This is the first in a group of posts that we at Tomahawk Take will have in the next few days reviewing the opening day rosters for the Braves minor league affiliates. The Lynchburg Hillcats are the Atlanta Braves’ high-A affiliate in the Carolina League. Lynchburg became the Braves’ affiliate in 2011, and this year’s roster is easily the most talented squad the Braves have sent to high-A in that time. Let’s look at the roster:
Catchers: Chase Anselment, Cory Brownsten, Joseph Odom, Tyler Tewell
Anselment and Brownsten started the season on the disabled list. Tewell will be the starter here, and his main calling card since being a 12th round pick in 2012 has been his defense. He was considered an advanced high school hitter, but it hasn’t caught up with him yet. Odom was a 13th round pick in 2013 out of Huntingdon College in Alabama and likely would have started in Rome if not for the injuries to Anselment and Brownsten.
Infield: Kevin Ahrens, Daniel Castro, Eric Garcia, Levi Hyams, Trenton Moses, Jose Peraza, Edison Sanchez
Peraza is the obvious stud here, making a few top 100 prospect lists in all of baseball over the offseason, but don’t sleep on Daniel Castro. The Braves signed him in 2009, and 2014 will be his first full year in the states. He’s got tremendous range, and he and Peraza may make the most rangy middle infield in all of minor league baseball this year. If he can handle the bat like his .284 batting average with a 7/6 walk/strikeout rate in 88 plate appearances in Lynchburg in 2014, he could jump up prospect lists in a hurry as well.
Outfield: Daniel Carroll, Josh Elander, Alejandro Piloto, Will Skinner, Kyle Wren
Wren and Elander head up what should be a skilled outfield group. Elander returns to Lynchburg after spending his second half of 2013 with the club. He very well may make a midseason move to AA if he hits like did in 2013. Wren was an 8th round pick in 2013, and while many assumed his selection had plenty to do with his father’s role with the team, but he went out and showed himself to be a legit prospect by jumping through three levels, and he returns back to Lynchburg, where he ended 2013. He, like Elander, could be moving to AA during the season if he keeps showing solid defense, good contact, and excellent speed on the basepaths.
Pitching: Mauricio Cabrera, Matt Chaffee, Brandon Cunniff, A.J. Holland, Nate Hyatt, Zach Jadofsky, Matt Marksberry, Jarrett Miller, Navery Moore, Wes Parsons, David Peterson, Eric Pfisterer, Greg Ross, Patrick Scoggin, Lucas Sims, Andrew Waszak
This is where the national heads have turned toward Lynchburg. The rotation features Cabrera, Parsons, and Sims, who all could be in the top 5 of Braves prospects by the end of the season (and all three are already arguably top 5 of Braves pitchers). Those three will be guys to watch all season long with Sims rated as a top 50 prospect in the whole game. Keep an eye on Cunniff, plucked from the same Independent League team as the Nationals grabbed Tanner Roark. who got his feet wet in Lynchburg in 2013. Pfisterer is one who I had an eye on when I was reviewing possible minor league relievers who could rise quickly. His Rome statistics were incredible, and he’s already racked up 5 strikeouts and no walks in 3 2/3 innings for Lynchburg to start this season. Navery Moore is also a very interesting guy to watch with a tremendous arm once he gets healthy.
Luis Salazar is the manager for the squad with John Moses the hitting coach and Derrick Lewis the pitching coach. Lynchburg has a load of very good prospects, and they should be on anyone’s list to go watch if you have the chance to get to a Lynchburg game.