Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 21
However, losers of two in a row, Atlanta sits a distant eight games back in the NL East. The Braves are also currently behind both the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants for the NL wild-card spots.
With a final push toward fall baseball in their crosshairs, the final week of August is an excellent time to check in on how the team's top prospects have been performing lately.
Those who are the most skilled or playing the best could be due for a September call-up to the big club when rosters expand next week.
No. 10: Juan Jaime
Relief pitcher Juan Jaime has been bounced around all season between the major and minor leagues. He was with the big club earlier this month but was once again sent down prior to last week.
Since this demotion, Jaime has seen action in four games, throwing 3.1 innings. He struck out five batters while walking two and allowed a run in one appearance.
His performance while in the majors was not terrible and didn't necessarily deserve to result in him being sent down.
His limited action since returning to the minors has also not been bad. Jaime is on a pretty even trajectory at this point.
No. 9: Wes Parsons
After injuries and unspoken innings limits, Wes Parsons is churning out a forgettable 2014 season. He also isn't turning things around late in the year to really salvage anything.
Parsons has allowed multiple runs in 15 of his 21 outings this season. That includes allowing nine runs in his last two outings—6.0 total innings—alone.
While Parsons still has a shot at being a major league contributor, this year may be a lost cause in terms of his development, unless September is unlike any other month he's put together all season.
No. 8: Jason Hursh
At Double-A all season, Jason Hursh has made 26 appearances—25 of them starts. He is currently on a string of five consecutive wins when he is the pitcher of record. Of course, none of those wins came this past week.
Hursh threw two starts, failing to get out of the second inning in one and getting peppered for nine hits in the other.
It isn't evident why he was pulled from the first performance, as he hadn't allowed any runs.
He similarly limited the damage in his most recent outing. Nine hits were joined by just two runs allowed and no walks while striking out four.
The overall ERA has been splendid this entire month; the baserunners allowed, not so much. Hursh will have to work on limiting people who get to first base instead of relying on stranding runners.
No. 7: Kyle Kubitza
Kyle Kubitza would fit right in on the major league roster of these most recent Braves incarnations.
He is hitting for a good average but feels some sort of personal ownership of the strikeout. In his last five games, Kubitza has 21 at-bats and eight strikeouts.
The good thing is, the rest of Kubitza's game at the plate seems just as defined. He is getting on base at a great clip and scoring runs when the opportunity arises.
Perhaps for a different organization, Kubitza's inability to make contact so often would be a detriment to his future. With Atlanta, coaches have come to expect nothing less.
No. 6: J.R. Graham
Things are not going well for J.R. Graham in 2014. He has battled through some injuries, lost his job as a starting pitcher and has struggled coming out of the bullpen.
On August 22, Graham threw 1.1 innings and didn't allow any runs. It was his first scoreless appearance in his last four, though.
Since being pushed out of the Double-A rotation, Graham has gotten into six games. Three of them were devastating; three others were ordinary at best.
No. 5: Braxton Davidson
In the middle of August, Braxton Davidson made the move from the Gulf Coast League to the Appalachian League. Since the move, he has played just seven games, collecting hits in three of them. He also managed five walks.
To go along with that production, Davidson struck out seven times, including in each of his past three ballgames.
Of course, just making a move up in leagues should be good enough to consider Davidson's stock on an upward trend. Once more time passes, we can start to point to specific figures and make some judgments off of those.
No. 4: Mauricio Cabrera
Mauricio Cabrera has bounced around a bit this season between High-A and rookie ball, and between starting and coming out of the bullpen.
When he first made the move to the pen back in late June, Cabrera adapted rather well. More recently, things have not gone as well.
In his latest outing, Cabrera allowed four runs, three walks and a hit while not recording a single out.
It was a poor sign for the final stretch of his season, one in which he probably had hoped to continue progressing as a starting pitcher in A-ball. Now, he may have to start again from square one in 2015.
No. 3: Jose Peraza
Jose Peraza has been Atlanta's top-performing prospect this season.
He was due to give the team brass a tough September call-up decision with the way he was playing, even if there was no spot in the majors for him to get at-bats at his natural position of shortstop.
Peraza would have been in line to battle for September at-bats as the team's second baseman and may have even battled for the starting role.
However, Peraza has not played since August 12 because of a leg injury that forced him onto the disabled list. Any plans to see what Peraza is capable of at the highest level are put on hold.
No. 2: Christian Bethancourt
The current similarities between Peraza and catching prospect Christian Bethancourt are rather remarkable.
Like Peraza, Bethancourt has been one of Atlanta's better prospects and was deserving of a September call-up to the majors. He actually spent a little time in Atlanta already this season.
Also like Peraza, Bethancourt's position is blocked in MLB by a very good player, in this case Evan Gattis.
Lastly, Bethancourt hasn't had any at-bats since August 16 and recently headed to the disabled list. How long he is out will determine what he is able to contribute to the team making a playoff push. This week, however, has been a loss for him.
No. 1: Lucas Sims
By far the Braves' best starting pitching prospect, Lucas Sims' development has been closely followed.
Most of this season, it seemed like Sims would not have gained much from this year other than the experience of pitching in High-A ball.
His numbers were sloppy. He had been allowing way too many walks and home runs. Sims wasn't getting the job done.
Recently though, Atlanta's top young guy has been better.
Sims' latest start was one of his better ones all year, even though he got the loss. He threw 6.0 innings, allowing one walk and one earned run while striking out five batters. He also kept all balls in the field of play for the second straight outing.
If Sims finishes out the year limiting his allowed home runs and walks, confidence should be high for next season.