With the MLB Draft in the rear-view mirror, fans and organizations must focus solely on the 2014 season now. It pays to have a long-term outlook on your team, if only to keep things positive during down weeks. However, even while prospects are concerned, immediate winning should be the ultimate goal.
For the Atlanta Braves, a franchise with a bit of a weak farm system at the moment, calling up some young kid to make a huge impact on the rest of the 2014 season is unlikely. This is especially true since they already revealed some of their hand with the call-ups of second baseman Tommy La Stella and reliever Shae Simmons in recent weeks.
La Stella is off to a great start and is being tried in the leadoff spot for the Braves. Simmons, too, has been very good early in his major league career.
Taking a look at the Braves' top prospects, though, there doesn't appear to be anyone primed for a call-up next.
Infielder Jose Peraza is having a nice year thus far. He may be the Braves' farmhand who is hitting the ball the best right now, but there is nowhere to put him at the major league level. Andrelton Simmons is not going anywhere at shortstop, and La Stella was just added to fill the hole at second. Unless Peraza moves positions again—learning third base—there will be no place for him in Atlanta anytime soon.
A similar problem exists for catching prospect Christian Bethancourt. With Evan Gattis being perhaps the best NL catcher not named Jonathan Lucroy right now, there is no spot open for Bethancourt to vie for. The only reason to call him up would be as a backup, and the Braves have some veterans on the club just for that sole purpose.
Besides that, Bethancourt's bat is not major-league ready, the last few games notwithstanding. The sad truth is it may never be, but the young catcher won't sniff a starting gig anywhere, let alone Atlanta, until he gets on base more than 30 percent of the time.
On the pitching side of things, Atlanta has good rotation depth already in the majors. Aaron Harang has been losing his shine in recent weeks, and Mike Minor still hasn't looked like himself yet this season. But Alex Wood and David Hale are already on the 25-man roster and are viable options to start in a pinch—or for an extended period.
Because of that, the timetable for any of Atlanta's rotation hopefuls in the minors is at least another season, and more in some cases.
J.R. Graham is still being stretched out and handled with kid gloves after last year's shoulder injury. Jason Hursh is just one year removed from the draft himself and still has yet to pitch above Double-A. The same can be said for the organization's number-one prospect, Lucas Sims, although in his case, the level he's still at is Single-A.
Sims has the best stuff out of anyone in the minor leagues for Atlanta, but he's had his troubles this season and is at least two years away from being considered for the big leagues.
It may only be late June, but it certainly appears as though the Braves have already made all the substantial call-ups they are going to make this season. Unless they are a part of a trade for an MLB piece, none of these prospects are going to help Atlanta win the division in 2014.
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