Andrelton Simmons Shoots To Atlanta In No Time

Best Player: Shortstop Andrelton Simmons showed during spring training that his glove was ready for the big leagues. A minor ailment and limited productivity at the plate contributed to his starting the season at Double-A Mississippi, which proved to be the best move the Braves could have made.

Simmons capped a two-month stint in the Southern League with the circuit's player of the week award in late May. He batted .292/.372/.421 with three homers and nine doubles through 171 at-bats to earn a promotion to Atlanta on June 1—remarkable progress considering the Braves drafted him out of junior college just two years ago. "Everything he does shouts that he's a star in the making," big league manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "The kid is fearless, and his ability is at times unbelievable."

Biggest Leap Forward: Righthander J.R. Graham overpowered the Rookie-level Appalachian League last year after being drafted in the fourth round out of Santa Clara. The Braves believed he might find the going a little bumpier in the high Class A Carolina League, skipping him over low Class A. Instead, the hard-throwing righthander went 8-1, 2.60 in his first 14 starts for Lynchburg and allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of those outings.

A two-way player early in his college career, Graham has made rapid improvements since he started focusing solely on pitching. His command has made significant strides since he signed last summer, and he does a good job of keeping his pitches down in the strike zone, which had limited opponents to a .232 average.

Biggest Disappointment: Joey Terdoslavich gets the nod, but his name should include an asterisk. Following an outstanding full-season debut at Lynchburg and an equally impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League last year, the switch-hitter was rushed to Triple-A Gwinnett in hopes of being ready to replace Chipper Jones in 2013.

Terdoslavich struggled on offense, batting .180/.252/.263 in two months at Gwinnett. He also had difficulty moving back to third base after playing first in 2011, committing 22 errors in 50 games at the hot corner. The Braves demoted Terdoslavich to Mississippi in early June, and he showed signs of rebounding by starting out 25-for-76 (.329) with 11 extra-base hits.


• Lefthander Sean Gilmartin ran up a 3.66 ERA in his first five starts for Mississippi this season, and in 10 subsequent starts the 2011 first-rounder went 5-3, 3.39 with 53 strikeouts in 61 innings.

• Mississippi catcher Christian Bethancourt missed three weeks in May with a right hamstring strain but returned in time to start for the World team at the Futures Game.