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Keith Law's Top-10 2012 Atlanta Braves Prospects

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According to Keith Law, Arodys Vizcaino is the Braves' number-one prospect.
According to Keith Law, Arodys Vizcaino is the Braves' number-one prospect.

Keith Law of ESPN has released his top-10 2012 Atlanta Braves prospects. Let me just say, there are some surprises (the numbers beside the top-4 indicate what their rank is on Law's top-100 list):

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (14)
Julio Teheran, RHP (18)
Christian Bethancourt, C (94)
Randall Delgado, RHP (98)
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Tyler Pastornicky, SS
Sean Gilmartin, LHP
Zeke Spruill, RHP
J.R. Graham, RHP
Matt Lipka, OF

So first, Arodys Vizcaino! Wait, that's not so shocking, let me back up. Julio Teheran at number 18! Does Law know something that no one else does? He ranks six pitchers ahead of Teheran (including Vizcaino), and while I could see a case for a couple of them, I still don't get it. Law ranked Teheran sixth in his 2011 top-100, but while the writeup on him this year says "he's farther away than he appeared to be a year ago," that still doesn't explain dropping him that much in the rankings. It seems to me that Law is viewing Teheran with a glass half empty eye and viewing other guys with similar development paths as glass half full prospects.

He ranks Bethancourt very aggressively, and ahead of Delagdo, but that's likely more about how much he's soured on Delgado than anything else. Here is some of what he says about Delgado in his scouting report, which also gives us some insight into his thoughts about Teheran and Vizcaino (my emphasis):

One thing that became clear during the 2011 season about Atlanta's troika of top pitching prospects is that Delgado, while a strong prospect in his own right, didn't belong in the same discussion as Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino. He didn't possess Teheran's stuff and projection, or Vizcaino's control and plus breaking ball. While those two arms progressed last year, Delgado remains as he was, with a solid-average fastball that will touch 96 mph and an above-average changeup that won't miss enough bats on its own, especially without another pitch to move away from right-handed hitters and keep them honest.

He is still projectable with a loose arm, but the upside of his two system-mates hasn't rubbed off on him. There's a good enough chance that Delgado ends up in the bullpen because of the lack of a third pitch to drop him a level on these rankings, as he's more like a No. 3 or a No. 4 in a rotation or a setup man if he goes to the pen.

Look at how he sees not only Delgado against the other two guys, but at how he describes Teheran versus Vizcaino. Teheran is "stuff and projection," a work in progress, while Vizcaino is "control and plus breaking ball," without any qualifiers about "projection." In Vizcaino's scouting report, Law says "he's a three-pitch starter who has a history of plus control, and just needs time and health to become a No. 1 or No. 2 starter."

I read all that (or maybe I'm reading into all that) as Law just likes Vizcaino better than Teheran from a stuff perspective, even though both have question marks, so he's doing a bit of picking favorites. All of that is perfectly okay in any kind of prospect analysis, but we can respectfully disagree (and I do). This was reflected in last year's rankings, when Law had Freddie Freeman at number-43, and didn't even rank Craig Kimbrel. Those two guys, by the way, finished first and second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. (Maybe that's a good sign for Teheran and Delgado.)

No Edward Salcedo on this list either, and with his tools I would have expected to see him. Especially ahead of Lipka, a prospect that Salcedo out-performed at the same level.