Over the past few years, the Atlanta Braves farm system has produced some top-notch players. A number of the Braves young stars, including Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, and Kris Medlen, honed their skills in the franchise’s minor-league system. The Braves recently traded away some of their best prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks; however, the franchise still has plenty of talented youngsters left on its minor league teams.
Here are the top five Braves’ prospects:
1. Julio Teheran, Pitcher: The lefty started his minor league career in 2008, when he was only 17 years old. Teheran quickly progressed up the ranks. In 2011 he started for Atlanta’s AAA affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves, and was nothing short of spectacular. He finished the season with a 15-3 record and a 2.55 ERA. Teheran regressed in 2012; however, he is still young. The Braves think highly enough of prospect’s skills that they are offering him a chance to earn the fifth spot on the major league team’s starting rotation. Teheran has done well so far in spring training and is the favorite to win the spot.
2. J.R. Graham, Pitcher: The 23-year-old righty has a tremendous amount of potential. He demonstrated as much when he completed the 2012 season with a 12-2 record and a 2.80 ERA. Granted, Graham was doing his damage at the Class A and AA levels; nonetheless, his overall performance was still impressive. The prospect’s most awe inspiring skill might be his ability to throw a fastball that tops 100 mph.
3. Christian Bethancourt, Catcher: The Braves love Bethancourt’s defensive skills. However, his offensive abilities are not as polished. Bethancourt’s career .265 BA and .297 OBP leave significant room for improvement. With that said, it is important to remember that the Braves prospect is only 21 years old. He has plenty of time to develop his hitting skills. Even given his batting woes, the youngster has a shot at garnering a spot on the Brave’s regular season roster-at least until Braves catcher Brian McCann comes off the disabled list.
4. Sean Gilmartin, Pitcher: The Braves believe that Gilmartin is capable of a being a great pitcher, or at least they did when they selected him with their first pick of the 2011 draft. Gilmartin seemed to live up to that promise during much of 2011 and 2012. He pitched admirably during stints at Rookie League, A, and AA. Gilmartin struggled a bit in his seven starts at the AAA level, going 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA; however, the prospect is not even 23 years old yet. He has plenty of time to develop into a star player.
5. Lucas Sims, Pitcher: Sims is still a teenager, but the Braves were impressed enough with his abilities to take him 21st overall in last year’s draft. Sims experienced some growing pains in his first year in the minor leagues but showed flashes of brilliance.
The author has followed Major League Baseball for many years and is a fan of the Atlanta Braves.