Atlanta Braves 2013 Minor League Season Preview: Rome Braves

Shortstop Jose Peraza will be one of the youngest and most exciting players in the league. - CB Wilkins

A breakdown of the roster and projected lineup and rotation of this year's Rome Braves.

The results that players in teams put up in Low A rarely matter, the level is really just a chance for players to get their first taste of a full season of professional baseball, and that will certainly be true for the Rome Braves this season as nearly the entire 2012 Danville Braves roster moves up a level for 2013. The team has a number of solid prospects, but none better than a trio of teenagers who will be among the youngest players in the South Atlantic League this season, pitchers Lucas Sims and Mauricio Cabrera and shorstop Jose Peraza.

Lineup

  1. Jose Peraza SS
  2. Levi Hyams 2B
  3. Josh Elander LF
  4. Carlos Franco 3B
  5. Aris Alcantara 1B
  6. Felix Marte RF
  7. Blake Brown CF
  8. Tyler Tewell C
  9. Tony Mueller DH

Despite being one of the youngest players in the league at just 18 years old, the R-Braves will count on shortstop Jose Peraza to make their lineup go from the leadoff position. He's an athletic, exciting player and has impressed in each of his first two pro seasons, so there's every reason to expect that he'll continue to shine in his first full year. Slugger Josh Elander is making the transition from catcher to outfielder, a move that should allow him to focus on his potent offense and help him move quickly up the organizational ladder. Third baseman Carlos Franco had a breakout year with Danville, posting a .408 OBP, and he'll see if he can tap into his massive power potential this year. Despite being a college player, the Braves knew 2012 5th round pick Blake Brown was raw when they selected him, and they're hoping a full season allows the center fielder to discover all of his tools and flourish.

Felix Marte struggled after beginning 2012 with Rome, but became a potent slugger later in the year after a demotion to Danville. First baseman Aris Alcantara was a steady performer in the middle of Danville's lineup, as was second baseman Levi Hyams. Catcher Tyler Tewell, a childhood teammate of Mississippi Braves left hander Alex Wood, spent most of 2012 in the Gulf Coast League, but the Braves love his work ethic and defensive abilities. He'll share catching duties with Nick DeSantiago, who struggled at the beginning of 2012 with Rome, but was very good after a demotion to Danville.

Tony Mueller was Rome's starting center fielder in 2012 and after struggling in the first half of the season he really turned it on in the second half, stealing 29 bases over the course of the year. He'll see plenty of playing time in his return to Rome. Ronald Luna has shown spurts of promise at the plate and he'll see time all around the infield. Edison Sanchez switch from first base to left field in 2012, and he began the year by struggling with Rome before moving down to Danville where he was a dependable part of the lineup. Chase Anselment will begin the year on the disabled list. He played with Rome last year after being drafted in the 17th round, but this season he'll be making the conversion from outfielder to catcher.

Rotation

  1. Lucas Sims RH
  2. Mauricio Cabrera RH
  3. Frank Lafreniere RH
  4. Greg Ross RH
  5. Williams Perez RH

Rome's rotation will be headed by two of Atlanta's top prospects, 2012 1st round selection Lucas Sims and top international signee Mauricio Cabrera. Sims dominated in a quick debut in the Gulf Coast League before struggling a bit with Danville, and the Braves are excited to see what he can do over a full season. Cabrera was Danville's best starter and his body type and stuff remind many of Arodys Vizcaino. The ceiling for both pitchers is very high.

French Canadian Frank Lafreniere was a real find for the Braves scouting department as the team took him in the 47th round in 2010 and have watched the big righty develop nicely in his first three pro seasons. He'll get his first chance at full season ball this year, and could end up stealing some spotlight from Sims and Cabrera. Greg Ross was in Rome's rotation for most of last season, and he'll provide a steady, veteran presence to this year's rotation. Williams Perez was surprisingly successful when moved into Danville's rotation last year, and he'll look to build on that success this season.

Righty Bryam Garcia pitched well for both Rome and Danville in 2012, and he'll likely get the lion's share of the save opportunities this season, providing leadership as the oldest player on the team. Carlos Perez was once one of the top pitching prospects in the Braves system, but injuries derailed his career. He was able to reinvent himself last year with Danville as a dominant lefty reliever, and he'll take his fourth crack at Rome this year, still just 21 years old.

Right hander Zach Jadofsky was Danville's most dominant and dependable reliever last year, and will see plenty of important innings out of Rome's bullpen this year. Righty Shae Simmons dominated in his pro debut, racking up 36 strikeouts in 24.2 innings between the GCL and Danville. Lefty Brandon Rohde also dominated in the GCL, but struggled in a late season tryout with Danville. Righty Patrick Scoggin didn't allow an earned run in his pro debut last year after being signed as an undrafted free agent. David Starn begins the year on the disabled list. The left hander struggled with Rome after being drafted in June, and he'll likely get a second crack at the rotation when healthy. Righty Jean Carlos Gil also begins the year on the DL, recovering from Tommy John Surgery.

Outlook

There's an adage about the Minor Leagues noting that winning doesn't matter, player development matters, and that's never more true than at the Low A level. The Braves certainly enjoyed it last year when Rome went from having the worst record in pro baseball in the first half to becoming a playoff team in the second half, but they were much happier with how well many of their players grew and developed. This year's Rome team has plenty of talented players, though most of them don't have any experience above short season baseball, which makes them likely to lose more games than they win. Still, there are some real top notch prospects on this team, and they should be exciting to watch regardless of their record. Also, the team should have great chemistry since almost every player on the roster was with Danville last season. Much like last year, expect to see the roster supplemented with newly signed draft picks in late June.

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