Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 9
The big news on the Atlanta Braves prospect stock watch this past week was the promotion of No. 6 prospect Tommy La Stella to Atlanta. He’s had a good first week in the big leagues, going 6-for-15 (.400) with two walks and no strikeouts.
Since he’s in the majors, we’ll take him off our watch list and add the next prospect in line from the Beyond The Box Score consensus Braves prospect list.
No. 5 prospect Mauricio Cabrera is still on the disabled list, so we’ll continue to keep him off our watch list and move everyone else up a spot.
Click here to view last week’s prospect stock watch. Begin the slideshow to see the new prospect on the list this week.
No. 12 Prospect: Outfielder Victor Reyes, Low-A Rome
Last Week’s Stats: 2-for-24 (.083) with 2 BB and 7 K
We picked the wrong week to add Reyes to our stock watch—last week was his worst all season. That swoon only slightly diminishes the good season he’s having as a 19-year-old in full-season ball.
Reyes was Atlanta’s top international signing in 2011 and has posted an average of .296 or better at every level. He’s still a wiry kid who needs to add muscle, but he’s got a big 6'3" frame to accommodate growth.
He’ll need to add muscle and power to address the biggest hole in his game. In three seasons, and 151 games played, Reyes has yet to hit a home run.
2014 Stats: .308/.358/.347, .363 BABIP, 14.3 K%, 6.9 BB%
Stock: Down, but not out.
No. 11 Prospect: SP Aaron Northcraft, Double-A Mississippi
Last Week’s Stats: 2-0 in two starts, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 14 K
It was quite a good week for Northcraft, who won both of his starts in dominant fashion. He went five innings in each start, and hasn’t gone more than six innings or thrown more than 92 pitches in any start this season. That’s a sign that the Braves are keeping him on a pretty tight pitch count.
His K/9 improved even more this week to 9.2.
2014 Stats: 6-2 in eight starts, 2.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2.74 FIP, .204 BAA
No. 10 Prospect: SP Wes Parsons, High-A Lynchburg
Last Week’s Stats: No decision in one start, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K
Parson’s start this week was cut short because of a lengthy rain delay.
He’s still having a good season and is still worthy of his spot on this prospect list despite being a non-drafted free agent.
2014 Stats: 3-2 in nine starts, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 2.77 FIP, .253 BAA
No. 9 Prospect: SP Cody Martin, Triple-A Gwinnett
Last Week’s Stats: 0-2 in two starts, 10 IP, 19 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
It was not a good week for Martin. He lasted only four innings in his first start of the week, and then gave up 12 hits in six innings in his second start, including five doubles.
His numbers this season are eerily similar to his numbers last year at Triple-A:
2013 Triple-A Stats: 3-4 in 11 starts, 3.49 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.85 FIP, .228 BAA
2014 Triple-A Stats: 3-4 in 10 starts, 3.36 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.96 FIP, .238 BAA
The only difference has been his walk rate. He had a 4.0 BB/9 last year, as opposed to a 2.59 BB/9 this year—that would account for the large drop in fielding-independent pitching (FIP). It would be nice to see a little more aggregate improvement from Martin.
No. 8 Prospect: C/3B Victor Caratini, Low-A Rome
Last Week’s Stats: 9-for-21 (.429) with a triple, 1 BB, 4 K
Caratini hit in every game he played in this week, and now has a six-game hitting streak. He also had a four-hit game this week, which pushed his season batting average from .288 to .302.
He’s also hitting around .300 from both sides of the plate. As a right-hander he’s batting .297/.349/.406, and as a left-hander he’s batting .321/.406/.357.
He’s done all of this while continuing to catch full-time since late April.
2014 Stats: .301/.359/.398, .366 BABIP, 17.8 K%, 7.0 BB%
No. 6 Prospect: 2B Jose Peraza, High-A Lynchburg
Last Week’s Stats: 7-for-23 (.304) with a double, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K and 2-0 in stolen base attempts
Peraza maintained his organizational stolen base lead by swiping two bags this week, bringing his season total to 26 (in 32 chances). Through two months last year Peraza had stolen 17 bases, on his way to 64 steals for the season. He’s well ahead of that pace this year.
2014 Stats: .318/.345/.399, .355 BABIP, 11.3 K%, 4.2 BB%
No 4. Prospect: SP Jason Hursh, Double-A Mississippi
Last Week’s Stats: 1-0 in one start, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
It was a terrific start this week for Hursh—the only start this year in which he hasn’t allowed a run. He also struck out just one batter, and a low strikeout total has been his M.O. all year.
He’s not quite the pitcher I thought the Braves were getting when they drafted him with their first pick (31st overall) last year. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook echoes other scouting reports by highlighting the mid-90s fastball that Hursh possesses.
With that kind of heat I would have expected more strikeouts, but Hursh has proved to be more of a pitch-to-contact guy. It will be interesting to see if he can incorporate more strikeouts into his game throughout the season. That distinction of not having a track record of striking a lot of people out could keep him from moving up some Braves prospect lists.
2014 Stats: 4-4 in 11 starts, 3.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 3.72 FIP, .275 BAA
No. 3 Prospect: SP J.R. Graham, Double-A Mississippi
Last Week’s Stats: No decision in one start, 5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K
Graham had his best start of the season this week. He gave up just one hit through the first five innings while facing the minimum. He allowed a couple of baserunners in his sixth inning of work before being pulled; his relief couldn’t keep the runners from scoring.
This was a great sign for one of Atlanta’s top pitching prospects, who had struggled for much of the last month. We’ll need to see a few more starts like this to know if he is truly past the wildness he’s displayed recently.
2014 Stats: 0-2 in 11 starts, 4.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 2.97 FIP, .253 BAA
No. 2 Prospect: C Christian Bethancourt, Triple-A Gwinnett
Last Week’s Stats: 4-for-23 (.174) with a double, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K
It was not the best week at the plate for Bethancourt, who had put up good numbers for the past month. With him I’m constantly looking at walks and extra-base hits, as those are two big holes in his game. Both of those suffered this week, and for the season they are lagging behind where they should be.
With Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird holding down the catching duties just fine in Atlanta, Bethancourt has plenty of time to work on his hitting and figure it out at the plate.
2014 Stats: .242/.277/.349, .283 BABIP, 18.2 K%, 4.4 BB%
No 1. Prospect: SP Lucas Sims, High-A Lynchburg
Last Week’s Stats: No decision in one start, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K
In a box score this start doesn’t look that good. Sims did get tagged early, giving up a three-run home run in the second inning. But after that homer he allowed just one hit over the remaining four-plus innings.
That’s a big sign of maturity for a pitcher to get hit hard and then regroup to keep his team in the ballgame. And sure enough, his team came back to tie the game in the sixth inning and win it in the 10th.
2014 Stats: 5-3 in 11 starts, 4.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.99 FIP, .227 BAA