The Atlanta Braves are still trying to replace Chipper Jones.
They moved Joey Terdoslavich to third base in hopes he would somehow be a competent third baseman despite being a statue at first base. They brought Juan Francisco on board with dreams of big homer totals, but couldn’t live with his .281 OBP as a Brave. Chris Johnson was given a long-term deal despite not having long-term success. Even when a young third baseman looked like he would be ready to contribute, they traded him away (I still am iffy on the Kyle Kubitza trade).
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But now, they have a couple of options that could be in Atlanta for good before long. Of course, Rio Ruiz is the front runner. Acquired in the Evan Gattis trade, Ruiz is in AA right now struggling with the bat, but it’s difficult to hit when you have a .207 BABIP. He’ll be fine. Though, if he wasn’t and somehow forgot to hit once he came to Atlanta, there is another option. In Rome, Jordan Edgerton has hit from the moment he joined the system last June and looks like he might be grow into a good prospect. In fact, that 2014 class looks pretty good for a guy (Frank Wren) who didn’t care about the farm system (because that totally makes sense).
Born August 30, 1993 in Mount Holly, North Carolina, Edgerton grew up like so many southern kids in the 90’s did. He was a Braves fan. But he went undrafted out of high school and he wasn’t much of a target by a big school in the ACC or SEC. Instead, he went to the University of North Carolina-Pembroke of the Peach Belt Conference. Yeah, that’s a thing, apparently. It’s worth mentioning that the mascot for Pembroke is the Braves. As for Edgerton, he hit just .248 as a freshman, but did play in 38 games which shows that Pembroke was counting on him to be a big part of the picture.
In 2013, Edgerton broke out as a sophomore. He flirted with .400 before finishing with a .392 average. He filled out his stats line with 19 2B, a triple, nine homers, and six steals. He didn’t walk much, but he rarely struck out (14 walks, 17 K’s). His junior campaign saw his average “fall” to .369, but he increased his OBP via a ridiculous 22 BB/9 K rate. He also slugged .608 and stole 13 bases. For his run at Pembroke, Edgerton slashed .352/.398/.545 with 22 HR in 591 AB and 20 steals. It’s worth mentioning that Pembroke is a hitter’s park, though.
Baseball America ranked Edgerton as the 437th best player in the 2014 draft, but the Braves had Edgerton hit the top of their draft board when their ninth round selection and 283rd overall pick came up. A few weeks later, they settled on a $115,000 bonus and Edgerton reported to Danville for the 2014 season. He had a multiple hit game in his first game and homered in his fourth outing. In his first home game, he doubled three times against Greeneville. His first eleven games included 17 RBI as he hit .439 with a 1.236 OPS. His numbers over the final two months slumped as his OPS during that run was closer to .600. He homered just once over 48 games and showed an obvious preference for hitting southpaws over right-handers.
Nevertheless, he was a guy who attracted some interest last offseason. When Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs was asked about guys from each round who had improved their stock from where it was when they were drafted, Edgerton was mentioned specifically as a guy out of the 9th round who “ATL LOVES the early returns on.”
So far this season, that love affair has only continued. In 30 games with Danville, Edgerton has yet to homer, but has hit .342/.379/.436. He’s been a bit more aggressive and isn’t walking nearly as much as he did last season and his strikeouts are slightly up, but a .815 OPS has a way of making things look a bit better.
The scouting report on Edgerton isn’t quite finished because he remains young, but there is some questions if he’ll hit for much power. He has a line drive stroke and will make a lot of contact. On the high end, he could be a 35 double, 20 HR type with good on-base numbers to boot. But that’s the high end. One thing is for sure is that the Braves love his makeup and there is obvious pluses in his numbers that justify that love. What could possibly derail him? If the lower end looks more probable and he hits 25 doubles with single digit homeruns like the Braves sadly found from Joe Leonard, that could certainly hurt his chances.
A bigger concern in my mind is his defense. While the pre-draft reports didn’t put much stock in his high error numbers at Pembroke, so far, he has continued to struggle defensively. In 83 professional games, he has 20 errors. Now, any minor league observation of error totals comes with the caveat that minor league infields aren’t nearly as professionally taken care of as major league infields, the guys at first are rarely as adapt at saving their infielders, and minor league defenders often are still learning not to rush every throw. That’s all well and good, but for Edgerton to become a real prospect, he has to stay at third because his bat is unlikely to be as intriguing as a left fielder. For what it’s worth, Ruiz has twice as many errors well over three times as many games.
But Edgerton still could surpass Ruiz at some point, though it would be a surprise mainly because of how well regarded Ruiz is – I had Ruiz fifth with a B grade before trading Craig Kimbrel brought Matt Wisler aboard. Ruiz is sixth now. Edgerton missed my Top 30, though the graduations of a couple of players could push him into the Midseason Top 30, but he’ll still be well below Ruiz. But long term, Edgerton has a profile that could have Edgerton climbing the prospect charts provided he stays at third base.
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