The Braves have long been a pitching rich organization, and their top 5 prospects are all pitchers, including their top prospect from last season, their last two 1st round picks, this year's 2nd rounder, and a top international signee.
1. Julio Teheran, RHP
The Skinny: After being named the International League Pitcher Of The Year and Rookie Of The Year for Gwinnett in 2011 struggled mightily in a second season for Gwinnett in 2012.
The Good: Plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s and can touch 97. Changeup is also a plus pitch. Smart pitcher with a good game plan. Capable of pitching in three dimensions, in-out, up-down, fast-slow. Willing to let hitters put the ball in play and allow his defense to work behind him. Natural leader. Determined with a great work ethic. Still only 22.
The Bad: Curveball can be a plus pitch when it's on, but it's rarely on, often coming in a slurvy, highly hittable slop. Made changes to his delivery this season, which hurt his stuff and caused him to struggle all year. Strikeout stuff hasn't turned into strikeouts. Control isn't where you'd like it to be for a top prospect.
...in a perfect world...Teheran adjusts to his new delivery and fulfills his full potential as an top of the rotation star.
ETA: 2013. He'll be given a chance to make Atlanta's rotation out of Spring Training, but may need more even time in AAA Gwinnett.
2. Lucas Sims, RHP
The Skinny: Braves 1st round pick out of high school in 2012 who dominated for the GCL before being brought back to earth with Danville.
The Good: Classic power pitcher with plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s, occasionally hitting 97, a power slider, and a solid curveball. Big, strong frame. Likely to be an innings eater. Smooth, solid arm action. Fierce competitor. Life-long Braves fan who grew up in Lawrenceville, where the Gwinnett Braves play.
The Bad: Changeup is still a work in progress.
...in a perfect world...Sims becomes a top of the rotation starter and another homegrown star for the Braves.
ETA: 2016. He'll head to Low Rome in 2013.
3. Sean Gilmartin, LHP
The Skinny: Braves first round draft pick in 2011 who excelled for the GCL and Rome in 2011 before putting up an All-Star campaign with Mississippi in 2012. Struggled with Gwinnett in 2012 after a promotion.
The Good: Plus plus changeup. Outstanding, advanced mental approach to pitching. Gets the most out of his stuff. Easy, repeatable mechanics. Strong, athletic frame. Consistent and unflappable. Almost a sure bet as a prospect.
The Bad: Stuff is only ordinary. Little room for projection with either his stuff or his body. Unlikely to be a star.
...in a perfect world...Gilmartin becomes a solid middle of the rotation starter who is as consistent as any player in the game.
ETA: Late 2013. He'll head back to AAA Gwinnett to begin 2013.
4. Alex Wood, LHP
The Skinny: Braves 2nd round pick in 2012 who led a dramatic turnaround for Rome by dominating as the team's ace.
The Good: Great fastball that sits between 90 and 94 and can hit 96. Excellent control. Above average changeup. Big, strong body that should make him an innings eater. Hard worker. Natural leader and a clubhouse favorite.
The Bad: Slider is ordinary. Learning a curveball, but it's still a project. Unusual delivery that involves a windmill coil at the start and a slight hop backwards at the finish. Will have to keep his legs healthy to maintain a stress free delivery.
...in a perfect world...Wood develops into a solid middle of the rotation innings eater. In a less perfect world, he becomes a dynamite power lefty reliever.
ETA: 2015. Will move up to AA Mississippi in 2013.
5. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP
The Skinny: Top international signing who had a mediocre debut in the DSL in 2011 but pitched great for Danville in 2012.
The Good: Big time fastball that sits between 96 and 98. Tall with more weight and strength in his body than most foreign pitchers his age. Fearless on the mound.
The Bad: Secondary pitches are solid, but they'll have to improve for him to remain a starter. More of a thrower than a pitcher at this point.
...in a perfect world...Cabrera develops into a top of the rotation pitcher and becomes another great find for the Braves scouting department.
ETA: 2016. He'll head up to Low A Rome in 2013.