As Spring Training rapidly approaches and speculation surrounding the future of baseball’s brightest prospects spreads like wildfire, The Golden Sombrero will highlight some of the notable Spring Training invitees from each organization.
Joe Terdoslavich, 1B: The 6-foot-1 switch-hitter had a monster season for High-A Lynchburg in 2011 as he batted .286 with 52 doubles, 20 home runs, and 82 RBI in 536 plate-appearances. Although he slugged .526 and tallied 254 total bases, Terdoslavich fanned 107 times compared to only 41 walks – a ratio that could worsen if he seemingly begins the year in Double-A. Entering his age 23 season, he is blocked at first base by Freddie Freeman, but that’s fine. He has plenty of work left to do in the Minor Leagues. Best-case scenario: A switch-hitting bat off the bench once the rosters expand in September.
Sean Gilmartin, LHP: Selected by the Braves as the 28th selection in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, Gilmartin logged 23.1 innings after signing, most of which was for Rome in the Sally. There he posted a 2.53 ERA while striking out 30 and walking only two – he did yield three home runs, though. The left-hander is a polished collegiate pitcher with an 88-92 mph fastball and plus changeup. He’ll likely begin the year in Double-A, but given his pitchability, athleticism and experience, Gilmartin could make his MLB debut towards the end of the 2012 season if the conditions (injuries and/or playoff status) are right. However, he’s towards the back of a long line of Braves pitching prospects.
Julio Teheran*, RHP: Ranked by The Golden Sombrero as the No. 6 prospect in baseball headed into the 2012 season, Teheran really has nothing left to prove in the minors. Prior to an unimpressive late-season call-up, Teheran was dominant at Triple-A: 15-3, 2.55 ERA, 122 strikeouts, and 48 walks over 144.2 innings. Although he features four pitches, his fastball and change up are his only plus pitches and it showed in his five MLB appearances. Unfortunately for Teheran, there’s no current spot for him. But if the always-fragile Braves’ rotation were to sustain an injury or trade some of their other pitching prospects, he will undoubtedly be recalled. Teheran has one of the highest ceilings of all pitching prospects.
Tyler Pastornicky*, SS: Pastornicky does nothing exceptionally well on the baseball field, except for possibly his defense, but is sound in facets of the game. Splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, the right-handed hitter slashed .314/.359/.414 with 27 extra-base hits and 27 stolen bases. His bat doesn’t have much pop, but he finds a way to put the ball in play and collects his fair share of knocks. With a gaping hole at shortstop for the Braves, Pastornicky is the best in-house option, and the re-signing of Jack Wilson to mentor the 22-year-old indicates that he should be their guy on Opening Day.
Andrelton Simmons, SS: Even though Pastornicky will likely get the nod as the Braves’ Opening Day shortstop, Andrelton Simmons is their future. Widely considered to be big-league ready defensively, Simmons took a step forward at the plate in 2011 by slashing .311/.351/.408 with 35 doubles and six triples over 570 plate-appearances. Like Pastornicky, Simmons makes a lot of contact, as reflected by his 43 strikeouts and 29 walks. However, he is also 22-years-old and only left the yard once last year – he homered twice in 2010. Furthermore, Simmons will need to improve his ability as a basestealer after getting nabbed 18 times in 44 attempts last season. He should begin the season in Double-A and play well enough for the Braves to question their use of Pastornicky at shortstop, but a full year at Double-A will be crucial towards his development.
*On team’s 40-man roster