Atlanta Braves: Top 10 Prospects

Atlanta Braves

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, 2007.

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
2. Elvis Andrus, ss
3. Matt Harrison, lhp
4. Brandon Jones, of
5. Van Pope, 3b
6. Eric Campbell, 3b
7. Scott Thorman, 1b/of
8. Jo-Jo Reyes, lhp
9. Joey Devine, rhp
10. Yunel Escobar, inf
Best Hitter for Average Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Best Power Hitter Scott Thorman
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Wes Timmons
Fastest Baserunner Ovandy Suero
Best Athlete Brandon Jones
Best Fastball Neftali Feliz
Best Curveball Cory Rasmus
Best Slider Joey Devine
Best Changeup Steve Evarts
Best Control Matt Harrison
Best Defensive Catcher Clint Sammons
Best Defensive Infielder Van Pope
Best Infield Arm Van Pope
Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Schafer
Best Outfield Arm Jon Mark Owings
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Adam LaRoche
Second Base Edgar Renteria
Third Base Chipper Jones
Shortstop Elvis Andrus
Left Field Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Center Field Andruw Jones
Right Field Jeff Francoeur
No. 1 Starter Tim Hudson
No. 2 Starter Kyle Davies
No. 3 Starter Matt Harrison
No. 4 Starter Jo-Jo Reyes
No. 5 Starter Chuck James
Closer Rafael Soriano
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Andruw Jones, of Braves
1998 Bruce Chen, lhp Orioles
1999 Bruce Chen, lhp Orioles
2000 Rafael Furcal, ss Dodgers
2001 Wilson Betemit, ss Dodgers
2002 Wilson Betemit, ss Dodgers
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Indians
2005 Jeff Francoer, of Braves
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Braves
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Troy Cameron, ss Out of baseball
1998 Matt Belisle, rhp (2nd round) Reds
1999 Matt Butler, rhp (2nd round) Out of baseball
2000 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2001 Macay McBride, lhp Braves
2002 Jeff Francoer, of Braves
2003 Luis Atilano Nationals
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b (2nd round) Braves
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Braves
2006 Cody Johnson, of Braves
Jeff Francoer, 2002 $2,200,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jung Bong, 1997 $1,700,000
Cody Johnson, 2006 $1,375,000
Macay McBride, 2001 $1,340,000
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Atlanta Braves

Since winning the first of their record 14 consecutive division championships in 1991, the Braves never have endured as much change as they have the last two seasons. And though that streak came to an end with a 79-83 third-place finish in 2006, Atlanta still has plenty of young talent that will allow it to contend in the future.

The Braves began their makeover in 2005, en route to perhaps the most surprising of their playoff berths. Atlanta used 18 rookies—12 of whom made their major league debuts—while Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann already have established themselves as cornerstones the franchise will build around.

The influx of young talent continued in 2006, if to a less dramatic extent, with Chuck James the most significant rookie. But the year was more notable for the changes in the front office.

Assistant general manager in charge of baseball operations Dayton Moore long had been considered one of the game's top GM prospects and a possible successor to Atlanta GM John Schuerholz. After pulling out of the running for the Red Sox job last winter, Moore accepted the Royals' offer to run their franchise. He left right after the June draft, and by the end of the season he brought Braves farm director J.J. Picollo, international scouting supervisor Rene Francisco and minor league pitching coordinator Bill Fischer with him to Kansas City.

To help replace Moore and Picollo, Atlanta expanded the role of legendary scout Paul Snyder. Originally signed by the Milwaukee Braves as a player in 1957, Snyder became scouting director in 1977 and helped build the franchise into a juggernaut. After overseeing both scouting and player development from 1996-1999, he took a step back and became a special assistant to Schuerholz in 2000. Now Snyder is supervising scouting and player development again, with protégé Roy Clark still in place as scouting director and former West Coast crosschecker Kurt Kemp the new farm director.

Though Time Warner is in the process of selling the club and has put some limitations on signing bonuses, Atlanta spent $6.8 million on the 2006 draft, the third-highest figure in baseball. The Braves snapped up four high school pitchers in the first three rounds and 11 hurlers in the first 10 rounds.

Atlanta also inked six draft-and-follows from 2005 in May—most notably righthander Tommy Hanson—and continued to make a splash on the international front. The Braves landed three Cubans in January, most significantly lefthander Francisley Bueno, and acquired Taiwanese righthander Chen-En Hung and Japanese catcher Ryohei Shimabukuro during the summer signing period.

The number of potential major league standouts doesn't compare with the Braves' recent past or the system's heyday in the early 1990s. Then again, very few organizations ever have been as productive.