Braves Announce Minor League Players Of The Year

The Braves announced the following minor league players as the best at each level of the minor league system:

Level Player of the Year Pitcher of the Year
Organization Todd Cunningham J.R. Graham
Gwinnett (AAA) Ernesto Mejia Cory Gearrin
Mississippi (AA) Joe Leonard Sean Gilmartin
Lynchburg (A+) Nick Ahmed Gus Schlosser
Rome (A-) William Beckwith Navery Moore
Danville (R+) Carlos Franco Mauricio Cabrera
GCL (R) Jose Peraza Luis Merejo
DSL (R) Johan Camargo Michael Flores

The biggest breakout player this year for the Braves -- besides Andrelton Simmons, who I suppose spent too much time in the Majors to qualify for this honor -- was Todd Cunningham. He hit .309/.364/.403 for Mississippi, in his first fully healthy season since joining the organization in the same draft as Simmons in 2010. Cunningham started off slow, especially in the extra-base department, but came on strong in the second half and quieted those who were skeptical of his ability. He will still need a year of triple-A, but sometime next season we could see him roaming the outfield for Atlanta.

J.R. Graham performed up to the high expectations that were set for him this year by the organization and prospect watchers all over baseball. He is arguably the Braves best pitching prospect after Julio Teheran. Graham will get the chance to conquer triple-A next year and could be ready in a hurry if he finds success at Gwinnett. He's a hard thrower, but he also has a feel for pitching that could be a valuable top of the rotation asset if all goes well.

The rest of the list reads like a top prospect list for Atlanta. Gilmartin and Cabrera will be in the top-10 prospects this year, and Schlosser and Moore should be in the top-20. Merejo is a young up-and-comer, while Gearrin seems to be cementing a role in the Atlanta bullpen.

Ahmed and Peraza and not far behind Simmons on the shortstop depth chart, and should be among the Braves top-10 prospects. After several years of the Braves system not producing any shortstops of note, they are now flush with talent at that position. Beckwith and Leonard represent decent power prospects in the Atlanta system while Franco and Camargo spearhead the next round of talented Latin players flowing through the system. Maybe one day Ernesto Mejia will find someone willing to give him a shot in the Majors.

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