Braves Top Prospects: Who's the Real Deal? Pt. 1
This is the first installment of my look into the Braves prospects.
I am looking to see who has potential to impact the Braves within the next few years.
I have always believed that the success of the major league team is 90 percent dependent on their minor league system and player development.
Here are the first five players the Braves have in their minor league system that I believe will impact the Braves within the next few years.
As we all know by now, Jason Heyward is currently baseball's number one prospect. He is everything you could want in a right fielder. Power, speed, plate discipline, above average defense. You name it, They Jay Hey Kid has it.
It is merely a matter of time before Heyward makes an impact for, not only the Braves, but all of major league baseball. I believe he will earn the opening day start in right field during spring training and simply never let it go.
Worst case scenario, Heyward is a midseason call-up who gives the Braves a second-half boost like Hanson did this past year.
Watch out baseball world...Jason Heyward is here to stay.
Julio Teheran is going to be something special. He is a fairly polished pitcher for a 19-year old. He has a solid fastball with a plus change. His curve ball is a continual work in progress, but has a good break and will continue to get better.
I strongly believe that Teheran will be a fine addition in the Braves' rotation in 2011 or 2012. He has the potential to be the Braves' number two starter behind Tommy Hanson (that's right, ahead of Jurrjens, he is that talented). I can't wait for this young man to develop.
I know I am probably the only one who thinks this, but if he has a great 2010 campaign I wouldn't be overly shocked to see him pitch a couple innings in the Braves' bullpen in September.
The prize of the Vazquez trade, Arodys Vizcaino, is basically Julio Teheran version 2.0. Both of them are 19-year old right-handed stud pitching prospects with huge potential.
I didn't know much about Vizcaino before the trade, but everything I have read and seen says he could be an absolute stud. He has a mid-90s fastball with a great curve. Needs to work on his command more, but I love seeing 52 K's in 42 innings out of a starter.
Give him time, he will someday join Hanson, Jurrjens, Teheran in the Braves' rotation.
Standing right behind Heyward in the Braves offensive prospects is highly touted first base prospect Freddie Freeman. I do realize I have Freeman ranked lower than most, but I think this is more due to my love of our young talented pitching than a knock on Freeman.
After an incredible 2008 campaign, Freeman's prospect status exponentially grew.
He came somewhat back to earth in 2009. His numbers dropped pretty much all around from 2008 to 2009. Yet, he still projects to be our first basemen in 2011. At the major league level, I see him as a great doubles hitter with average power for a first basemen. I think he will project as a solid No. 5 hitter.
Craig Kimbrel will someday be the closer for the Atlanta Braves. He has simply overwhelming stuff.
This young man has accumulated 159 strikeouts in 95 1/3 minor league innings. A staggering statistic. (For those of you math nerds like me out there...that's 15.0 K's per nine innings)
Kimbrel's has one glaring weakness at this point, he walks too many batters. If he can control his walks, he will join the Braves sometime in 2010.
I strongly believe he will take the reigns as the Braves' closer in 2011 or 2012 when Billy Wagner's contract is up.
The Braves top selection in the 2009 draft has one thing that makes him stand out in the Braves' organization. He is the most talented left-handed starting pitcher in the entire Braves organization. (I am calling you out Joke-Joke Reyes)
Minor could be a very solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher. I don't see him as having the extremely high ceiling as other Braves pitchers, but he could have a very successful career in the majors.
He seems to generally have the knowledge on how to pitch, which when lacking can be a huge hindrance to pitching prospects, but he simply knows how to pitch.
A lot of people believe he was selected by the Braves before he should have been, but he did nothing but impress when he did pitch in 2009 (14 innings, 1 ER, and 17 K's).