Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects

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, 2011.

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Bill Ballew
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1. Julio Teheran, rhp
2. Freddie Freeman, 1b
3. Randall Delgado, rhp
4. Mike Minor, lhp
5. Craig Kimbrel, rhp
6. Matt Lipka, ss
7. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
8. Brandon Beachy, rhp
9. Brett Oberholtzer, lhp
10. J.J. Hoover, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Freddie Freeman
Best Power Hitter Freddie Freeman
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Cory Harrilchak
Fastest Baserunner Matt Lipka
Best Athlete Matt Lipka
Best Fastball Julio Teheran
Best Curveball Arodys Vizcaino
Best Slider David Hale
Best Changeup Mike Minor
Best Control Brandon Beachy
Best Defensive Catcher Jesus Sucre
Best Defensive Infielder Andrelton Simmons
Best Infield Arm Andrelton Simmons
Best Defensive Outfielder Cory Harrilchak
Best Outfield Arm Cory Harrilchak
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Dan Uggla
Third Base Martin Prado
Shortstop Tyler Pastornicky
Left Field Nate McClouth
Center Field Matt Lipka
Right Field Jason Heyward
No. 1 Starter Tommy Hanson
No. 2 Starter Julio Teheran
No. 3 Starter Randall Delgado
No. 4 Starter Mike Minor
No. 5 Starter Jair Jurrjens
Closer Craig Kimbrel
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Wilson Betemit, ss Royals
2002 Wilson Betemit, ss Royals
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Indians
2005 Jeff Francouer, of Rangers
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Braves
2009 Tommy Hanson, rhp Braves
2010 Jason Heyward, of Braves
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Macay McBride, lhp Lancaster (Atlantic)
2002 Jeff Francouer, of Rangers
2003 Luis Atiliano, rhp
(1st round supp.)
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b
(2nd round)
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Athletics
2006 Cody Johnson, of Braves
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2008 Brett DeVall, rhp
(1st round supp.)
2009 Mike Minor, lhp Braves
2010 Matt Lipka, ss Braves
Mike Minor, 2009 $2,420,000
Jeff Francouer, 2002 $2,200,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000
Edward Salcedo, 2010 $1,600,000
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Atlanta Braves

It may have seemed like forever to their fans, but it was just in 2005 that the Braves' run of National League East titles had ended.

Atlanta fell short of a division title in 2010 but did hold on for the wild card after four seasons out of the playoffs. The Braves succumbed to the Giants in the NL Division Series, but still provided a positive sendoff for Bobby Cox, who retired after spending the last 21 seasons as manager.

Cox built the foundation for the run of division titles that began in 1991, coming to Atlanta as general manager in October 1985 and moving into the dugout after the 1990 season, when John Schuerholz came on board as GM. Now Cox has stepped down, three years after Schuerholz moved up to team president, but current GM Frank Wren and the rest of the Braves front office believe they're positioned for another run of success.

Reaching the postseason in 2010 after the rash of injuries that hit the roster in the second half was an achievement in itself. The most notable came when franchise cornerstone Chipper Jones tore the ACL in his left knee on Aug. 10. In fact, the only position players who were in the lineup on Opening Day and Game One of the playoffs were Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

Heyward came into the season as one of the top prospects in the game and lived up to his billing, batting .277/.393/.456 with 18 home runs, playing a solid right field and winning Baseball America's Rookie of the Year award. Atlanta got contributions from several other rookies as well, including bullpen stalwart Jonny Venters, who made 79 appearances with a 1.95 ERA. Brandon Beachy, Craig Kimbrel and Mike Minor plugged holes on the pitching staff, while Brooks Conrad was a useful utility player.

Youth will be served again in 2011, with first baseman Freddie Freeman and a handful of pitchers ready to contribute at the end of the rotation or in the bullpen. With those new arrivals and the hiring of manager Fredi Gonzalez, the Braves hope to continue contending while making over the organization from top to bottom.

Last year's Braves prospect list was heavy on pitching and light on position players, so Atlanta used the draft and international signings to bolster its stable of hitters. In his first draft as Braves scouting director, Tony DeMacio took hitters with his first four selections, starting with Texas high school shortstop Matt Lipka in the supplemental first round. Lipka notwithstanding, DeMacio also broke with the organization's recent tradition and focused on four-year college players in the first 10 rounds.

International scouting director Johnny Almaraz signed Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo for $1.6 million, the largest bonus the organization has ever handed out to an international free agent. Almaraz and the Braves have put renewed focus on Latin America, as well as boosting their presence in Europe via a facility in the Canary Islands.

Atlanta even became aggressive in the signing of independent league players this past year. The Braves acquired outfielder Beau Torbert, Baseball America's 2010 Independent League Player of the Year, and righthander Wes Alsup and first baseman Christian Garcia, BA's second- and third-ranked indy prospects last season.

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