K26dp

Top Prospect 2016 Review - #1-29

66 posts in this topic

Cristian Pache, OF
Age: 18
Bats: R
Rank: 16
2016 Level: Rk Danville

.309/.349/.391
114 wRC+
0 HR, 11 SB
5.5 BB%, 10.2 K%
(stats from two rookie league levels)

Pache was an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in the 2015 signing period, signing with Atlanta for a $1.4 million bonus. Like fellow signee Derian Cruz (see #27), Pache started his first pro season at age 17 stateside in the Gulf Coast League, and like Cruz he started very well, hitting .283/.325/.377 and only striking out 11 times in 106 at-bats. Also like Cruz, he was promoted to Danville after a month in the Gulf Coast League. Unlike Cruz, Pache actually improved his performance after his promotion, hitting .333/.372/.404. After the season, Baseball America named Pache the #10 prospect in the Gulf Coast League and the #9 prospect in the Appalachian League.

Pache is a complete toolkit of a player, with a good hit tool, good raw power, enough defensive range to play any outfield spot, the arm to play right field, and potential plus baserunning. While his swing can get long right now, he has extremely good contact ability and will spray the ball with authority to all fields. He hasn’t translated his raw power to over-the-fence power yet, but once he fills out that should come as well. Currently he’s a lanky 6’-2”, 185 pounds. As long as he maintains his conditioning, he should be able to stick in center field.

The Braves have shown to be more than willing to push international prospects, and I expect Pache to make his A-ball debut in Rome on Opening Day, where they should have another fun team full of top-notch prospects.
 

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Travis Demeritte, 2B
Age: 22
Bats: R
Rank: 15
2016 Level: A+ Carolina

.266/.361/.554
142 wRC+
28 HR, 17 SB
12.6 BB%, 33 K%
(stats from class A+ High Desert and Carolina)

Demeritte was a 1st-round pick by the Texas Rangers out of Winder-Barrow HS in Georgia in 2013, and traded mid-season 2015 to the Braves for RHPs Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez. At the time of the trade, Demeritte was leading the class high-A California League in home runs, in part thanks to playing in video game-like conditions at High Desert, but after the July trade he continued to knock extra base hits in Carolina. Demeritte was selected to represent the Rangers in the 2016 Future’s Game and was Atlanta’s feature player in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s been getting rave reviews by national scouting pundits for his defensive play.

Demeritte is listed at 6’-0” and 180 pounds, but he generates power with a big, violent swing. While he has an advanced hitting eye, the swing is prone to hit-and-miss. So far Demeritte looks like a “three-true-outcomes” kind of hitter, generating lots of home runs, walks, and strikeouts, and his ceiling is only limited by how much he can reduce his strikeout rate. It will be interesting to see if the Braves encourage Demeritte to shorten his stroke to generate more contact at the expense of power. Demeritte has good speed and will be a base-stealing threat. While he’s got the hands and arm to play shortstop, his range is more suited to second base or third base, and he’s been playing both positions in the AFL.

After the Miller-for-Swanson/Inciarte/Blair deal, the trade that sent spare parts Lucas Harrell and Dario Alverez for Demeritte may work out to be John Coppolella’s second best trade of the rebuild. Demeritte at the minimum will be a power-hitting utility infielder in the majors, and has the potential for being a Javier Baez-esque talent. He will start the season in AA Mississippi, but his presence gives the Braves options at both second and third base long-term.

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To me Demeritte might be the most intriguing guy we have in the minors. I'd be stoked if he turned into a Baez or Dozier type player for us.

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5 hours ago, Ransack said:

To me Demeritte might be the most intriguing guy we have in the minors. I'd be stoked if he turned into a Baez or Dozier type player for us.

Dozier seems like a very likely comp IMO. Dozier isn't very good defensively and doesn't hit for average but dude's got pop. Over 40 homeruns this year.

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29 minutes ago, Falconsfan567 said:

Dozier seems like a very likely comp IMO. Dozier isn't very good defensively and doesn't hit for average but dude's got pop. Over 40 homeruns this year.

From what the scouting reports say Demeritte is pretty good with his glove so I could handle it balancing out if he doesn't hit 40 HR's a year. Plus defense and 25+ HR's would exceed my expectations.

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1 hour ago, Ransack said:

From what the scouting reports say Demeritte is pretty good with his glove so I could handle it balancing out if he doesn't hit 40 HR's a year. Plus defense and 25+ HR's would exceed my expectations.

I think from what k26dp's post said that Demeritte has good hands and handles the balls that are hit to him but doesn't have the range to get to a lot of balls that aren't hit straight to him.

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18 hours ago, Falconsfan567 said:

I think from what k26dp's post said that Demeritte has good hands and handles the balls that are hit to him but doesn't have the range to get to a lot of balls that aren't hit straight to him.

That's not quite what I meant, sorry if it's unclear. He would have above average range at both 2B and 3B. At SS he would be average. He's quite a bit better defensively than Dozier.

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Patrick Weigel, RHP
Age: 22
Rank: 14
2016 Level: AA Mississippi

2.57 ERA
3.61 FIP
27 G, 26 GS, 157.1 IP
3.55 BB/9, 9.21 SO/9
(stats from A and AA levels)

Weigel was Atlanta’s 7th-round pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Houston. Coming into the draft, the book on Weigel was that he was a hard thrower without a lot of control and mediocre secondary offerings, and many scouts didn’t see much more than a fringe reliever. The Braves obviously thought they could do something with him however, and officials would often point to Weigel as a potential “steal”. His first season in Danville (4.53 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9) didn’t exactly blow anyone away, but he also showed he wasn’t just the brain-dead thrower that he was advertised to be. In 2016 he was included with heralded starters and first-rounders like Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, and Max Fried in the Rome starting rotation and became the team’s most reliable workhorse with a 2.51 ERA and leading the team in innings per start. In late August, the Braves decided to challenge Weigel with a promotion, skipping the high-A level completely and going straight to AA Mississippi. If Weigel was intimidated by the promotion, he didn’t show it, pitching to a 2.18 ERA his last three regular season starts. Weigel pitched 7 innings of shut-out ball against Pensacola in the Southern League Division Series and was the Game 3 starter for the Championship Series, but he didn’t have it that night, only getting two outs and giving up 4 runs before being pulled. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable season for Weigel, who was named the #10 prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America and the Organizational Pitcher of the Year by the Atlanta Braves after the season.

Weigel is an imposing 6’-6”, 220 pounds and he uses that length and sturdiness to generate quick acceleration to the plate. He has a 3-quarters arm slot that he repeats well. Despite the early reports of control problems, Weigel spots his fastball very well, and he will sit in the mid-90s late into games, touching triple digits on occasion. His slider has a late-breaking downward slant that works as a good swing-and-miss offering. His curveball, considered pretty much a disaster when drafted, now is a potential plus pitch, a tight loop that can be difficult for hitters to distinguish from his slider until it breaks out of the zone. His change-up is still a work in progress, and his move to AA will force him to have to throw it more.

No pitcher in the Braves organization improved his stock more than Weigel this season. He has electric stuff and three potential plus pitches, and if the change-up develops the Braves could have a potential top-of-the-rotation jewel that they stole in the 7th round of a draft. Weigel will likely start the season back in AA Mississippi, but could be a fast riser in 2017.

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2 hours ago, K26dp said:

That's not quite what I meant, sorry if it's unclear. He would have above average range at both 2B and 3B. At SS he would be average. He's quite a bit better defensively than Dozier.

Alright. Sounds great.

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1 hour ago, Falconsfan567 said:

@K26dp, is it realistic to think that we could see Weigel in Atlanta down the stretch next year?

Unlikely, but not impossible. 

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Rio Ruiz, 3B
Age: 23
Bats: L
Andy's Rank: 13
2016 Level: MLB Atlanta

.271/.355/.400
118 wRC+
10 HR, 1 SB
11.4 BB%, 21.8 K%
(AAA only)

Ruiz was a 4th-round pick in 2012 out of Bishop Amat HS in California by the Houston Astros. Ruiz was traded to Atlanta along with RHPs Mike Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman for DH Evan Gattis before the 2015 season. Coming off a strong season with the Astros high-A affiliate, and with no strong third base prospects in the pipeline for Atlanta, hopes were high for Ruiz as he began the season at AA Mississippi as one of the youngest players in the Southern League. Unfortunately, Ruiz started very slow out of the gate and just couldn’t get anything going. While exhibiting an advanced batting eye, Ruiz had a tendency to roll over the ball when he made contact, and he struggled throughout most of the season. Ruiz continued to work on his batting mechanics, and he seemed to turn a corner late in the season, batting .285/.350/.472 from August 1 through the end of the season. It’s been well-publicized that John Hart personally challenged Ruiz to work on his conditioning in the offseason, and Ruiz arrived in spring training noticeably slimmer and moving better. His good work prompted the Braves to challenge Ruiz with a AAA assignment. Despite being the youngest position player in AAA, Ruiz rose to the challenge and was a strong performer at Gwinnett, though he suffered a set-back in May while playing through a strained oblique. Ruiz was rewarded with a September call-up to Atlanta, where he had two hits in 7 plate appearances, including a triple.

Ruiz is a disciplined hitter who can make good contact to all fields, but is at his best when he can pull the ball for line drives. Ruiz worked last season to simplify his load to make his bat faster on inside pitches, and that work paid off as Ruiz was noticeably quicker to the ball. Even when he struggles, Ruiz will maintain a solid OBP by working counts and drawing walks. For the first time in his pro career, Ruiz did exhibit a sharp platoon disadvantage against left-handed pitchers, likely due to the level of competition he faced. In the field, Ruiz improved from below-average to above-average last season as his improved conditioning played off in increased range and better first steps to the ball. Ruiz has shown good hands and an above-average to plus arm for third base. Improved conditioning also improved his baserunning; while he won’t be a basestealer, Ruiz has a good step out of the box and will take the extra base.

After being a position of weakness for the Braves system, third base should now be considered a strength. Austin Riley, Travis Demeritte, Juan Yepez, and Kevin Matain are all prospects that could see time at third base for Atlanta in the future, but Rio Ruiz is the closest to the majors right now. Ruiz will most likely start the season back in AAA Gwinnett, but there’s a possibility that he could start in Atlanta as a platoon-mate with Adonis Garcia. If he builds on the strides he made last season and evens out his production against left-handed pitchers, Ruiz could be the everyday third baseman in SunTrust Park before the end of 2017.

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Dustin Peterson, OF
Age: 22
Bats: R
Rank: 12
2016 Level: AA Mississippi

.282/.343/.431
124 wRC+
12 HR, 4 SB
7.8 BB%, 17.3 K%

Peterson was a 2nd-round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2013 draft out of Gilbert HS in Arizona. Peterson was part of the package of players Atlanta received in the Justin Uption trade before the 2015 season, along with IF Jace Peterson (no relation), OF Mallex Smith, and LHP Max Fried. Drafted as a third baseman, the Braves immediately converted him to the outfield full time. Peterson started 2015 in class A+ Carolina, and looked like he was on the verge of an offensive breakout when he was injured in the team bus crash of late May. While he returned after 2 weeks, the effects of the crash seemed to linger through the dog days, and his overall numbers (.251/.317/.348) ended up being fairly pedestrian. On the basis of a strong showing in instructionals and spring training, the Braves challenged Peterson with an assignment to AA Mississippi. Peterson responded with an impressive showing despite being one of the youngest position players in the league, with a career high OPS and finishing second in the Southern League in RBI (88) and fourth in slugging (.431). Peterson’s power started to emerge about 1/3 through the season, and while his 12 HR total doesn’t seem that impressive, Mississippi’s Trustmark Park has one of the largest outfield dimensions in the minors, and several fly balls that would have been homers in neutral parks ended up being one of his league-leading 38 doubles. After the season Peterson was named the #12 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America and the Organizational Position Player of the Year by the Atlanta Braves. Peterson was chosen by the Braves to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Peterson has an advanced hitting approach and the bat speed to be a source of power in a big league line-up. Peterson’s swing can get long which makes him susceptible to high velocity, but otherwise he has simple mechanics that he repeats nearly every plate appearance, a near-complete turnaround from the complex high leg-kick and multiple hitch-swing he showed when he first joined the organization. While Mississippi played Peterson occasionally in centerfield, Peterson profiles as a corner outfielder due to his lack of covering speed. Peterson does get good jumps on the ball and has an above-average and accurate arm. Peterson does not have a lot of speed, but is a smart baserunner who can take advantage of a pitcher not paying attention to him and will take the extra base. 

Peterson doesn’t have all the tools that some of the other high-profile position players in the system possess, but there’s not a lot of holes in his game at this point either. His floor at this point seems to be a strong 4th outfielder, but could be a solid starting contributor. Peterson will likely start the season in AAA Gwinnett in 2017, and could be the first outfielder called up if there is an injury or trade.
 

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Austin Riley, 3B
Age: 20
Bats: R
Rank: 11
2016 Level: A Rome

.271/.324/.479
128 wRC+
22 HR, 3 SB
7.3 BB%, 27.3 K%

Riley was a 1st-round supplemental pick by the Braves in 2015 out of DeSoto Central HS in Mississippi, a pick that the Braves acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade. A two-way star in high school, most teams were scouting Riley as a pitcher, but the Braves liked his raw power and drafted him as a third baseman. Riley firmly put himself on the Braves prospect map with strong performances in the rookie leagues (.304/.389/.544 with 12 HR) and then in instructionals. The Braves assigned Riley to class A Rome to start 2016. Riley struggled in the first months of the season, but as if someone flicked a light-switch, Riley lit up the second half of the season. Riley hit 15 of his 22 home runs after July 1 and raked to a .282/.347/.568 clip in the second half to help propel Rome to the South Atlantic League playoffs. Riley added two more homers in the playoffs and knocked in 8 runs. After the season, Riley was named the #13 prospect in the South Atlantic League.

Riley represents the top prospect in the Braves organization in terms of in-game power. Riley doesn’t generate the power through exceptional bat speed, but from the raw strength of his 6’-2”, 230 pound body. Riley’s swing has a natural uppercut that can produce loft, and when he has his arms and hips moving through the zone in sync he can hit the ball out of any ballpark. The concern with Riley’s offensive game is his bat-speed. Early in the year, Riley would have to start his swing early in order to keep up with good fastballs, which also made him susceptible to breaking pitches, causing him to strikeout 30+% of his plate appearances. Riley made good in-season strides to remedy this, but it still remains a point of concern. Defensively, Riley is a work-in-progress. While he has a plus arm for third and shows good range for a big man, Riley doesn’t have the natural instincts of the third baseman. He also isn’t particularly sure-handed. Some of this can be chalked up to Riley’s relative inexperience at the position, since he mostly pitched in high school, but there is a real chance Riley will have to move to an outfield corner or first base. On the bases, Riley can move quickly once he gets up a head of steam and will be aggressive to take the extra base.

Riley is one of the most exciting position player prospects in the organization because of his potential power. His path to the majors will be dictated on his continued adjustments to better pitching and how well he adapts to third base. There’s still a good bit of risk with Riley as there’s not many players that make it in the majors with slow bat speed, and if he has to move off third base that bat will have to carry him. Riley will take his next step in class A+ Florida in 2017.
 

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Ronald Acuña, OF
Age: 19
Bats: R
Rank: 10
2016 Level: A Rome

.311/.387/.432
139 wRC+
4 HR, 14 SB
10.5 BB%, 16.4 K%

Acuña was a 2014 international amateur free agent, signing out of Venezuela for a $100,000 signing bonus. After impressing team officials during the instructional league that off-season, the Braves skipped Acuña over the Dominican Summer League and brought him straight stateside and the Gulf Coast League for 2015. Six weeks into his first pro season, Acuña was promoted to Danville, and he put up a combined .269/.380/.438 line over the course of both stops. At this point, Acuña started popping up on national prospect lists as a potential break-out star. In spring training, Acuña got kudos from no lesser authority than Andruw Jones, who is now a special assistant with the team. Acuña was assigned to class A Rome as the fourth youngest player in A-ball and immediately established himself as a star on the team, hitting .300/.389/.391 through May 9, when a bad slide into second base tore ligaments in his thumb knocking him out of play until late August. He returned just in time to boost the R-Braves into the playoffs, hitting .342/.381/.553 in the final 10 games of the regular season. In the postseason he scored three times and knocked in another three to help Rome win the South Atlantic League championship. Baseball America has named him the #12 prospect in the South Atlantic League.

Acuña is listed as 6’-0” and 180 pounds, but the eye-test has him already filling out past those measurements. If you like tools on a baseball player, Acuña is the prospect for you, already rating above average in hit, power, speed, defense, and arm strength. Acuña has very good bat speed and demonstrates above average pitch recognition for his age. Acuña has shown plus raw power, but hasn’t brought it in-game yet; he should put the ball over the fence consistently as he matures. In the field, Acuña is an excellent route runner, with enough closing speed to man centerfield well, and the arm strength to play right. One concern as he grows bigger is if will be able to stay in center, but he’s been more than capable so far.

When it comes to the complete physical package, nobody in Braves full-season ball compares to Acuña and he possesses perhaps the highest ceiling of any Braves position player (second possibly to Kevin Matain). While it’s possible that with missing half the 2016 season the Braves elect to keep Acuña in Rome to start the 2017 season, I think they’ll continue to be aggressive with his placement and start him in high-A Florida. With his package of talent and maturity, its possible Acuña will become the latest teenage rapid-mover following in the heels of Ozzie Albies, Rafael Furcal, and Andruw Jones, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he debuts in Atlanta by 2018.

On a personal note, the play of the year I saw in person was Acuña tracking down a deep fly into the right field gap, the spinning an gunning the ball back to first base to double off a runner at first base on a two-hop throw in the playoffs.

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Ian Anderson, RHP
Age: 19
Rank: 9
2016 Level: Rk Danville

2.04 ERA
2.93 FIP
5 G, 5 GS, 39.2 IP
2.72 BB/9, 8.17 SO/9
(stats from two rookie league levels)

Anderson was a 1st-round pick for Atlanta in 2016 (the third pick in the draft overall) out of Shenedehowa HS in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. Anderson was slowed his senior year of high school by pneumonia, and wasn’t heavily scouted, but the Braves had him targeted early. Anderson agreed to a $4 million signing bonus, which saved the Braves $2.5 million in their bonus pool to spread out on their over-slot signings. From draft day on however, the Braves have insisted that Anderson wasn’t a purposeful overslot pick and that he was the guy they wanted at that spot. While the Braves were carefully monitoring Anderson’s workload as he was re-building strength, so far the early results have justified the pick. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Anderson debuted with 18 scoreless innings spread over 5 starts. Pushed to Danville, Anderson gave up some runs (3.74 ERA in Danville), but his peripheral numbers stayed mostly in line with his Gulf Coast stint.

Anderson is a somewhat lanky 6’-3”, 170 pounds but projects to fill out some. He hasn’t quite figured out how to get that length all working together and his wind-up up can look a little jerky and sudden. Even so, Anderson’s fastball sits around 93-95 mph with a nice late break. To complement the fastball, Anderson can consistently pound the lower half of the strikezone with a biting change-up and a late-breaking curveball, both of which already rate as plus offerings. Anderson also gets good marks for mound presence and poise above what would be expected for an 18 year old in his first pro experience.

While his control and quality of pitches make him a top-10 pick for me, his mechanics give me reason to wonder about future potential injury. If the Braves can work Anderson through those mechanical tweeks to allow the rest of his body to absorb some of the work he’s currently making his arm do and still maintain that control, the Braves may have a very special player on their hands. 
 

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43 minutes ago, K26dp said:

Ian Anderson, RHP
Age: 19
Rank: 9
2016 Level: Rk Danville

2.04 ERA
2.93 FIP
5 G, 5 GS, 39.2 IP
2.72 BB/9, 8.17 SO/9
(stats from two rookie league levels)

Anderson was a 1st-round pick for Atlanta in 2016 (the third pick in the draft overall) out of Shenedehowa HS in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. Anderson was slowed his senior year of high school by pneumonia, and wasn’t heavily scouted, but the Braves had him targeted early. Anderson agreed to a $4 million signing bonus, which saved the Braves $2.5 million in their bonus pool to spread out on their over-slot signings. From draft day on however, the Braves have insisted that Anderson wasn’t a purposeful overslot pick and that he was the guy they wanted at that spot. While the Braves were carefully monitoring Anderson’s workload as he was re-building strength, so far the early results have justified the pick. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Anderson debuted with 18 scoreless innings spread over 5 starts. Pushed to Danville, Anderson gave up some runs (3.74 ERA in Danville), but his peripheral numbers stayed mostly in line with his Gulf Coast stint.

Anderson is a somewhat lanky 6’-3”, 170 pounds but projects to fill out some. He hasn’t quite figured out how to get that length all working together and his wind-up up can look a little jerky and sudden. Even so, Anderson’s fastball sits around 93-95 mph with a nice late break. To complement the fastball, Anderson can consistently pound the lower half of the strikezone with a biting change-up and a late-breaking curveball, both of which already rate as plus offerings. Anderson also gets good marks for mound presence and poise above what would be expected for an 18 year old in his first pro experience.

While his control and quality of pitches make him a top-10 pick for me, his mechanics give me reason to wonder about future potential injury. If the Braves can work Anderson through those mechanical tweeks to allow the rest of his body to absorb some of the work he’s currently making his arm do and still maintain that control, the Braves may have a very special player on their hands. 
 

It usually takes tall pitchers a while to figure out their delivery and how to smooth it out.

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2 hours ago, Falconsfan567 said:

It usually takes tall pitchers a while to figure out their delivery and how to smooth it out.

Yep. When he does, he'll probably be the #1 prospect for the Braves. 

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5 hours ago, K26dp said:

Yep. When he does, he'll probably be the #1 prospect for the Braves. 

I didn't like the pick at first, but I think Anderson is going to be a very good pitcher for the Braves. He's young too so he has a lot of time to figure things out

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Max Fried, LHP
Age: 23
Rank: 8
2016 Level: A Rome

3.93 ERA
3.97 FIP
21 G, 20 GS, 103 IP
4.11 BB/9, 9.79 K/9

Fried was a 1st-round pick (7th overall) by the San Diego Padres in the 2012 draft out of Harvard-Westlake HS in California. A much-hyped prep standout, Fried had solid but underwhelming seasons for the Padres in 2012 and 2013. After only 10 innings into the 2014 season, Fried was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. That offseason, Fried was the centerpiece in the Justin Upton deal. The Braves played it cautiously with Fried, extending his rehab through the entire 2015 season, and only taking the wraps off for the instructional league. In the spring Fried was assigned to class A Rome and unsurprisingly came out of the gate a little rusty with his command. While Fried would flash the stuff that made him such a prospect, Fried’s command came on slowly, and that lead to short outings and the occasional blow-up start through the first two months of the season. Fried started turning that around mid-season, and pitched to a 1.06 ERA in seven starts in June and July while striking out 44 and walking 11 in 34 innings pitched. Blister issues knocked him out of a July 15 start and onto the disabled list, but it’s possible the extra rest did him good. He finished off the season in style, striking out 10 or more batters in each of his final four starts, including both playoff series clinchers. After the season, Fried was named by Baseball America as the #6 prospect in the South Atlantic League.

Fried is a tall and lanky lefty, listed as 6’-4”, 180 pounds. Fried has an uncomplicated, upright wind-up and comes from a 3-quarters delivery. Fried’s command can desert him when he doesn’t stick his front foot landing, but this issue went almost completely away by mid-season. Fried has a strong arsenal of pitches that includes both a four-seam and two-seam fastball. The four-seamer is the primary pitch, and sits 92-94 in games, but can touch 97. He has a plus curveball that he can alter the spin rate on to make a slower, loopier offering or a harder, late-breaker that is his bread-and-butter swing-and-miss offering. Fried works in a change-up that has become an average pitch for him, and late in the season he was getting good movement with that pitch. No conversation about Fried would be complete without acknowledging his outstanding pick-off move, and he averaged over 1 caught-stealing every two starts.

Other than the blister issue that kept him out for five weeks, the Braves couldn’t have asked for a better second half for Fried coming off nearly two seasons off the diamond. Fried will be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule V draft. He will likely start the season in class A+ Florida, but I would guess there’s a more than fair chance he follows his Rome rotation mate Patrick Weigel in skipping class A+ and going straight to class AA Mississippi.                                                                                                                                                                          

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Touki Toussaint, RHP
Age: 20
Rank: 7
2016 Level: A Rome

3.88 ERA
4.56 FIP
27 G, 24 GS, 132.1 IP
4.83 BB/9, 8.71 K/9

Dan Gilbert Kiti “Touki” Toussaint was a 1st-round pick (16th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. Toussaint was part of an unusual trade in 2015, when the Diamondbacks sent Toussaint and veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo to Atlanta for utility infielder Phil Gosselin. Arroyo was injured and not expected to play at all in 2015, so essentially the trade was the equivalent of the Braves paying Arizona the $10.1 million remaining on Arroyo’s contract for the rights to Toussaint.

Arizona may have gotten scared off Toussaint by a terrible rookie season (8.58 ERA over two rookie leagues) with ugly peripherals on the side. The start of his 2015 season starting in class-A Kane County had a better start to it, but his peripheral stats still looked bad, as did his max-effort delivery that Toussaint had a difficult time replicating, causing periodic bouts of wildness. After 7 starts, Arizona pulled the plug and Toussaint became the Braves puzzle to solve. At the time however, the Braves got high praise from national baseball pundits for the trade.

Toussaint got to work in Rome after the trade, and the surface results were worse. Toussaint admitted that he was pressing to impress his new organization, but he was also working on refining his delivery. Toussaint was assigned back to Rome for 2016, and slowly the refinements started baring fruit. From the start of the season through the end of June, Toussaint was walking 4.88 batters per 9 innings. While limiting batter contact (.218 batting average against), the walk rate plus bad timing with home runs resulted in a 4.63 ERA over that time. In the second half, Toussaint was able to bring all three of his pitches into games more often, and his strikeout numbers spiked up. He still minimized batter contact; the walk numbers remained high, but he started limiting the damage. Toussaint was at his best down the stretch, with a 2.34 ERA in August and September, saving his best start of the season for the South Atlantic League championship series, 8 innings of 4 hit, 1 run, 6 strikeout ball in which he didn’t walk a single batter. Baseball America named Toussaint the #15 prospect in the South Atlantic League after the season.

Toussaint is listed as 6’-3” and 185 pounds, but looks to have filled out a bit. What impressed scouts before his draft was his raw stuff. Toussaint brings to the table a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 97. He backs that up with a monster 12-6 curveball. Toussaint relied heavily on the curveball to generate strikeouts early on, because while fast, his fastball was very straight. The Diamondbacks forbade Toussaint to throw the curveball in order to work in the change-up. While that didn’t help his stats much, it did help him start to get a feel for the pitch to the point that it’s now a quality third pitch. The Braves have been working with Toussaint to tame his delivery, which was over the top and threw his balance wildly off the left of the mound. Toussaint has lowered his arm slot to 3-quarters, which has helped tame his follow-through to make it more repeatable. It’s also had the benefit of giving his fastball more movement, which is what accounted for his strikeout increase in the second half. It’s not a given every night, been when everything is in synch, Toussaint is one of the most formidable pitchers in the minor leagues.

The next step for Touki is likely class A+ Florida and further work on making his delivery as consistent as possible. One thing that is always consistent is Toussaint‘s willingness to work and take coaching. He gets high grades for attitude and comportment, and is a popular player in the clubhouse and with fans.

Here's the same information on Outfield Fly Rule, with pics and gifs.

Falconsfan567 likes this

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Kevin Maitan, SS
Age: 17
Bats: S
Rank: 6
2016 Level: Instructional League

Maitan was an international amateur free agent, signing out of Venezuela for a franchise record $4.25 million signing bonus. Maitan was rated the #1 prospect in the 2016 international signing class by Baseball America, and there had been buzz around his potential and a connection to the Braves as early as 2014, when Maitan was only 14 years old. By July 2 of 2015, it was essentially an open secret that Atlanta and Maitan had a handshake agreement in place. 

What makes Maitan so intriguing his is overall package of tools, athleticism, and baseball intelligence. At age 16, he’s already man-sized at 6’-2”. 175 pounds (and that’s probably out of date at this point), which points to possible prodigious power. That power has been seen in circuit games, where he also has demonstrated advanced pitch recognition and approach. Maitan has also shown above average speed, but that’s the most likely tool to drop as a physically matures. So far at least, that speed has allowed him to play shortstop well enough given his overall athleticism and plus arm. Reports from instructional league play last month was that Maitan acquitted himself well at the position. That said, an eventual move to a corner is still likely.

The adage “there’s no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect” is undoubtedly true, and that applies to Maitan as much as anyone. That said, when scouts are comparing a 16-year-old to the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Sano, or Chipper Jones, it’s worth paying attention to, and Maitan will start his professional career in 2017 as the most-hyped Braves prospect since Jones joined the organization in 1990. The Braves will almost certainly start him off in the Gulf Coast League.
 

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K26dp, do you remember back to 2003, the Marlins were good but not great and about midseason that year they called up both Dontrelle Willis and a then 20 year old Miguel Cabrera and those two helped put them over the top and they ended up winning the World Series that year. Then anything like that could happen with Maitan in 3 or 4 years at age 20? Or do you think the Braves will be more protective of him than that?

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Atlanta hasn't shown themselves to be hesitant to pull the trigger on a prospect, either by giving him a shot with the big club or moving him up a level in the minors. If Maitan proves to be the legit prospect he's hyped up to be, then I sincerely doubt they will hold back with him.

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