Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Atlanta Braves

Christian Petersen

Jason Hunt takes a look at a few of the more relevant fantasy prospects from the Atlanta Braves organization.

Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona

AL East: Baltimore

System Overview

The Braves came into the season as an extremely pitching heavy organization, with top pitching prospects Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino all expected to be Major League ready during the season. However, the results were a bit mixed, as Teheran struggled at times in AAA and only ended up throwing 6 innings in the Majors, and Vizcaino ended up traded to the Cubs after missing the whole season with Tommy John surgery. While it is not one of the deepest systems around at this point, there are still some interesting prospects for fantasy purposes.

Graduates in 2012

Andrelton Simmons (SS), Tyler Pastornicky (SS), Randall Delgado (SP), Jose Constanza (OF), Cory Gearrin (RP),

AAA or Higher in 2012

These are prospects who either reached AAA Gwinett or the Majors during the 2012 season. Generally they are expected to see the Majors in 2013, potentially for a significant amount of time.

Julio Teheran (BBRef Statistics)

Teheran came into the year as a top 10 prospect on nearly every major list, but a rough spring training and a full Braves' rotation led the righty to return to AAA Gwinettt to start the 2012 season. Teheran pitched decently through the first couple months, and was called upon for a spot start in June in Atlanta. However, he did not pitch well in that start, and ended up staying in the minors until the end of the AAA season.

I wrote in last year's series that I thought Teheran would be entrenched in the rotation by 2013, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen or not. The talent still appears to be there, but I think that it is important to remember that Teheran still won't turn 22 years old until January. I ranked Teheran at #20 in my early starting pitching rankings, but he probably should be moved up closer to the 10-15 range instead. He may be a buy-low candidate if another owner is scared off by the performance this year, but it is a bit difficult for me to see how he breaks through. The team has Kris Medlen, Tommy Hanson, and Mike Minor locked into rotation spots, and have club options on Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm, not to mention that Brandon Beachy will likely return at some point during the season and Randall Delgado is still in the organization as well.

Sean Gilmartin (BBRef Statistics)

Gilmartin split time in 2012 between AA and AAA, making a combined 27 starts and throwing 157 innings between them. He will start the year in AAA, but I am a bit concerned as to how playing time comes to him in the Majors. He hasn't shown a propensity toward strikeouts, although he has had solid strikeout-to-walk rates in his stints prior to AAA. He's worth looking at in very deep dynasty formats, as he seems like a high-floor type who will end up pitching in the Majors for a while, but the performance may only be slightly better than replacement level for most owners.

AA in 2012

These are prospects who reached AA during the 2012 season, playing for the Braves' Southern League affiliate in Mississippi. These players could see time in Atlanta in 2013, but generally will be more likely to appear in 2014.

Christian Bethancourt (BBRef Statistics)

Bethancourt was promoted to AA to start the 2012 season despite playing only 45 games above Low-A prior to the year. The concerns about Bethancourt coming into the season were entirely on the offensive side of his game, as Bethancourt is considered to be one of the best defensive catchers in the minors right now. We were almost treated to one of the best matchups of basestealer versus catcher in the Futures Game, as Bethancourt and Reds' top prospect Billy Hamilton were both in the game at the same time. However, Hamilton did not end up attempting a stolen base in the game.

Those concerns about his offense appear to be warranted, as Bethancourt struggled to a sub .600 OPS and other reports seem to indicate that he is in a bit over his head at the plate right now. I have to imagine that Bethancourt will be back in AA again next year, and as of right now I would be hard pressed to believe that he will be a viable fantasy option in the next year or so. There is still potential long-term though.

Short Season Ball

The prospects in this group reached one of the short season leagues as their final stop of the season. For the Braves, this could mean the Appy League or the Gulf Coast League.

Lucas Sims (BBRef Statistics)

Sims was the Braves' top draft pick this year, drafted out of a Georgia high school with the 21st overall pick in the draft. He pitched in both the Gulf Coast League as well as the Appalachain League, striking out 39 batters and walking 13 across 34 innings pitched. While it doesn't tell us much since it is a small sample, the reports about Sims coming out of the draft were that he features a fastball in the mid 90s along with a slider and curveball. The Braves are known for drafting high school players out of their backyard, but it sounds like Sims would likely have been drafted in the late first round anyway.

Others of Note

Evan Gattis (C/1B/LF) - Gattis is a bit unusual in terms of prospecting, because he barely reached AA before the age of 26 (by just a few months). That said, he just keeps hitting. He has hit for power at every stop so far, clubbing 22 homers in 2011 and 18 in 2012. He split his time between C, 1B and LF, and if he can prove he can stay in left field or behind the plate, may have a nice role in the future for the Braves.

Joey Terdoslavich (1B) - The Braves moved Terdoslavich extremely rapidly at the start of the season, sending him to AAA and trying to convert him permanently to 3B. That move did not go well, as he struggled to hit there, and also struggled mightily at the position. He struggled so much in fact that the Braves ended up sending him back to AA, and using him primarily as a 1B there. His hitting improved once he got there, and posted a very solid .315/.372/.480 line in AA for the remainder of the season.

Edward Salcedo (3B) - Salcedo was moved to High-A for the 2012 season, and showed decent power and speed (17 HR, 23 SB) this year, but it came at the risk of batting average (.240/.295/.412). It was the second season in a row that he hit below .250, and his conversion to 3B has not gone well so far (40+ errors at the position in each of the last two years). It is still early for him though, and he's definitely worth watching based on the power potential.

Statistics from Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, and Fangraphs

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball

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