Atlanta Braves Mid-Season Top-25 Prospects: 1-10, Latin Takeover!

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: World Future's All-Star Arodys Vizcaino #36 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Here are the top-10 mid-season Atlanta Braves prospects according to the prospect "gurus" here at Talking Chop. As you will see it's a Latin takeover, with the top six spots occupied by players from Latin America. After these top six there are only four other players on the top-25 from Latin America, but there is the potential for many more, as the Braves continue to scout the riches south of the border.

In the comments you may post your own top-25 Braves prospects for consideration by the community. If time permits (and lazy journalism does not get in the way, which is usually does) those top-25 lists might be averaged together just to see how off base all of us are collectively. (Current year stats for each player appear after that player's review. Stats are through games of the 13th of July.)

1. Julio Teheran, RHP
Teheran is the complete package as a prospect, he can push his fastball into the high 90s, but is smart enough to work in the low 90s to maintain control. His secondary pitches are polished, highlighted by an above average changeup and a sloopy curveball. His only real weakness is that occasionally his curve gets loose and becomes hittable. He's the youngest player in the International League by a full year, yet he's dominating the level. At this point, Teheran is ready to contribute to Atlanta's rotation, they're just waiting until they have a full-time opening for him.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
G-Braves AAA 9 1 1.79 15 15 0 0 0 95.2 72 23 19 2 25 81 0.84 .211
MLB   0 1 5.19 2 2 0 0 0 8.2 10 5 5 2 4 2 0.71 .286

2. Randall Delgado, RHP
Delgado often doesn't get the recognition he deserves, a curse of his consistency. He's steadily moved up the organizational ladder each year, working in AA this year as a 21 year old, even getting a spot start with Atlanta when Tommy Hanson was forced to the disabled list. He can pump his fastball into the mid 90s, though it's more effective when he backs off it a little, which also leads to better command of his offspeed pitches. In almost any other organization he would unquestionably be the top prospect because of his stuff and advanced feel for pitching. His only real weakness is that sometimes his control escapes him, but he often is able to work around those issues. Delgado may earn a promotion to AAA in the second half of the year, and there's a good chance he will get to work out of Atlanta's bullpen in September. Next season he'll likely find himself in a similar position that Julio Teheran is in now, working to refine his game in AAA while waiting for a full-time opening ready for him.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
M-Braves AA 5 4 3.50 17 17 2 0 0 97.2 93 42 38 9 35 90 1.14 .252
MLB   0 1 6.75 1 1 0 0 0 4.0 7 4 3 1 2 2 1.75 .350

3. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Vizcaino's massive, strong frame allows him to repeatedly push his fastball into the high 90s. He pairs the heater with a changeup that is generally 20 MPH slower, and a tight slider. Injuries in every season of his career have held him back, though he's still made it to AA as a 20 year old, leading to speculation that he'd be better long-term as a reliever. Short stints in Spring Training and the Futures Game have shown he would excel at the back end of a bullpen.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
Hillcats A+ 2 2 2.45 9 9 0 0 0 40.1 31 14 11 3 10 37 0.73 .207
M-Braves AA 2 3 4.12 7 7 0 0 0 43.2 38 20 20 3 14 46 0.95 .233
Total   4 5 3.32 16 16 0 0 0 84.0 69 34 31 6 24 83 0.83 .220

4. Edward Salcedo, 3B
Last Februrary, the Braves gave Salcedo the largest signing bonus they'd ever handed an international free agent, so many were disappointed with his less than stellar showing at Rome. The Braves would be the first to admit they rushed him. As an 18 year old playing professional baseball for the first time in a new country there were a lot of things working against him and the stress took its toll. But he returned to Rome this season and is proving his detractors wrong, establishing himself as the team's three-hole hitter and a consistent doubles machine. His 6'3" frame is already strong, with plenty of room to add muscle, and he's already adept at driving the ball. As a young, strong player, he strikes out plenty, but he is working hard on becoming a patient hitter. Defensively, Salcedo has been an error factory, racking them up at a rate that's almost impressive. A move from shortstop to third base did nothing to help that trend, as he's been forced to learn a new position on the fly. Still, scouts and coaches love his athleticism and arm, and see as a plus defender in the Majors. He'll look to continue his success with Rome for the rest of this season, before moving up to Lynchburg next year. With his immense talent, he could be the kind of player who moves quickly through the system.

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
R-Braves A- .277 86 328 58 91 24 4 10 43 153 30 69 13 7 .349 .466 .815

5. Christian Bethancourt, C
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Bethancourt after he had excellent years in the DSL and then in the GCL, but he faltered in 2010 with Rome, looking poor both at the plate and on defense, where his catching was repeatedly called "lazy". He started poorly again in 2011, but came back strong, dominating for a month before being promoted to Lynchburg. He has a big, strong frame, and while he may never take many walks, he should have the slugging to make up for it. That frame makes him a big target behind the plate, and he's worked hard to improve his receiving skills. His arm is a weapon, an 80 on the scouting scale, and he virtually shuts down opposing teams' running games. Bethancourt is still only 19, so the Braves can afford to be patient with him, and have been.

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
R-Braves A- .303 54 221 25 67 10 3 4 33 95 8 27 6 3 .323 .430 .753
Hillcats A+ .222 15 54 3 12 2 0 0 4 14 1 10 0 2 .232 .259 .491
Total   .287 69 275 28 79 12 3 4 37 109 9 37 6 5 .306 .396 .702

6. Carlos Perez, LHP
Perez was absolutely filthy last year for Danville, earning him a quick promotion to Rome, where he was equally filthy, but a stress fracture in his non-throwing shoulder ended his season in July. He came back to Rome this year, and while his first full season had been marked by inconsistency, he's still shown the potential that makes him a top prospect. His fastball works in the mid 90s with a ton of movement and his secondary pitches are developing nicely, especially his 12-to-6 curveball. Perez is incredibly skinny, and the Braves have been working to add some bulk to his frame, which will help with his durability and add some oomph to his pitches. The rest of this season is about learning how to work through the rigors of a full season schedule, before he moves up to Lynchburg next year where he should be able to fully realize his potential.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
R-Braves A- 4 7 5.04 18 17 0 0 0 94.2 108 66 53 6 40 87 1.52 .283

7. Brett Oberholtzer, LHP
The best word to describe Oberholtzer is "bulldog". The strong-bodied lefty attacks hitters with an average low 90s fastball and a slightly above average curveball and changeup. There isn't a ton of flash to his game, but he consistently makes good pitches and hits his spots. He was a Southern League All-Star this year, though he's worn down a little as the season has gone on. He'll spend the rest of the season with Mississippi and likely be invited to Major League Spring Training before being sent to AAA, where he'll refine his game against the International League's veteran hitters.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
M-Braves AA 6 9 3.98 18 18 0 0 0 108.2 104 58 48 6 35 83 0.89 .257

8. Matt Lipka, SS
After the Braves made him their first selection in the 2010 draft, Lipka had a fantastic debut in the Gulf Coast League, getting on base day after day and creating havoc on the basepaths, indicating that he could be the kind of leadoff hitter the team envisioned when they picked him. This season, however, has been almost the opposite, as he's struggled to make consistent contact all year and has shown little ability to drive the ball. Even when he's been on the basepaths he's been less successful than an effective basestealer should be. Lipka tends to be a front foot slap hitter, which has allowed professional pitchers to take advantage of his agressiveness. As he moves up, he'll need to learn to stay back and drive the ball more, even if it still leads to bloop hits over the infielders' heads. Defensively, he's adequate at shortstop, though neither his arm or body type seem quite suited to the position. A move to second base or even center field, where his plus speed would be a real asset, seems likely. He'll look to see if he can't salvage this season with a strong end of the year, though either way he'll likely return to Rome to start 2012.

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
R-Braves A- .238 82 345 41 82 11 1 1 24 98 25 47 16 9 .293 .284 .577

9. Tyler Pastornicky, SS
The Braves might have known something about Pastornicky the Blue Jays didn't when they acquired him last year as part of the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez trade. They immediately sent him to AA, as a 20 year old, and he excelled, and he's done even better after returning to the level this year. His biggest positive as a hitter is self-awareness, he doesn't try to work outside of his game, focusing instead on making solid contact and using his speed to his advantage. If he reaches his potential he's an ideal traditional two-hole hitter. Defensively he's solid at shortstop but doesn't quite have the arm or range to be a plus defender. However, he's well above average at second base, where his entire skill set is a huge plus. Expect him to see time with Gwinnett in the second half of the year and possibly compete for Atlanta's starting shortstop position in 2012.

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
M-Braves AA .301 86 339 48 102 11 5 6 36 141 22 34 20 7 .345 .416 .761

10. Paul Clemens, RHP
He has already thrown as many innings this season as he did last year, and the wear could be starting to show, as his ERA has ballooned in the past month. The Braves weren't sure whether Clemens was a starter or a reliever last year, and bounced him between roles. He's started exclusively this year, and was one of the more successful and unhittable pitchers in the system earlier in the season, but that trend has reversed itself with Clemens getting lit up in several starts. He is still a quality prospect, but we'll have to see how he handles the innings load this year as to whether he will ultimately wind up in the pen or in the rotation.

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
M-Braves AA 6 5 3.90 17 17 0 0 0 94.2 92 51 41 8 38 80 0.96 .253

The Complete List:

1.  Julio Teheran, RHP
2.  Randall Delgado, RHP
3.  Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
4.  Edward Salcedo, 3B
5.  Christian Bethancourt, C
6.  Carlos Perez, LHP
7.  Brett Oberholtzer, LHP
8.  Matt Lipka, SS
9.  Tyler Pastornicky, SS
10. Paul Clemens, RHP
11. J.J. Hoover, RHP
12. Zeke Spruill, RHP
13. Cory Gearrin, RHP
14. Mycal Jones, CF
15. Andrelton Simmons, SS
16. Adam Milligan, OF
17. Joe Terdoslavich, 1B/OF
18. Dimasther Delgado, LHP
19. Brandon Drury, 3B
20. Andy Otero, LHP
21. Todd Cunningham, CF
22. Billy Bullock, RHP
23. Juan Abreu, RHP
24. J.R. Graham, RHP
25. David Rohm, OF

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