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BravesRangers Top Prospects

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I'm back from holiday and ready for a new year and a new run at the postseason. I refreshed my appetite for baseball in Costa Rica, and I remembered what the word dominating means after watching the Dawgs crush the Hula-boys on my new 46" HDTV - oh, happy day! Of course, after only three days of watching this near-perfect picture, there's no way I can go back to watching "regular" TV - I really hope Sports South goes HD before the baseball season starts. Also, many thanks to Joe "The Hammer" Hamrahi for filling in while I was in the tropics.

Since getting back I was looking over some sites to see what I missed and I came across a lot of former Braves farm hands holding high spots on the Rangers' top prospect list (as ranked by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus):

Five-Star Prospects
  1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
Four-Star Prospects
  1. Eric Hurley, RHP
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Engel Beltre, OF
  4. Michael Main, RHP
  5. Chris Davis, 3B
Three-Star Prospects
  1. Taylor Teagarden, C
  2. Blake Beavan, RHP
  3. Matt Harrison, RHP
  4. Max Ramirez, C
  5. German Duran, 2B

Ugh! That would make four former Braves in the top-10 - of course, one of them got there through a second trade. I hate the fact that we have to keep feeling the burn from the Teixeira trade (dammit will we resign him already!). Feliz, Andrus, Harrison, and Ramirez are now wearing the Ranger uniform instead of the Braves'. It's a bit shocking to see Feliz at number one, but we've heard he has great stuff and I suppose that wasn't lost on the Rangers - even for a kid so far away from the majors.

Andrus ranks pretty high on KG's list, but he still holds off on praising the young infielder too much - as his tools have yet to fully blossom. He says that in a perfect world Andrus would compare to Edgar Renteria. It's interesting that in 2007 the Braves traded away a shortstop who could be the next Edgar Renteria (Elvis), traded away the real Edgar Renteria, and still have another young shortstop who could also turn into the next Edgar Renteria (Escobar).

Left-handed starter Matt Harrison dropped a little in the eyes of Goldstein. Last year KG ranked him as the second best prospect in the Braves organization behind Salty, but this year he only ranks ninth in the Rangers' system. Goldstein called Harrison a "number two or three [starting pitcher] on most staffs" last year, but now only projects him to be "a solid number 3 or 4 starter." He seems a little scared by the amount of time Harrison missed due to various injuries this past year.

Max Ramierz is the fourth former Braves' prospect on his list. Ramirez was the young catcher traded by the Braves in exchange for Bob Wickman in 2006. He was twice blocked in our system, and is still not a very good defensive backstop and will likely end up being a DH if he makes the majors.

Goldstein also lists his "sleeper" in the Rangers system, and low and behold it's one of those other players we traded away:

Almost lost in the Teixeira trade, left-hander Beau Jones has been slow to develop, mostly due to control issues, but he's still a southpaw with plus velocity and a very good breaking ball who some feel is on the brink of a major step forward.

Oh, and Salty is listed as the best player under 25 - that would be all five of the prospects we sent to Texas. Oh well, we know we still have a strong minor league system. I eagerly await the Braves top-11 from KG, which should be out in the next week and a half.

In the mean time, January is usually an excruciatingly slow month for baseball news - even more excruciating than late December. During this slow time we'll stat off by filling the void with community projections. Instead of just throwing my "know-it-all" opinion out there, I will instead introduce each player and give a best case, a worst case, and a most likely line for what their 2008 stats might be. I'll use some PECOTA, but since we're hard-core Braves fans who follow all these players night and day we know them better than a statistical prediction does. We'll try to look beyond just stats to see what kind of season each Braves player will have next year - and of course everyone can chime in with their thoughts as well.

I will follow the player listing on the left side of the site for the most part, likely jumping from hitters to pitchers from week to week. The first one will be up tomorrow, and it should be a heap of fun.