Over the next month, Baseball America will be presenting their top-20 prospects per league. They start at the bottom of the minor leagues, in Rookie Ball, with the Gulf Coast League. The GCL is the lowest state-side league the Atlanta Braves have in their organization.
This year the Braves placed a lot of young under-20-year-old talent in the GCL, much of it from the last two drafts. They also debuted some of their top international talent in the GCL, and two of those players ranked in BA's top-20 prospects for the GCL. Shortstop Jose Peraza was ranked as the 10th-best prospect, while left-hander Luis Merejo was ranked 13th.
Peraza is one of my favorite Braves prospects right now. He oozes defensive tools and has an Andrelton-like approach at the plate, with plus-plus speed on the basepaths. Talking Chop ranked him as the 14th-best prospect on our mid-season top-25, and he is sure to move much higher. He was promoted to advanced Rookie ball after just a month in the GCL, and hardly missed a beat, so we might see him on BA's top Appy League prospects as well.
Luis Merejo is a new name for most, but again, Talking Chop had him 18th on our mid-season top-25. This is his first taste of professional baseball, and at only 17 years old he had an impressive debut, registering 53 strikeouts in 41 innings, while walking just 9. Merejo has a good feel for pitching, which the Braves love, and should add a few miles per hour to his low-90s fastball in the coming years.
These are two great prospects who should be on prospect lists for years to come (until they're ready to help in Atlanta). Another Braves prospect in the GCL that BA said to watch is right-hander Jorge Montenegro. He did not necessarily impress with his stats, but apparently he has a mid-90s fastball and a promising curveball if he can harness his control. Someone to keep an eye on.