Atlanta Braves Prospects Who Should Be Called Up in the Second Half
Tommy La Stella has provided some much-needed production from the second base position following his late-May call-up.
However, the Braves still rank 14th in the National League in runs scored and 11th in average (.242).
Meanwhile, the pitching rotation became thinner with the serious elbow injury to Gavin Floyd.
General manager Frank Wren will be looking to boost his roster to ensure another playoff berth.
He will certainly test the trade market before the deadline but can also look within the organization at some of his prospects.
Here's a look at five guys who should get a call-up in the second half of the 2014 season.
1. Christian Bethancourt
Christian Bethancourt received a September call-up last year, and he should reach the big leagues again in 2014.
The 22-year-old catcher is the top positional prospect in the organization according to most analysts and the No. 2 overall prospect according to MLB.com.
Obviously, the Braves are getting great production from their current catcher, Evan Gattis, who leads all MLB catchers with 16 home runs.
However, the Braves could turn to Bethancourt to take over the catching duties and move Gattis to left field. This move was proposed by MLB.com writer Mark Bowman.
To pull the trigger on this move, the Braves would feel that Bethancourt has progressed enough at the plate.
He's an elite defensive prospect but has just a .293 OBP and .658 OPS for Triple-A Gwinnett this season.
Whether it's as a full-time starter or bench support in September, look for Bethancourt to be promoted during the second half.
2. Todd Cunningham
Similar to Bethancourt, Todd Cunningham made his MLB debut in 2013 before beginning this season in Triple-A.
The 25-year-old outfielder collected two hits in his eight MLB at-bats last year.
Cunningham's game resembles Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer thanks to his speed. Because of that, Cunningham likely won't be getting to Atlanta as long as Schafer is around.
However, he will make a valuable September call-up with his ability to play strong defense in any outfield position while providing the aforementioned speed.
Cunningham has been solid this season for Gwinnett, posting a .275 average and .315 OBP with 10 stolen bases.
He will make a valuable addition late in the season.
3. Phil Gosselin
Dan Uggla's time in Atlanta should be coming to an end shortly.
When that time comes, the Braves should look to promote Phil Gosselin to Atlanta.
The 25-year-old is enjoying his best season in the minor leagues, as he's posted a .328 average and .791 OPS.
Gosselin would fill the role of a utility infielder much better than Uggla.
While Uggla only plays second base, lacks speed and hits for a low average, Gosselin can play multiple positions and get on-base at a higher level.
This move should take place sooner rather than later.
4. J.R. Graham
The Braves have recently turned to the minor leagues to bolster their pitching staff.
Alex Wood will rejoin Atlanta to take the place of Gavin Floyd in the rotation.
Meanwhile, Ryan Buchter, Juan Jaime and Shae Simmons have recently been promoted to strengthen the Atlanta bullpen.
I'd look for J.R. Graham to make an appearance at some point this season—most likely out of the bullpen.
The No. 6 prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com, hasn't been as effective as 2012, which was his last full season in the minors.
He has just a 5.18 ERA in 15 games for Double-A Mississippi this year.
However, before his shoulder injury in 2013, Graham looked like the top young pitcher in the organization by allowing zero earned runs in nine innings of work in spring training.
That shoulder injury paved the way for Wood to solidify his spot on the Braves' staff.
The Braves should be looking to see if Graham can regain that form and see what he can do at the MLB level.
5. Cody Martin
Cody Martin does not have the most impressive stuff in the organization, but he is arguably the most MLB-ready pitcher.
The 24-year-old has posted a 2.90 career minor league ERA and has a 3.17 ERA in 82.1 innings so far this season.
Martin is rated the No. 9 overall prospect in the organization thanks to his effective cutter, curveball and changeup.
Martin projects to be a back-end starter in the MLB and needs an opportunity to break through into an organization.
There's a chance the Braves could look to trade him before the trade deadline.
If not, I'd expect Martin to be a September call-up or possible fill-in starter if the injury bug continues to strike the Braves' rotation.