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Down on The Farm: Atlanta Braves’ Minor League System Packed with Talent

June 30th, 2011 at 11:55 PM
By Jonathan McCullough

 

The Atlanta Braves have always done one thing consistently well for the last twenty-five years: draft and develop young players. That hasn’t changed. They currently have the third ranked farm system in the major leagues according to Baseball America.  

The Atlanta Braves are loaded with pitching prospects. Julio Teheran (#5), Randall Delgado (#35), and Mike Minor (#37) are all in Baseball America’s top 50 prospects, while Arodys Vizcaino (#93) is in the top 100. They have all put up great numbers in their respective leagues, with the following numbers this season:

Teheran (AAA): 8-1, 1.79 ERA, .95 WHIP, 72 K’s in 85 2/3 IP
Delgado (AA): 4-4, 3.68 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 72 K’s in 80 2/3 IP
Minor (AAA): 3-2, 2.74 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 68 K’s in 65 2/3 IP
Vizcaino (High-A and AA): 4-3, 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 72 K’s in 71 2/3 IP

These numbers become even more impressive when their ages are taken into account. The Braves’ “big three” – Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino – are all 21 years of age or younger.

The Braves have such an abundance of pitching prospects that their lower tier prospects often get overshadowed. Carlos Perez, JJ Hoover and Brett Oberholtzer would be top pitching prospects for most teams. Those pitchers fly under the radar because Teheran, Delgado, and Vizcaino are so well known, but they are highly regarded by the Braves front office. They have posted the following numbers so far this season:

Perez (Low-A): 4-7, 5.01 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 80 K’s in 88 IP
Hoover (AA and AAA): 2-6, 3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 72 K’s in 75 IP
Oberholtzer (AA): 4-8, 4.26 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 70 K’s in 88 2/3 IP

Perez has had a very inconsistent season, but he is only 19 years old and has a high ceiling. Another name to keep an eye on is Paul Clemens, a right-hander for the Mississippi Braves. He currently has a 5-4 record with a 3.42 ERA.

The position prospects pale in comparison to the pitchers, but the Braves do have some potential major league starters. Tyler Pastornicky, a shortstop acquired in the Yunel Escobar trade last season, is batting .294 with 5 homers, 33 RBI and 18 steals in Mississippi this season. He is quickly establishing himself as a possible replacement for Alex Gonzalez next season.

Edward Salcedo, a third baseman for the Rome Braves, is a highly touted international signing who has been plagued by inconsistency until this season. He is currently hitting .274 with 9 homers, 35 RBI and 13 steals. He is a potential replacement for Chipper Jones, but as a 19 year old in low-A, he still has a long way to go.

Christian Bethancourt, a 19 year old catcher, has split time between low-A Rome and high-A Lynchburg, hitting .292 with 4 homers, 35 RBIs, and 6 steals. He is an excellent defensive catcher who is now showing he can hit the ball.

Adam Milligan, an outfielder for Lynchburg, is finally healthy and putting up some great numbers. He is hitting .286 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs.

The Braves minor league system is loaded with talent. Some prospects will be cornerstones of the franchise, while others won’t ever make it to the majors. Others will likely be traded away to upgrade the talent on the big league club. There is one certainty, however. The Braves will continue to do what they do best: draft and develop young players.

Tags: Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, MLB, prospects, Randall Delgado

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