Over the last three weeks, I looked at my Top 30. You can revisit those links above, but today I am going to go the extra mile even though no one asked me to and add ten more players to the mix. This isn’t necessarily the first ten that were out of the mix, but one player for each position. Some of these could be sleepers who by mid-season, we might know a little more about as rising prospects in the system. Others are guys who have been around and probably are nothing better than where they are graded now, but could still find a spot with the Braves at some point.
A small note on grading…simple A-F grading scale with pluses and minuses added. To be a grade-A player, you have to be a top prospect in all of baseball and spoiler alert, there is not a grade-A guy in the system according to my grading. There is one A-, though, and a trio of B+ guys. Only 11 players received a grade of B- or better.
RHP Daniel Winkler, C….Picked up in last winter’s Rule 5 draft from the Rockies system, Winkler has tempting numbers in the minors over the last four years. In 76 starts, he has a 9.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and a 1.13 WHIP. He was on his way to a nice run in the Texas League last year before having his year cut short by Tommy John. I looked into Winkler when the Braves picked him and used a bit more detail than I will here, but there’s enough reason to believe Winkler will have a tough time staying healthy. Still, if you want a lottery ticket, you may as well go with the guy who led the minors in K’s during the 2013 season.
LHP Yean Carlos Gil, C….Maybe the most surprising player added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Gil pitched well at Rome last year. In 126.1 ING, he kept the ball in the park (only 3 HR) while striking out 93 over 126.1 ING. That’s Gil’s strength is getting some natural sinking movement and turning that into grounders to his infield. To the point, he has showed thoroughly impressive control. Still, Gil was old for his level last year and his numbers aren’t THAT impressive. He was probably the last or second-to-last guy that got pushed off the Top 30.
C Carlos Castro, D+….After Christian Bethancourt and Jose Briceno, the system is pretty bare of catching prospects. Castro has spent the last three years in the Dominican Summer League so his numbers last year, which were solid, are from a guy who played old for his level. He hit .308 with an .827 OPS over 49 games, which included 40 games behind the plate. Interestingly, this came a year after he moved from catcher-to-first. A right-handed hitter, Castro needs to get state side and produce to have much of a future.
1B Joey Meneses, C-….A native of Mexico, Meneses is the closest thing the Braves have to a first-base prospect in the minors right now. Last year, he hit .283 with 8 HR in 58 games with Rome, which was the second year he repeated the level. Obviously, injuries led to a reduced amount of games. Still, it was a good year that was capped off by hitting for the Cycle last May 10. Meneses could be a guy who climbs the charts with a big year in Carolina.
2B Elmer Reyes, C….I am a little surprised that Reyes, who is in his second year on the 40-man, didn’t get a look this spring. Just five at-bats for Reyes, who finished with 221 PA with Gwinnett last year and overall, hit .295/.329/.422 between AA and AAA. He’s a guy who could develop into a multi-positional guy with some hitting skills. Probably will never start for anyone, but could do just enough to be the 25th guy.
SS Daniel Castro, C….Unlike Reyes, Castro got a nice look this spring (16 PA) and didn’t do so bad with his time (5 hits and a walk). Castro has reasonably close numbers to Reyes, but is younger and a bit better with the glove. Between Lynchburg and Mississippi, Castro hit .286/.312/.398 last year. He’s hyper aggressive at the plate, but again, his glove could get him a chance to make a roster at some point.
3B Jordan Edgerton, C….I wrote about Edgerton last January and the 21 year-old out of UNC-Pembroke enters his first full season with Rome with a chance to do some stuff. He hit .275 with Danville after being drafted and his uppercut swing led to eleven sacrifice flies. He’s got some pop as well and while his defense needs work, there is a lot to like about Edgerton, who might turn out as the second-best hitter from the 2014 class for the Braves.
OF Elias Arias, C-….It’s hard to get excited about a 20 year-old in the Dominican Summer League where the average player is about 18, but Arias did hit .297 with 21 steals in 62 games last year. More impressive, especially from a young player with his background, was that he showed great plate discipline, walking 38 times to 39 K’s. I’ll get bullish about any 20 year-old who has a .406 OBP. He’s a guy I hope we see in Danville in 2015.
OF Blake Brown C-….It wasn’t much, but Brown finally showed some offense last year. An athletic, but raw fifth rounder in 2012, Brown hit .201 and .202 during his first two seasons in the minors, but upped that to .248 last year, including .261 with Lynchburg after earning his promotion. He showed much better plate awareness. He still struck out 120 times, but he walked 60 times and on-based .353. It’ll be interesting to see how long the new scouting team buys into Brown. The 23 year-old is still pretty raw, but there’s some talent there.
OF Sean Godfrey, C-….It’s rare that a 22nd rounder from the previous year’s draft gets even an at-bat with the big league club the next spring, but Godfrey is a rare bird. Drafted out of Ball State, Godfrey exploded as a professional, hitting .321/.358/.464 in stints with Danville, Rome, and even 11 games with the Hillcats last year. He was successful in 18 of 20 stolen base attempts and showed some range in center field. He’s definitely a long shot, but he’s a guy to watch in Carolina (or Mississippi if the Braves are especially aggressive).
And for extra credit, here’s one bonus player.
3B Juan Yepez, Not Graded….The last big splash the Frank Wren regime had in the international market included Yepez, who was the their top target out of Venezuela last year. Standing 6’0″ and 195 pounds, there was a lot to like about Yepez, who bats right-handed and has a quick bat with good power. Now, there are concerns he lacks the range to play third and will eventually be moved to first, but the Braves will deal with that if it ever happens. Hopefully, he’ll make his in-game debut this summer.
Thanks for reading and I’ll revisit the Top 30 sometime this summer.