Re-Ranking the Braves' Top 10 Prospects After MLB Draft Day 1
Atlanta drafted prep outfielder Braxton Davidson with their first pick, No. 32 overall. In the second round they selected prep right-handed pitcher Garrett Fulencheck at No 66 overall.
While there are some players who are still prospect-eligible, we won’t include the guys like Tommy La Stella and Shae Simmons who are currently in the majors with Atlanta. La Stella was already among the Braves' top 10 prospects, and Simmons probably would have made this list with the year he was having at Double-A.
Stats used in this slideshow are taken from FanGraphs.com.
No. 10 Prospect: RHP Aaron Northcraft
Prospect status has been a long time coming for Northcraft, who was drafted out of high school in the 10th round back in 2009. He has slowly worked his way through the Braves system and is having possibly his best season as a professional this year while repeating Double-A. He’s older now at 24, so his prospect clock is ticking.
No. 9 Prospect: RHP Wes Parsons
Parsons is a rare prospect, as he went undrafted in college and signed with the Braves for a big $200,000 bonus in late 2012. He burst onto the prospect scene last year with a great season at Low-A Rome.
He’s been just as good this season at High-A Lynchburg, posting a FIP (fielding-independent pitching) of 3.05, identical to the number he posted last year. It may be too early to call him the next Brandon Beachy, but Parsons is following a similar path from amatuer to professional that Beachy followed.
No. 8 Prospect: RHP Mauricio Cabrera
An international free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Cabrera started the season off as a member of the talented High-A Lynchburg pitching staff, but went down after only three starts with a forearm injury.
That scary injury has him moving down my prospect list just a bit in favor of two hitters who have excelled this season. When healthy, Cabrera might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher on this list, but that stuff is less refined than those pitchers ahead of him.
No. 7 Prospect: C Victor Caratini
A switch-hitting catcher is a rare thing indeed. Cartini was a second-round pick just last year and is having a good season this year at Low-A Rome.
He has hit for a high average with a line-drive stroke, but has yet to produce much home run power. He should hit for more power as he adds more strength and becomes more confident.
No. 6 Prospect: Outfielder Braxton Davidson
This year’s first-round pick by Atlanta, 32nd overall, debuts on the prospect list at No. 6. Davidson has a higher ceiling than Caratini, with the same high-average hit potential to all fields but more power projection.
The Braves haven’t had an outfield prospect in their system with this much potential since Jason Heyward. That’s not to say that Davidson is as good a prospect as Heyward, but in a system like the Braves' that is very weak with hitting prospects, Davidson easily makes it into the top 10.
No. 5 Prospect: 2B Jose Peraza
Peraza was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela. He burst onto the prospect scene stateside in 2012 as a slick-fielding shortstop with big stolen-base speed.
Atlanta moved him to second base this season since shortstop in Atlanta is anchored for the foreseeable future by Andrelton Simmons.
Peraza has the potential to be a speedy leadoff man and a Gold Glove second baseman with excellent range.
No. 4 Prospect: RHP Jason Hursh
The Braves' first-round pick last year, Hursh went 31st overall. He has a big-time mid-90s fastball, but that has not produced a ton of strikeouts yet. That fastball has a natural sinking motion which makes Hursh more of a sinkerball pitcher than a pure fastball pitcher.
He’s already at Double-A in just his first full season as a pro, so he’s ahead of schedule. He’s got some work to do though, to prove that he’s more than just a pitch-to-contact guy. I’d like to see more strikeouts so that we know he has that as a weapon when he gets into jams.
No. 3 Prospect: RHP J.R. Graham
A fourth-rounder in 2011, Graham was overlooked by a lot of teams because of his small stature. He’s listed at a generous 6'0". Scouts liked him because of his mid-to-high-90s fastball.
He missed most of last year nursing a shoulder injury, and his return to the mound this year has not gone smoothly at times. He’s fighting off plenty of rust, but look for him to have a big second half.
No. 2 Prospect: C Christian Bethancourt
Bethancourt has been quicker to adapt to Triple-A than he was at adapting to Double-A two years ago. He’s the best catch-and-throw receiver in the minor leagues, but his bat is a work in progress.
While his bat is progressing, it is coming along slowly. As a free swinger, Bethancourt may always have a low on-base percentage, but the hope is that his big, lanky frame will eventually produce some consistent power.
No. 1 Prospect: RHP Lucas Sims
The Braves' first-round pick in 2012, 21st overall, Sims is still the top arm in the system and the prospect with the highest ceiling. Part of that prospect pedigree comes from his ability to command three plus pitches—fastball, curve and changeup—and his young age. Sims just turned 20 years old in May and is already pitching at High-A.
While Sims has had some struggles there this year the raw talent remains intact. He’s the best pitching prospect drafted out of high school by the Braves since Adam Wainwright was drafted in 2000.