Just a little tidbit from the Baseball America mailbag that I thought was both interesting and exciting:
Baseball America has rated shortstop Elvis Andrus as the No. 3 prospect in the Braves system, but as someone who has kept a close watch on Atlanta's prospects, I must admit I never had heard of him. I understand he was signed recently, but why is he ranked so high (above Yunel Escobar, for instance), and how might he fit into the Braves' shortstop plans?
The reason Jamie probably hasn't heard of Andrus is that he signed out of Venezuela in January and spent all of his first pro season in Rookie ball. He played most of the season at age 16 and was extremely impressive. As he matures physically, he has the potential to hit for power and average while playing a quality shortstop.
Escobar, a second-round pick in June, is also a very talented shortstop and should beat Andrus to Atlanta because he's six years older. But Andrus will compete for a job in low Class A next year at age 17 and will provide a formidable challenge to Escobar when he's ready. Ranking him No. 3 on a deep Braves list involves a lot of projection, but that's how much we believe in Andrus.
The more I think about it, the more comfortable I feel about letting Furcal go. It may not be a popular decision, but with Wilson Betamit, Yunel Escobar, and Elvis Andrus, the Braves will be just fine.
It will be really fun following these guys in 2006.
Speaking of Rafael Furcal, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution the Dodgers have jumped into the race to sign the coveted shortstop. Furcal's agent Paul Kinzer contends that the four serious suitors for his client are the Braves, Dodgers, Mets, and Cubs. At this point, it would seem unlikely that the Mets would open up their wallets for Raffy. With the addition of Carlos Delgado and their pending offer for Billy Wagner, it just doesn't seem likely. And why the Dodgers would jump into the mix is beyond me. When all is said and done, I really believe that the Cubs will shell out the big bucks for Furcal despite all this talk about addressing their outfield.