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Aug 11, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Joey Terdoslavich (25) celebrates after scoring in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Rundown: Braves Top Prospects / Mid-Season 2013 (#10-6)

 

Throughout this month we at Tomahawk Take have looked at Braves prospects beginning when our own Alan Carpenter began the countdown from 20 to 1, looking at prospects 20 through 16 of our next generation of Atlanta Braves – the best prospects, as we see them.  Chris Headrick followed up last week with 15 through 11.  As we’ve pointed out all along, we hope you’ll keep in mind that these rankings are fluid, and our list is by no means set in concrete.  These are the players we see a great deal of potential in right now.  The list is always subject to change, and we may be able to provide data and information on some players more so than others.  What we hope to present though is a good snapshot of the potential we see in these players at this point in time.  As Chris noted, we have used, as our sources, expert reviews from a variety of analysts, stats, as well as our own eye tests for this list.

At the end of our 20-1 countdown, we’ll also be taking a look at 10 or so more who didn’t quite make our top 20 list, but who we think you need to keep your eye on.  Okay, with all that said, let’s proceed with our 2nd feature in the countdown, and take a look at the Braves’ Top Prospects from 10 through 6….

 

10.  Edward Salcedo

  • Birthdate:  July 30, 1991 (age 22)
  • 6’3″, 210 lbs.
  • Third Baseman
  • 4th year pro
  • 2010 International signing
  • Throws Right; Bats Right
  • ETA to Majors:  2015

Credit: Braves.com

Edward was a very high-profile signing in early 2010 and made a quick leap to the states, coming over to Rome as an 18 year-old.  He has posted consisted double-digit home runs with 20 steal speed along the way, but he has been nothing short of horrible defensively at shortstop and even after moving to third base, and he struggles with plate discipline.

Anyone watching Edward sees the tremendous athleticism, but when you look down and see that Salcedo has walked roughly 7.5% of his minor league plate appearances while striking out roughly 24% of those appearances along with a terrible 66% success rate on the bases.  Salcedo may be loaded with talent, but the tools have not turned into skills quite yet.

Best case scenario with Atlanta:  Salcedo could be a guy with moderate power and speed at the major league level if he can build on the slight increase in plate discipline that’s been seen this year (8% walk rate and 22% strikeout rate in 2013 in AA).  His defense is where he needs the most work.  If all chips continue to fall correctly, he could be in perfect position to take over in 2016 at 3B if the Braves choose not to pay Chris Johnson in arbitration when he could be at or above 7 figure salaries.  Aside from that, Salcedo’s best case scenario could be flashing skills to the point to be a headline prospect in a trade for the Braves.

 

9.  Tommy La Stella

  • Birthdate:  January 31, 1989 (age 24)
  • 5’11”, 185 lbs.
  • Second Baseman
  • 3rd year as a pro
  • 11th round pick 2011 Atlanta Braves. (Coastal Carolina University)
  • Throws Right; bats Left
  • Currently assigned:  Mississippi Braves, Double-A Southern League
  • ETA to Majors:  Possible September call-up, otherwise 2014

Credit: thedugout.com

The “prospect radar” may have ignored Tommy La Stella since his drafting in 2011, but anyone tracking the numbers sure hasn’t missed him.  La Stella hears the common things many 24 year-old prospects in AA hear – too old for the level, not enough “outstanding” tools, big league utility future.  All of which may be true, but Tommy possesses one thing that most of those guys simply do not have: an amazing eye.  La Stella has accumulated 102 walks and only 81 strikeouts in 948 plate appearances.  I don’t care what age or level you’re at, those numbers are strikingly good.  Because of that great eye, Tommy has hit .327 in his minor league career thus far and been on base at a .409 clip!

Tommy has really caught eyes this year as he moved to AA.  For many hitters, AA is where they encounter their first taste of “elite” breaking pitches, and many lesser prospects end up never making it beyond AA because of this.  Not only has La Stella handled this transition, but he’s excelled, hitting even better than his minor league career numbers (.343/.415 BA/OBP).  Tommy doesn’t have a ton of other skills, showing minimal power and more smarts than speed on the basepaths, but guys like Wade Boggs and, to a lesser degree, James Loney have had long major league careers without significant power or speed elements with a very good bat.  La Stella, while not an ace defender, is also no slouch defensively either, which could lead to a quick call up.

Best case scenario with Atlanta: Easily the best case scenario for La Stella would be for Dan Uggla to find a way out of Atlanta before the guy ahead of him on this list, Jose Peraza, gets a chance to get to Atlanta.  La Stella has the skills to be a solid top of the order guy for Atlanta, getting on base ahead of the big boppers in the lineup.  He will need to continue to show his skills in spring training and could see a look if the team does move Uggla in the offseason.

 

8.  Jose Peraza

  • Birthdate:  April 30, 1994 (age 19)
  • 6’0″, 165 lbs.
  • Shorstop
  • 3rd year pro
  • International signing in 2010 from Venezuela
  • Throws Right; Bats Right
  • Currently assigned:  low-A ball, Rome Braves, South Atlantic League
  • ETA to Majors:  2017

Credit: Atlantadugout.com

Peraza is making a big jump this year into the eyes of many prospect observers’ radars.  There are already many comparisons to a former Braves shortstop, Rafael Furcal, being thrown around.  Peraza is a slick-fielding shortstop from Venezuela that the Braves signed as a 16-year-old in 2010.  He began his pro career in 2011 and 2013 is his second year in the U.S. playing.  Peraza has always been heralded for his defense and his speed, but he is showing a very well-rounded future leadoff profile in Rome this season, hitting .282/.342/.361, but a deeper look into the numbers show that he’s actually cut back his strikeout rate from the GCL Braves time he had last season and significantly increased his walk rate (7.6% of plate appearances compared to a high of 5.6% in his previous two seasons).  The real calling card of Peraza offensively is his tremendous speed, and many players have blazing speed, but no intelligence once they get on the basepaths.  Peraza not only has the speed, but his 82% success rate on stolen bases says he has an idea of what to do with it once he’s on base.

Projection for the future: Peraza is likely moving if he remains with the Braves to another position as they already possess arguably the best defensive shortstop in the major leagues.  Peraza has a good arm, but nowhere near the elite level of Andrelton Simmons, so if he remains on the Braves, a move to second base is quite likely, and the range up the middle if Simmons and Peraza were paired together would be absolutely incredible!  If Peraza continues to jump up prospect lists the way he has this last season, however, he may be able to fetch an incredible return in trade, so we may never get to realize that pitcher’s dream of a middle infield.  The Braves have been searching for a leadoff bat since the aforementioned Furcal, however, so a naturally-developing one in their own system may be very hard to part with.

 

7.  Joey Terdoslavich

  • Birthdate:  September 9, 1988 (age 24)
  • 6’0″, 200 lbs.
  • First Baseman
  • 4th year pro
  • Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays, 35th Round, 2007. Drafted by the Atlanta Braves, 6th Round, 2010 (California State Long Beach).
  • Throws Right; Bats Switch
  • Currently assigned:  Atlanta Braves
  • ETA to Majors:  2013

February 20, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Joey Terdoslavich (73) poses for a picture during photo day at Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Joey’s last name may lead to some snickering nicknames, but his bat is certainly no laughing matter.  He has been on the radar of many Braves fans since his exceptional performance in 2011, both at Lynchburg and then at the Arizona Fall League.  Terdoslavich is a switch-hitter, and he hits with solid power from both sides of the plate.  He has more of a line-drive power swing, so he generates more doubles than home runs, but power is power, and while it’s not ALWAYS true, in general doubles power in the minor leagues leads to home run power as a player physically matures.  Joey has a small stature for a “slugger”, standing 6′ tall (and that may be a stretch by an inch or two) and only tipping the scales at 200, but he has a compact swing that should serve him well.

Now the problem: as swell as Joey is with the bat, he’s equal as stinky with the glove (my 4 year-old nephew will appreciate that comparison).  After his breakout 2011 campaign, the Braves tried to hurry his bat to the majors as an heir to a retiring Chipper Jones by moving him to third base.  The results were horrid at best.  Even at first base, Terdoslavich has 35 errors in 215 minor league games.  He was moved to right field this season in the minor leagues, and while his range was nothing to write home about, he reportedly has handled corner outfield passably.

Projection for the future: If the Braves played in the AL, Terdoslavich would have a long career as a DH/fill in corner infielder/outfielder ahead of him, but with the Braves at the moment, he’s best utilized as a bat off the bench.  A change of scenery could really allow Joey to break out, but the Braves really like his bat.  They could give 3B one more try, but the most likely destination is an excellent bench bat with the Braves or a trade elsewhere.

 

6. Cody Martin

  • Birthdate:  September 4, 1989 (age 23)
  • 6’2″, 225 lbs.
  • Pitcher (RH starter)
  • 3rd year pro
  • 20th round pick, Minnesota Twins, 2010; 8th round pick, Atlanta Braves, 2011 (Gonzaga University)
  • Throws Right; Bats Right
  • Currently assigned:  Gwinnett Braves, International League
  • ETA to Majors: 2013

Credit: perfectgame.org

Cody Martin was one of a group of college pitchers that the Braves selected in 2011 that have really taken a large jump forward this season.  Cody’s leap forward has taken him all the way to the doorstep of the majors in Gwinnett.  While he has surprised many this year, his ascent was seen coming if one looked behind the numbers.  Martin started off in 2011 by reaching A-ball in his time after being drafted, flashing absurdly low walk numbers and big strikeout numbers, but many felt he would be a reliever down the line.  The Braves stuck with him in the rotation, and he rewarded them in 2012 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 107 1/3 high-A innings before being shut down due to reaching his innings limit.  He’s thrown 128 2/3 innings between AA and AAA this year, continuing to strike out over a batter per inning.

Martin works primarily with a fastball/cutter combination, and it’s his cutter that receives rave reviews.  He also features a slurvy slider that is a good “show” pitch off of the other two.  His pitch combination is what led many to think his long-term future is in the bullpen, but with the success he’s shown this season, he may have a chance to stay in the rotation until he shows that he cannot last there over a full season.  One note this season is that with the increase in talent level at AA and AAA and increased workload, Cody’s walk rate has jumped to 11% at AAA this year, a rate he needs to cut down in order to succeed in the major leagues.  His cutter has seemingly been hit through holes quite a bit this year, so it could simply be a matter this year of lesser defense behind him than he had at previous levels, or it could simply be that he’s now reached the level where batters can recognize moving pitches better and can lay off a cutter and feast on Martin’s fastball, which sits in the 91-94 range with late movement typically.  The fastball has a habit of straightening out when he’s laboring.

Projection for the future: Martin has a great arm, no doubt – another find from a northern college for the Braves.  His best case scenario would be as a mid-rotation starter that eats a ton of innings with his fastball/cutter combo.  If he could develop a solid fourth pitch or improve his control on the slider, his upside could be even higher.  At this point, it seems nearly certain that Martin will get a big league look in 2014 for the bullpen unless the team feels his value is high enough to continue stretching out his arm starting in Gwinnett.  I personally can see a good Derek Lowe in Martin if everything breaks right for him, whether it’s the Lowe of the rotation or bullpen.

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Player bio information and stats from both fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com, plus the minor league affiliate sites.  Draft information from baseballamerica.com.  Photos from various uncopyrighted internet sources, except as noted.

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