Jose Peraza is one of the most exciting players in the Braves system. - CB Wilkins
We break down the Atlanta Braves top 25 Minor League prospects for the 2013 season.
Prospects 6-10 include a pair of promising shortstops, and defensively gifted but offensively raw catcher, the Braves best Minor League pitcher in 2012, and an older slugger who does nothing but hurt baseballs.
6: Jose Peraza, SS
The Skinny: Venezuelan teenager who was the DSL Player Of The Year in 2011. Made his US debut in 2012, splitting the year between the GCL, where he was the Player Of The Year, and Danville.
The Good: Top notch athlete. Well above average speed. Makes a ton of contact. sneaky pop. Good fielder with great range and a strong, accurate arm. Only 18 years old.
The Bad: Doesn't walk enough for a leadoff hitter. Will never have much power. Still very raw.
...in a perfect world...Peraza develops into an above average top of the order, middle of the diamond every day Major Leaguer.
ETA: 2017. He'll move up to Low A Rome in 2013.
The Skinny: Perennial prospect who struggled mightily in 2012 with Mississippi before his season ended with a broken hand. Played in the Futures Game in Kansas City. Added to the Braves 40 man roster after the season.
The Good: Arm is a true 80 on the scouting scale. Excellent defender with Gold Glove potential. Blocking and game calling skills were question marks but they've caught up to the rest of his defense. Surprisingly good at making contact. Still only 21 years old.
The Bad: All potential, no production at this point in his career. Has shown no power or ability to take walks. After 4 seasons as a professional is still incredibly raw as a hitter.
...in a perfect world...Bethancourt hits well enough to be an every day catcher, allowing him to become a perennial Gold Glove winner. In a less perfect world, his outstanding defense will always allow him to have value as a backup catcher.
ETA: Late 2015. He'll head back to AA Mississippi to start 2013.
8. JR Graham, RHP
The Skinny: College reliever immediately converted to starting. After a dominating debut with Danville in 2011, but up an outstanding 2012 with Lynchburg and Mississippi.
The Good: Top notch fastball that sits in the mid 90s but can touch 100. Slider is a solid second pitch. Above average control. Strong, thick body. Fierce, unflappable competitor. Hard worker with a strong desire to learn. Natural leader. Pretty sure bet as a prospect.
The Bad: Strikeout stuff didn't translate to strikeouts this season. Shorter than most starting pitchers. Little to no room for projection left in his body.
...in a perfect world...Graham continues his dominance and becomes an above average Major League starter with occasional seasons of excellence. In a less perfect world, his fastball makes him a dominant reliever.
ETA: 2014. He'll likely head back to AA Mississippi to start 2013, but with a good Spring Training he could begin at AAA Gwinnett.
9. Nick Ahmed, SS
The Skinny: After a solid debut with Danville in 2011, the 2nd round draft pick skipped up to Lynchburg in 2012 and had a very good year, leading the league in doubles and steals.
The Good: Does everything well. Outstanding knowledge and instincts. Natural leader. Above average speed. Great doubles power. Solid fielder with adequate range. Strong, lean body. Consistent player who will likely always get the most out of his ability.
The Bad: Needs to work on making more contact. May need to change positions to get the most value out of his talent. No real projection left. Unlikely to ever become a star player.
...in a perfect world...Ahmed becomes a solid all around Major League regular and a clubhouse leader.
ETA: Late 2014. He'll move up to AA Mississippi in 2013.
10. Evan Gattis, LF
The Skinny: Slugger who came out of nowhere to craft an outstanding 2011 with Rome before absolutely dominating with Lynchburg to start 2012. Moved up to Mississippi midway through 2012 and put up great numbers despite a position change and missing 2 months with a broken hand.
The Good: Absolute masher at the plate. Big time power. Willingness to choke up and cut down on his swing allows him to consistently hit for a high average. Doesn't strikeout much for a slugger. Huge, strong body with outstanding strength. Strong, accurate throwing arm. Capable of playing left field, catcher, and first base. Makeup is off the charts. Eminently coachable. Loves the game.
The Bad: Already 26 years old. Missed 4 years of playing after high school while finding himself. Below average defender regardless of position. Limited range in left field. Unrefined mechanics behind the plate.
...in a perfect world...Gattis becomes a middle of the order slugger whose offense more than makes up for his defensive miscues.
ETA: 2013. He'll likely start 2013 with AAA Gwinnett, but he could be given a shot to earn a job on Atlanta's roster in Spring Training.