Atlanta Braves Top-10 Right Handed Starting Pitching Prospects: 1-5

Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor are good, but Julio Teheran may be better.

Continuing from yesterday here are the top-5 RHP prospects.

1. Julio Teheran – B/T: R/R, Born: 01/27/1991, Ht: 6'2", Wt: 150 – After teasing Braves fans with tantalizing scouting reports and short bursts of dominance over the past two season, Julio Teheran finally put it all together for one of the best seasons in the minors this year. He dominated opposition that was generally 2-6 years older than him by using an overpowering fastball that he could spot anywhere along with a solid curve and change. Between Rome, Myrtle Beach and Mississippi Teheran compiled a 2.59 ERA in 142.2IP, 108 HA, 40BB and 159K. The most frightening aspect of his game is that he still has room to improve with a small frame that could add weight, velocity and durability and two offspeed pitches which are good but both have the potential to be plus. Julio has all the tools to be a legit #1 starter with the only flag being his durability after being shut down in two different seasons with arm issues. He stayed healthy in 2010 however, and the results were astounding. If everything continues on course for him you could see him start the year in AAA with a chance to be the third 20 year old to play for Atlanta in 2 years.

2. Randall Delgado -- B/T: R/R, Born:02/09/1990, Ht: 6'3", Wt: 165 – For about 2/3 of the season Delgado was Nightwing to Teheran's Batman: similar in a lot of ways, not quite as good as the original, but still pretty bad ass. Unlike Teheran, Delgado started the year at Myrtle Beach and was the best pitcher in the league at the time of his promotion to Mississippi. He held his own in the Southern League as a 20 year old with an ERA of 4.74 (though his 3.55 FIP indicates he was the victim of some poor defense). Delgado's repertoire is similar to Teheran's with a fastball that sits from 90-94 topping out at 96 with a solid curve and change that he mixes in. The separation between the two pitchers is in their command and pure stuff. Teheran is probably a full grade better in both categories making which means Delgado is just a "very good" pitching prospect. The perfect world scenario for Randall is that his command comes together and one of his offspeed pitches progresses into a true outpitch which would give him front of the rotation stuff. As he is now he is going to be a good #2 or 3 in the majors. Look for him to start 2010 in either Mississippi or Gwinnett depending on how the ML and AAA rosters fall.

3. Arodys Vizcaino – B/T: R/R, Born: 11/13/1990, Ht: 6'0", Wt: 189 – The real centerpiece to the Javier Vazquez trade, Arodys Vizcaino was riding a lot of hype coming into 2010 with a few scouts saying he was a better prospect than Teheran. For 3 months he gave Julio a run for his money, highlighted by a 33 inning stint in Rome (across 5 games) where he did not allow an earned run or a walk. He received a promotion to Myrtle Beach and pitched in 3 games before he was shut down for 2 months with an elbow strain. Vizcaino has all the talent in the world with a 90-94 FB and a hammer curveball that is currently the best in the system. Going forward his health and the development of his change are going to be the deciding factors in his future in Atlanta. Will he be a dominant late inning reliever? Or will he be durable and versatile enough to realize his potential as a frontline starting pitcher? Look for him to pick back up in Myrtle Beach next season with a chance to quickly jump to Mississippi if everything clicks.

4. Brandon Beachy – B/T: R/R, Born: 09/03/1986, Ht: 6'3", Wt: 215 – The story of Brandon Beachy is pretty well known by now: a Braves scout sees Beachy pitch (after not getting drafted) in a game where he was watching someone else, signs Beachy the next day, he spends two seasons as a solid swingman/closer across 4 levels of minor league ball and then explodes onto the prospect scene in 2010 by dominating as a closer and then moving to the rotation mid-year and becoming more dominant eventually becoming the minor league ERA leader and making 3 starts in Atlanta. Between 3 levels of play (Miss, Gwin and Atl) he never posted a FIP above 2.51 and maintained a K/9 of 9.0. He throws a sinking 2 seam fastball ranging from 92-94, a curve that flashes from solid average to plus and a developing change that was the real key to his break out season and his success in the rotation. No player in the minors made a bigger jump in recognition than Brandon (winning an ERA title can do that) and he will look to deliver on that next season in Atlanta. Most scouts agree that Beachy has a ceiling of a #4 starter or a late inning reliever and those will be his options with Atlanta next season depending on how the roster shakes out.

5. J.J. Hoover – B/T: R/R, Born: 08/13/1987, Ht: 6'3", Wt: 215 – Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally called Hoover the "most average pitching prospect I've ever seen." This really isn't an indictment of Hoover's talent more than it is a statement that he does a lot of things well but nothing really excellent. There isn't much room for projection in his frame so what he has now is pretty much what he's going to have. But that is still pretty good. His fastball ranges from the high 80s to the low 90s and he can spot it anywhere at any time in the count. His curve can also be anything from average to plus and pretty much the same goes for his change. J.J. split the 2010 season between Myrtle Beach and Mississippi and varied between being very effective and very bad from month to month (ERA by month in MB: April 4.79, May 2.86, June 6.17, July 1.22). He had a solid showing in Mississippi striking out 34 men in 20 innings but struggled with his control by walking 15. At this point Hoover needs to learn more consistency (if you can learn such a thing) both over the whole season and across his repertoire. He comes off as a poor man's Tommy Hanson with slightly worse stuff and command of all his pitches and if everything comes together he could be a #3 starter in the majors. The one thing he does have going for him is he has a pretty high floor. There is a very good chance we will see him in the majors in the next two seasons. Look for J.J. to pick up where he left off in Mississippi in 2011.

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