Monday, October 5, 2015

Top 30 Prospects, Post-2015 Edition - #30-21

Back in March, I looked at the Top 30 prospects in the system. In July, I updated the list. Now, with the season over, it seems like a good time to look at the Top 30 once more. This version will have the 2015 draftees make their inaugural appearance. The top international signings will be left out as I don't rank without game action. Like I did with the preseason list, I'll start with the bottom tier this week, rank prospects 11-20 next week, and in two weeks, I'll finish the list with the Top 10. Also like before, I'll give one more player for each position that could play a role in the picture in 2016 once the list is finished.

This list does not mean there won't be changes this winter as Arizona Fall, winter league, and moves lead to a new Top 30 in the spring. This list should be taken as a post-2015 list, not a pre-2016 one. We also have a number of graduations. Players that graduate include traded players and guys who have lost their rookie status. Their midseason rank is included: Matt Wisler (1), Jose Pereza (4), Garrett Fulenchek (21), Dian Toscano (22), Jordan Paroubeck (23), Daniel Castro (26). Further, a handful of players simply dropped out: Alec Grosser (15), Sean Godfrey (27), Ryan Kelly (28), Wes Parsons (29), Tanner Murphy (30). 11 new players made this list so you can imagine the kind of change you'll see.

Previous ranking legend
#20, #25 ...example ranking referring to pre-2015 rank and midseason update respectively.
- ...not ranked
+1 ...made the "And One More" list as a honorable mention

30. Isranel Wilson, OF, Grade: C
Previous Rank: -, -

I recently mentioned in my review of the Tommy La Stella/Arodys Vizcaino trade that the Braves picked up considerable international signing room from that move. Wilson was one of the late signing period pick-ups by the new scouting and development team. After turning 17 in March, Wilson made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League as one of the Braves' aggressive moves in pushing talent. He hit just .222 for the season, but got on base at a high clip (.349) and belted ten homers. Consider that only six players in the system reached double figures in homers and Wilson did it in just 48 games.

Credit: Gondeee
29. Jordan Edgerton, 3B, Grade: C
Previous Rank: +1, 25

Edgerton had some decent press heading into this year as a guy the Braves system liked a lot after being picked in the ninth round out of UNC-Pembroke the previous year. He had looked good with Danville in 2014 with a .275 average, but this year seemed to get worse the longer it continued. After a .770 OPS in April and .771 OPS in June, Edgerton fell off the map the rest of the way. In 41 games, he managed just 27 hits, including just a half-dozen extra base hits (all doubles). He became lost at the plate, striking out 36 times to just four walks. Unlike a lot of prospects the Braves have, Edgerton wasn't young for the South Atlantic League. He barely made this ranking and will need a big 2016 to get back into the picture especially with Austin Riley on his tail.

28. Jason Hursh, RHP, Grade: C
Previous Rank: 15, 16

I've never been a big fan of Hursh, but kept him in my mid-teens ranking as a sign that there must be something here I just don't see. The righty with pitchability, but not much else, stagnated in Mississippi for the second consecutive year before getting moved to the pen in July. He seemed to show a little something extra once that happened. In nine games out of the pen, Hursh went 12 innings with 3 runs allowed, two walks and 9 K's. Not great marks, but good enough to get him a promotion to Gwinnett. He got roughed up in a few games, inflating his ERA to 5.40, but he also couldn't strike out anyone. Groundball relievers have some value and certainly, there is room to compete in the Braves bullpen for 2016, but I'm not high on Hursh taking a spot. Atlanta might try to Sean Gilmartin him this offseason and find a taker.

27. Dilmer Mejia, LHP, Grade: C
Previous Rank: 26, 24

Expectations were high for Mejia this season. Debuting as a 16 year-old in the Dominican Summer League last year, Mejia posted a 0.86 WHIP in 11 starts to go with a smooth 1.68 ERA. It was enough to see the Braves make the pretty rare decision to promote him in-season out of the DSL and give him some time in the Gulf Coast League to get his feet wet. The Nicaraguan lefty returned to the GCL to begin 2015 and a lot of eyes were keeping track of him, but seven games in, something didn't feel right. Control was good and he K'd six in four innings in his final appearance, but he was soon placed on the DL and never made it back. I'm not sure what exactly it was that got him DL'd, but I'm hopeful he rounds back into form for 2016.

Joe Skipper | Getty Images
26. Daniel Winkler, RHP, Grade: C
Previous Rank: +1, +1 

Not a lot was made about the Braves' decision to select Winkler last winter in the Rule 5 draft. He would miss most, if not all, of 2015 and despite striking out a minor-league best 175 batters in 2013, his high-effort delivery and lack of overpowering stuff made him an okay prospect, but no one anyone was beating down the door for. However, Rule 5 picks are fun and small investments. If Winkler failed, the Braves didn't exactly waste much. Winkler would get activated off the DL a few weeks last month and made his debut by striking out two of the three Mets he faced on September 21. Six days later, he got a second shot, but gave up two solo homers in an inning. The Braves will still have to keep Winkler on the active roster if they want to keep him in 2016 and he'll have all winter and spring to make that decision a bit easier for Atlanta.

25. Johan Camargo, SS, Grade: C
Previous Ranks: 23, 20

Camargo is a smooth fielder like Daniel Castro, but he might never hit enough to reach Castro's level. After some impressive numbers in rookie ball between 2012-13, he's had an OBP around .310 with 45 extra base hits. He's one of the players that will get a look in Arizona this fall as a possible stepping stone to bigger things in 2016. A good run might even make him an intriguing trade piece.

24. Juan Yepez, 1B/3B, Grade: C 
Previous Ranks: +1, +1 

Yepez had a lot of doubters after being tabbed as Frank Wren's last significant international signing. The then-16 year-old out of Venezuela had power, but some questioned if he would hit enough or, even if he did, stay at the higher-value third base rather than get moved. The last criticism remains a concern as Yepez played just six games at third base in 2015, though some of that had to be because he often played on an infield with Austin Riley. Yepez did hit .299 in his first professional action between Danville and the Gulf Coast League with four homers and 16 doubles. An .822 OPS from a 17 year-old is impressive, especially when he never faced a pitcher younger than him. The Braves could still use him at third base (he started a game there in the last series), but it remains to be seen if he'll log significant time at the keystone. Either way, his power potential makes him an intriguing option that could easily jump into the Top 20 by the 2016 midseason update.

Elsa | Getty Images
23. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Grade: C 
Previous Ranks: 17, 19

With Cabrera, it's hard to separate the exciting potential in his right arm with the results on the field. He's a guy with triple digit velocity, but often little idea where it is headed. Before the influx of talent from last year's trades, Cabrera was a defacto Top 10 option for the system, but it would have been because of the state of the Braves system more than anything. He came on the scene in 2012 with a 2.97 ERA in 12 Danville starts, but since then, he has been hurt (a lot), ineffective (most of the time), and just maddeningly disappointing. That said, here's the good news. He's been shifted to the pen full-time, which is probably best. He turned 22 in late September so despite five years in the minors, he's still very young. He could be a guy that turns the corner and gets to the Braves bullpen next year. He could also stagnate in AA and become the right-hand version of Carlos Perez, who looked like he could be a star based on potential alone, but ultimately was cut. As for Cabrera, he will be among the Braves prospects in the Arizona Fall League. It could be a big campaign for him.

22. John Gant, RHP, Grade: C 
Previous Rank: -, -

Part of the trade that sent Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets, Gant was the weaker prospect at the time of the trade and spoiler alert, I still rank him as such. That didn't stop Gant from putting together a magical seven start binge to finish the 2015 season. In 40.1 ING, he K'd 43 and allowed just one homer to conclude 2015 with a 1.99 ERA as a member of the Mississippi Braves. Overall, 2014 was a rousing success for Gant, who began the season in high-A for six starts and started 18 games in AA. He had a 8.6 K/9 rate for the year. Still, I struggled to even rank him this high specifically because his game is dependent on deception and pitchability over natural stuff and talent. Nevertheless, he finished strong and will have a chance to get into the AAA picture next year.

21. Lucas Herbert, C, Grade: C 
Previous Rank: -, -

If you're curious, four 2015 draftees make my Top 30 and the lowest ranked of those is Herbert at 21st. Kolby Allard's catcher at San Clemente High School, Herbert was the Braves' second rounder and received a bonus of over a million to sign with the Braves. Unfortunately, a torn meniscus ended his first professional season after just three games, though he did get his first homer. The Braves loved his ability behind the plate and there's enough offense here to get excited. Hopefully, he's able to get healthy and show what he's capable of in 2016.

And that's it for this week! 10 players down, 20 to go. Believe that someone was under-ranked? Over-ranked? Let me know in the comment section.

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