Atlanta Braves: 5 Prospects Who Will Make a Huge Impact in 2012
Their pitching staff next season will contain three of the best prospects in baseball.
The Braves' success in the 2012 season will very much depend on contributions from their young players.
Here are five prospects who will make a huge impact in 2012.
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In 2011, Arodys Vizcaino was ranked by Baseball America as the 16th-best prospect in baseball.
He was originally a starter, but was converted to a reliever when moved to Triple-A.
He was called up to the majors in August, to replace Scott Proctor, and pitched in 17 games as a reliever.
Although he managed only an ERA of 4.67, his minor league stats show his huge amount of potential.
He compiled a 19-15 record, a 2.91 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP across four seasons in the minors, and in six games of Triple-A, he had an ERA of 1.29.
He has a great fastball, and strikes out a large amount of batters.
Last season, relievers Craig Kimbrel, Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters were overworked, and Vizcaino's contributions to the bullpen in 2012 will be very important, and they should save his teammates from fatigue.
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The Braves have an empty hole at shortstop, not having re-signed free agent Alex Gonzalez.
They recently announced that they are searching on the free-agent market for a backup veteran shortstop.
The Braves' starting shortstop in 2012 will most likely be Tyler Pastornicky, who is one of their top hitting prospects.
He has been in the minor leagues for the past four years, and has an overall batting average of .278.
In Triple-A he took 24 at-bats and achieved an impressive .365 BA.
It is not guaranteed that Pastornicky will find success in the majors this season, as he may not be completely prepared, although he will have the opportunity to greatly improve the Braves.
J.J. Hoover is a right-handed relief pitcher, currently in the Braves' Triple-A.
He has not pitched before in the major leagues, although he has done impressively in the minors.
In four seasons, he has a 25-19 record and an ERA of 3.14. Last season, in Triple-A, he posted a 1-1 record and 3.38 ERA over 18.2 innings.
He has pitched as a starter as well as a reliever, and of his 99 minor league appearances, 61 were starts.
Although, because the Braves are overloaded with pitching prospects, Hoover is likely to remain a reliever.
He is nearly guaranteed a spot in the bullpen at some point in the 2012 season, and should be a great asset to it.
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Randall Delgado has had an extremely impressive career as a starting pitcher, both in the major and minor leagues.
He has been recognized as one of the Braves' top prospects for the past season.
During the 2011 season, he was moved from Double-A to Triple-A, and then to the majors when the Braves' pitching staff experienced injuries.
Throughout five seasons in the minors, he has a 3.56 ERA.
Last season he pitched 35 innings in the majors with the Braves and achieved a 2.83 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, including an almost no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.
Delgado should be a reliable fifth starter for the Braves next season, or at least a spot starter if he doesn't make the rotation.
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Julio Teheran is easily the best prospect in the Braves' organization, and one of the top five prospects in all of baseball.
He absolutely dominated in the minor leagues, although he did struggle in the few innings he pitched in the majors.
He was named Rookie of the Year, as well as most valuable pitcher of the International League in 2011, as a result of his 15-3 record and 2.55 ERA that year.
Throughout his four seasons in the minors, he is 28-17 and has an ERA of 2.96.
He did not fare quite as well in the major leagues; in 19.2 innings he was 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA.
Since his major league struggles, though, he has improved and gained much experience, and it is very likely that he will be pitching as a starter for the Braves in 2012.
Teheran has the potential to soon become the Braves' ace, and possibly the best pitcher in baseball, and next season he should do very well pitching in the back of the Braves' rotation.