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, 2009.

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1. Tommy Hanson, rhp
2. Jason Heyward, of
3. Jordan Schafer, of
4. Gorkys Hernandez, of
5. Freddie Freeman, 1b
6. Cole Rohrbough, lhp
7. Jeff Locke, lhp
8. Julio Teheran, rhp
9. Kris Medlen, rhp
10. Craig Kimbrel, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Jason Heyward
Best Power Hitter Cody Johnson
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jason Heyward
Fastest Baserunner Gorkys Hernandez
Best Athlete Jordan Schafer
Best Fastball Craig Kimbrel
Best Curveball Cole Rorhbough
Best Slider Tommy Hanson
Best Changeup Edgar Osuna
Best Control Todd Redmond
Best Defensive Catcher Clint Sammons
Best Defensive Infielder Van Pope
Best Infield Arm Brandon Hicks
Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Schafer
Best Outfield Arm Jordan Schafer
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Kelly Johnson
Third Base Brandon Hicks
Shortstop Yunel Escobar
Left Field Gorkys Hernandez
Center Field Jordan Schafer
Right Field Jason Heyward
No. 1 Starter Tommy Hanson
No. 2 Starter Jair Jurrjens
No. 3 Starter Tim Hudson
No. 4 Starter Cole Rohrbough
No. 5 Starter Charlie Morton
Closer Craig Kimbrel
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Bruce Chen, lhp Out of baseball
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
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Braves
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Matt Butler, rhp (2nd round) Out of baseball
2000 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2001 Macay McBride, lhp Tigers
2002 Jeff Francouer, of Braves
2003 Luis Atilano, rhp (1st round supp.) Nationals
2004 Eric Campbell (2nd round) Braves
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Athletics
2006 Cody Johnson, of Braves
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2008 Brett DeVall, lhp Braves
Jeff Francouer, 2002 $2,200,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000
Cody Johnson, 2006 $1,375,000
Macay McBride, 2001 $1,340,000
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Atlanta Braves

No team in baseball, particularly one that has established themselves as perennial contenders, ever wants to use the "R" word. And while the Braves may not be in a complete rebuilding mode after posting their worst record since 1990 and failing to reach the playoffs for the third straight year, they're doing some serious retooling.

Major changes began in earnest at the conclusion of the 2007 season, when John Schuerholz became the club's president and passed the general manager reins to right-hand man Frank Wren. Since then, Edgar Renteria and Mark Teixeira have been traded, Andruw Jones has left as a free agent and Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have hit the free-agent market as well. Undaunted by giving up five prospects for Teixeira in a 2006 trade that will turn out to be one of Schuerolz's most regrettable moves, Atlanta sent four youngsters (most notably catcher Tyler Flowers) to the White Sox for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan this winter.

For the most part, however, the Braves have been trying to get younger. Dealing Renteria and Teixeira yielding building blocks such as Jair Jurrjens, Casey Kotchman and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez. Atlanta put together its run of 14 consecutive playoff trips from 1991-2005 by constantly replenishing the big league roster with fresh, homegrown talent, and that blueprint for success remains intact.

Six of the Braves' eight lineup regulars in 2009 were drafted and developed by the club, and the farm system features as much depth as ever. Scouting director Roy Clark and his staff have filled the organization with several high-profile prospects with productive drafts throughout the current decade.

Outfielder Jason Heyward, the system's top position prospect, was selected with the 14th overall pick in 2007, but Atlanta has excelled in finding prospects outside of the first round. Righthander Tommy Hanson, the sensation of the Arizona Fall League was a 22nd-rounder in 2005 and part of the now-defunct draft-and-follow process that also netted the Braves lefthander Cole Rohrbough (22nd round in 2006), Flowers (33rd in 2005) and outfielder Brandon Jones (24th in 2003). They also grabbed outfielder Jordan Schafer (third round in 2005) and righthander Kris Medlen (10th round in 2006) far lower in the draft than their talents would merit today.

Atlanta also has reasserted itself on the worldwide front, starting with the hiring of Johnny Almaraz as director of international scouting and operations in late 2006. He oversaw the construction of a state-of-the-art facility in the Dominican Republic that opened in 2007, and he and his scouting network are making inroads elsewhere in Latin America as well.

In the last two years, the Braves have signed such talents as righthander Julio Teheran out of Colombia, righthy Randall Delgado and catcher Christian Bethancourt out of the Panama and lefties Santos Rodriguez (part of the Vazquez deal) and Carlos Perez out of the Dominican. Teheran, who cost $850,000, was the top pitcher on the international market in 2007. They also have intensified their efforts in Taiwan, landing righty Wei Cheng Huang and catcher Meng Hsiu Tsai.

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