Today we are taking a look at the season in review for the Atlanta Braves hitting prospects. It was a tough year for the Braves system, at least when it came to hitters. They graduated players from the minor league ranks to the major league level. Players such as Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons. Injuries and slumps plagued all levels of this system and there really isn’t a player that you can point at and call them an elite prospect. Still, the Braves seem to find gems out there and develop them into useful major league players. Keep an eye on the young group of players from Panama. No other organization goes after the Panamanian players like the Braves do.
AAA Gwinnett Braves
Tyler Pastornicky, SS – Age 22 – After spending some time in the majors early in the season, Pastornicky was sent back to AAA for a while. He hit .268 with 1 HR, 1 Triple, 15 Doubles, 15 Runs, 20 RBI, and 3 SB to go with a 21/11 K/BB ratio over 153 at bats with Gwinnett. No longer considered a prospect, Pastornicky is hitting .242 with 2 HR, 1 Triple, 6 Doubles, 21 Runs, 13 RBI, 2 SB to go with a 32/10 K/BB ratio over 165 at bats. He’s settling into a reserve role behind Andrelton Simmons.
Joey Terdoslavich, 1B – Age 24 – After a breakout 2011 season at High-A, Atlanta promoted Terdoslavich to AAA to start the 2012 season. There was thoughts that he would see time in the majors during the season. Unfortunately, quite the opposite occurred as he could not handle AAA pitching. He posted a triple slash of .180/.252/.263 over 194 at bats before being shuttled down to AA. Things turned around for Terdoslavich there, he hit .315 with 5 HR, 5 Triples, 24 Doubles, 43 Runs, 51 RBI, and 4 SB to go with a 62/27 K/BB ratio. Obviously his failure at AAA has delayed his time-table a bit, but he should get another whack at it in 2013.
AA Mississippi Braves
Andrelton Simmons, SS – Age 23 – The native from Curaco was a 2nd round pick in 2010. After spending time at Mississippi early this season, Simmons made his major league debut in June and stayed with the club until he broke his right pinkie in July. He was on the disabled list until September and though he’s playing, he’s been battling a should problem since returning. He hit .293 with 3 HR, 2 Triples, 9 Doubles, 29 Runs, 21 RBI, and 10 SB to go with a 20/20 K/BB ratio over 174 at bats at AA. Simmons is no longer a prospect and is hitting .301 with 3 HR, 2 Triples, 8 Doubles, 17 Runs, 19 RBI, and 1 SB to go with a 21/12 K/BB ratio over 156 big league at bats. He should be the undisputed SS for the Braves going into next spring and if he can stay healthy, could be a decent one for years to come.
Todd Cunningham, OF – Age 23 - Cunningham was also a 2nd round pick for the Braves in 2010. He’s made slow, yet steady progress in his 3 years in professional baseball. He hit .309 with 3 HR, 6 Triples, 23 Doubles, 77 Runs, 51 RBI, and 24 SB to go with a 51/38 K/BB ratio over 466 at bats on the season in AA. He should get a look next spring in Braves camp, but will likely open the season at AAA.
Christian Bethancourt, C – Age 21 – Bethancourt, who is a pretty raw talent and still pretty new on the job as a catcher, was lost for the season on August 12th with a broken hand. He hit .243 with 2 HR, 1 triple, 5 Doubles, 30 Runs, 26 RBI, and 8 SB to go with a 45/11 K/BB ratio over 268 at bats. He just turned 21 in September and should be back on track next spring, he’s very talented.
Joe Leonard, 3B – Age 24 - The 3rd round pick from the 2010 draft stands 6’5″ and is 215 pounds, yet hasn’t found much of a power stroke in his 3 seasons in the Braves organization. He hit .263 with 9 HR, 3 Triples, 22 Doubles, 56 Runs, 66 RBI, and 6 SB to go with a 88/48 K/BB ratio over 426 at bats. It’s not a huge line for a guy who turned 24 in late August, but it should be good enough for a spring training invite and spot on the AAA roster in 2013.
Evan Gattis, C – Age 26 - Tom Belmont wrote of Gattis last spring “Gattis has quite the story, never making it to college, being a traveler for 3 years before finally coming back to baseball. He’s a solid defender with a good arm. He’s well behind on his development, but has plus power and solid hitting ability. He’s going to strikeout at a pretty high clip as he advances but the power is there. If he makes it to the majors its quite the story.” True enough, Gattis jumped all over High-A Carolina League pitching, posting a ridiculous OPS of 1.289 which included 9 HR over 78 at bats. The Braves then promoted him to AA, but injured himself while attempting to lift bags into an overhead compartment on the team bus. He never fully regained his strength, hitting .258 with 9 HR, 4 Triples, 13 Doubles, 24 Runs, 37 RBI, and 1 SB to go with a 29/20 K/BB ratio over 182 at bats at AA. He did finish the season with a combined .995 OPS and 18 HR over 272 at bats. We’re still pulling for him to make it to the majors, and baring further injuries that could happen at some point in 2013.
High-A Lynchburg Hillcats
Tommy La Stella, 2B – Age 23 - The 2011 8th round pick reached out radar after last season’s stellar performance in the SALLY. He dealt with a couple of injuries in 2012, but managed to hit .299 with 6 HR, 6 Triples, 22 Doubles, 47 Runs, 56 RBI, and 13 SB to go with an excellent 25/40 K/BB ratio over 311 at bats. He should be the starting 2B at AA in 2013, and with a healthy productive season, could see a late season call up to the Braves.
Matt Lipka, OF – Age 20 - The 2010 1st round draft pick strikes a nerve with many Braves fans who felt that there was far better options on the board. After a disappointing 2011 campaign there was little to celebrate in 2012, as a hamstring injury ended his season in late June. He hit .271 with 2 HR, 1 Triple, 5 Doubles, 32 Runs, 13 RBI, and 12 SB to go with a 32/20 K/BB ratio over 199 at bats. He’ll be 21 at the start of the 2013 season, and High-A is probably where he will try to kick-start things again. It’s too soon to call him a bust, but clearly things need to turn around for Lipka.
Nick Ahmed, SS – Age 22 - The 2011 2nd round draft pick played in his first full season league in 2012. He hit .269 with 6 HR, 4 Triples, 36 Doubles, 84 Runs, 49 RBI, and 40 SB to go with a 102/49 K/BB ratio over 506 at bats. He will work on his contact rate and working the count this fall with the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the AFL. He should land at AA next season and could be a player to watch in 2013.
Edward Salcedo, 3B – Age 21 – The 2010 Dominican signee saw his power improve in 2012, but at the expense of his K and BB rate. He hit .240 with 17 HR, 2 Triples, 26 Doubles, 65 Runs, 61 RBI, and 23 SB to go with an ugly 130/33 K/BB ratio. He can’t go any further like this, but the Braves intend to work on this raw talent this fall in the AFL and next spring. If they can get him to stop swinging at everything and to take a walk, he very well could turn into a 30/30 guy. But a lot has to go right before we get crazy with that notion.
Low-A Rome Braves
Ross Heffley, 2B – Age 22 – Making in pro debut, the 2012 18th round draft pick jumped right into full season ball with Rome, hitting .296 with 4 HR, 1 Triple, 13 Doubles, 42 Runs, 24 RBI, and 10 SB to go with a 36/18 K/BB ratio over 233 at bats. He’s the pesky Tyler Pastornicky/Tommy La Stella type player that the Braves love. He doesn’t have the tools to be a star, but he may make his way as a useful utility type infielder.
William Beckwith, 1B – Age 22 – The Braves have been taking it slow with their 2010 21st round draft pick, spending 2010 in the GCL, 2011 in the Pioneer League, and all of 2012 in the Sally. There’s some obvious power potential there and surprisingly enough, he’s no slouch on the base paths either. He hit .291 with 15 HR, 26 Doubles, 52 Runs, 78 RBI, and 17 SB to go with a 92/33 K/BB ratio over 381 at bats. We’ll see how he deals with off speed stuff at High-A in 2013.
Tony Mueller, OF – Age – 22 – The 2011 13th round pick didn’t get off to a great start to his pro career in 2011. He posted a triple slash of .219/.246/.268 over 224 at bats. This season wasn’t a lot better, posting a slash of .266/.335/.285 over 421 at bats. There is absolutely no power to speak of, however he did swipe 29 bases. He will be 23 when the 2013 season starts and there really isn’t a whole lot to get excited about here.
Elmer Reyes, 2B – Age 21 - We talked a little bit about the 2009 signee from Nicaragua after his North American debut in 2010, when he posted a solid .835 OPS in 216 at bats. Since then, he’s had over 600 at bats in the SALLY and there hasn’t been much to talk about. He hit .251 with 5 HR, 6 Triples, 26 Doubles, 49 Runs, 36 RBI, and 5 SB to go with a 64/15 K/BB ratio over 379 at bats this season. He’s struggling with pitch recognition and that isn’t a good sign in attempt to make it to higher levels.
Kyle Kubitza, 3B – Age 22 – The 2011 3rd round draft pick hit .239 with 9 HR, 9 Triples, 24 Doubles, 68 Runs, 59 RBI, and 18 SB to go with a 127/73 K/BB ratio over 448 at bats in his 2nd season of pro ball. At 6’3″ and 190 pounds there may still be more power left from him. He’s going to need to cut down on the strikeouts. 2013 will be a telling season for Kubitza.
Brandon Drury, 3B – Age 20 – The 2010 13th round pick didn’t light the Braves world on fire this season as he did in 2011. After posting an .891 OPS in the APPY, Drury went on to hit .229 with 6 HR, 3 Triples, 22 Doubles, 47 Runs, 51 RBI, and 3 SB to go with a 73/20 K/BB ratio over 445 at bats. He’s got some work to do, especially picking his pitches better, but he will move on to High-A in 2013 as one of the Braves top prospects.
Rookie-A Danville Braves
Jose Peraza, SS – Age 18 – The young Venezuelan hit .281 and stole 28 bases as a 17-year-old in the DSL in 2011. This season he hit .296 with 1 HR, 3 Triples, 7 Doubles, 38 Runs, 28 RBI, and 25 SB to go with a 24/13 K/BB ratio over 206 at bats with about 60% of those ab’s coming in the APPY, while the rest came in the GCL. He’s an interesting prospect that could stick at SS and will be one to watch out for in 2013.
Blake Brown, OF – Age 21 – The 2012 5th round draft pick hit .201 with 4 HR, 1 Triple, 6 Doubles, 27 Runs, 20 RBI, and 10 SB to go along with a 72/25 K/BB ratio over 179 at bats in his pro debut. He had a reputation at Missouri for having a lot of patience, but not much contact. Not a great sign.
Josh Elander, C – Age 21 – The 2012 6th round draft pick from Texas Christian hit .260 with 4 HR, 2 Triples, 6 Doubles, 19 Runs, 19 RBI, and 3 SB to go with a 19/16 K/BB ratio over 123 at bats in his professional debut. He has some pop and has excellent bat speed, so he shouldn’t have any trouble hitting, the question is will he stay at catcher?
Tyler Tewell, C – Age 21 – Tewell was a 2012 14th round draft pick from Appalchian State, so debuting in the APPY was right at home for the backstop. He hit .308 with 3 HR, 1 Triple, 9 Doubles, 13 Runs, 27 RBI, and 1 SB to go with a 16/3 K/BB ratio over 107 at bats, most of which coming in the GCL. There’s a good chance that Tewell will start with Danville in 2013, which doubles as the Braves Short Season A and Rookie league team.
Ronald Luna, 1B – Age 20 – The 6’0″ 145 pound Colombian hit .292 with 1 HR, 6 Doubles, 24 Runs, 18 RBI, and 6 SB to go with a 25/5 K/BB ratio over 161 at bats in his 3rd pro season, 1st in states. The HR was his 1st and only one in his career. If 1B is the only place that he can play, his days may be numbered.
Trenton Moses, 3B – Age 23 - The 2012 26th round draft pick hit .298 with 3 HR, 10 Doubles, 19 Runs, and 18 RBI to go with a 28/8 K/BB ratio over 131 at bats in his pro debut. He’s going to be 24 at beginning of next season and is behind the curve. He will likely start out at Low-A Rome.
Levi Hyam, 2B – Age 22 – The 2012 19th round draft pick hit .254 with 5 HR, 10 Doubles, 33 Runs, 28 RBI, and 7 SB to go with a 38/20 K/BB ratio over 177 at bats in his 1st go in pro ball. That’s pretty much the line he carried his senior season at Georgia, which was disappointing after 2 seasons of hitting over .330.
Casey Kalenkosky, 1B – Age 22 - The 2012 30th round draft pick hit .241 with 2 HR, 10 Doubles, 17 Runs, 14 RBI, and 1 SB to go with a 30/18 K/BB ratio. He displayed quite a bit of power in his freshman season at Texas State, however that power was sapped in his sophomore season in 2012 and that’s why he fell so far. Hopefully that will return in 2013.
Rookie-A GCL Braves
Bryan De La Rosa, C – Age 18 – The 5’8″ 193 pound 2012 3rd round draft pick posted a triple slash of .162/.194/.221 over just 68 at bats in his pro debut. That doesn’t really tell the story about this kid from Puerto Rico who attended the Bucky Dent Baseball School in Delray Beach, Florida. He’s got excellent catching skills, including a strong throwing arm, quick and controlled releases, as well as superior blocking skills. He’s an aggressive hitter with a line drive swing and some lift. He’s an interesting one to watch in 2013.
Justin Black, OF – Age 19 – The 2012 4th round pick did not get off to a very impressive beginning to his pro career. He hit .182 with 2 HR, 1 Triple, 2 Doubles, 15 Runs, 7 RBI, and 3 SB to go with a 54/19 K/BB ratio over in 132 at bats on the season.
Mike Dodig, 3B – Age 19 – The 2012 10th round pick hit .174 with 2 HR, 1 Triple, 5 Doubles, 10 Runs, 11 RBI, 2 SB to go with a 37/8 K/BB ratio over 132 at bats. He’s a big kid that’s going to be a little bit of a project for the Braves.
Connor Lien, OF – Age 18 – The 2012 12th round draft pick from Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida hit .228 with 2 Triples, 4 Doubles, 30 Runs, 11 RBI, with 15 SB to go with a 49/19 K/BB ratio over 149 at bats in his pro debut.
Rookie-A DSL Braves
Johan Camargo, 2B – Age 18 – Panama – Hit .343 with 2 HR, 1 Triple, 14 Doubles, 38 Runs, 26 RBI, 6 SB, and a 27/25 K/BB ratio over 198 at bats. The Braves tend to have good fortune with players from Panama.
Iosif Bernal, OF – Age 17 - Panama – Hit .259 with 1 HR, 11 Doubles, 20 Runs, 26 RBI, 6 SB, and a 48/21 K/BB ratio over 139 at bats. I loved what I saw from his international competitions and perfect game outings. He’s 6’3″ and 200 pounds and should hit for decent power. He’s one to watch out for as he should come state side in 2013.
Ibrahim McKenzie, 1B – Age 18 – Panama – Hit .257 with 6 HR, 2 Triples, 8 Doubles, 22 Runs, 26 RBI, 2 SB, and a 50/16 K/BB ratio over 206 at bats. Big power potential, big hole in his swing.
Victor Reyes, OF – Age 17 - Venezuela – Hit .296 with 3 Doubles, 40 Runs, 33 RBI, 12 SB, and a 39/31 K/BB ratio over 162 at bats.
Miguel Rivero, OF – Age 18 – Venezuela – Hit .292 with 3 Triples, 4 Doubles, 24 Runs, 19 RBI, 3 SB, and a 30/14 K/BB ratio over 137 at bats.
Alejandro Piloto, OF – Age 20 – Cuba – Piloto signed with the Cubs in late June, but was limited by an injury. He posted a triple slash of .333/.385/.361 with 7 SB and an 8/2 K/BB in just 36 at bats. The Pioneer League seems like the right destination for him in 2013.
Eugenio Diaz, 1B – Age 17 – Venezuela – Hit .318 with 3 Doubles, 5 Runs, and 10 RBI, and a 28/7 K/BB ratio over 88 at bats in his pro debut.
Isael Henriquez, OF – Age 18 - Dominican Republic – Triple slash of .306/.409/.361 with 2 SB and a 15/5 K/BB ratio over 36 at bats.
Gerald Chin, 2B – Age 19 – Panama – Triple slash of .291/.345/.405 and a 14/7 K/BB ratio over 79 at bats.
Omar Obregon, SS – Age 18 – Nicaragua – Triple slash of .269/.419/.290 with 7 SB and a 19/21 K/BB ratio over 93 at bats.
Fernan Zuniga, C – Age 17 - Panama – Very young and very raw. Only appeared in a dozen or so games, will repeat DSL in 2013.
That does it for our review of the Braves organizational hitting for 2012. Check back soon for our review of their pitching, as well as continuing on with each club.
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