It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Julio Teheran(SP)- Teheran is still the top of the Braves system in my opinion. Still has potential for three above average pitches despite struggling a bit last year. I tend not to give up on top prospects after one tough year, especially young ones.
2. J.R. Graham (SP)- Graham has an above average fastball and slider, with his fastball having some good sink. Good athleticism means he should command well. Change still needs a bit of development.
3. Lucas Sims (SP)- Sims is one of those rare high schoolers with a four pitch mix. His fastball has above average to plus potential, and he shows ability to throw both a slider and curve. The change is a bit behind, but he shows a good one of those from time to time as well.
4. Mauricio Cabrera (SP)- Cabrera was impressive as an 18 year old in 2012. With an above average fastball that already touches the mid 90’s, Cabrera has one of the more impressive ceilings in the system. Command will have to further, but he shows good feel for a change up already as well.
5. Alex Wood (SP)- Wood has a good arm, sitting in the upper 80’s and low 90’s with his fastball. He also has a good change up as well, though reviews are a bit mixed on his breaking ball. Looks to be a mid-rotation ceiling, but will have to sharpen his breaker along the way.
6. Sean Gilmartin (SP)- Gilmartin is the classic command lefty that fits as a back of rotation type starter. Fastball in the upper 80’s, and solid, but not spectacular secondary offerings.
7. Jose Peraza (SS)- I like shortstops that at a young age show an ability to control the strike zone with the bat, and have the chops to stick around defensively at the position. He’s a good athlete, and has a frame that could add some pop along the way as well.
8. Luis Merejo (SP)- Another 18 year old on the list, Merejo shows an advanced ability to pitch. Could have an above average fastball from the left side and a plus curve down the road. He shows a good ability to throw strikes but will need to work on command a bit more.
9. Edward Salcedo (3B)- I still think Salcedo has a chance to be a quality hitter, but like a lot of young Latin players, he needs to tone down the aggression a bit and find pitches he can drive. He should stick at third and be pretty good over there despite looking awkward at times.
10. Tommy La Stella (2B)- I haven’t seen La Stella in person yet, but everyone I know that has raves about his approach with a bat in his hand. Also, he is known as a solid athlete that should have no problem sticking at second base defensively.
Just Missed The List:
Bethancourt has fantastic skills behind the plate defensively, it’s with a bat that he struggles. Gattis has plus power but no defensive position. Lipka is still a wonderful athlete, and could move up the list as he develops his hitting approach.
I don’t know much about Cornely except he isn’t talked about a lot and his strikeout rate is excellent. Hence, a sleeper. Perez on the other hand was much talked about, and it seems his control is an issue, but the stuff is good, and if he starts throwing strikes regularly, he will emerge.
The system is of course heavy on pitching. I know that I am quite a bit lower than most on Bethancourt, but his struggles with the bat are holding me back. I really like their top four pitching prospects though, enough that it got the Braves system into the middle half of my rankings. That, coupled with some potential high upside youngsters and a good amount of relief pitching depth, gives the Braves a solid system.
Where the Braves system lacks is with the bats. La Stella and the young Peraza are the two guys right now that I have a bit of faith in. I worry about Salcedo and Bethancourt reaching their considerable ceilings however. Carlos Franco is interesting, but he is 21 already and hasn’t played full season ball yet.
As a side note, this system was getting ranked 19th regardless of the deal that went down for Justin Upton.