2012 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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1. Julio Teheran, rhp
2. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
3. Randall Delgado, rhp
4. Andrelton Simmons, ss
5. Sean Gilmartin, lhp
6. Edward Salcedo, ss/3b
7. Tyler Pastornicky, ss
8. Zeke Spruill, rhp
9. Christian Bethancourt, c
10. Brandon Drury, 3b
Best Hitter for Average Tyler Pastornicky
Best Power Hitter Joey Terdoslavich
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Todd Cunningham
Fastest Baserunner Matt Lipka
Best Athlete Matt Lipka
Best Fastball Julio Teheran
Best Curveball Arodys Vizcaino
Best Slider J.J. Hoover
Best Changeup Julio Teheran
Best Control Zeke Spruill
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Bethancourt
Best Defensive Infielder Andrelton Simmons
Best Infield Arm Andrelton Simmons
Best Defensive Outfielder Todd Cunningham
Best Outfield Arm Cory Harrilchak
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Dan Uggla
Third Base Edward Salcedo
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons
Left Field Joey Terdoslavich
Center Field Michael Bourn
Right Field Jason Heyward
No. 1 Starter Julio Teheran
No. 2 Starter Tommy Hanson
No. 3 Starter Mike Minor
No. 4 Starter Jair Jurrjens
No. 5 Starter Randall Delgado
Closer Craig Kimbrel
Year Player, Position 2009
2002 Wilson Betemit, ss Tigers
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Pirates
2005 Jeff Francoeur, of Royals
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Red Sox
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Astros
2009 Tommy Hanson, rhp Braves
2010 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2011 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
Year Player, Position 2011
2002 Jeff Francoeur, of Royals
2003 Luis Atilano, rhp
(1st round supp.)
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b
(2nd round)
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Athletics
2006 Cody Johnson, of Yankees
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2008 Brett DeVall
(1st round supp.)
Out of baseball
2009 Mike Minor, lhp Braves
2010 Matt Lipka, ss Braves
2011 Sean Gilmartin, lhp Braves
Mike Minor, 2009 $2,420,000
Jeff Francoeur, 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

The Braves have promoted an impressive group of prospects to Atlanta during the past two seasons, resulting in a subtle youth movement that came together earlier than expected. Jason Heyward and Jonny Venters made significant impacts while making their big league debuts in 2010—Heyward won Baseball America's Rookie of the Year Award—before Brandon Beachy, Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel were integral parts of an 89-win season in 2011.

Despite the a 9-18 freefall in September that turned what appeared to be a certain wild-card berth into a near miss, the Braves have enough young talent to remain optimistic about the future. In addition to Beachy, Freeman and Kimbrel, Atlanta also received contributions from Randall Delgado and Mike Minor. Top prospects Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino made cameos in the majors, and unheralded farmhands such as Jose Constanza, Cristhian Martinez and Anthony Varvaro also chipped in. Most of them will figure prominently in the club's plans for 2012.

Player development always has been a priority for the Braves and helped bolster the big league club at the trading deadline. GM Frank Wren acquired Michael Bourn, who filled holes in center field and atop the lineup, from the Astros in exchange for former top prospect Jordan Schafer and pitchers Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens and Brett Oberholtzer. Wren was adamant about not trading any of his six best prospects and emerged from the process with those pieces intact.

Down on the farm, the Braves provided an example of how development and winning don't go hand in hand. Atlanta's six farm clubs combined for a .469 winning percentage—27th among 30 organizations. Rookie-level Danville was the only affiliate to reach postseason play.

In the meantime, individual accomplishments were plentiful. In between making his major league debut and spending September in Atlanta, Teheran ranked second in the minors with 15 victories and was the Triple-A International League's pitcher and rookie of the year.

First baseman Joey Terdoslavich's 52 doubles broke a high Class A Carolina League record that had stood for 65 seasons. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons won the CL batting title at .311, while catcher Evan Gattis did the same in the low Class A South Atlantic League with a .322 mark. J.R. Graham, a fourth-round pick in June, led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with a 1.72 ERA.

In scouting director Tony DeMacio's two years on the job, Atlanta has shifted its draft philosophy. The Braves used to focus on younger players and mined talent-rich Georgia as well as any club protected its borders. Now they concentrate primarily on college players who might have lower ceilings but cost less and will move faster through the minors.

Atlanta has spent just $7.6 million on DeMacio's two drafts, which ranks ahead of only the White Sox in bonus spending over the last two years. Those drafts have yielded Simmons, the system's best position prospect, and 2011 first-rounder Sean Gilmartin, its best lefthander. The Braves also remain active on the international front but aren't in the market for the big-bucks prospects like they were when they signed Teheran for $850,000 in 2007.

Farm director Kurt Kemp resigned on Sept. 1, and Atlanta decided to replace him from within. Assistant GM Bruce Manno will now oversee player development and Kemp's former assistant, Ronnie Richardson, was promoted to director of minor league operations.

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