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Signed out of Venezuela for $350,000 in 2010, Peraza has emerged as a top prospect over the past three seasons by displaying an incredible feel for the game. He made his U.S. debut in 2012 and ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League prior to spending the last five-plus weeks in the Appalachian League. He then stole 64 bases at low Class A Rome in 2013 before busting out as a prospect in 2014, when he stole 60 bases (to rank third in the minors) as he raced to Double-A Mississippi in the second half. Along the way, Peraza started for the World team in the Futures Game in Minneapolis, collecting a single in two at-bats. He helped guide Mississippi to a second-half record of 44-26. Peraza employs speed, quickness and intellect with tremendous instincts for the game, which led to a combined .339 average in 2014, ninth-best in the minors. A spray hitter with a good understanding of the strike zone, Peraza has the handeye coordination to hit all types of pitches but is patient enough to wait for those he can handle and winds up barreling the ball more often than not. He has quick wrists and strong hands that generate a compact swing. He's tinkered with moving his hands in his stance to give him more of a trigger, because he has below-average power. Peraza keeps the ball on the ground by rarely getting under pitches and uses his plus speed to get on base. He has been timed as fast as 3.9 seconds from home to first base, which is top-of-the-scale speed that makes him one of the fastest players in the minors. Once on base, he creates an instant distraction for pitchers and the defense. He reads pitchers well and has a great first step in stealing bases. He made a seamless move from shortstop to second base in 2014 while displaying steady, soft hands with above-average range and solid arm strength. He is not flashy in the field but makes all of the routine plays and was voted best defensive second baseman by high Class A Carolina League managers. Peraza's other weakness other than his modest pop is his unwillingness to walk, which may set him back as a future leadoff man. Some scouts questioned Atlanta's decision to shift Peraza off shortstop to the less-demanding job at second base. With Andrelton Simmons entrenched at shortstop, the Braves gave Peraza a chance to accelerate his timetable by moving him to second, and he seized the opportunity. The organization considered calling up Peraza in August when Simmons was sidelined with an injury, but Peraza was battling a mild groin strain at the time. The Braves traded second baseman Tommy La Stella to the Cubs in November, meaning the musical chairs at that position will end soon in Atlanta. In anticipation of filling the Braves' longstanding need at second, Peraza will compete with Phil Gosselin in big league camp this spring for the starting job and could wind up bypassing Triple-A Gwinnett with an impressive showing.
Selected 21st overall in 2012, Sims had his workload restricted by Atlanta during his first two tastes of pro ball . He was the youngest player in the high Class A Carolina League on Opening Day 2014 and it showed with just 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings in the first three months, but he finished strong with a rate of 7.6 in July and August. The competitive Sims made impressive strides in his feel for pitching in the second half of 2014. An athletic pitcher who has fine-tuned his delivery, his best offering is a plus fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s and reaches 96 mph regularly. The pitch has good run, which creates lots of swings and misses. Sims uses the pitch on both sides of the plate and can overpower some hitters with his heater's explosiveness. His slider and curve often blend into a slurvy breaking ball in the upper 70s, and his improved command of the pitch contributed to his late-season success at Lynchburg. He has worked hard on his changeup since signing but shows an inconsistent feel for the pitch. While his overall control is solid, Sims needs to continue to improve his sequencing to get more strikeouts. Sims learned from his mistakes and became a better all-around pitcher. A potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues, he should make the jump to Double-A Mississippi in 2015.
Bethancourt saw his first extended activity in the big leagues in 2014 after being hailed as the organization's catcher of the future for the past six seasons. The Panama native initially gained attention as a 12-year-old in the 2004 Little League World Series and signed with the Braves four years later for $600,000. He was called up in June and again in September, when he served as everyday catcher. Scouts have long raved about Bethancourt's tools behind the plate. He has plus arm strength with a quick release and outstanding carry and accuracy on his throws. He threw out 36 percent of basestealers at Triple-A Gwinnett. A good athlete with quick feet, he moves well but has a tendency to lose his focus by backhanding balls in the dirt, and he had 16 passed balls in 2014, including six in his short big league stint. Bethancourt's swing is quick and generates good bat speed with the ability to drive the ball. He is aggressive at the plate, struggles with strikezone discipline and tends to swing early in the count instead of waiting for a pitch he can drive. He does make consistent contact, however, and he runs well on the basepaths. The Braves saw enough of Bethancourt in Atlanta last year to feel comfortable with him handling the catching responsibilities in 2015. His lack of plate discipline may hinder him at the plate, so he will need to excel defensively to win a majority share at the position.
An unsigned 2010 sixth-round pick out of high school just north of Dallas, Hursh spurned the Pirates and went to Oklahoma State, where he had to have Tommy John surgery in 2012. The Braves had interest in him out of high school but correctly considered him unsignable. They took Hursh 31st overall in 2013 and pushed him to Double-A Mississippi a year later, when he earned the organization's pitcher of the year award. Hursh is a big, strong and durable pitcher who works quickly and throws on a downhill plane, producing quality low strikes. His fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range and touches 95 with armside run and occasional cutting action. His overhand curveball was inconsistent in 2014, but he showed the ability to change speeds with the pitch while throwing it for strikes. His changeup has a chance to develop into a plus offering with his above-average feel for the pitch. By pounding the lower part of the strike zone with his heavy artillery, Hursh forces batters to hit the ball on the ground and was among the minors' stingiest pitchers for home runs allowed. The Braves love Hursh's confident demeanor and his overall feel for pitching. With the Atlanta rotation projected to be stocked in 2015, Hursh should spend the year at Triple-A Gwinnett. Some scouts believe his future could be in the bullpen, which could get him to the big leagues earlier. If not he looks like a quality No. 4 starter.
Unlike several other suitors, the Braves ignored Albies' small stature and signed him for $350,000 out of Curacao. In addition to making his professional debut in the U.S. in 2014 as a 17-year-old, he excelled while being named the top prospect in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, which he led in batting (.356) and on-base percentage (.429). Scouts and opponents alike rave about Albies' energy and ability. One of the youngest players in pro ball in 2014, he demonstrated an uncannily advanced feel for the game despite playing it at top speed. A natural top-of-the-lineup batter who should hit for a high average, Albies has a quick swing with plus bat speed from both sides of the plate. He stays inside the ball and makes consistent contact with his superior hand-eye coordination, yet he's strong enough to drive the ball from gap to gap. His strike-zone judgment is far beyond his years, and he keeps the ball out of the air in order to take advantage of his plus speed. Defensively, Albies has soft hands with above-average range at shortstop, which he pairs with a strong, accurate arm with a quick release that led to a league-average .950 fielding percentage in 2014. Albies has already progressed quickly and could continue to move at a rapid rate as he enters the full-season ranks. He will open 2015 at low Class A Rome.
After several strong performances on the showcase circuit in 2013, including a three-homer performance in the Tournament of Stars, Davidson was the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 draft. He started to drive the ball with consistency midway through his stint in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he ranked as the No. 12 prospect. Davidson's strength is his plus hit tool. He's a patient hitter with an advanced feel for the strike zone and has made noticeable improvements with his contact rate over the past year. Despite failing to hit a home run in his first taste of pro ball, Davidson has plus raw power to all fields. He's quick to the ball and uses his natural strength to drive pitches with authority from the left side of the plate. His on-base percentage projects to be high due to his ability to draw walks. His below-average speed plays higher due to his intelligence on the basepaths. Davidson made the shift from left to right field in instructional league and has enough arm strength to stay there. If not, he could return to his high school position of first base. The Braves will be patient with Davidson, who turned 18 two weeks after the draft. A potential 20-home run hitter, he will challenge for a spot at low Class A Rome in spring training.
Jenkins signed for $1.3 million in 2010 when the Cardinals lured him away from a Baylor football scholarship, but injuries and slow development chipped away at his prospect stock ever since. He threw six no-hit innings in his 2014 debut in mid-June after he returned from shoulder surgery, then pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. The Braves acquired him from the Cardinals in the four-player deal headlined by Jason Heyward and Shelby Miller. Jenkins has athleticism and a fine pitcher's frame, as well as quality arm strength. His fastball remains a plus pitch, and though he hasn't shown consistent 96 mph velocity as he did pre-injury, he still sits at 92-93 with sinking and cutting life and hits 95 regularly. Shoulder problems have precluded Jenkins from ever pitching 100 innings in a season, and he had surgery in 2013 to repair lat-muscle damage. The lost development time has hampered Jenkins' command, and he still struggles with his release point and the consistency of his secondary stuff. His upper-70s curveball has power and above-average potential, while his average changeup has its moments when he trusts it, but his over-reliance on his fastball leads to high contact rates and below-average strikeout totals. Added to the 40-man roster in November, Jenkins gives the Braves an athletic starter with upside to go with significant durability questions. He'll get his first Double-A exposure in 2015 at Mississippi and still has a mid-rotation ceiling.
The Braves scout Panama as heavily as any team, and Camargo could follow in the footsteps of Christian Bethancourt and Randall Delgado to the big leagues. Camargo struggled early at low Class A Rome in 2014 before rebounding and earning a late-season promotion to high Class A Lynchburg. Camargo is a steady, fluid player with outstanding hand-eye coordination. He handles the bat well while using a disciplined line-drive approach to spray the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate. He has an advanced knowledge and feel for the strike zone, makes consistent contact and rarely strikes out. His power is lacking, but he has worked hard to add strength to drive the ball more often as his game develops. He has soft, steady hands and easy, smooth actions on defense, which allow him to make plays in the hole and up the middle consistently. His speed and quickness both rate as fringe-average, but his anticipation, body control and knowledge of the game should enable him to remain at shortstop at higher levels. He has above-average arm strength and makes accurate throws with good carry. The Braves neglected to add Camargo to the 40-man roster becaue they believed he's far enough away offensively to be unworthy of Rule 5 draft attention. He will most likely open the 2015 season back in the Carolina League at Atlanta's new affiliate in Carolina, with a mid-summer promotion to Double-A Mississippi a possibility.
A Dallas Baptist recruit, Fulenchek kept getting better in his final prep season. He first emerged as a potential top pick during the latter part of 2013 with a solid showing in the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Championship, then had a strong senior spring. The Braves signed him for $1 million as a second-round selection in 2014. A former basketball player with long arms, strong legs and above-average athleticism, Fulenchek has low mileage on his arm and is considered raw by some scouts. The righthander is a power pitcher with a quick arm and impressive mound presence who works off his heavy fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph. His heater features above-average life with armside run and natural sinking action from his high three-quarters arm slot. He also throws a mid-80s slider that should develop into at least an average offering and a below-average changeup that needs work in order for him to remain in the rotation. Fulenchek's delivery requires some effort, and he spent time in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League trying to iron out his mechanics, which should improve his control. The Braves like to challenge young players and will give Fulenchek the opportunity to jump to low Class A Rome to open the 2015 campaign. A potential midrotation starter in the big leagues, he likely will need plenty of development time.
Few players have developed more impressively over the last few years in the organization than Kubitza, whose brother Aaron pitches in the Tigers system. The highest-drafted position player in Texas State history blossomed in his third full pro season in 2014 at Double-A Mississippi. In addition to hitting 35 points above his career average, he led the Southern League in on-base percentage (.405) and walks (55), placed second in triples (11) and ranked fourth in runs (76). A fiery player, Kubitza combines a smooth linedrive swing from the left side with one of the best eyes at the plate in the organization. His power has increased with experience and he uses his quick wrists to drive the ball in the gaps. He can be exploited with a minor hitch in his swing, and he can be too patient with inconsistent umpires, leading to high strikeout totals. Though not a quick-twitch athlete, Kubitza runs well with excellent instincts on the basepaths. He has one of the strongest infield arms in the game, with soft hands that suit him at third base. He moves well to his left but tends to boot the occasional routine ball. Kubitza should open the 2015 season at Triple-A Gwinnett. Scouts are mixed on whether he will be an everyday third baseman or more of a bench bat, but he could get his first shot in Atlanta by the end of the year.
Originally signed for $800,000 by the Yankees, Vizcaino made his major league debut for the Braves in 2011, but he missed the next two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, with a May 2013 setback following a second surgery to remove debris from his elbow. He's been traded three times, the latest bringing him back to the Braves from the Cubs in a deal that included Tommy La Stella and four international bonus slots also changing hands. When healthy, Vizcaino still has premium stuff that plays at the back of a bullpen in high-leverage situations. He retains two swing-and-miss offerings, with a plus-plus fastball that reached 99 mph in his September big league work and sits in the 95-98 mph range. His fastball has above-average life as well, with run and sink, and he uses it aggressively. Vizcaino's hard, mid-80s curveball also still can be a plus pitch. He's still regaining his feel for the strike zone, though, and he has had worse control out of the bullpen than he had as a starter. He occasionally uses a firm, almost vestigial changeup from his starter days. Vizcaino's durability remains his biggest issue. If he can stay off the disabled list, he should give the Braves another set-up option in front of Craig Kimbrel in 2015.
Shreve's older brother Colby was an eighth-round pick of the Braves in 2007 who didn't sign. The Phillies signed him for $400,000 a year later and he reached Double-A before being released in 2014. Chasen, who attended JC of Southern Nevada with Bryce Harper, had a breakthrough 2014. His control has improved steadily since signing with Atlanta, and his overall stuff has continued to get better as he has added strength to his tall, solid frame. Shreve threw harder than ever in 2014, reaching 92-94 mph as he stopped cruising and began to throw his hardest with every pitch. As a result, his strikeout rate jumped, and he earned a callup from Double-A Mississippi to the majors in July. He made a stopover at Triple-A Gwinnett before returning to the majors in September. Shreve's funky lower arm angle creates deception and generates solid movement on all of his offerings. His best pitch is a plus changeup that features outstanding fade and depth and has proven effective against righthanders at higher levels. He mixes it with a low-80s slider and maintained quality stuff in back-to-back outings. Shreve pounds the zone and has a good chance to earn a full-time spot in Atlanta's 2015 bullpen.
Former scouting director Paul Snyder used to encourage his scouts to "find a big leaguer" regardless of the round a player was taken. The Braves did just that with Simmons, an undersized reliever who sped from the 22nd round in 2012 to the majors in two years. Simmons went 14-for-14 in save opportunities and did not allow a run in 19 of his 20 Double-A Mississippi outings prior to being promoted to Atlanta at the end of May. He continued to have success in the big leagues before shoulder discomfort sidelined him in late July. Simmons is a classic power pitcher with a heavy fastball that sits at 95-97 mph and touches 100. He also has an above-average, yet inconsistent, slider that is unhittable when he generates the proper tilt. He mixes in an overhand curveball to keep hitters off-balance. Simmons' delivery requires some effort, and his 5-foot-9 frame already had raised questions about his durability. The Braves proceeded cautiously with his shoulder ailment last year. If healthy, Simmons will return to the Atlanta bullpen in 2015 as a set-up man.
Cabrera signed for $400,000 in 2010, led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with an opponent average of .213 in 2012, then ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2013. He often struggled at high Class A Lynchburg in 2014 when he missed two months with forearm discomfort before returning in July and putting together a productive stint in instructional league. Cabrera continued to have difficulty with his control, walking 5.9 batters per nine innings in 19 appearances. He has a live arm that generates a mid-90s fastball and has reached triple digits. His slurvy curveball shows promise but lacks consistency, and his changeup has been little more than a show-me offering. Cabrera moved to the bullpen upon his midseason return. He has a chance to dominate if he improves his strike-throwing ability. A return to high Class A seems likely for 2015.
The Braves are one of the more successful teams when it comes to signing nondrafted pitchers. The tradition dates to Kerry Ligtenberg in the mid-1990s and was solidified with recent big leaguer Brandon Beachy. Parsons could join that club after being bypassed by every major league organization coming out of high school as well as after his one year at Jackson State (Tenn.) CC, before Atlanta signed him from the Northwoods League in 2012 for $200,000. Displaying a free-and-easy delivery that he repeats well, Parsons uses his 6-foot-5 height to his advantage by pitching downhill. He has above-average movement on his low-90s fastball that touches 95 mph. His slider has mid-80s power but is more of a groundball pitch than a swing-and-miss offering. He's made strides with his inconsistent changeup. Parsons missed two weeks in July with biceps tendinitis and pitched poorly when affected by the injury (7.98 ERA in July and August). His arm has low mileage after he focused on golf during much of his high school career, and he may still offer some projection. He should remain in the rotation in 2015, moving up to Double-A Mississippi, but could move to the bullpen if his changeup doesn't improve.
A high school quarterback at T.C. Williams who emerged late in the draft process due to his limited experience on the mound, Grosser was a George Mason commit who signed for $400,000 after slipping through the first 10 rounds of the draft in 2013. The raw righthander made the most of his initial professional instruction and was named the No. 8 prospect in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2014. Grosser is an excellent athlete with a strong body who competes well with great composure on the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 93 mph with above-average sinking action that generated the highest groundout/airout ratio (2.71) among starters in the Appy League. His slider is a heavy offering in the low- to mid-80s and gives him two potential plus pitches as he gains experience. His changeup improved as the season progressed but still has a ways to go. Grosser has ironed out some mechanical issues, which led to better control after his first few outings in 2014. The development of his changeup will play a major role in whether he sticks in the rotation. Grosser should make the jump to low Class A Rome in 2015.
The Braves wanted to improve their catching depth in the 2013 draft and achieved that feat in part by signing fourth-rounder Murphy for $250,000. Atlanta liked his solid yet projectable frame and raw strength that started to show itself last season at Rookie-level Danville. Murphy split his time in high school between pitching and catching and was clocked in the low 90s off the mound. His footwork has improved behind the plate but remains a work in progress in order to take full advantage of his aboveaverage arm. Murphy moves well as far as blocking balls is concerned and shows a take-charge approach as a leader of the defense. His plus raw power should generate 15-20 home runs annually at higher levels. He has strong hands and forearms and shows a good feel for the strike zone. He has worked to shorten his swing, cutting his strikeout rate from his 2013 pro debut, and has developed more of a line-drive swing path. Murphy has a long road ahead but has the tools to develop into a major league catcher. He should move up to low Class A Rome in 2015.
Martin has spent most of the past three minor league campaigns as a starter after a career closing at Gonzaga. Martin has an excellent feel for pitching while mixing his four fringy-to-average offerings with aplomb to keep hitters off-balance. His below-average fastball has good late movement while sitting in the 86-90 mph range, reaching 92. He pairs the heater with a hard slider in the mid-80s that serves as his strikeout pitch. Martin throws a curveball and changeup with late action for strikes. His mechanics can get a little off-kilter on occasion, but he tends to correct the problem quickly. He's an extreme flyball pitcher. The Braves didn't protect Martin on the 40-man roster, and he wasn't selected in the Rule 5 draft. If he doesn't earn a spot with Atlanta, he'll head to Triple-A Gwinnett for a third straight season in 2015.
Perez has put together consecutive strong seasons. With Double-A Mississippi in 2014 he allowed two earned runs or fewer in 19 of his 25 starts, ranking second in the Southern League with a 2.91 ERA. Perez's success is centered on his ability to work off his low-90s, two-seam fastball with good late action. He has made major strides in getting ahead in the count and using the inner half. He also throws an above-average changeup with sink as well, and he spots his below-average slider. Perez keeps hitters offbalance with his willingness to throw any of his three offerings at any time in the count while using both sides of the plate. He pitches to contact and relies on the plus movement of his pitches that prevents hard contact. The potential back-end starter should spend most of 2015 at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Jaime originally signed with the Expos but didn't make his major league debut until 10 years later. He required Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed two full seasons. The Braves signed him in August 2011 following his release from the Diamondbacks, then moved him to the bullpen full time. He has struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings since then. Jaime can dominate with an upper-90s fastball. He just doesn't throw enough strikes with it, having walked 6.5 per nine as a Brave. His effortful delivery features recoil and his fastball lacks life. He mixes in an average changeup that can be effective, and he offers a slurvy curveball. Jaime is yet another middle relief option for Atlanta's 2015 bullpen.
Povse spent three seasons at UNC Greensboro. He added nearly 40 pounds to his frame in college and saw his fastball velocity increase from 86-89 mph to 90-93. He had a durable but inconsistent career, posting a 5.38 ERA during an era of declining offense, but was a third-round pick in 2014 who signed for $425,000 nonetheless. Povse has good athleticism and repeats his delivery well. His fastball has plus sinking action and touches 95 mph. His low- to mid-80s slider has the potential to be a solid-average offering and he does a good job of generating groundballs with the pitch. Povse's fringy changeup needs added depth in order to prevent him from being vulnerable against lefthanders. After a solid pro debut at Rookie-level Danville in 2014, Povse should move up to low Class A Rome in 2015.
Reyes was the Braves' top international acquisition in 2011 when he signed for $365,000. In his first full-season assignment in 2014, he hit well against righthanders on a weak low Class A Rome club before a lower-leg infection cut his campaign short in mid-July. Reyes has a disciplined and patient approach and covers the plate well without expanding the zone. He generates above-average bat speed and drives the ball into the gaps when he keeps his weight back. With his long arms, he needs to stay inside the ball to keep from getting beat on pitches on the inner half. A lean and lanky player, Reyes is still maturing and growing into his body. The Braves expected him to hit for power upon signing him but that tool has yet to materialize. Reyes moved to right field in 2104 and performed well, displaying good athleticism and an above-average arm with solid carry on his throws. He likely will begin 2015 at high Class A Carolina.
The Braves know what they have in Cunningham, who made his major league debut in 2013 and has spent most of the last two seasons at Triple-A Gwinnett. He performed better in repeating the assignment. Cunningham makes consistent contact with a smooth, compact swing from both sides of the plate. He has below-average power but will take a walk and knows his role whether he leads off or bats second. An excellent bunter, he had 13 sacrifice bunts in 2014 and is proficient at executing the hit-and-run. He's an above-average runner who can steal a base, and a solid-average defender in center field--and he grades as plus in left field--but with below-average arm strength that precludes him from right field. His arm accuracy, though, helped him rack up 11 assists in 2014. Cunningham fits best as an extra outfielder.
Sobotka did not pitch in 2014 after suffering a back injury in February, but the Braves thought enough of the tall righthander's potential to draft him in the fourth round and sign him for $400,000. At his best, Sobotka repeats his delivery well despite his tall, lanky body. His frame projects to add needed size and strength. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball and employs different arm slots. His twoseam heater has plus movement, which leads to command issues. He has shown the potential for a plus slider and will need to develop that pitch as well as a changeup in order to remain a starter at higher levels. Sobotka will enter 2015 having not pitched competitively in more than a year, though he looked good during instructional league while touching 95 mph. Provided he is healthy in spring training, Sobotka should begin his pro career at low Class A Rome. Injured
Castro spent two seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League after signing with the Braves, but then he returned to his native Mexico to play a year and a half with Saltillo. He batted higher than .300 in Mexico and earned all-star honors in 2013 prior to making his U.S. debut at high Class A Lynchburg that season. Castro took over as Lynchburg's shortstop in 2014, while Jose Peraza moved to second base. Castro does a good job of barreling pitches with his compact, line-drive stroke from the right side, and while he lacks home run power, he has some doubles pop. He is a smart baserunner but has fringy speed. He shows soft, steady hands on defense with good footwork. He moves well and positions himself correctly to make plays. His accuracy and the carry on his throws help his average arm play up. Castro profiles as a utility infielder. After passing unselected through the Rule 5 draft, Castro should return to Mississippi.
Winkler was selected by the Braves in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, so Atlanta needs to keep him in the majors leagues all year or offer him back to the Rockies. That's a likely outcome because of an injury wrinkle. After leading the minors with 175 strikeouts in 2013, Winkler dominated the Texas League until he had Tommy John surgery on July 1. His unusual delivery creates deception and makes his ordinary stuff play much better. He has a low three-quarters arm slot with an inverted elbow in the back of his arm swing, which helps conceal the ball. He pitches at 88-90 mph and touches 92 with a fastball he commands well. Winkler began throwing a cutter, and he commands it better than his slider, enabling him to bore the pitch in on lefties. Winkler's changeup is effective. He's an extreme flyball pitcher, which could fit better at Turner Field than at Coors Field.
Salazar was one of the hardest-throwing high school pitchers available in the 2013 draft, and the Braves coaxed him from his Fresno State commitment with a $625,000 bonus. After limiting Salazar to 13 innings in his pro debut, Atlanta pushed him to low Class A Rome to open 2014 and watched him struggle. He walked more than he struck out and was demoted to Rookie-level Danville, shifting to the bullpen. Salazar regained his confidence and held Appalachian League hitters to a .147 average. While his control is lacking, Salazar has the raw ability to succeed. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph, has touched 97 and shows excellent late life. Through long hours with the Braves coaches, his curveball and changeup have shown flashes of potential. Salazar lacks physical projection, though he has present strength and velocity. The development of his secondary offerings will determine whether he starts or relieves. Salazar will try Rome again in 2015.
Northcraft continued his career trend of having to make adjustments when he reaches a new level. That was the case in 2013, when he made the move to Double-A Mississippi, where he returned to start 2014 and limited opposing hitters to a .228 average. However, Triple-A Gwinnett hitters battered him at a .317 clip following a midseason bump in 2014. Northcraft works quickly on the mound and creates some deception with his low three-quarters arm slot. He has above-average sinking action on his 89-91 mph fastball that generates groundballs. He also has solid movement on his changeup and knows how to mix in his fringe-average curveball and slider. Northcraft has a solid mound presence, throws strikes and mixes his pitches well, which generates high strikeout totals. Northcraft's durability gives him a chance to be a No. 5 starter, and the Braves elected to protect him on the 40-man roster instead of Cody Martin. He will take another swing at Gwinnett in 2105.
Reyes signed as an 18-year-old out of Nicaragua and has made a methodical climb through the organization, reaching Triple-A Gwinnett in 2014. His steady performance has pushed him past more talented, higher-dollar players at every level. Reyes is a smooth defender at shortstop with a quick first step, aboveaverage lateral range and soft hands. He has above-average arm strength and a quick release that allows him to make throws from the hole or going up the middle. Aggressive at the plate with a good approach, Reyes stands upright and sprays line drives from gap to gap. The ball does not jump off his bat, but he has doubles power. He has a decent feel for the strike zone but doesn't draw many walks, and his average speed doesn't lead to stolen bases. Reyes' glove helps profile him as a utility infielder. He's on the 40-man roster but likely will start 2015 back at Gwinnett.
Merejo moved quickly after signing with the Braves out of the Dominican for $65,000 in 2011. He reached Rookie-level Danville in 2013 before requiring Tommy John surgery in late August of that year. When healthy, he demonstrates an impressive feel for pitching for such a young player. He works quickly and repeats his delivery, which gives him above-average control and allows him to work ahead in the count with consistency. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94 mph. His tight curveball and promising changeup showed noticeable improvement prior to his injury. Merejo will pitch 2015 as a 20-year-old and could still open the season at low Class A Rome. The Braves will be cautious with his workload.
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