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Breaking Down the Braves 2016 Minor League All Stars

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The Southern, Carolina, and South Atlantic Leagues announced all star rosters, and as expected given t he strength of the minor league system there were a fair amount of Braves represented.

Dansby Swanson Garrett Spain

3 of the minor league levels announced all star rosters (AAA doesn’t play until a few weeks later), and more than a few Braves prospects made the list. Of the group, 4 players were pitchers and 6 are hitters. The Rome Braves had the most representatives with 5 members on the South Atlantic League Roster.

Southern League South Division

Dansby Swanson

Dansby Swanson Garrett Spain

This list is lead by top prospect Dansby Swanson, despite his only playing 34 games in the Southern league at the time he was named. He has started to scuffle a bit at the plate, so he doesn’t look as deserving before, but he will be a huge fan draw at the game. The tentative lineup released has him batting second and starting. Truthfully, he could be hitting .200 and they’d still invite him, because everyone will want to see the top overall pick at his home team’s stadium (The game is in Pearl). He still has a couple of weeks to turn around, so hopefully he can go into the game with some momentum.

Dustin Peterson

Dustin Peterson Garrett Spain

The most deserving candidate is probably Dustin Peterson, who has been raking even with a slump in the middle there. He leads the MBraves with 6 home runs (5 at home), all 3 triple slash categories, doubles, RBIs, runs, hits, total bases, at bats, and games. He is having a career year, and ranks highly in the league in most of those categories. He also leads all Braves minor leaguers in RBIs. Peterson slots in the 5 hole in the tentative lineup released by the Southern League and will be DHing.

Willians Astudillo

Willians Astudillo Garrett Spain

The above picture gives you a good sense of what Willians Astudillo is as a player. He can hit any pitch, anywhere, anytime, but plate discipline isn’t exactly there. He continued over streak from last year that saw him go 159 consecutive plate appearances without striking out, and incredible feat that gained him some popularity. He is hilariously listed as a center fielder on the all star roster, but he is a catcher. He too has slumped lately and dropped his average to .244, but he’s so weird who doesn’t want to see him play the all star game.

Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis
Southern League All Star Game Starter Chris Ellis
Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Ellis is not listed on the initial All Star roster release, but the official release pegged him as the starter for the game and he was listed by Mississippi’s release. It was a no-brainer, as he got off to an extremely hot start and was 6-0 into mid May. He carries a 2.85 ERA good for 9th in the league, and is tied for the league lead with 7 wins. He is a player that could be pushing for a promotion in the near future

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Snubs

There were a couple of pitching snubs, though in a successful pitching league it’s hard to crack the lineup.

Rob Whalen is probably the biggest snub, as overall and especially of late he has been probably the best pitcher in the system. Amongst players with at least 40 IP who are still in the system, he leads the system in ERA (including the majors). He holds a current streak of 4 consecutive games with a game score of 60 or better, and improves every start. He is 8th amongst qualified pitchers in ERA and as soon as the first pitcher drops out he should take the place.

Stephen Janas may currently not be in the league, but at the time rosters were announced he was a Southern League pitcher and should have been on the roster. He has been Mississippi’s best reliever this season. He holds a 1.89 ERA, which if you drop the requirements to 30 innings puts him first in the system in ERA. He won’t be added because he now has deservedly been promoted, but it is interesting he never was there in the first place.

Brandon Barker also would have likely been added to the roster, but was trade to a different league before rosters were announced.

Carolina League All Stars

Carolina only had 2 representatives, but given that the league isn’t split in 2 like the others and it is a Carolina League-California League game, that’s a good amount of representation. Especially in a league with 2 or 3 really good teams.

Max Povse

Slump, he has, but there is not doubting for the first 2 or so months of the season Max Povse was the most dominant player in the system. He has more than a strikeout per inning pitched this season, with only 14 walks in 63.1 IP. His FIP indicates he is far better than his performance, with a 2.54 FIP to his 3.55 ERA. Povse seems a prime candidate for a post break call up, especially with the absence left by Brandon Barker and Patrick Wiegel pushing for a promotion.

Evan Phillips

Drop the requirement to 20 innings pitched, and Phillips has a commanding system lead in ERA at 0.78. He has not allowed much of anything to happen against him in his 23 innings pitched this season. His strikeouts are down from last year, but he has forced a ton on weak contact and not walked very many batters. He too could see a post break promotion.

Snubs

Most of Carolina’s bullpen has a case for the all star roster. Sean McLaughlin and Carlos Salazar both hold ERA’s below 2 on the season, and Chase Johnson-Mullins and Michael O’Neal both sit below 3. Matt Withrow actually has a better ERA than Povse, but has had his best 2 games after the announcement of rosters.

Given that there is only 1 first baseman on the all star roster, there should have been a lot of consideration for Joey Meneses. He has been one of the best hitters in the system all year, and leads the Carolina league in batting average. Joseph Odom is also better offensively than the two catchers they included. There are 11 catchers with more than 100 plate appearances, and he leads the group in home runs, RBIs, runs, doubles, triples, hits, batting average, slugging, OPS, ISO, wRC, wRAA, wRC+, and wOBA. I’m gonna say he should be there.

South Atlantic League South Division

The underperforming Rome team got a lot of love for the All star roster, with 5 guys on the squad. Only 1 of those is one of the top prospects in the system, though at that level nearly everyone should be considered a prospect in some regard.

Mike Soroka

This is an absolute slam dunk selection for the roster. He is second in the system in ERA at 2.59 (.01 behind Whalen), and has been the best player on Rome’s roster this season. He has been notably good at limiting walks (14), while remaining effective at striking out batters (64 in 66IP) at just 18 years old. His 2.59 ERA is high by FIP, which for him sits at 2.45. He has not allowed a home run in his entire career, now at 100 innings pitched.

Patrick Weigel

A seventh round steal from last year, Patrick Weigel has been strong as well for Rome. He has posted a 2.77 ERA this season, really hitting his stride in his last 5 starts with a 2.15 ERA and 32 K in 29.1 IP. He has the lowest prospect status of any of the rotation’s starters, but has a lot of helium with his great stuff (fastball into the upper 90’s) and is pushing for a promotion to A+ in the near future.

Jonathan Morales

Jonathan Morales garrett Spain

Morales started out 2016 on a tear, hitting over .300 into very late May. His horrid current streak has pushed his average down almost 50 points, since he has hit .089 in his last 12 games but with only 4 strikeouts. I’m thinking that .073 BABIP has a little something to do with it. He is a deserving candidate for the all star team, and was even more so when then teams were announced.

Ray-Patrick Didder

Ray-Patrick Didder Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

If the minor leagues had WAR, Didder would easily lead the Rome Braves in that category. He has provided great offense with a .385 OBP and 18 stolen bases (21 attempts) all while playing center field since the injury to Ronald Acuna. While his numbers are a bit propped up by a stellar first couple of weeks, he has still been solid since. He may be the fastest player in the system, as he can beat out triples on balls that don’t even make it to the wall.

Luke Dykstra

Luke Dykstra Garrett Spain

King Single has been punching balls through the infield all season long, with a system leading (tied with Albies) 69 hits, 56 of those singles, and leads qualified batters in the system with a .325 batting average. He hasn’t provided a ton of value outside of hits, but being 3rd in the league in batting average is not to be scoffed at.

Snubs

I actually didn’t find any. Acuna would have been an easy inclusion before his injury...but he has missed a lot of time so its an easily understood exclusion.