Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review of John Sickels' Preliminary List of Prospects (Part 2)

Yesterday, I began my look at the preliminary list minor league blogger John Sickels provided for Braves prospects for 2015. The Braves system is pitching heavy and sadly, most of the prospects aren't that good. Whether it was Frank Wren's fault or the heavy graduation rate lately that has built a young major league team, blue chip prospects are hard to find in the Braves system. Today, we look at the fielders who made Sickels list. Originally, there were 41 names, but further updates brought three more. Of those 44, only 16 don't pitch. Yikes. Fortunately, the best prospect the Braves have doesn't pitch. That's something.

Catcher
Christian Bethancourt - I think Sickels could have gotten away with leaving C-Beth off. I discussed him in yesterday's catcher preview so I won't repeat myself much. Suffice it to say...can he hit? That will decide everything.
Tanner Murphy -  Typically, there is a wealth of information about fourth round selections, but the Braves' 2013 pick, Murphy, was a relative unknown. Also a pitcher in high school with 90's heat, Murphy is considered a good catcher and showed great patience last year. The Braves have had great success with catchers in recent years and with Victor Caratini traded, Murphy looks like the next in the line once C-Beth is established in the bigs.

1B
Braxton Davidson - Sickels mentions him as a 1B and there are enough who think that's where his future will be. For now, he has played left field and the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 draft has serious raw power that he didn't show during his first year in the organization. Nevertheless, he has 30 HR type potential and with power in such demand, that could garner some attention provided we see it.

2B
Philip Gosselin - The Goose was loose last year for the Braves and briefly had people believing he should start regularly. But that was more on those starting at second-and-third. Goose is a late bloomer and put up offensive numbers in the minors that stood out last season, especially compared to the four years that preceded it. Could be a decent utility infielder, but that's probably it.

SS
Ozhaino Albies - Talk about a great first season in pro baseball. The switch-hitter continues a great run of scouting out of Curacao. He played at both rookie league squads last year and won't be 18 until January. Nevertheless, he hit .364/.446/.444 with 22 steals and played 2/3's of the time in the APPY League. It wouldn't be surprising to see him in Rome next season. Defensively, reports are minimal, but he apparently has a strong arm. Of all of the Braves' prospects heading into 2015, Albies could be the most exciting.
Johan Camargo - It's a good thing Camargo played well enough to get moved up because Albies is already at his heels. Camargo is considered more of a hitter, though his numbers weren't impressive last season when he spent most of the year at Rome. Another switch-hitter, he might max out as a Martin Prado type, but is probably minor league filler.
Daniel Castro - He's been around for awhile and made it to Mississippi last year to close the season. Saw him impress defensively at shortstop with the Hillcats before his promotion. Your fairly typicaly high-contact, low-K middle infielder.
Jose Peraza - Ladies and gentlemen, your #1 prospect. While Sickels had Peraza listed as a shortstop, he spent most of the year at second base. There is a reason for that: it's his path to the majors with the Braves. Peraza stole 60 bases for the second consecutive year despite an injury limiting him throughout last summer. There is a chance Peraza breaks camp this spring with the second base job. If so, there is a high likelihood that he will pair with Andrelton Simmons to be one of the smoothest double-play combos on the game.
Elmer Reyes - After showing an improving bat the last two seasons that got him to Gwinnett for 55 games to finish the year. He has spent most of his career at second and short, but his future value is limited to being an utility guy. Could push Ramiro Pena this spring if the Braves don't bring in a better option.

3B
Kyle Kubitza - In four years since he was drafted out of Texas State, Kubitza has steadily climbed the latter, including a 2014 campaign where he hit .295/.405/.470 with 21 steals. He's pretty smooth at third if we are to believe reports over defensive numbers, which for minor leaguers, I mostly do. The left-hand hitter does have question marks. He K's a good deal (127 to 133 over the last three years). Does he have the power to stay at the corner infield spot (29 HR in 3 years)? Nevertheless, for us that weep at the idea of Chris Johnson starting at third for the next three years, Kubitza gives us hope.

OF
Todd Cunningham - Can we really call him a prospect anymore? He did add some power to his game last season, but I think his future is pretty limited to a fourth outfielder who will frustrate you as a starter.
Connor Lien - When you draft great high school athletes, sometime you just take a gamble that they put it together. Often, they don't. That's why the draft is so hard and guys who do a better-than-average job at evaluating talent are in such demand (and get paid so well). Lien made his full-season debut, though it wasn't until late May that he got into a game. His numbers did show improvement, but he's still very raw. Could be a breakout sleeper.
Joey Meneses - Hit for the cycle back in May and was a surprise, though an injury limited him to just 62 games. He can play the corner outfield slots or move to first and if he's able to add power to his 6'3" frame, Meneses would become a prospect to keep an eye on.
Victor Reyes - A lot has been said about the potential of Reyes, but his first season above rookie ball was very unimpressive. He's got the athletic body and has some speed, but the power hasn't been there yet and I'm typically not high on guys who prefer to get at-bats over quickly (he rarely walks or K's).
Edward Salcedo - Very few guys the Braves have been high on have been as frustrating as Salcedo. Once a major international free agent, Salcedo has never taken the hype and do much with it. The Braves last year moved him from third-to-right field and this is after he was once a shortstop. He has some pop, but his strikezone recognition is atrocious. Still, he's only 23. There's still some hope.
Kyle Wren - Well, this is awkward. Frank's son has hit .304/.362/.398 since the Braves drafted him in the 8th round back in 2013. He's also swiped 81-of-102 bases. Basically, he's a younger Cunningham that only bats left-handed. Still, he has a shot, especially considering he responded to a promotion to Mississippi by hitting just as well. Should be in Gwinnett next year.

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