Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review of John Sickels' Preliminary List of Prospects (Part 1)

Lost during Saturday's buffet of college football was a list released by John Sickels, who focuses on minor league prospects. A former columnist for ESPN, Sickels has ran the blog minorleaguebaseball.com for some time now and I tend to look forward to his reports on the Braves. On Saturday, he released his preliminary list of prospects in the Braves system. Sickels did his list alphabetically and I'll separate by position. We'll focus on the pitchers for this post, which is far more exhaustive. Sickels later readjusted his list in the comments secton, but I will add all of them together.

RHP
Mauricio Cabrera - I like starting here, even if it was the first right-hander alphabetically, because Cabrera could be a real x-factor. He has tremendous upside, though the results weren't pretty this year as the Braves moved him to the bullpen. Still, if he can control his stuff, Cabrera could be a quick riser.
Johan Carmago - I assume he meant Johan Camargo...who's a shortstop...
John Cornely - Wrote about him as a distant sleeper for the pen. All about control with him.
Garrett Fulenchek - 2014 second-rounder already has mid-90's heat. Big body and lots of potential here, especially if he gets a feel for his slider and change-up. A guy to keep an eye on in Danville next year.
J.R. Graham - What happened? Two years ago, Graham was looking like he might be the next great pitcher for the Braves. Now? 44 games with Mississippi that have gotten worse. Injuries and bad mechanics look to have claimed any chance he becomes what some thought he had the chance to be.
Alec Grosser - An alum of from the high school made famous by Remember the Titans, Grosser threw more innings this year with Danville. Overall pretty good numbers.
Ryne Harper - All he does is put up good numbers. Don't know why I didn't mention him as a bullpen possibility (well, probably because I did it too quick). He really should have been in Gwinnett last year, but I guess roster crunch was keeping him down.
James Hoyt - Signed out of independent ball after 2012, Hoyt looked like a guy who you should keep in mind heading into last season. Instead, he struggled in Gwinnett and was demoted to Mississippi. He finished strong, but you expect 27 year-olds to handle themselves in AA. He was removed by Sickels after originally making the list.
Jason Hursh - Talked about him in the starting rotation article. Had an unimpressive 2014 after being drafted with Atlanta's first pick in 2013. The former Oklahoma State righty gets a bunch of grounders, but hasn't done much to pull away from the pack of Braves prospects that largely include guys classified best as meh.
Nate Hyatt - He repeated the season with Lynchburg and showed some noticeably improved control. With a 11.1 K/9 rate since his 2012 selection, he has some potential.
Juan Jaime - I called him Manny Acosta Jr. a couple of days ago. Still stand behind that. Nice straight fastball that, when timed, goes a long way.
Cody Martin - Innings eater who might become a AAAA guy. Could have a couple of good years, but probably not back-to-back.
Aaron Northcraft - Throws a heavy fastball that hitters often beat into the ground. Probably miscast as a starter, but could be a sleeper guy for the bullpen at some point.
Wes Parsons - Undrafted guy had a little bit of love entering 2014 after posting a 1.02 WHIP in 19 starts for Rome the previous year, but he really struggled in the Carolina League last year. Only gets a mention because the system is so thin.
Williams Perez - Originally a glaring omission, Perez moved onto the list after further review and deserves it. Perez was Mississippi's best starter and logged 133 innings for the M-Braves. I mentioned him in the starter preview, but he'll probably be at Gwinnett next year and if he continues to post solid numbers, he could provide depth to the major league rotation.
Max Povse - A third rounder out of UNC-Greensboro last year who was a fairly polished guy. Throws a low 90's fastball and he mixes in a fine breaking pitch which allowed him to post a 1.12 WHIP in 47.1 ING. A guy to keep an eye on, though I wonder if his ceiling has much height to it.
Greg Ross - Quietly, Ross had a season much like Cody Martin had the year before where he kind of showed up on the scene. He started the year with 79.2 solid frames for Lynchburg and pitched even better in 78 innings for Mississippi. I didn't mention him as an option for the rotation, but if he repeats his success in 2015, he might rocket up some prospect lists despite his unimpressive K rate.
Carlos Salazar - Struggled horribly for Rome in ten starts to open the year, but finished strong out of the Danville pen. Electric arm who is learning how to pitch. Like many minor league relievers, it all comes down to control.
Chad Sobotka - Braves took a chance with minor league closer Sobotka, who didn't pitch in the minors after being drafted out of USC Upstate. He was still dealing with a stress fracture in his back. Sobotka is huge and if he makes a full recovery and switches to starter as expected, the Braves could get massive value out of him.
Shae Simmons - What else needs to be said? Simbrel should be a major asset for the Braves in 2015 if he's healthy.
Lucas Sims - Atlanta's top pitching prospect coming into 2014 didn't have a great year with Lynchburg. His K rate tumbled, but not all is lost. Remember how Julio Teheran struggled a couple of years ago in Gwinnett? Sometimes, pitchers are trying to become better all-around pitchers rather than throw the heat. I think Sims was working on his secondary options, including a good change-up and 12-6 curve, which led to some down numbers. Keep an eye on him. He might return to top 100 lists after 2015.
Andry Ubiera - My column, Random Prospect Sunday, introduces me to all kinds of guys who I then make a mental note to keep tabs on. Ubiera was one of those guys. Like Salazar, he began the year with Rome, but got a quicker boot to Danville. He finished the year there and did pitch better, but the fact that he was basically repeating a level and didn't pitch much better than he did in 2013 takes away the momentum. He lost his spot on the preliminary list to Perez.

LHP
Yean Carlos Gil - Want to talk about impeccable control? 1.9 BB/9 last season for Gil in his first full season above rookie ball. He also tossed a double-header shorten shutout last July 9th, allowing just one hit. For the season, he had a 1.13 WHIP and a 3.6 K/BB rate. There is some hope here. Nevertheless, Sickels removed Gil in his updated list.
Kyle Kinman - Another in the long line of college closers who relies on heat. Drafted in the 25th round, Kinman struck out 43 in just 29.2 ING last season. That placed him fifth on the team, with six more than Povse, who started 11 games. Bonus, he walked just six. Probably in line for innings with Rome, if he keeps pounding the strikezone and hitters keep missing, the southpaw could rise quickly.
Matt Marksberry - Originally left off the list, Marksberry was a 15th rounder out of Cambell University in 2013. He started last year in Lynchburg, but after an early injury, he spent most of the year with the Hillcats, starting 22 games. Whereas Gil has control, but doesn't get that many K's, Marksberry K'd 7.9 per nine and 7.8 with Danville the previous year. Still, I would have kept Gil.
Dilmer Mejia - His inclusion is completely based on potential. Short in stature, but only 17, Mejia was dominating the Dominican Summer League until coming state-side for three starts in the Gulf Coast League. Signed a couple of weeks after his 16th birthday, Mejia is a long way off from taking the ball in Atlanta, but its exciting to dream big.
Luis Merejo - Another young lefty that could surprise some people, but only if he can stay healthy. That has been a difficult task. After just five games in 2013, he missed all of last year with injuries. Never know, but the scouts definitely thought something of his potential.
Chasen Shreve - Made it to the majors last year and pitched very well. Has a chance to carve out a nice amount of time out of the pen next year.
Ian Thomas - Injuries and an odd demotion ruined what was going to be a fine story about a former independent league who makes good on a career last season. He'll have another shot for what could be a wide open left-hander spot.

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