Atlanta Braves' 2013 All-Prospect Team

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IISeptember 9, 2013

Atlanta Braves' 2013 All-Prospect Team

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    With the minor league season coming to a close, it's time to take an extended look at Atlanta's farm system and assemble an All-Star team of prospects. In order for a player to be considered for this squad, only three rules were in play:

    1. The player must have begun the year with rookie eligibility, 
    2. The player must have played during the 2013 season and
    3. The player must have ended the year in the Braves organization.

    A myriad of different factors that determine the quality of a prospect's season, including but not limited to: age, age relative to level, positional value, athleticism, skills, potential, general improvement from the prior season, improvement of specific skill, level at which the prospect played, etc. Evaluating a prospect's season is, in a word, arduous. 

    So to make things easier for this writer, a hierarchy of five rules was created to establish guidelines for evaluating prospects. Because I created these rules, I also reserve the right to break them should I deem it necessary. Here's the hierarchy:

    1. Final overall statistics (to weed out generally awful campaigns)
    2. Major league potential (because after all, this is what these prospects are aiming for)
    3. Level at which the prospect is playing (Double-A is much more difficult than Rookie ball)
    4. Specific skill that sets the prospect apart (i.e. Christian Bethancourt's defense)
    5. Age relative to minor league level (let's call this the Evan Gattis rule)

    Even with this hierarchy there were tough calls to be made and good, even great prospects were left off the squad. If you want to advocate for a certain player, feel free to do so in the comments below.

Catcher: Christian Bethancourt

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    Position: Catcher

    Highest Level: AA (Mississippi)

    Date of Birth: 09/02/1991 (22)


    Height/Weight: 6'2"/215

    Statistics: .277/.305/.436, 358 AB, 42 R, 21 2B, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 16 BB, 57 K, 11 SB



    Christian Bethancourt has always been young for his level and this campaign was no different—he spent the entire year at the crucial level of Double-A at the tender age of 21. 

    Coming into the 2013 season, there was a lot of pressure on the young catcher to perform well offensively. His spectacular defensive ability was already major league-caliber, but his plate discipline hampered his overall development. 

    Heading into June 14th, Bethancourt was the owner of a .242/.253/.329 triple slash line and it looked like his star had faded. Something inside Bethancourt must have clicked though, because from June 14th to the end of the season, the future Atlanta catcher hit .301/.341/.512 with 10 home runs and a 25:14 strikeout:walk ratio, via Baseball-Reference

    Should Brian McCann leave the Braves this winter, don't be surprised if Bethancourt takes over catching duties in Atlanta.

First Base: Joey Terdoslavich

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    Position: First Base/Third Base/Outfield

    Highest Level: Majors (Atlanta)

    Date of Birth: 09/09/1988 (25)


    Height/Weight: 6'0"/200

    Statistics: .318/.359/.567, 321 AB, 48 R, 24 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 58 RBI, 23 BB, 65 K, 3 SB (AAA)

    .246/.309/.312, 69 AB, 11 R, 4 2B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 19 K, 1 SB (Majors)



    After a disappointing stint at Triple-A and a subsequent demotion in 2012, Joey Terdoslavich got another crack at Triple-A again in 2013. This time, the doubles record holder knocked it out of the park, posting a .926 OPS in a little over half a season.

    The owner of a great swing and greater name, Terdoslavich is a switch hitter that simply rakes. His obstacles (poor defense at third base and roadblocks at first base, in left field and in right) will keep him from racking up a season of 500 big league at-bats for a few years, but Joey Doubles is likely going to be in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. 

Second Base: Tommy La Stella

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    Position: Second Base

    Highest Level: AA (Mississippi)

    Date of Birth: 01/31/1989 (24)


    Height/Weight: 5'11"/185

    Statistics: .343/.422/.473, 283 AB, 32 R, 21 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 37 BB, 34 K, 7 SB (AA)

    .550/.690/.750, 20 AB, 7 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 1 K, 1 SB (High-A)



    Speaking of raking, that's seemingly all Tommy La Stella knows how to do. Granted, the second baseman was a tad old for his level, but there's no other way to describe what La Stella did to Double-A than "torched."

    The Coastal Carolina product is a hitter pure as they come, and with Dan Uggla only signed for two more years, the timing is about perfect for La Stella to take over by 2016. 

Third Base: Kyle Kubitza

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    Position: Third Base

    Highest Level: High-A (Lynchburg)

    Date of Birth: 07/15/1990 (23)


    Height/Weight: 6'3"/190

    Statistics: .260/.380/.434, 435 AB, 75 R, 28 2B, 6 3B, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 80 BB, 132 K, 8 SB



    This was the first difficult call between three prospects: Kyle Kubitza, Edward Salcedo and Victor Caratini. Caratini had the best season and is also the youngest at 20 years of age, but he spent the entire year at Rookie ball. Salcedo is the second youngest at 22 years old and also possesses tantalizing potential, but his potential is largely unrealized and his final stat line was decidedly disappointing. 

    Kubitza, though one year older than Salcedo and a level below in the Braves organization, possesses the best combination of polish and potential, collecting 46 extra-base hits and drawing 80 walks in only 435 at-bats at High-A Lynchburg. 

    An advanced college bat with outstanding plate discipline, Kubitza will likely be aggressively promoted the next few years, making him a prime candidate for Atlanta's top 10 prospects next year.

Shortstop: Jose Peraza

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    Position: Shortstop

    Highest Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Date of Birth: 04/30/1994 (19)


    Height/Weight: 6'0"/165

    Statistics: .288/.341/.371, 448 AB, 72 R, 18 2B, 8 3B, 1 HR, 47 RBI, 34 BB, 64 K, 64 SB



    While Tommy La Stella might be Atlanta's next second baseman, Jose Peraza might be the future at second for the Braves. Only 19-years-old and presumably blocked at shortstop for the next 15 years by Andrelton Simmons, Peraza possesses tremendous speed, a flashy glove and a good eye at the plate that could make him a special prospect in a couple years.

    His 6'0" frame will likely fill out to give him gap power to pair with his eye at the plate, hopefully turning him into Atlanta's leadoff hitter by the time he gets his feet wet in the majors.

Outfield: Evan Gattis

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    Position: Catcher/First Base/Outfield

    Highest Level: Majors (Atlanta)

    Date of Birth: 08/18/1986 (27)


    Height/Weight: 6'4"/230

    Statistics: .241/.300/.474, 270 AB, 34 R, 15 2B, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 20 BB, 65 K, 0 SB (Majors)

    .333/.364/.667, 21 AB, 1 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 SB (AAA)



    It is very likely that Evan Gattis winds up simply being a glorified backup catcher/outfielder and ace-in-the-hole pinch hitter of sorts with gobs of silly power and a tremendous nickname for the next 10 years. 

    That would be fine with me though. 

    Atlanta doesn't need Gattis to be Mike Piazza. Atlanta needs Gattis to be one of the best complementary pieces in the league—a guy who can hit 20 home runs in 300 at-bats. And with unparalleled power for a backup catcher, that's something that he can do year in and year out.


Outfield: Todd Cunningham

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    Position: Outfield

    Highest Level: Majors (Atlanta)

    Date of Birth: 03/20/1989 (24)


    Height/Weight: 6'0"/200

    Statistics: .265/.342/.333, 427 AB, 60 R, 13 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 41 BB, 62 K, 20 SB (AAA)

    .250/.250/.250, 8 AB, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K (Majors)



    With an advanced approach at the plate, decent gap power, very good speed and a great glove in center field, Todd Cunningham essentially provides everything that Jordan Schafer does. Unfortunately, as long as Schafer is in Atlanta, Cunningham will likely be redundant.

    That doesn't mean, however, that Cunningham isn't a good prospect. He'll never be an All-Star, but there is a very high likelihood that he'll carve out a career as a fourth outfielder on a good team or a starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for a bad team.



Outfield: Josh Elander

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    Position: Outfield

    Highest Level: High-A (Lynchburg)

    Date of Birth: 03/19/1991 (22)


    Height/Weight: 6'1"/215

    Statistics: .318/.381/.526, 280 AB, 47 R, 22 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 29 BB, 61 K, 6 SB (Low-A)

    .262/.345/.371, 221 AB, 28 R, 12 2B, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 26 BB, 48 K, 3 SB (High-A)



    During the first half of 2013, Josh Elander established himself as a prospect to be watched, tearing apart pitching in Low-A to the tune of a .907 OPS. And though he didn't exactly light the world on fire following his promotion to High-A, he still held his own.

    The former catcher out of TCU was converted into an outfielder in 2012 so he could develop his bat and tap into his considerable power. If he hits well to begin 2014, expect him in Double-A by midseason. 


Starting Pitcher: Julio Teheran

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Highest Level: Majors (Atlanta)

    Date of Birth: 01/27/1991 (22)


    Height/Weight: 6'2"/175

    Statistics: 11-7, 161.1 IP, 3.01 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 151 H, 148 K, 42 BB



    In the span of one season, Julio Teheran made the jump from disappointing young arm and No. 5 starter all the way to hotshot rookie and probable Game 2 starter of the National League Division Series. 

    Teheran's 2013 statistics haven't even told the story of how good he's been. If the young righty's first three starts of the season are wiped clean from his slate, he's thrown 145.1 IP of 2.54 ERA ball, via Baseball-Reference.

    As for the clip above, you know you've arrived when you bean Bryce Harper with that kind of quiet confidence. 

Starting Pitcher: Alex Wood

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Highest Level: Majors (Atlanta)

    Date of Birth: 01/12/1991 (22)

    Bats/Throws: R/L

    Height/Weight: 6'4"/215

    Statistics: 3-3, 70.1 IP, 3.45 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 67 H, 72 K, 25 BB (Majors)

    4-2, 57.0 IP, 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 41 H, 57 K, 15 BB (AAA)

    1-0, 5.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 H, 5 K, 2 BB (AA)



    After decimating minor league hitters for the first half of the year, it only made sense that the Braves would jump Alex Wood from Double-A to the pros, considering Atlanta's pitching depth woes. 

    Once he landed in the rotation for good, Wood took off and dominated hitters in his six starts spanning July 30 to Aug. 27. According to Baseball-Reference, Wood posted a 1.46 ERA over 37.0 innings pitched in that stretch.

    Whether Wood will be in the rotation or the bullpen come playoff time is yet to be determined. Either way though, the lefty out of Georgia has been a savior in the Braves pitching staff.

Starting Pitcher: Lucas Sims

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Highest Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Date of Birth: 5/10/1994 (19)


    Height/Weight: 6'2"/195

    Statistics: 12-4, 116.2 IP, 2.62 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 83 H, 134 K, 46 BB 



    Atlanta's best minor league player this season, Lucas Sims screamed to the top of the organization's prospect rankings with his gem of a season. 

    The athletic right-hander with the plus-fastball and tight curveball took minor league baseball by storm in 2013 and should handle High-A with relative ease. 

    The future is very bright for Sims, who will gain serious traction in prospect circles should he perform like this in 2014.

Starting Pitcher: Cody Martin

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Highest Level: AAA (Gwinnett)

    Date of Birth: 09/04/1989 (24)


    Height/Weight: 6'2"/225

    Statistics: 3-4, 69.2 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 59 H, 66 K, 31 BB (AAA)

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




    Cody Martin is incredibly close to becoming an Atlanta Brave. The righty out of Gonzaga strung together a very impressive year between Double-A and Triple-A, showing off a great cutter and his penchant for the strikeout in the process.

    Depending on the health of the Atlanta starting rotation, Martin could begin 2014 in either the Atlanta rotation or bullpen.

Starting Pitcher: Aaron Northcraft

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Highest Level: AA (Mississippi)

    Date of Birth: 05/28/1990 (23)


    Height/Weight: 6'4"/230

    Statistics: 8-8, 137.0 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 124 H, 121 K, 51 BB 



    Another horse of a starting pitcher, Aaron Northcraft is a highly projectable, highly competitive innings eater that should have little trouble carving out a spot in a major league rotation as soon as 2014. 

    His command isn't exactly Greg Maddux-esque, but that is entirely due to the spectacular movement on his pitches. And with the weather, Northcraft got hotter, posting a 2.58 ERA in his 83.2 innings from June 11 to the end of the season, via Baseball-Reference.

    Like Cody Martin, Northcraft is an injury away from serious consideration for a rotation spot in Atlanta.

    Mauricio Cabrera pitched fantastically down the stretch and has a higher ceiling than both Northcraft and Martin, but when weighing the level of competition and the overall performance of 2013, Cabrera is just bumped off the prospect team.

Closer: Shae Simmons

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    Position: Reliever

    Highest Level: AA (Mississippi)

    Date of Birth: 09/03/1990 (23)


    Height/Weight: 5'9"/180

    Statistics: 1-1, 42.1 IP, 1.49 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 26 H, 66 K, 16 BB (A)

    0-0, 11.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5 H, 16 K, 7 BB (AA)



    Mark Lamm was heavily considered here (and J.R. Graham will likely be here next year), but even though Shae Simmons is only 5'9" and already 23 years of age, the 82 strikeouts in 53.1 innings to pair with a season-long 1.69 ERA is mildly mind-blowing.

    Said to be a mini-Craig Kimbrel with his high-octane fastball, Simmons could find his way into the Braves as early as late 2014.