K26dp

Top Prospect 2016 Review - #1-29

66 posts in this topic

26 minutes ago, ATLBrave said:

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.

Yeah.

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2 hours ago, ATLBrave said:

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.

Agreed. If Maitan shows he's ready, he'll play.

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Sean Newcomb, LHP
Age: 23
Rank: 5
2016 Level: AA Mississippi

3.86 ERA
3.19 FIP
27 G, 27 GS, 140 IP
4.56 BB/9, 9.77 K/9

Newcomb was a 1st-round draft pick (15th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels in 2014 out of the University of Hartford. In 2015, Newcomb rocketed up the Angels farm system, making stops in class-A, A+, and finishing at AA with a combined 2.38 ERA and striking out over 11 batters per nine innings. The results however hid some concerning peripheral numbers, most notably he walked over 5 hitters per nine.

Newcomb was traded that offseason to Atlanta along with fellow righty Chris Ellis for shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The Braves assigned him to AA Mississippi and he struggled in the early going as his walk rate remained uncomfortably high and he was unluckier than the prior year with batted balls (.321 BABiP against through May). Newcomb’s command gradually improved over the course of the year, and he pitched very well down the stretch, a 2.08 ERA in August with 3.34 BB/9 and 11.31 K/9. Newcomb was solid in the playoffs for Mississippi, getting 2 starts and pitching to a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, walking 9 and striking out 11. Baseball America named Newcomb the #8 prospect in the Southern League.

Newcomb is 6’-5” and 225 pounds, broad-shouldered and formidable on the mound. He has a deceptively easy delivery that he repeats well. Despite this, he has below average control that typically manifests itself in one inning a game where it becomes difficult for him to throw a strike. Newcomb’s fastball sits in the 92-94 range, hitting 96 with good movement. It plays up thanks to a plus curveball with a tight spin that can be hard for hitters to pick up. Newcomb has been working on a change-up that is at least average at this point and can be a weapon against right-handed hitters. When Newcomb is on, he pounds the lower half of the strike zone to get ground balls and swinging strikes and occasionally buzzing the fastball high to change the hitter's eye-line.

Due to his frame, left-handedness, and stuff, Newcomb often gets compared to Jon Lester. Indeed, Lester had similar control issues in the minors as he was climbing the Boston farm system ladder. There doesn’t appear to be anything mechanically that causes Newcomb’s bouts of wildness, and it may just be the an issue that will correct itself with repetition. The Braves have to be delighted with how Newcomb finished his 2016 season, and while results-wise he looks to have taken a step back, his peripherals such as FIP and BB/9 showed improvement. If Newcomb builds on that he could be a contributor in Atlanta by the end of 2017, and he has the stuff to possibly be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher if he can put it all together. Newcomb will likely begin the 2017 season in class AAA Gwinnett.

On Outfield Fly Rule.

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Mike Soroka, RHP
Age: 19
Rank: 4
2016 Level: A Rome

3.02 ERA
2.79 FIP
25 G, 24 GS, 143 IP
2.01 BB/9, 7.87 K/9

Soroka was a 1st-round pick (28th overall) by Atlanta in the 2015 draft, a compensation pick from the loss of Ervin Santana in free agency. Soroka was a prep star from Calagary Christian HS in Calgary, Alberta and a member of the Canadian Junior National Team.  Soroka trained with former Brave and fellow Canadian Chris Reitsma. Soroka impressed in his pro debut in the rookie leagues, pitching to a 3.71 ERA with 37 strikeouts to 5 walks in 34 innings. Soroka was assigned to class-A Rome for 2016 as the fourth youngest player in the South Atlantic League. Despite his youth, Soroka was Rome’s best and most consistent starting pitcher in the first half (2.92 ERA, 15 walks, 65 strikeouts in 71 innings). Soroka faded slightly in the heat of July, but rallied in August and was brilliant in his two playoff starts, opening each playoff series with a win and pitching to a combined 0.61 ERA in 14.2 innings, striking out 10 and walking only 1 batter. His 158 innings total was the highest workload by a high school first-rounder in his first full season in 10 years. Soroka was able to rack up those innings by being extremely efficient, generating a 52% groundball rate and averaging only a little over 3.5 pitches thrown per batter. Baseball America named him as the #7 prospect in the South Atlantic League. 

Soroka is 6’-4” and 195 pounds with a repeatable, clean delivery out of a 3-quarters arm slot. While his pure “stuff” may not play up to the levels of his rotation-mates, Soroka is ahead of them in command and control, and already has five pitches that rate average to plus. Soroka has a two-seam and a four-seam fastball that can be difficult for a hitter to pick up. The two-seamer is a sinker while the four-seamer is a cutter, and both sit 90-93, but he can reach back for 95 when needed. His best off-speed offering is a change-up that has enough sink that it can be effective against both left- and right-handed batters. His fourth pitch is a curve that breaks horizontally down and away from right-handed batters.  

Despite his youth, Soroka’s development has been rapid, and of all the Braves impressive stable of 20-and-under pitching studs, he has the most feel for his craft. He will likely start the season in class-A+ Florida, but if all goes well a mid-season promotion to AA Mississippi wouldn’t be surprising. 

On Outfield Fly Rule.

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Kolby Allard, LHP
Age: 19
Rank: 3
2016 Level: A Rome

2.98 ERA
3.05 FIP
16 G, 16 GA, 87.2 IP
2.57 BB/9, 9.75 K/9
(stats for Rookie and class-A levels combined)

Allard was a 1st-round draft pick in 2015 (14th overall) out of San Clemente HS in California. Widely considered one of the top prep arms and a potential top-5 pick, Allard’s stock dipped in March 2015 when he suffered a stress reaction in his back. There was speculation that with his draft stock dropping Allard would honor his commitment to UCLA, but Allard agreed to join the organization for a slightly over-slot bonus. Allard pitched only 6 innings in his pro debut season (allowing 1 hit, 0 runs, and striking out 12 of the 20 batters he faced), but the Braves pulled the plug after back pain resurfaced. Allard had surgery after the season, and stayed in extended spring training to continue rehab when spring training broke in 2016. 

Allard’s rehab went very well, and he was cleared to pitch before the short-season leagues started, so Allard was sent to Rome to start his season. Allard made three starts with Rome in June. The first two had poor results as Allard had to deal with both rust and higher level competition. His third start however would be a portent of things to come as he shut out Greensboro for 5 innings. Demoted back to Danville as the Appalachian League season started, Allard dominated in five starts, pitching to a 1.32 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 5 walks in 27.1 innings pitched. Allard returned to Rome on July 22 and had a 2.61 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 16 walks in 48.1 innings pitched to finish out the regular season. Like he fellow Rome starters, Allard was lights-out in the playoffs, not allowing a run in two starts while striking out 10 and walking 3 in 12 innings. After the season Allard was named the #4 prospect of the Appalachian League and the #5 prospect of the South Atlantic League by Baseball America.

Allard is 6’-1” and 180 pounds, and does not look like he’ll get appreciably bigger. He has a simple delivery out of a 3-quarters arm slot. Allard has a fastball that sits in the low 90s that he already exhibits plus command with, able to hit spots up, down, and to either side. Allard complements the fastball with a tightly-spin, sharp-breaking 12-6 curveball that’s already a plus pitch. Allard is working on a change-up that he hasn’t nailed the command on yet, but that he masks well in his delivery.

In a system full of bright pitching prospects, Allard is one of the crown jewels and my pick for best in the system. With his back issues behind him (heh), Allard will likely advance to class A+ Florida to start 2017. If he maintains his command and develops his third pitch, Allard could be a front-of-the-rotation star for the Braves within a few seasons.

On Outfield Fly Rule.
 

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Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS
Age: 20
Bats: S
Rank: 2
2016 Level: AA Mississippi

.292/.358/.420 
125 wRC+
6 HR, 30 SB
8.4 BB%, 15.5 K%

Albies was an international amateur free agent signee out of Curaçao in 2013, getting a $350,000 signing bonus from the Braves. Relatively overlooked because of his small stature by many scouts, Albies started to turn some heads when he hit a combined .364/.446/.444 and stole 22 bases in 57 games in his first pro season in the rookie leagues. That offseason, former Fangraphs Lead Prospect Writer (and current Braves Assistant Director of Baseball Operations) Kiley McDaniel named Albies his #1 Braves prospect to the surprise of nearly everyone. 

Over the course of the 2015 season, many came around to his point of view as Albies hit is way through the South Atlantic League to the tune of a .310/.368/.404 slash line while making highlight-reel plays at shortstop. Albies designation as Braves shortstop-of-the-future was solidified with the offseason trade of Andrelton Simmons, but then complicated again by the Braves acquisition of Dansby Swanson from the Diamondbacks. Far from being rivals, the two prospects developed a fast friendship in spring training even as they alternated playing shortstop and second base in Grapefruit League action. 

While it was understood that the Braves likely would keep the two separated at first so that they could both work at shortstop, it was Albies that was chosen to skip and make his AA debut as the youngest player at that level (by seven months). Albies exploded out of the gate, hitting .369/.442/.512 in the first month, prompting a promotion to AAA Gwinnett. It was there that Albies finally struggled for essentially the first time in his pro career and he hit only .239/.276/.368 in his first month. In June, Albies started to turn things around and he hit a respectable .273/.349/.345 while making the move from shortstop to second base as the organization at last made its decision on which of which prospect would play where in their inevitable double-play combo.  On June 30, the organization made it official as Albies was sent back to AA Mississippi to team with Swanson. Albies continued to hit well, going .305/.373/.451 the rest of the season on his way to a Southern League batting title. Unfortunately, in the first game of the Southern League Championship Series, Albies suffered a fractured olecranon (the bone at the tip of the elbow) after fouling off a pitch in his second plate appearance. After the season, Albies was named the #3 prospect in the Southern League and the #11 prospect in the International League.

At only 5’-9” and 160 pounds, Albies looks like the teenager that he is. However, don’t let the size fool you into thinking he’s only a slap-and-dash speedster. Albies has a very quick swing, excellent bat control and contact ability, and good pitch recognition. He’s patient enough to take a walk, but not so passive that pitcher should feel like he can ever get an easy strike if he gets down in the count. His bat speed and control allows him to put enough charge in the ball to hit liners over the infielders and into gaps, as his 33 doubles and 10 triples on the season will attest to. Albies’ 6 home runs came as a little bit of a surprise, but given his bat speed that type of home run output may not be out of the question on a regular basis. Albies has plus speed and is a good and aggressive baserunner. He still needs to work on reading pitchers and getting better jumps on stolen base attempts, and he’s only 75% successful in his pro career as a basestealer. Albies rates as above average in arm strength and plus in range at both shortstop and second base, but can sometimes try to do too much on high-difficulty plays that can lead to errors. Because of his relative inexperience with second base, he still needs to refine his footwork around the bag, especially on the double-play pivot.

The Braves have extracted 89.4 bWAR in value from the island of Curaçao thanks to Andruw Jones, Jair Jurrjens, Andrelton Simmons, and Randall Simon. Ozzie Albies is poised to add to that number in 2017. There was no ligament damage to his elbow in conjunction with the elbow fracture, and Albies is expected to make a full recovery and resume baseball activities in January. This should put him in line to compete for an opening day roster spot in Atlanta. If the Braves elect to send him back down for some more seasoning, or perhaps just to delay his pro debut enough to keep Albies from getting Super 2 arbitration status, Albies will likely start in AAA Gwinnett. 
 

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Dansby Swanson, SS
Age: 23
Bats: R
Rank: 1
2016 Level: MLB Atlanta

The Results

.275/.362/.426
127 wRC+
9 HR, 13 SB
10.6 BB%, 17.9 K%
(A+ and AA levels combined)

Dansby Swanson was the 1st overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt University by the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a college player, Swanson won the College World Series in 2014 with his Commodore teammates and was the series MVP. The following season, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the top college baseball player. Swanson signed with Arizona for a $6.5 million signing bonus, but shortly afterwards was hit in the face with a pitch from teammate Yoan Lopez in an instructional game. Swanson finally made his pro debut in late August, and helped the class-A Hillsboro Hops to a league championship.

Swanson became the first player drafted #1 overall to be traded in the following offseason when the Diamondbacks shipped him to Atlanta as part of a package for right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller. After a strong spring training, which saw him and fellow shortstop prospect Ozzie Albies alternate playing shortstop and second base, Swanson was assigned to the class-A+ Carolina Mudcats. Swanson spent the month of April abusing pitchers to the tune of .333/.441/.526 and started a trend for his season when he hit an inside-the-park home run as his first pro four-bagger. A promotion to AA Mississippi followed and he hit .276/.359/.448 in May. The dog days settled in however, and he grinded a .253/.333/.378 line from June 1 through August 14, hitting 8 homers including another of the inside-the-park variety.

Perhaps despite his AA offensive performance and likely eager for some good publicity in the middle of an awful season, Atlanta promoted Swanson to the big leagues on August 17. Despite being admittedly tired from the longest season of baseball in his life, Swanson rose to the challenge and went .302/.361/.442 with 3 home runs (including yet another inside-the-park for his first major league HR) in 37 games with Atlanta, coming in two at-bats shy of losing his rookie eligibility for 2017. After the season, Swanson was named the #1 prospect of the Southern League by Baseball America.

Swanson is 6’-1”, 190 pounds and comes with tools that rate average-to-plus across the board. His batting eye and strike zone judgement are good, and he uses exceptional bat control and a short stride to make contact with anything near the strike zone. That stride however limits his power potential at this time, so he’s not much of an over-the-fence threat despite good raw power. Instead, he’ll hit line drives to all fields. This plays into his above average speed, and he’s a threat to lead the majors in doubles. That speed also plays well as a baserunner, and he knows when to pick his spots for stolen base opportunities. Defensively, Swanson should be an above average defender at shortstop due to good hands, excellent footwork, and an above average arm. In short, there is no one thing that he does exceptionally better than anyone else, but he does just about everything very well. That includes more intangible virtues like leadership ability.

Swanson will start the 2017 season with the Atlanta Braves as the starting shortstop, and could be a cornerstone player for some time likely eventually settling in as a top-of-the-order hitter. He will enter the year as a likely consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball and an early contender for Rookie of the Year.

Here's the write-up at Outfield Fly Rule.

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On 11/1/2016 at 9:15 AM, K26dp said:

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.

 

 

WOW!!! Dude's scouting report reading a lot like AJ. If he's another AJ who's able to consistently post numbers like AJ did in 2000 then wow. Now I can see why he's on everyone's untouchables list.

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Great read, thanks for putting in the time to write this up.

I never realized how many pitchers we have in the farm system. This really put it into perspective just how many we have.

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My updated top 50 after the trades of this week:

1. Swanson
2. Albies
3. Allard
4. Soroka
5. Newcomb
6. Maitan
7. Toussaint
8. Fried
9. Anderson
10. Acuna
11. Riley
12. Peterson
13. Ruiz
14. Weigel
15. Jackson
16. Demeritte
17. Pache
18. Minter
19. Sims
20. Wentz
21. Muller
22. Davidson
23. Yepez
24. B. Wilson
25. Severino
26. Cruz
27. Cumberland
28. Sanchez
29. Gutierrez
30. Camargo
31. Morris
32. Morales
33. Didder
34. Moore
35. Withrow
36. Herbert
37. Mader
38. Lien
39. Walker
40. Seymour
41. Harrington
42. Dirks
43. Ventura
44. Scivicque
45. I. Wilson
46. Roney
47. Hursh
48. Clouse
49. Odom
50. Parsons
 

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43 minutes ago, K26dp said:

I wrote up Luiz Gohara here.

He's coming in #12 on my list.

 

Kinda crazy that he was a top 5 prospect for the Mariners and doesn't even crack our top 10. Love the depth we have built down there.

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