Atlanta Braves' Most Overhyped Prospects Heading into Spring Training

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

Atlanta Braves' Most Overhyped Prospects Heading into Spring Training

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    Atlanta's top prospects are for the most part, pitchers.

    The names of Julio Teheran, Lucas Sims, Sean Gilmartin, J.R. Graham and Alex Wood litter the first seven of Jonathan Mayo's top 10 Atlanta Braves prospect list.

    Prospects, while fun to fantasize about, are still just that: Prospects. They get hyped so much that the expectations placed upon them before they even log one major league at-bat or inning are simply unfair.

    Teheran, the Braves' top prospect, experienced this last year. He came into the season with unrealistic expectations and not only did not live up to them but also had a terrible season.

    He righted the ship in Winter Ball, when Atlanta asked him to revert to the delivery that brought him so much success. 

    Even so, the damage had been done. Fortunately for Teheran, he is now flying under the radar as he heads into camp with the Braves.

    For these next three Braves, that's not exactly the case.

Christian Bethancourt

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    Christian Bethancourt is the heir apparent to the incumbent (and injured) Brian McCann, who is likely to walk after this season due to the added contracts of the Upton brothers.

    Atlanta's No. 2 prospect according to Jonathan Mayo, Bethancourt is an absolutely outstanding defensive catcher. He can call a game, defend the dish and throw out baserunners at an unbelievable rate. 

    Defensively, he is ready to win Gold Gloves this year.

    He can not, however, hit.

    His hand-eye coordination is great, but until he changes his approach at the plate and learns the virtue of patience, his batting average and on-base percentage will likely flounder. 

    With McCann injured, it was believed that Bethancourt could win the catching job out of spring training, but the best move for Bethancourt would likely be for him to head back to the minor leagues and figure out how to take a walk.

    Once he starts taking walks, he can start keeping pitchers honest and begin to tap into his offensive potential. 

Sean Gilmartin

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    By spring training 2014, Sean Gilmartin is likely to have a chokehold on a Braves rotation spot. 

    Strong, polished and very athletic, Gilmartin zoomed through the minor leagues after being drafted in 2011 and ended the 2012 season in Triple-A.

    Gilmartin now stands as the No. 4 Braves prospect according to Jonathan Mayo, and has a lot to offer as a southpaw with a plus changeup and simply dominant control. 

    Quietly, it's been speculated that Gilmartin could latch onto a rotation spot with a good spring.

    However, his seven starts at Triple-A Gwinnett gave him a bit of trouble last season, so it is probably best that he logs another season at Triple-A before he comes in and replaces Paul Maholm in 2014. 

    If all goes according to plan, Gilmartin should dominate the Triple-A circuit in 2013 and emerge next season as a sure thing as a back-end starter.

Evan Gattis

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    Right now, Evan Gattis is the rockstar of the Atlanta Braves farm system.

    After embarrassing Carolina League pitching early in 2012, Gattis was slowed by a wrist injury for the remainder of the season but rediscovered his swing in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he crushed 16 home runs in 195 at bats, earning the nickname "El Oso Blanco" (the White Bear) in the process.

    In fact, he was a strong candidate to play left field for the parent club in 2013, shifting Martin Prado to third base full-time. 

    Two Upton brothers later and Gattis' only hope of playing for the Braves lies in the catcher position, save an injury in the outfield or a conversion to third base.

    Even barring a time machine and a prevented Justin Upton trade, expectations would need to be tempered on Gattis. He has enormous raw power but has yet to prove himself at the Triple-A or major league level. 

    There remains the possibility of Gattis playing a bit of catcher while McCann rehabs his shoulder, but in all likelihood, Gattis will be returning to Triple-A with the intent of forcing the Braves to either open up a spot for him or move him.

    And with McCann possibly leaving after 2013, there very well may be a spot that he and fellow catching prospect Christian Bethancourt fight for.