Post-Spring Training Scouting Report for Every Atlanta Braves' Top Prospect
Spring training has concluded with Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves just hours away.
Before the season gets into full swing, let's take one final look at the top prospects' performances during spring training.
It's the prospects who can benefit the most from a solid spring training. In many cases it's their first time to showcase their skills to the MLB manager on an extended basis.
How did the top prospects perform and how do their skills translate to the next level?
Don't forget about these top prospects as the season gets underway. Some will help sooner rather than later.
1. Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran will begin the 2013 season as the No. 5 starter in the rotation with the hopes of staying in the rotation for many years to come.
The excitement surrounding the 22-year-old has been growing for a few years now in anticipation that he can become the next great Braves pitcher.
He still features the same stuff that has made him one of the top prospects in baseball.
Teheran's four-seam fastball can hit 95. However, he seems to be sacrificing velocity this spring for more movement. His sinking two-seam fastball has been key in his success this spring.
He still features a plus curveball and changeup and mixes in his slider.
Returning to his old delivery as well as the development of his new two-seam fastball give reason to hope Teheran has reached his potential as a pitcher.
2. Christian Bethancourt
The 21-year-old Panamanian catching prospect is the definition of raw talent.
On defense, Bethancourt features a rocket arm and quick release that allows him to excel at throwing out runners. In limited action he threw out two of four base stealers this spring.
He needs to get more comfortable managing games and utilizing fundamentals behind the plate, something most young catchers struggle with.
Offensively, he still has some developing to do as he had just two hits in 15 at-bats this spring.
He has decent power and should hit for a good average. He needs to take a more patient approach at the plate and see more pitches. Another trait of most young hitters.
Bethancourt is extremely talented and raw. He has a full year to develop those raw skills.
3. J.R. Graham
The Braves were hesitant to include J.R. Graham in a trade to acquire Justin Upton this offseason. That should tell you what the Braves think of Graham.
Graham has a small frame (5-foot-11 175 pounds) but a hard sinker that can hit the upper 90s on a radar gun. He works quickly, which allows his defenders to play on their toes.
Think Tim Hudson with more velocity.
He also has a plus slider and changeup to give him three effective pitches. He features great command as he walked just 34 batters in 148 innings last season in the minors.
There has been some talk of Graham serving as a reliever in the future, but his athleticism, command and durability make him a projected starter in my mind.
I think Graham will see some time in Atlanta later this season.
4. Sean Gilmartin
Sean Gilmartin struggled this spring en route to a 7.62 ERA and .386 opponent batting average.
The 23-year-old left-hander does not have overly impressive arsenal of pitches on the mound. That made it a struggle against MLB hitters this spring as he allowed five home runs.
What he lacks in stuff, he must make up for in polish and command.
His fastball, curveball, slider and changeup are all better than average pitches, and he can work both sides of the plate with all of them.
While he doesn't have huge upside, the Braves feel he has the skills and makeup to be a middle-of-the-rotation big league pitcher.
5. Alex Wood
Alex Wood possesses some similarities to Gilmartin. He's left-handed and has college experience.
The similarities stop there.
Wood stands at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, an intimidating presence on the mound. He does not disappoint with his fastball as it hits the mid-90s.
His changeup is his best off-speed pitch and also throws a curveball. His unusual delivery caused him to drop in the 2012 MLB Draft as potential arm issues became a concern.
Most consider Wood to have better stuff than Gilmartin but doesn't have the same polish on the mound.