Today we continue Talking Chops countdown of the top 25 prospects in the Braves organization. The top 25 are selected by yondaime14, gondeee, and myself each putting together our own lists, then averaging the three lists together.
11. JJ Hoover, RHP
The Skinny: A league All-Star in 2009 and 2010, he earned similar honors at AA in 2011, doing all his work as a starter. The Braves moved him to the bullpen midway through the year and he dominated, including a promotion to AAA that saw him strike out 26 over 13.2 scoreless relief innings.
The Good: Big, strong, and durable. An innings eater as a starter. Smooth, easy arm action allows him to easily repeat his delivery and stay free of injury. Gains velocity and movement when he works in relief. Consistent secondary pitches. Smart, hard working pitcher.
The Bad: Average stuff as a starter. No room for projection in his body, in fact will have to work hard to stay in playing shape throughout his career.
...in a perfect world...Hoover becomes a reliable member of the Braves bullpen, shutting down hitters at the end of games.
ETA: 2012. He'll likely start the year back in AAA, but by the end of the season he'll be pitching important innings for Atlanta.
12. Brandon Drury, 3B
The Skinny: Was the Co-MVP of the Appalachian League, spending most of the season as an 18 year old. Drafted in the 13th round in 2010. Didn't have a chance to play much as an amateur growing up in Oregon.
The Good: Showed the ability to hit for average and power as he dominated Rookie ball. Big strong body with tons of room for projection. Will only be 19 heading into next season. Considered a baseball rat. Likely to stick at third base, but has shown ability to play second base and shortstop.
The Bad: Will need to become a smoother defender at third base. Has to get better on base skills. Took only 6 walks in 2011 and several of them were intentional.
...in a perfect world...Drury develops at a steady pace and becomes the long-term answer at third base in a post-Chipper Jones world.
ETA: 2015. Drury is young and relatively inexperienced and will likely move deliberately through the organization.
13. Joey Terdoslavich
The Skinny: Broke a 65 year old Carolina League record by hitting 52 doubles as part of a 74 extra base hit season. Followed up his great season by hitting .321 with a .972 OPS in the Arizona Fall League, earning him a spot on the AFL Top Prospects team. A college third baseman, he spent this year at first base, but will move back to third base next season.
The Good: Switch hitter who's capable from both sides with natural power to all fields. Doesn't try to hit the ball over the fence, simply works at making good contact and peppering line drives. Thick, strong body. Hard worker and a natural leader.
The Bad: Poor defender with hard hands. May have to move to the outfield, and he may not be athletic enough for the outfield. Was a little too old for High A, meaning he'll repeatedly have to prove himself against higher competition to be taken seriously as a prospect.
...in a perfect world...Terdoslavich finds a defensive home and becomes a middle of the order slugger.
ETA: Late 2013. He'll head to AA to start 2012.
14. Matt Lipka
The Skinny: Braves first selection in the 2010 draft played great in his debut in the GCL, but followed that up by struggling all season long in 2011 with Rome. Played his first two seasons as a shortstop, but will move to center field in 2012.
The Good: Superb athlete with great baseball instincts. Strong, compact body. Fast, smart baserunner. Good throwing arm and soft hands. Baseball rat and a natural leader.
The Bad: Foot-first swing eliminates power at the plate and makes it hard for him to adjust mid-pitch. Lost grip on his swing mechanics during 2011, leading to struggles and a lack of confidence. Lacks ability to work the count and take walks.
...in a perfect world...Lipka harnesses his considerable skills and takes to the outfield like a natural, developing into a classic top of the order hitter.
ETA: 2015. Lipka will have to head back to Rome to start 2012, and the Braves will have to be patient with his development.
15. JR Graham, RHP
The Skinny: Braves fourth round selection in 2011 draft and had a great debut with Danville. Considered a steal as some had him ranked as highly as Braves first rounder Sean Gilmartin. Started season in the bullpen before moving into the rotation.
The Good: High 90s fastball is considered a plus plus pitch. Strong body should make him durable as a starter. Hard worker. Easy to coach.
The Bad: Secondary pitches are weak, particularly when compared to his fastball. Thick body has little room for projection. Still questions about if he'll be able to stay in the rotation as he moves up the ladder.
...in a perfect world...Graham's secondary pitches catch up to his fastball and he becomes an above average Major League starter. In a less perfect world he finds a decent pitch to couple with his fastball and becomes a dominant reliever.
ETA: 2014. Graham will be 22 at the beginning of 2012 and will likely start the year with High A Lynchburg. If things go well, he could move quickly and find himself in the Majors in 2013, but a more conservative route is more likely.