Ranking the Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2013

Ranking the Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

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    The Atlanta Braves have run away with the NL East title this season and will look to secure the best record in the National League here in the final weeks, and a number of young players have played a key role.

    Starting pitchers Julio Teheran and Alex Wood have both been reliable members of the starting rotation, while catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis has provided some thunder off the bench and filled in for Brian McCann early in the season.

    While those three no longer qualify as prospects here at the end of the season, the Braves farm system is still ripe with talent, especially on the pitching side of things.

    So with the 2013 minor league season wrapped up, here is a look at the Braves' top 10 prospects heading into the offseason.

No. 10 Prospect: 3B Edward Salcedo (22 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRBBK
      AA 132.239/.304/.37211222 212 555244111

     

    Prospect Overview

    Signed to a $1.6 million deal prior to the 2010 season out of the Dominican Republic, the Braves have aggressively moved Salcedo since he joined the organization, moving a level per year to reach Double-A this past season as a 22-year-old

    His numbers aren't overwhelming on the surface, but he managed to improve his BB/K ratio from 33/130 at High-A in 2012 to 44/111 this season. He swiped 20 bases on top of his 36 extra-base hits, and there is still a good deal of untapped potential here.

     

    ETA: late-2015

No. 9 Prospect: RHP Aaron Northcraft (23 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
      AA26/26 8-83.421.27751121137

     

    Prospect Overview

    A 10th-round pick out of high school in 2009, Northcraft was signed away from a commitment to USC, and the big 6'4" and 230-pound right-hander certainly has the look of a future workhorse starter.

    He was brought along slowly in his first two seasons but has advanced a level each of the past three seasons, posting similar numbers each step of the way. He doesn't have overpowering stuff and could wind up being a trade chip in the long run, but he has the four-pitch repertoire and build to be a useful part of any team's rotation.

     

    ETA: late-2014

No. 8 Prospect: LHP Sean Gilmartin (23 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
      RK   3/2 0-00.000.111 011  9
       A  1/1 1-01.800.800 0 5  5
      AAA17/17 3-85.741.5933365 91
     Totals21/20 4-85.061.4293381105

     

    Prospect Overview

    Selected out of Florida State with the No. 28 pick in the 2011 draft, Gilmartin was viewed as the type of college arm that could move quickly and, if nothing else, help out of the bullpen in the early going before moving to the rotation.

    He opened 2012 in Double-A and went 6-10 with a 3.84 ERA on the year while earning a late-season call-up to Triple-A. Expected to debut at some point this season, he instead battled injuries and was hit hard when he was on the field, keeping him in the minors for the year. His ceiling is somewhat limited, but he should be able to get things back on track with a healthy year next season.

     

    ETA: 2014

No. 7 Prospect: RHP Cody Martin (24 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
       AA16/11 3-32.821.34327 71  67
      AAA13/11 3-43.491.29231 66 69.2
     Totals29/22 6-73.161.31758137136.2

     

    Prospect Overview

    A seventh-round selection out of Gonzaga in 2011, Martin spent a full season at High-A Lynchburg last season, going an impressive 12-7 with a 2.93 ERA, but the question was whether his average stuff would net the same results in the high minors.

    Those questions were answered with impressive showings in Double-A and Triple-A, and he looks to be on the fast track now. His ceiling is likely nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation arm, but he could arrive in Atlanta early next season in a bullpen role and provide some starting pitching depth.

     

    ETA: 2014

No. 6 Prospect: SS Jose Peraza (19 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRBBK
       A 114.288/.341/.37112918 8 1 47723464

     

    Prospect Overview

    A Venezuelan native who was signed as a 17-year-old back in 2011, Peraza opened the season with his first taste of play above the rookie league level, and by all accounts his full-season debut was a huge success.

    His best tool is his speed, evidenced by his 64 stolen bases, but he also flashed a decent hit tool and solid plate discipline given his age and level. He still has some refining to do from a defensive standpoint, and he's still a long ways from Atlanta, but he has the upside to be an everyday shortstop and dynamic leadoff hitter once he does arrive.

     

    ETA: 2016

No. 5 Prospect: RHP Mauricio Cabrera (19 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
       A24/24 3-84.181.43971107131.1

     

    Prospect Overview

    The brother of Cubs' prospect Alberto Cabrera, Mauricio pitched at the full-season level for the first time this season after spending the past two seasons in rookie ball after signing out of the Dominican Republic.

    He can dial his fastball up to the high-90s but will need to improve his curveball/changeup mix if he hopes to remain a starter. He still has a good deal of refining to do, but at the very least he profiles as a power relief arm, with potential for much more if he can figure some things out.

     

    ETA: 2016

No. 4 Prospect: RHP Jason Hursh (21 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
       A  9/9 1-10.671.111101527

     

    Prospect Overview

    The Braves may have reached a bit for Oklahoma State right-hander Jason Hursh with their first-round pick, but given their track record of developing college arms, it's hard to argue with any selection the organization makes.

    After missing all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery, Hursh bounced back with a strong season in 2013 and secured his position as a first-round pick. His fastball already grades as a plus option, but he'll need to improve his changeup/slider combination if he's to remain in the rotation. He looked awfully good debuting at the Single-A level after signing.

     

    ETA: late-2015

No. 3 Prospect: RHP J.R. Graham (23 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
      AA  8/8 1-34.041.374102835.2

     

    Prospect Overview

    Graham, who was taken in the fourth round in 2011, earns this spot more on potential and previous success than on what he did in 2012, as it was essentially a lost season for the hard-throwing right-hander.

    The Santa Clara product went 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.061 WHIP between High-A and Double-A in 2012 but dealt with a shoulder strain for much of this year. He has a terrific fastball/slider combination that should play well in the late innings, but if he can develop his changeup further he could stick as a starter too.

     

    ETA: mid-2014

No. 2 Prospect: C Christian Bethancourt (22 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRBBK
      AA 90.277/.305/.4369921 012 45421657

     

    Prospect Overview

    One of the top catching prospects in all of baseball, Bethancourt has been brought along slowly since signing as a 16-year-old back in 2008, and he repeated Double-A this season after spending all of 2012 there and hitting .243/.275/.291.

    His numbers were substantially better this season, and considering he's still only 22, his repeating a level is not a real concern. The Braves will have a tough decision to make on whether or not to re-sign Brian McCann and how long to sign him for if they do, and Bethancourt is a big reason why that decision is such a tough one. 

    Bethancourt's glove actually grades out better than his bat at this point, and he brings rare athleticism to the catcher position, so if his bat can improve a bit more he has the tools to be a legitimate star.

     

    ETA: late-2014

No. 1 Prospect: RHP Lucas Sims (19 Years Old)

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    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
       A28/1812-42.621.10646134116.2

     

    Prospect Overview

    The Braves stayed close to home when they took Sims with the No. 21 pick in the 2012 draft out of Brookwood High School in Georgia, signing the right-hander to a $1.65 million bonus.

    He signed in time to make 11 starts in rookie ball last year, posting a 3.71 ERA and striking out 39 in 34 innings of work. That was enough for the team to jump him over Low-A and start him off at Single-A Rome this season, and he was terrific.

    With a pitching-rich farm system and a number of young arms at the big league level, the Braves have no reason to rush him, but once he arrives he has front-line stuff and could make a real impact.

     

    ETA: 2016