2013 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.

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1. Julio Teheran, rhp
2. J.R. Graham, rhp
3. Christian Bethancourt, c
4. Sean Gilmartin, lhp
5. Lucas Sims, rhp
6. Mauricio Cabrera, rhp
7. Alex Wood, lhp
8. Evan Gattis, of/c
9. Zeke Spruill, rhp
10. Jose Peraza, ss
Best Hitter for Average Todd Cunningham
Best Power Hitter Evan Gattis
Best Strike Zone Discipline Chris Garcia
Fastest Baserunner Jose Peraza
Best Athlete Matt Lipka
Best Fastball Juan Jaime
Best Curveball Lucas Sims
Best Slider Cody Martin
Best Changeup Julio Teheran
Best Control Gary Moran
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Bethancourt
Best Defensive Infielder Nick Ahmed
Best Infield Arm Carlos Franco
Best Defensive OF Todd Cunningham
Best Outfield Arm Robby Hefflinger
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Jose Peraza
Third Base Martin Prado
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons
Left Field Evan Gattis
Center Field B.J. Upton
Right Field Jason Heyward
No. 1 Starter Kris Medlen
No. 2 Starter Julio Teheran
No. 3 Starter Mike Minor
No. 4 Starter Brandon Beachy
No. 5 Starter Randall Delgado
Closer Craig Kimbrel
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Out of baseball
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
2012 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Luis Atilano, rhp Reds
2004 Eric Campbell, 3b Fargo- Moorhead (American Assoc.)
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Athletics
2006 Cody Johnson, 1b Yankees
2007 Jason Heyward, of
2008 Brett DeVall, lhp
Out of baseball
2009 Mike Minor, lhp
2010 Matt Lipka, ss
2011 Sean Gilmartin, lhp
2012 Lucas Sims, rhp
Mike Minor, 2009 $2,420,000
Jeff Francoeur, 2002
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000
Lucas Sims, 2012 $1,650,000
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In many ways, the 2012 season was one of redemption for the Braves, who were able to erase the memory of 2011's collapse by rebounding with a 94-68 record—their best mark since winning 96 games in 2004—and earning a spot in the first-ever National League wild-card playoff. They dropped that contest 6-3 to the Cardinals in an action-packed affair that featured a controversial infield-fly call.

Atlanta's front office didn't make any major changes after the disappointment of 2011, and that proved to be the right move. Manager Fredi Gonzalez, whom many fans blamed for the team's slide the year before, did a masterful job of handling an injury-ravaged rotation and got more mileage out of his bullpen. He deployed Chipper Jones effectively as the Braves icon rode off into the sunset of his Hall of Fame career, and enjoyed a bounce-back year from Jason Heyward.

Jones' retirement severs the last tie to the team's run of 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. Frank Wren took over as GM after the 2007 season, replacing current team president John Schuerholz. Atlanta also has changed managers (Gonzalez replaced Bobby Cox, who retired after 2010), scouting directors (Tony DeMacio for Roy Clark, who joined the Nationals after the 2009 season) and farm directors (Ronnie Richardson for Kurt Kemp, who resigned in September 2011).

The roster continues to evolve, with Heyward and Freddie Freeman now relied upon as cornerstones and Andrelton Simmons stepping in as the next potential homegrown star. He nearly made the jump from high Class A to win the Braves' shortstop job in spring training, then claimed it in June. He batted .289 and played strong defense as a rookie.
Freeman, Heyward and Simmons are all 23, and there's plenty of youth on the pitching staff as well. Closer Craig Kimbrel, who set a major league record for relievers by averaging 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2012, is 24. Atlanta's best starter last season was Kris Medlen (27), and Brandon Beachy (26), Mike Minor (25) and Randall Delgado (22) could join him in the 2013 rotation—though Beachy is returning from Tommy John surgery.

All of those players are products of the Braves farm system, and only Heyward and Minor were first-round draft picks. Building from within has become crucial as the big league payroll has moved to the middle of baseball's pack under Liberty Media, which has owned the team since a stock swap with Time Warner in May 2007.

Wren has operated under more financial constraints than Schuerholz ever did, both in acquiring major league talent and in bringing in players through the draft and international markets. And when Wren has made big investments, in players such as Kenshin Kawakami, Derek Lowe and Dan Uggla, they haven't worked out that well.

While the Braves continue to do a fine job of developing their own talent, they've now gone seven straight seasons without finishing in first place. They haven't won a postseason series since sweeping the Astros in a NL Division Series in 2001.

Perhaps in reaction to those droughts, Atlanta made a big splash on the free agent market in November, signing B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75 million deal that represents the largest contract in franchise history. The Braves also picked up a $12 million option on Brian McCann for 2013, even though he had labrum surgery in the fall.

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