Talking Chop's 2013 Organizational Awards

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

TC hands out its end of season honors across all minor league levels.

After the Braves released their organizational awards this past weekend, Dan, Ethan and I collaborated to select who we could have chose as our Pitchers and Players of the Year. For our selection criteria, we were pretty straightforward. We chose to "honor" the player we felt simply had the best season at each level.

This could mean some of the players chosen are not top tier prospects and therefore, age wasn’t exactly a major factor into our decision-making. Once the season ends and we get into the off-season, we’ll continue to bring plenty of top prospect coverage, but today, we focused on players who put together a great 2013. As you can imagine, there were certainly some tough choices with players constantly jumping around different levels during the course of the season, but overall we’re pleased with how the listed turned out.

Gwinnett Braves

Pitcher of the Year: Omar Poveda – RHP

After bouncing between several different organizations in his eight-year minor league career, Poveda made the most of his third year in Triple-A, his first with Gwinnett. The 25-year-old Venezuelan native posted a 3.62 ERA and 133:59 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 164 innings of work, starting 25 games for the G-Braves and posting the most innings pitched among Braves farmhands. The 6’3", 235-pound righty allowed fewer than a hit per inning and kept the ball on the ground, inducing 2.15 grounders per flyball. Poveda, while at times struggling with free passes, stayed around the zone all year, posting a strike percentage that was slightly above league average. His main competition for this award was David Hale, and while Hale had success at the major league level at the end the season, Poveda’s aggregate performance was slightly better in Gwinnett when one looks beyond ERA. Poveda struck out batters at a higher rate, which, despite a slightly higher walk rate, resulted in a higher K%-BB%, went deeper into starts, allowed a lower opponent batting average, and posted a lower FIP (3.68 vs. 3.89). Poveda’s pure stuff may not be plus, but he has an above-average changeup that he’s not afraid to use in any situation. His ceiling’s not incredibly high, but he could be a back-end of the rotation type who chews innings or a long man out of the bullpen. Not bad for a guy who was picked up off the scrap heap this offseason. (Others in consideration: David Hale, Ryan Buchter) – Ethan Purser

Player of the Year: Joey Terdoslavich – OF

After a miserable stint with Gwinnett in 2012, Terdoslavich had one of the best campaigns in the system this season, resulting in a promotion to The Show in early July. In 351 plate appearances between 85 games with the G-Braves, Terdoslavich slashed .318/.359/.567 with 24 doubles, a triple, 18 home runs, and a 23:65 walk-to-strikeout ratio, resulting in an OPS that was 30 percent better than the International League and a 155 wRC+. The switch hitter ranked in the top ten in the International League in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and home runs, all while keeping his strikeout rate seven percent lower than league average. After tinkering with his defensive position last season, the Braves gave up on Terdoslavich as a third baseman and allowed him to split time between right field, left field, and first base, positions that are much better fits long-term — he even racked up nine assists in right field, showcasing playable arm strength from the outfield. After getting off to a decent start upon his promotion to Atlanta, Terdoslavich cooled off considerably toward the end of the season, going 0-21 to finish his campaign. Regardless, Terdoslavich’s season was incredibly successful, and after a few developmental hiccups in 2012, he has positioned himself to fight for a bench role with the big club in 2014. (Others in consideration: Ernesto Mejia) – Ethan Purser

Mississippi Braves

Pitcher of the Year: Ian Thomas – LHP

Mississippi featured a group of pitchers who easily could have made a case for this award, but the choice here was Ian Thomas. Thomas is an older guy, a 26-year-old lefty who the Braves signed out of the Independent League in 2012. He made the transition in to the rotation in 2013, making 13 starts, where he put up very impressive numbers. In 104.1 innings he posted a 2.76/2.81 ERA/FIP with a 123/37 K/BB ratio. Even with his advanced age, the Braves could wind up using Thomas as a cost controlled option as a 5th starter if all goes well. If not, Thomas projects to be featured out of the bullpen with his fastball/changeup combo. Thomas is another potential scouting and development bullpen gem we've become accustomed to (and spoiled with) with over the past couple of seasons. – Andrew Sisson

Player of the Year: Tommy La Stella – 2B

You could easily make the case for Christian Bethancourt, a 21-year-old, who has phenomenal tools on defense and happened to put together a 40 game on-base streak. But this vote went to Tommy La Stella who put up a .356/.444/.492 triple slash in 352 PA this season (323 PA with Mississippi). La Stella total offensive contribution in Mississippi was 63% better than the Southern League average, compiling a 1.29 BB/K ratio in the proceess. As a prospect, he’s was a bit old for his age level, but he made great strides and could fight for a role next season in Atlanta. Keep an eye on him in the in the Arizona Fall League which begins this month. Andrew Sisson

Lynchburg Hillcats

Pitcher of the Year: Greg Ross – RHP

The award for best pitcher goes to Greg Ross, one of Lynchburg's most dependable starters. Ross logged 121 across 19 starts for the Hillcats, going 9-6. He fanned 17.6% of the batters he faced this year while posting a tide 7.0% walk rate. Ross is a groundball specialist, and showed it by posting the lowest HR/9 in the Carolina League; he only allowed 3 homers all year (0.22 HR/9). His excellent ability to keep the ball in the park led to him posting the second-lowest FIP in the Carolina league at 3.06. – Dan Simpson

Player of the Year: Kyle Kubitza – 3B

Kubitza is a guy who, at a cursory glance, doesn't seem too great. In fact, he only posted a .260 batting average this year. So what makes him Lynchburg's player of the year? Kubitza's many second skills led him to an excellent year at the plate. Not only were his 80 walks good for first on the Hillcats, that mark was tops among all batters in the Carolina League. That translates to a stellar 15.2% walk rate. Kubitza also flashed improving power this year, posting a .175 isolated power (28 doubles, 6 triples, and 12 home runs) after notching a .154 mark in each of his first two seasons. All this lead to Kubitza posting a wRC+ of 130, the top mark for a third baseman in the Carolina League. His defense also improved this year as well. Look for Kubitza's strong 2013 campaign to earn him a spot in Mississippi for the 2014 season. – Dan Simpson

Rome Braves

Pitcher of the Year: Lucas Sims – RHP

Put simply, Lucas Sims’ 2013 full-season debut was dominant. The team’s first-round pick in 2012 steamrolled opposing South Atlantic League hitters, posting a 2.62 ERA and a 134:46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 116.2 innings of work, holding batters to a .588 OPS. The 19-year-old placed fourth in the league in strikeouts, fielding a strikeout rate that was an astonishing 29 percent better than the league. After a rough April in the bullpen during which he was used in tandem with another starter to limit his workload, Sims cruised throughout the remainder of the summer in Rome’s rotation, anchoring the pitching staff and ending his campaign particularly strong between six starts in August and September in which he struck out 46 batters in 35 innings of work. In addition, Sims was the second-youngest pitcher in the league with more than 50 innings of work, playing this season as a very young 19-year-old. This kid has it all: youth, athleticism, a clean delivery, great performance indicators, and a developing repertoire that includes the best breaking ball in the system. Sims will find his name atop Braves prospect lists and in the top half of many highly touted national prospect lists this offseason. This selection was rather easy. (Others in consideration: Wes Parsons, Shae Simmons) – Ethan Purser

Player of the Year: Jose Peraza – SS

As a 19-year-old getting his first taste of full-season baseball, Peraza performed quite admirably for Rome, slashing .288/.341/.371 with 18 doubles, eight triples, a home run, and a 34:64 walk-to-strikeout ratio in addition to his South Atlantic League-leading 64 stolen bases, the most in the Braves system since Rafael Furcal’s 96 swipes in 1999. The 6’0", 165-pound native of Venezuela also showed great instincts on the basepaths, posting an 81 percent success rate. Peraza steadily showed more polish at the dish as the season progressed, displaying improvements in every triple-slash category in the second half, including a near 100-point increase in OPS. A 106 wRC+ tells us that he created six percent more runs than the South Atlantic League average, which becomes even more impressive when it is taken into consideration that he was playing against competition that, on average, was more than two years his senior. Of course, there’s also that whole positional scarcity thing. Peraza plays the hardest non-catcher position on the diamond, and while he’s continuing to work and develop his skills at the position, the tools for an above-average to plus defensive shortstop are present. His 4.66 RF/G was highest among qualified shortstops in the league. You’re looking at one of the most well rounded position player prospects in the system, and with a year like he had in 2013, he may not be a secret on the national prospect scene any longer. (Others in consideration: Josh Elander) – Ethan Purser

Danville Braves

Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Waszak – RHP

Andrew Waszak, 22, was one of the older pitchers on the Danville roster, but lead the team with 53.1 innings, sporting an 2.03 ERA backed up with a 2.60 FIP. Waszak, who was drafted as a senior out of Michigan State, was selected by the Braves in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft. On the mound, he started nine of the 13 games he appeared in, showing an ability to strikeout batters (23.0 K %) while limiting walks (5.6 BB%). In an obvious small sample of work, Waszak also showed an extreme groundout to flyout ratio of 2.29. To put that in context, the highest GO/AO ratio in the MLB this season was Justin Masterson at 2.04. – Andrew Sisson

Player of the Year: Victor Caratini – 3B

In the second round of the 2013 Draft, the Braves selected Caratini out of Miami Dade Junior College. Originally drafted as a catcher, the Braves played him exclusively as a 3B in 2013 (Ethan pointed out that Caratini has been seeing reps at catcher in the Instructional League, meaning he hasn't been ruled out there long-term). Being known as bat first guy, the 19-year-old didn’t disappoint in 246 PA with Danville, posting a .290/.415/.490 triple slash. As you can see in the AVG-OBP gap, Caratini walked a ton, almost 16% of the time. This could be a product of his solid approach at the plate or simply the wildness of rookie ball pitching; we just don’t know yet. He did show some gap power, ripping 23 doubles. This is also encouraging because as he matures and gets stronger, those doubles may start leaving the yard. Any way you slice it, it was an impressive start to his pro career. – Andrew Sisson

GCL/DSL Braves

Pitcher of the Year: Oriel L. Caicedo – LHP

Caicedo was unquestionably the GCL team's best starting pitcher, and a no-brainer for this award. He started 9 games for the team and went 1-1 (that's a lot of no decisions) while posting a 2.06 ERA in 52.1 innings – the third lowest mark in the league. Despite his excellent ERA, he only struck out 12.4% of the batters he faced. But, like Ross in Lynchburg, he excelled at keeping the ball in the ballpark, allowing a miniscule 0.17 HR/9. A 3.51 FIP indicated that Caicedo was probably playing a bit over his head this year, but his stellar performance nets him this award. – Dan Simpson

Player of the Year: Victor Reyes – LF

Reyes was Atlanta's top international signing at 2011. After an excellent stint in the DSL last year, Reyes got the bump up to the GCL this year, where he was the team's best hitter. Across 129 PAs, Reyes posted a slash line of .357/.414/.446. That .357 average was the best mark of any hitter in the GCL with at least 120 PAs, while his .414 OBP ranked 4th in the league. Reyes posted an ISO of .089, but is expected to develop more power as he puts on muscle. He also swiped 5 bases as well for good measure. Reyes earned a late season promotion to Danville, but his month of excellent work with the GCL team earns him this award. – Dan Simpson

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