, and RBIs. His .933 OPS led every player in the system with more than 22 at bats, so it was really a no brainer that he be given the award for the position.


Ozhaino Albies

Ozhaino Albies is in rare company with the bat, and ranked 15th in the South Atlantic League in hits despite missing the last month of the season with a broken thumb. He was the 4th youngest player in the league and didn't face a pitcher younger than him the entire season. He did go through a late-season slump, but the plate discipline and swing have most scouts raving about his future. He hits to all fields and showed off his tools on the base paths with 29 stolen bases. He was one of the best hitters in the system and was the clear favorite to win this award, though Emerson Landoni gave him a run for his money at the end of the season.

Left Field

Joseph Daris

Daris has been one of the lesser talked about prospects all season but really had a solid season in left field for the Rome Braves. He hit .272/.336/.396 and led the system and the South Atlantic League in triples. He batted in the 9 spot for most of the season, and turned the lineup over to Ozhaino Albies very well all season. He played a consistent game all year long, and added 23 stolen bases and 4 home runs. His 127 games played led the team, and he ranked just behind Albies in runs scored despite hitting low in the order.

Center Field

Mallex Smith

Who else but Mallex? This really doesn't require an explanation as Mallex led the system in stolen bases, runs scored, and hits. He was a catalyst at the top of the order for both Gwinnett and Mississippi and earned an all star spot for the Southern League. His 34 stolen bases was 1 off of the league lead in the International League. He only played 69 games. He also ranked 8th in the Southern League in stolen bases in only 57 games and would have led the league in OBP had he had enough PA to qualify

Right Field

Braxton Davidson

Davidson has been seen as a major disappointment to this point in his career, and that's really saying a lot about his talent. His .381 OBP was amongst the leaders in the system, which is really astonishing considering he hit just .242. The power hasn't shown up in games like it was expected to, but his 10 home runs still tied for 4th in the system. His .755 OPS led all primary right fielders and he easily led the system in walks. To call him a disappointment to this stage would be accurate, but if he reaches his potential the Braves suddenly have a scary bat in the fold.

Designated Hitter

Cedric Hunter

Game 1 to Game 144 Cedric Hunter was the model of consistency for Gwinnett. He ranked in the top 3 in the system in at-bats, hits, home runs, and games played and led the system in RBIs and total bases. He anchored the middle of the GBraves order all season and was amongst the leaders in the IL in many categories. He ranked top 10 in games played, hits, RBIs, and total bases. None of his numbers truly jump off the page but he provided solid all-around offensive production for Gwinnett, including 11 stolen bases.

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