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Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 19

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IIOctober 25, 2016

Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 19

1 of 11

    After disappointing at the plate in 2012, Christian Bethancourt needed to make offensive strides in 2013. For much of the season, it didn't seem like that was going to happen, and Evan Gattis took the reins as Atlanta's starting catcher should Brian McCann walk this winter.

    Bethancourt must have not liked that very much. Since July 6th, the 21-year-old backstop has posted a slash line of .351/.369/.614 with seven home runs, nine doubles, a 6-8 BB/K ratio, and four steals to boot, according to Baseball-Reference.

    In other words, Bethancourt has been hitting everything in sight. No, he's not taken many walks, but he's not struck out any either. And as long as he's swinging at strikes and hitting them hard, that's all that matters.

    Come spring training 2014, Bethancourt could find himself competing for a starting job in Atlanta. And with his defensive chops, he might just win one.

    Prospect rankings courtesy of Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

10. Aaron Northcraft

2 of 11

    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 7-8, 3.64 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 121.0 IP, 112 H, 43 BB, 101 K 

    Last Week's Stats: 1-0, 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K

     

    Analysis

    While he wasn't spectacular last week, Aaron Northcraft continues to impress at Double-A Mississippi by simply getting the job done. 

    He doesn't have top-of-the-line stuff, but does possess incredible movement on his pitches. If he learns to harness this and lowers his walk rate, he'll have little difficulty holding down a starting rotation gig in the majors within the next few years. 

    Stock: Even

9. Matt Lipka

3 of 11

    Level: High-A (Lynchburg)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: .262/.308/.379, 69 R, 26 2B, 7 3B, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 23 BB, 98 K, 30 SB

    Last Week's Stats: .259/.333/.333, 8 R, 1 3B, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K

     

    Analysis

    After watching his stock plummet over the past couple weeks, Lipka got on base and ran wild this week, notching seven stolen bases.

    Make no mistake though, Lipka's season has been a disappointment, as he's shown regression at the plate. He's still young enough to break through and make strides offensively, but he's likely to repeat High-A next season at the age of 22. 

    Stock: Even

8. Todd Cunningham

4 of 11

    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/S

    Season Stats: .271/.348/.344, 56 R, 12 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 37 BB, 57 K, 19 SB (AAA)

    .333/.333/.333, 2 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 SB (Majors)

    Last Week's Stats: .172/.226/.241, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB (AAA)

     

    Analysis

    His first week back in Triple-A after a stint in the big leagues, Todd Cunningham obviously needed a week to get re-acclimated to life in the minors. 

    Still, one bad week is nothing to worry about, and this speedy center fielder should find himself in Atlanta when rosters expand in September.

    Stock: Down

7. Cody Martin

5 of 11

    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 3-3, 2.82 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 63 H, 27 BB, 71 K (AA)

    2-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 61.2 IP, 54 H, 29 BB, 62 K (AAA)

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 4 BB, 7 K

     

    Analysis

    Cody Martin's control has faltered lately, but it seems to be an effective wildness, as he continues to strike hitters out at a terrific rate.

    He continues to be an injury away from a trip to the big leagues. With a major league cutter, he even could see time in the bullpen in September.

    Stock: Even

6. Mauricio Cabrera

6 of 11

    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 2-7, 3.91 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 122.0 IP, 108 H, 64 BB, 102 K

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

     

    Analysis

    While Mauricio Cabrera's entire season has been somewhat of a roller coaster, he has been spectacular over his past 10 starts, posting a 2.61 ERA over 58.2 innings pitched, racking up 50 strikeouts in the process according to Baseball-Reference.

    The hard-throwing 19-year-old seems to have finally figured things out at Low-A; expect Cabrera to be tested at the next level in 2014. 

    Stock: Up

5. Jason Hursh

7 of 11

    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-1, 0.72 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 25.0 IP, 19 H, 10 BB, 15 K

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 K

     

    Analysis

    The fact, via Baseball-Reference, that Jason Hursh has struck out but two hitters in his last 12.0 innings pitched is a little concerning, but the righty from Oklahoma State is still getting Low-A hitters out at will. As long as he's healthy, the strikeouts will return.

    Don't be surprised if Hursh is called up to High-A or even Double-A for the remaining weeks of the season.

    Stock: Even

4. Sean Gilmartin

8 of 11

    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Left-handed

    Season Stats: 3-7, 5.45 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 76.0 IP, 93 H, 30 BB, 48 K (AAA)

    0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 11 (Rookie)

    1-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K (Low-A)

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 K (Triple-A)

     

    Analysis

    He didn't have much luck striking hitters out, but Sean Gilmartin's return to Triple-A was a definitive success.

    The most impressive aspect of his scoreless five-inning outing though was his efficiency—he got through with just 58 pitches.

    Lack of strikeouts aside, Gilmartin has done nothing but cruise since his return from injury. With a strong finish to the year, the lefty out of Florida State could have a crack at an Atlanta rotation spot in 2014.

    Stock: Up

3. Christian Bethancourt

9 of 11

    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Catcher

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: .288/.316/.456, 38 R, 19 2B, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 15 BB, 49 K, 11 SB

    Last Week's Stats: .444/.500/1.000, 4 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K

     

    Analysis

    This week's prospect slideshow cover boy, Christian Bethancourt turned in an absolutely stellar performance last week, clubbing three home runs and collecting multiple walks—something that should always be noted when regarding a young catcher.

    He's unlikely to be given a promotion this late in the season, but expect to see Bethancourt playing winter ball somewhere in the hopes of winning Atlanta's 2014 starting catcher spot, should Brian McCann walk.

    Stock: Up

2. J.R. Graham

10 of 11

    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 K

    Last Week's Stats: Seven-day disabled list; no action seen.

     

    Analysis

    At this point, one has to wonder if J.R. Graham has been shut down for the season in the name of caution. It wouldn't surprise me, as the high-octane sinkerballer is held in high regard by the Braves brass. 

    While he could certainly still pitch every fifth day as a major league starter, his health and diminutive stature suggest that maybe he's best off as a lights-out reliever.

    Stock: Even

1. Lucas Sims

11 of 11

    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 9-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 101.2 IP, 72 H, 41 BB, 114 K

    Last Week's Stats: 1-0, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 9 K

     

    Analysis

    Before we go any farther, read Lucas Sims' line from last week. Seven innings, one hit, no runs, and nine strikeouts. Bar none, it's the 19-year-old's top performance to date. 

    Sims is not only proving himself to be the Braves' top prospect—he's quickly asserting himself as league-wide top prospect.

    With the athleticism, arsenal, and performance to back it up, Braves fans finally have another top prospect to replace Julio Teheran.

    By the time spring rolls around again, expect Sims to be comfortably inside most prospect rankings' top 50. 

    Stock: Up

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