2014 Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects

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Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible.  Ages are as of April 1, 2014.

1. Lucas Sims, rhp
2. Christian Bethancourt, c
3. J.R. Graham, rhp
4. Jason Hursh, rhp
5. Mauricio Cabrera, rhp
6. Jose Peraza, ss
7. David Hale, rhp
8. Victor Caratini, 3b/c
9. Tommy La Stella, 2b
10. Sean Gilmartin, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Tommy La Stella
Best Power Hitter Robby Hefflinger
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Tommy La Stella
Fastest Baserunner Matt Lipka
Best Athlete Matt Lipka
Best Fastball Shae Simmons
Best Curveball Lucas Sims
Best Slider Cody Martin
Best Changeup Sean Gilmartin
Best Control J.R. Graham
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Bethancourt
Best Defensive Infielder Johan Camargo
Best Infield Arm Kyle Kubitza
Best Defensive Outfielder Kyle Wren
Best Outfield Arm Alejandro Piloto
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1 Freddie Freeman, 1b (24) Majors
2 Andrelton Simmons, ss (24) Majors
3 Jason Heyward, of (24) Majors
4 Craig Kimbrel, rhp (25) Majors
5 Julio Teheran, rhp (23) Majors
6 Lucas Sims, rhp (19) Low Class A
7 Christian Bethancourt, c (22) Majors
8 Alex Wood, lhp (23) Majors
9 J.R. Graham, rhp (24) Double-A
10 Jason Hursh, rhp (22) Low Class A
11 Mauricio Cabrera, rhp (20) Low Class A
12 Jose Peraza, ss (19) Low Class A
13 Victor Caratini, 3b/c (20) Rookie
14 Tommy La Stella, 2b (25) Double-A
15 Sean Gilmartin, lhp (23) Triple-A
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Angels
2005 Jeff Francoeur, of Giants
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Braves
2009 Tommy Hanson, rhp Angels
2010 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2011 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
2012 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
2013 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b (2nd round) Out of baseball
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Out of baseball
2006 Cody Johnson, of York (Can-Am)
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2008 Brett DeVall (1st rd supp) Out of baseball
2009 Mike Minor, lhp Braves
2010 Matt Lipka, ss Braves
2011 Sean Gilmartin, lhp Braves
2012 Lucas Sims, rhp Braves
2013 Jason Hursh, rhp Braves
Mike Minor, 2009 $2,420,000
Jeff Francoeur, 2002 $2,200,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jason Hursh, 2013 $1,704,200
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000
Braves Team Page
Last Year’s Braves Top 10 Prospects
2013 Draft: Braves
2013 Draft Report Cards: Atlanta Braves Premium
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects

3ds_braves83Disappointment reigned in October when the Braves failed to build on a remarkable regular season.

In the process of overcoming numerous ailments, including seven season-ending injuries, Atlanta led the National League East for all but one day of the 2013 campaign and captured its first division crown since 2005. The team also won 96 games, paced the majors with a 3.18 ERA and topped the NL with 181 home runs. Still, the Braves dropped their eighth straight playoff series, dating back to 2001, by losing in four games to the Dodgers in an NL Division Series.

The team overachieved for much of 2013, incorporating more talent from the farm system. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons solidified his spot as the long-term answer at the position, and rookie Evan Gattis provided power and run production while seeing action at catcher and left field. Third baseman Chris Johnson, an extra piece in the Justin Upton deal with the Diamondbacks, ranked second in the NL in batting (.321) and replaced the retired Chipper Jones admirably.

The farm system also contributed righthander Julio Teheran, who established himself as one of Atlanta's most dependable starters, and lefty Alex Wood, who made his big league debut a year after being drafted in the second round out of Georgia.

In other words, the Braves keep producing homegrown talent, both stars like Simmons and complementary pieces. With Brian McCann headed for a free agent payday, Panamanian catcher Christian Bethancourt is on the verge of filling the next lineup vacancy behind the plate, and second baseman Tommy La Stella should get a long look despite the $26 million still owed Dan Uggla over the next two years.

Scouting director Tony DeMacio has filled voids by dipping into the college ranks for low-mileage arms while building a deeper base with high school players.

Righthander Lucas Sims, a local product drafted in the first round in 2012, blossomed in his first full season. Former Oklahoma State righty Jason Hursh brought a power repertoire as 2013's first-rounder. Reliever Shae Simmons made the jump to Double-A Mississippi in his first full season and could take his high-90s heat to Atlanta at some point in 2014. Another late-round sign, righthander Tyler Brosius, has the farm system excited, as does nondrafted free agent righty Wes Parsons, who made his pro debut in 2013 with 19 starts at low Class A Rome.

The Braves' international efforts are also paying dividends. Shortstop Jose Peraza made strides in all phases of the game in 2013 at Rome, and righthander Mauricio Cabrera displayed impressive arm strength in the South Atlantic League despite struggling with his control. Outfielder Victor Reyes is blossoming in Rookie ball and could emerge as a premier prospect in the near future.

Even though the two Braves affiliates to make the playoffs—high Class A Lynchburg and Mississippi—did so as wild-card entries, the only team to struggle for much of 2013 was Triple-A Gwinnett.

The G-Braves will have a new manager after Randy Ready was fired after one season. Taking his place will be Brian Snitker, who has served as Atlanta's third-base coach for the past seven years and has been in the organization as a player, coach or manager since 1977. In fact, Snitker's last managerial gig came with the Braves' then-Triple-A affiliate Richmond in 2006.