Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IIMay 27, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

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    As we check up on Atlanta's top prospects through the first two months, it is clear that no future star has emerged.

    However, we could see some of these players in the big leagues rather soon.

    With Atlanta's bullpen in shambles due to injuries, suddenly the club's pitching-rich farm system becomes very interesting. 

    Could the club turn to J.R. Graham?

    What about Alex Wood?

    Juan Jaime?

    In short, any of those three could be an option, as all have big-league potential and could thrive in bullpen roles. 

    Keep this in mind as you check out this week's stock watch.

1. J.R. Graham

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-3, 4.04 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 35.2 IP, 39 H, 10 BB, 28 SO

     

    Analysis

    Graham is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder strain and will be out of commission for another couple weeks. 

    He had been scuffling slightly the three starts before he strained his shoulder, but on May 13, he threw well before he left the game, going two innings and allowing one hit, walking none.

    Graham is still learning how to pitch deeper into games and bring his command a little more under control, but for the next couple weeks he will focus on getting healthy.

    Stock: Hold

2. Christian Bethancourt

2 of 10

    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Catcher

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: 96 AB, 26 H, .271 AVG, 6 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2-22 BB/K, 5 SB, .290 OBP, .375 SLG

     

    Analysis

    After Bethancourt enjoyed a tremendous April, the month of May has not been as kind.

    In 13 games this month, Bethancourt has hit .212, walked once and struck out 16 times. 

    Fortunately, the sample size is small. However, Bethancourt is going to have to snap out of this funk, take some walks and start driving the ball again if he wants to have a shot at the catching job next year in Atlanta.

    Stock: Down

3. Lucas Sims

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    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-2, 3.08 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 15 H, 15 BB, 28 SO

     

    Analysis

    Through 15.0 innings this month, Sims has given up but one earned run. Better yet—he has fanned 21 hitters against only five walks over this period of time.

    After getting acclimated to professional baseball, Sims has really started flourishing. As his arm continues to get stretched out, he should pitch deeper into games and get more comfortable on the mound.

    And by the end of the year, he could headline Atlanta's top prospects list. 

    Stock: Up

4. Sean Gilmartin

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    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Left-handed

    Season Stats: 3-3, 4.06 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 51.0 IP, 56 H, 20 BB, 32 SO 

     

    Analysis

    Last week was a mixed bag for Gilmartin. He was shelled for seven runs over four innings on May 20th, but then turned around and put together a 6.1-inning, two-run performance five days later. 

    Lacking an arsenal of above-average pitches, Gilmartin is prone to getting hit hard when his control is not on. Before Atlanta promotes him to the big leagues, the southpaw is going to have to prove that he can paint the corners with any given pitch.

    Stock: Steady

5. Alex Wood

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Left-handed

    Season Stats: 4-2, 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 57.0 IP, 41 H, 15 BB, 57 SO

     

    Analysis

    Wood is the best pitcher in the Braves farm system right now. 

    It's not just the statistics, though they paint a very pretty picture of Wood's 2013 season at Double-A. According to Tim Hudson, Wood's stuff is "nasty," per MILB.com

    Last week, all Wood did was go 13.0 innings and give up four earned runs.

    It won't be long before Atlanta promotes him to Triple-A and tests Wood against veteran hitters.

    Stock: Up

6. Mauricio Cabrera

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    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 48.1 IP, 38 H, 32 BB, 31 SO

     

    Analysis

    In his up-and-down 2013 campaign, Cabrera's last two starts have been pretty terrible—10 innings, 10 runs. 

    Cabrera's fastball is undeniably filthy, but he has a ways to go when it comes to command, secondary pitches and mound presence.

    The potential is there though, and Cabrera could be refined into a top-of-the-line pitcher with a few more years of work.

    Stock: Down

7. Matt Lipka

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    Level: High-A (Lynchburg)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: 182 AB, 48 H, .264 AVG, 30 R, 14 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 14 BB, 36 SO, 11 SB, .322 OBP, .423 SLG

     

    Analysis

    After an early-season funk, Lipka has been on fire in May, posting a slash line of .319/.374/.462. 

    He has been putting balls in play all season long, and finally they're finding holes. His OBP is respectable considering the fact that it is nearly .060 above his AVG, so as long as his average continues to climb he should be fine.

    It's easy to forget that Lipka is just 21 as well. Should he continue to swing the bat well, he could be promoted to Double-A sometime this season. 

    Stock: Up

8. Todd Cunningham

8 of 10

    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/S

    Season Stats: 158 AB, 38 H, .241 AVG, 19 R, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 18 BB, 26 SO, 9 SB, .333 OBP, .342 SLG

     

    Analysis

    Much like Lipka earlier this season, Cunningham is putting the ball in play a lot, but he doesn't seem to be finding many holes. 

    Well, with seven hits in his last 14 at-bats, that may be changing. Cunningham has even flashed his gap power lately, with four of those seven hits going for extra bases. 

    With Jordan Schafer off to such a great start, Cunningham probably won't be getting a roster spot in Atlanta this year, but if he continues developing, he could be in the fold for 2014.

    Stock: Up

9. Juan Jaime

9 of 10

    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Reliever

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 0-1, 3.18 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 7 K

     

    Analysis

    Finally healthy, Jaime struck out four in 2.2 innings last week, walking two and allowing two hits. 

    The book on Jaime is pretty simple—he throws absolute gas but doesn't have much else outside of a blazing fastball. He also has control issues, which makes him unpredictable, but patient hitters that can catch up to his fastball really give him trouble.

    With Atlanta's bullpen having so many injury issues, it's possible Jaime could see time with the big league club this season.

    Stock: Steady

10. Cody Martin

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 2-2, 2.62 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 44.2 IP, 41 H, 16 BB, 47 SO

     

    Analysis

    With a great cutter and even better command, Martin has coupled up with fellow Mississippi Brave Alex Wood to form perhaps the best 1-2 punch in Double-A. 

    He might even be the second-best performing starter in the Braves farm system—that's how good he has been this season.

    Last week, Martin tossed six innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball, and it was no surprise to those inside the Braves organization.

    An advanced college arm, it wouldn't be out of the question for Martin to find himself in Triple-A by the end of the season.

    Stock: Up