In the second edition of Down on the Farm, I will continue to examine the players who were ranked as the Braves top prospects to begin the 2009 season.
Of the top 10 prospects, two are currently in the majors, one has played in the majors and two have been traded to a different organization. This will be the second part of the breakdown of the Braves top-10 prospects coming into the season, reviewing the Braves prospects ranked 6-10 of 2009.
Cole Rohrbough (SP): After a dazzling first year in professional baseball in 2007, Rohrbough shot up the Braves prospects lists. Despite a mediocre 2008, many still saw Rohrbough as a future starter in the Atlanta rotation.
Thus far in 2009, Rohrbough has yet to find his groove, posting an ERA just under 6 in 12 games started. Batters are hitting .304 against him, and his BABIP is well above league average. A regression to the mean should so some improvement in Rohrbough’s stats, but he will need to step up to live up to the number 5 ranking in the Braves system.
Cole pitched better in the second half of the 2008 campaign, and hopefully will be able to do the same in 2009.
ETA in Majors: 2011
Jeff Locke (SP): Locke, along with Hernandez (who was mentioned in the first part of Down on the Farm) was traded to the Pirates in the deal that brought Nate McLouth to Atlanta.
Like Rohrbough, Locke is another highly touted prospect who has yet to live up to his tremendous promise, although this could be mainly due the injuries he has battled in his brief pro career.
This year, for two different high-A teams, Locke has a 2-7 record with an ERA of 5.23 in 17 starts. Control has been an issue in 2009, as he has 35 walks in 78.1 innings after only 38 in 139.2 innings last year.
The Pirates will need Locke to improve to get what they expected from the McLouth trade.
Julio Teheran (SP): Only 18 years old, scouts raved about Teheran’s amazing arm before last season.
However, 2008 saw Teheran struggle in six starts, as he posted a 6.60 ERA.
2009 has been a different story, as it appears Julio is beginning to live up to his high ranking. In five starts with the Danville Braves (Class A) Teheran has posted a 1-0 record with a 2.05 ERA. Even more astounding is his 6:1 K/BB ratio
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball and change-up, Teheran is still extremely young, and could one day blossom into a top of the rotation starter if he lives up to the hype.
ETA in Majors: 2012
Kris Medlen (SP): Called up to the Majors earlier this year to replace Jo-Jo Reyes, Medlan was demoted to the bullpen when the Braves decided Tommy Hanson was ready.
Medlen absolutely dominated AAA hitters, posting a 1.19 ERA and a 5-0 record before getting the call to Atlanta. With a 44:10 K/BB ratio, Medlen looked ready to succeed in the majors.
As it stands now, Medlen has a 2-3 record with a 5.85 ERA in Atlanta (four starts and seven relief appearances). Walks have hurt Medlen in the majors, but he still has promise and could be a possible trade chip should the Braves look to bring another bat to Atlanta.
His best outing was in his third start, when Medlen pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks while striking out nine batters.
Craig Kimbrel (RP): Currently being groomed as a future closer, Kimbrel was phenomenal in his first year and a half of pro baseball before finally struggling with his first taste of high-A ball.
After posting 10 saves and a 0.90 ERA in Rome (along with a ridiculous 38 strikeouts in only 20 innings), Kimbrel was promoted to Myrtle Beach.
In 15 games at the Beach, Kimbrel has struggled with a 6.98 ERA as he has had control issues while walking 26 batters in just 19.1 innings (although he is still striking out batters at a prolific rate).
A good sign is that Kimbrel has improved each month he has been in high-A, and in five July appearances he has yet to allow a run.
Only 21, the future looks bright for Kimbrel if he can keep his pitches under control.
ETA in Majors: 2011