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, 2008.

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Bill Ballew
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1. Jordan Schafer, of
2. Jason Heyward, of
3. Jair Jurrjens, rhp
4. Brandon Jones, of
5. Gorkys Hernandez, of
6. Brent Lillibridge, ss
7. Cole Rohrbough, lhp
8. Jeff Locke, lhp
9. Tommy Hanson, rhp
10. Julio Teheran, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Jordan Schafer
Best Power Hitter Jason Heyward
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jason Heyward
Fastest Baserunner Gorkys Hernandez
Best Athlete Brandon Jones
Best Fastball Julio Teheran
Best Curveball Cole Rohrbough
Best Slider Joey Devine
Best Changeup Steve Evarts
Best Control Cole Rohrbough
Best Defensive Catcher Clint Sammons
Best Defensive Infielder Van Pope
Best Infield Arm Van Pope
Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Schafer
Best Outfield Arm Jordan Schafer
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Kelly Johnson
Third Base Jon Gilmore
Shortstop Yunel Escobar
Left Field Jason Heyward
Center Field Jordan Schafer
Right Field Jeff Francouer
No. 1 Starter Tim Hudson
No. 2 Starter Jair Jurrjens
No. 3 Starter Cole Rohrbough
No. 4 Starter Jeff Locke
No. 5 Starter Jo-Jo Reyes
Closer Rafael Soriano
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Bruce Chen, lhp Rangers
1999 Bruce Chen, lhp Rangers
2000 Rafael Furcal, ss Dodgers
2001 Wilson Betemit, ss Yankees
2002 Wilson Betemit, ss Yankees
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Indians
2005 Jeff Francouer, of Braves
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Rangers
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Rangers
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 ^Matt Beslisle, rhp Reds
1999 ^Matt Butler, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2001 Macay McBride, lhp Tigers
2002 Jeff Francouer, of Braves
2003 Lus Atilano, rhp Nationals
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b Braves
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Braves
2006 Cody Johnson, of Braves
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
^ Second round
Jeff Francouer, 2002 $2,200,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jung Bong, 1997 $1,700,000
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000
Cody Johnson, 2007 $1,375,000
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Atlanta Braves

One of the most successful general managerial runs in baseball history runs came to an end after the 2007 season, when John Schuerholz moved up to team president with the Braves. In 17 years at the helm of the baseball operation, Schuerholz presided over teams that won 14 division titles, five National League pennants and one World Series championship. Frank Wren, who had been Schuerholz' right-hand man and earlier served a one-year stint as Orioles GM, was promoted to replace him.

Change has become commonplace recently in Atlanta, beginning in May 2007 when assistant GM Dayton Moore left to become GM of the Royals. Liberty Media acquired the franchise from Time Warner in a corporate trade in February 2007. Longtime scouting and player development guru Paul Snyder, who was named director of baseball operations after Moore's departure, plans on retiring this winter. Bobby Cox, who has managed the club for the last 17 1/2 seasons, has hinted that he too may step down soon.

Moves under the new ownership suggest the Braves will continue their commitment to player development. In the last year when draft-and-follows were in play, Atlanta signed seven, most notably lefthander Cole Rohrbough for $675,000. They dropped another $4.9 million on the draft and made a significant splash on the international market in July by signing Colombian righthander Julio Tehran for $850,000.

Wren also acted quickly to keep continuity in the player development and scouting departments, giving two-year contract extensions to scouting director Roy Clark, farm director Kurt Kemp and director of Latin American operations Johnny Almaraz. Clark, the game's longest-tenured scouting director, enters his 10th season in that position and his 19th overall with Atlanta.

As with the front office, the farm system also has gone through upheaval. The Braves used 18 rookies when they won the NL East in 2005, and they've continued to incorporate young talent the last two seasons. They also shipped five prospects to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira at the trading deadline, including the top three prospects on this list a year ago—catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, lefthander Matt Harrison—and one of their most electric arms, righty Neftali Feliz.

Yet Atlanta hasn't gutted its system. They may not have as many big names, but the Braves still have plenty of promising lefthanded starters and sluggers with all-around games. The best of the young southpaws (Rohrbough, Jeff Locke, Steve Evarts and Chad Rodgers) were all products of the 2007 draft. The first three players the Braves signed out of the 2007 draft (outfielder Jason Heyward, third baseman Jon Gilmore and first baseman Freddie Freeman) added to their collection of athletes with power bats, which already included outfielders Jordan Schafer and Brandon Jones.

Wren added to the system with his first major move, which sent Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for two prospects the day after the World Series ended. Righthander Jair Jurrjens should provide much-needed help for the back of the rotation, while Gorkys Hernandez will compete with Schafer to be Andruw Jones' long-term replacement in center field.

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