Stock Up, Stock Down for Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 6
With Julio Teheran using up his prospect eligibility and Evan Gattis currently in the big leagues, the Braves' farm system is the thinnest we have seen it in some time. There just aren't many impact players in the system, and most of the ones who are potential impact guys are in the low minors, so they're still a few years away.
This article will take a look at how the top 10 Atlanta Braves prospects, like Christian Bethancourt, Sean Gilmartin, Lucas Sims and J.R. Graham, fared in the last week.
10. Joey Terdoslavich, OF
Joey Terdoslavich broke out as a prospect in 2011, hitting 52 doubles and 20 homers in just 131 games. Those are impressive power numbers for anyone, and it is why he started being called a possible replacement for the retiring Chipper Jones.
Then came 2012, when he jumped from High-A to Triple-A and made a position switch to third base. Terdoslavich had a miserable time in Triple-A and was demoted to Double-A. He did salvage his season after being demoted, hitting .315 over the second half of the season with 24 doubles and five homers.
Last week, Terdoslavich got a hit in all but one game. He hit .321 (9-for-28) with a double, two homers and eight RBI.
9. Luis Merejo, LHP
Luis Merejo is an impressive 18-year-old left-hander who spent last year pitching for the Braves' Gulf Coast affiliate. He wasn't well known heading into the year, but a strong performance and praise from scouts put him on the prospect map.
Merejo has not yet made his season debut, and he likely won't until the Appalachian League begins in June.
8. Matt Lipka, OF
The Braves' top pick in 2010, Matt Lipka has enjoyed an up-and-down career so far. He had a strong debut in 2010, but he struggled after a position switch in 2011 and battled injury in 2012. He seems to have gotten back on track as an outfielder in High-A this year, however.
In the last week, Lipka has hit in all but one game, hitting .240 (6-for-25) with a double, homer, two RBI and going 4-of-5 in stolen base attempts.
7. Jose Peraza, SS
Shortstop Jose Peraza is another potential impact player in the lower levels of the Braves' system. Like Merejo and Mauricio Cabrera, Peraza came out of no where last summer in short season ball to shoot up the prospect rankings.
In the past week, Peraza has hit just .111(2-for-18) with a pair of stolen bases. The good news for him is that, although he has struggled in the past week, he only struck out twice against older pitchers in Low-A ball.
6. Christian Bethancourt, C
Christian Bethancourt has long frustrated both fans and scouts. He's an excellent defensive catcher and has enough promise in his bat that he could really develop into one of the better-hitting catchers in the league, but progress at the plate has been non-existent.
Bethancourt really hasn't shown much usable power in games, and his plate discipline has been awful, to say the least.
The good news is that Bethancourt has shown some signs of progress with his work at the plate this season, hitting .295 with a homer and five doubles in 16 games. It may not be a major breakout, but the progress is still welcome.
In the past week Bethancourt has hit .176 (3-for-17) with a double and four RBI in a total of four games played. However, he also struck out a total of six times.
5. Alex Wood, LHP
A second-round pick out of the University of Georgia last year, Alex Wood was given an aggressive assignment to start this season. The Braves felt that after he dominated SEC opponents and Low-A batters after being drafted last year, he would already be ready for a jump to Double-A.
That jump has paid off so far for Wood, who is 2-1 with an 0.47 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched over his first seven starts to the season. He is absolutely dominating Double-A hitters, and with the way he's pitching, he could potentially find his way too Atlanta in some role before the end of the season.
Wood made just one start last week, picking up a win in seven shutout innings. During those seven innings, he allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five.
4. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP
Just like Jose Peraza and Luis Merejo, Mauricio Cabrera made a name for himself last year with his showing in short-season ball. He wasn't as big of an unknown as the other two previously were because he received a decent-sized signing bonus when he signed out of Latin America. He is also the brother of Cubs' pitcher Alberto Cabrera.
The Braves sent the 19-year-old to Low-A Rome, where he's seen some ups and downs in his first taste of full-season ball but has held his own. Cabrera on the year is 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA in seven starts. But in his 36.2 innings, he has just 21 strikeouts to 27 walks.
In this last week, Cabrera made a start and didn't get the decision after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing two runs. He gave up four hits and also walked four batters, but he did strike out four. And he did an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground, as evidenced by his 4.00 ground-out-to-air-out ratio shows.
3. Lucas Sims
Lucas Sims may have been a bit of a steal for the Braves toward the middle of the first round of last June's draft. The Georgia pitcher has plenty of potential and had been scouted heavily by the Braves for a while, so they had to be thrilled to get him. That's partly why the team was comfortable in starting him with an aggressive assignment this year in Low-A Rome.
Sims has been pitching out of the bullpen to gain experience and keep his innings low, but he has shown flashes of why he was such a high draft choice.
In the last week, he made a pair of relief appearances, throwing a total of five innings. Sims allowed two hits, no walks and didn't allow a run to score. He also struck out eight hitters.
2. Sean Gimartin, LHP
When the Braves took Sean Gilmartin in the first round back in 2011, they likely envisioned that he was a left-hander who was a safe bet to be a quality back-of-the-rotation starter. They knew that he wasn't likely to become more than that, but they also believed that they would be getting a big leaguer.
Gilmartin has done nothing to prove the Braves wrong. After losing out on the final spot in the Opening Day rotation to Julio Teheran, Gilmartin went back down to Triple-A and has had a very strong campaign so far. He currently sits at 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA through his first six starts, awaiting a shot to join the Braves rotation.
Gilmartin hasn't appeared in an official game since May 2, so he does not have stats for the past week.
1. J.R. Graham, RHP
The top prospect in the system right now with the graduation of Julio Teheran is J.R. Graham—also known by some as the guy the Braves did not want to deal to get Justin Upton.
Graham was dominant as a starter in 2011 and 2012 after being drafted as a closer from Santa Clara.
This year has been a bit tougher for him. though, which isn't surprising, as it sometime takes time to adjust to Double-A. On the year, Graham is 1-3 with a 4.28 ERA in seven starts, along with 27 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.
This last week was possibly Graham's worst start of the year, as he allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings while striking out just two. The five runs were a season high for Graham, while the eight hits tied his season high against him.