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Spring Training Prospect Invitations: Atlanta Braves

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

Top 50 Prospects: #6 – Julio Teheran

#6 Julio Teheran

Atlanta Braves

DOB: 1/27/1991

Pre-2011 Rank: 13

ETA: 2011

Teheran is the kind of guy every team loves to see atop their prospect list.  Good build, athletic, aggressive, good makeup.  Teheran is all of these and more.  He features a four-pitch arsenal with his fastball, coming in anywhere from 94-97 mph, somehow not the best pitch he has.  He also features a double-plus changeup with tremendous fade and plane.

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS IP BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2008 17 ATL-min Rk 1 2 6.60 6 6 15.0 4 17 1.467 10.8 1.2 2.4 10.2 4.25
2009 18 ATL-min Rk,A 3 4 3.65 14 14 81.1 18 67 1.180 8.6 0.4 2.0 7.4 3.72
2010 19 ATL-min A+,AA,A 9 8 2.59 24 24 142.2 40 159 1.037 6.8 0.6 2.5 10.0 3.98
2011 20 ATL-min AAA 15 3 2.55 25 24 144.2 48 122 1.182 7.7 0.3 3.0 7.6 2.54
2011 20 ATL NL 1 1 5.03 5 3 19.2 8 10 1.475 9.6 1.8 3.7 4.6 1.25
1 Season 1 1 5.03 5 3 19.2 8 10 1.475 9.6 1.8 3.7 4.6 1.25
162 Game Avg. 9 9 5.03 43 26 167 68 85 1.475 9.6 1.8 3.7 4.6 1.25

His mechanics are much cleaner now than they were at this time last year, and he should open the season in Atlanta.  He made five appearances for the big club in 2011 and was bad, but he was also 20, and the ceiling on a guy like Teheran barely exists.  The only thing holding him back right now is his breaking stuff.  His slider and curveball are both below-average offerings, and we personally think anyone with Teheran’s arm acceleration stands a better chance of learning to be aggressive out front with a slider than a curveball.  His Triple-A numbers are outstanding, posting a 2.55 ERA in 144.2 innings.  He struck out 122 and walked 48 and only allowed five Triple-A dingers all year.  He’s a stud and has really nothing left to prove on the farm.  We expect Teheran to challenge for the NL Rookie of the Year award and then for some Cy Young’s in a few years.


Top 50 Prospects: #30 – Arodys Vizcaino

#30 Arodys Vizcaino

Atlanta Braves

DOB: 11/13/1990

Previous Rank: N/R

ETA: 2012

Due to the Braves’ outstanding mismanagement of the bullpen in Atlanta, they were forced to temporarily convert Vizcaino into a reliever for the last few months of the season.  He made 17 appearances for Atlanta and walked too many guys, but was otherwise effective and posted a 4.67 ERA and struck out nearly a guy an inning.

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS IP BB SO
2008 17 NYY-min Rk 3 2 3.68 12 6 44.0 13 48
2009 18 NYY-min A- 2 4 2.13 10 10 42.1 15 52
2010 19 ATL-min A,A+ 9 4 2.74 17 17 85.1 12 79
2011 20 ATL-min AA,A+,AAA 5 5 3.06 26 17 97.0 28 100
2011 20 ATL NL 1 1 4.67 17 0 17.1 9 17
1 Season 1 1 4.67 17 0 17.1 9 17
162 Game Avg. 4 4 4.67 68 0 69 36 68
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2011.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2008 17 NYY-min Rk 3 2 3.68 44.0 1.159 7.8 1.0 2.7 9.8 3.69
2009 18 NYY-min A- 2 4 2.13 42.1 1.157 7.2 0.4 3.2 11.1 3.47
2010 19 ATL-min A,A+ 9 4 2.74 85.1 1.066 8.3 0.2 1.3 8.3 6.58
2011 20 ATL-min AA,A+,AAA 5 5 3.06 97.0 1.134 7.6 0.6 2.6 9.3 3.57
2011 20 ATL NL 1 1 4.67 17.1 1.442 8.3 0.5 4.7 8.8 1.89
1 Season 1 1 4.67 17.1 1.442 8.3 0.5 4.7 8.8 1.89
162 Game Avg. 4 4 4.67 69 1.442 8.3 0.5 4.7 8.8 1.89
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2011.

For a 20-year-old in a playoff race, those numbers are pretty impressive.  The problem now is that the Braves will have to make a difficult decision in terms of how to use Vizcaino in 2012, and the organization has never shown a propensity for patience.  We at the Sombrero are under the impression that the Braves will force Vizcaino into a bullpen role to open 2012, offering themselves almost zero flexibility in how they use him for the season.

The righty tossed 114.1 innings in 2011 and could probably jump to around 130-150 in 2012 if used as a starter with a chance of reaching 200 innings by 2014 health permitting.  The Braves could also use him in 2012 in what will mostly be low-leverage seventh inning outings and stall his development by at least a year.

Vizcaino has a fastball that reaches the upper-90s, but sits in the 93-95 mph range.  He is a tad under-sized, so there is less plane to his stuff than we prefer.  However, he gets some ride to his fastball on the arm side, and his breaker is a true 60 pitch.  His third pitch is a changeup that currently is average, but he hasn’t used it often enough because he spent so much time in the pen.

With 15-20 starts in the high Minors, it is very possible that Vizcaino could reemerge in Atlanta with three plus or better pitches and improved command making him an immediate impact arm in the NL East.

Top 50 Prospects: #33 – Randall Delgado


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