#Braves prospects: Studs, duds and all the rest

Atlanta in 2017?

Ozzie Albies. He’s had little problem adjusting to Double-A pitching, with a .399 OBP and .453 slugging percentage. Triple-A was a different matter, which suggests he could probably use one more year of seasoning. He has a decent shot of breaking camp with the big club bur probably shouldn’t. Remember, he’s only 19.

Rio Ruiz. He’s bounced back from a miserable debut in the Braves organization but shouldn’t be counted on to man the hot corner for the parent club next year. Nine homers, 19 doubles and a .747 OPS are okay if you’re satisfied with Adonis Garcia-like production. I’m afraid the Braves might be.

Dustin Peterson. He profiles as a fourth outfielder but if he makes the same strides next year as he’s done in 2016 (.288-11-82, .788 OPS), he could develop into something more. Still probably a year away.

Sean Newcomb. Has pitched better of late but remains bedeviled by control issues, walking 68 in 129 IP with a 3.91 ERA. Otherwise, he’s averaged more than a strikeout per inning  while limiting opponents to a .232 BA. Overall it’s been a disappointing season for Newcomb, whom the Braves figured was just one year away when they acquired him. It’s looking more like two at this point.

A.J. Minter. The portly lefty, drafted last year when he was fresh off Tommy John surgery, may be the safest bet to start 2017 with Atlanta. He has 0.60 ERA in 15 IP with Mississippi, striking out 26 and walking just two.

Coppy’s drafts

Kolby Allard. Has settled down after a rough start at Rome, striking out 49 in 49-1/3 with a 3.83 ERA. Solid command sets him apart from most other Braves pitching prospects. He’s shown no ill effects from back surgery which caused him to slide out of the Top 5 picks in last year’s draft. Expect him to start in High-A next year.

Ian Anderson. He got rocked in his last start, his third for Danville, but has otherwise been solid in a short sample size: 29-2/3 IP, 27 H, 10 BB, 26 K, 2.43 ERA. Likely to be a Rome Brave in 2017.

Austin Riley. The naysayers point to his 137 strikeouts, compared to just 36 walks, as proof that he’s not the prospect the Braves think he is, but the 19-year-old has gotten better as the season progressed. Since July 1 he’s homered 12 times with an OPS near .900. The 19-year-old remains the best hope for power in the system.

Joey Wentz. Chosen 40th overall in this year’s draft, the tall lefty has a high ceiling and, surprise, trouble throwing strikes. He’s walked 16 in 22 IP at Danville, where he has a 6.55 ERA.

Kyle Muller. Selected four picks behind Wentz, Muller, another strapping southpaw, has dominated the Gulf Coast League, with a 0.67 ERA and 36 Ks in 26-2/3 IP.

Mike Soroka. Here’s a Braves prospect who throws strikes, walking only 30 in 130 IP. The Canadian right-hander, who has a 2.98 ERA at Rome, projects as a quality innings-eater every team needs.

Lucas Herbert. He’s known for his defense behind the dish, which better be outstanding considering his woes at the plate. Herbert’s .507 OPS means he’s likely to repeat next season at Rome.

Brett Cumberland. Another catcher, drafted more for his offensive potential. He’s yet to show it in 43 games at Danville, where he has a .643 OPS.

Patrick Weigel. The 2015 7th rounder is perhaps the top contender to win the organization’s pitcher of the year, which is even more impressive considering he was a reliever in college. In 129 IP at Rome, Weigel struck out 135 and held opponents to a .203 BA, earning a promotion to Mississippi.

Best of the rest

Touki Toussaint. Take away his first three starts for Rome, when he allowed 16 runs in 10-2/3 IP, and his 4.11 ERA sounds a lot better. For the year opponents are hitting just .219 off the slender right-hander and he’s struck out 112 in 120-1/3 IP. He’s got a plus fastball and the best curve in the organization but, you guessed it, struggles with command, walking 64 so far (same as Newcomb). Still, he’s taken a big step forward this year, further testament to the good work being done by Rome pitching coach Dan Meyer, best known as the prospect traded to Oakland for Tim Hudson.

Max Fried. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Fried has shown flashes, averaging a strikeout per inning at Rome, but would you believe he has trouble throwing strikes (44 BB in 92 IP)? He’ll be 23 on Opening Day so a promotion to Mississippi is not out of the question.

Ronald Acuna. Injuries cost him significant time this year but the 19-year-old showed promise at Rome, batting .300 with a .389 OBP and 12 steals in 30 games.

Travis Demeritte. Fans cheered the acquisition of this right-handed power bat, who hit 25 HR in the thin air of the California League this season. But the holes in his swing have been exposed by Carolina League pitchers, who have struck out Demeritte 36 times in 80 ABs.

Duds

Braxton Davidson. Another wasted pick by Frank Wren. The best thing you can say about Davidson, chosen in the 1st round in 2014, is that he walks a lot. Hitting is a different matter (.224 BA, .367 slugging, 168 Ks in 118 games for the High-A Mudcats).

Lucas Sims. Among the players chosen after Sims, the 21st overall pick, in the 2012 draft: Marcus Stroman, Stephen Piscotty, Lewis Brinson and Joey Gallo. After bombing in Gwinnett, Sims returned to Mississippi where he’s walked 49 in 77 IP. Yes, Southern League opponents are hitting just .185 against him,  but can he take the next step? I have my doubts.

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