You might be asking yourself, “What’s with the off-centered”, low, out of focus Braves logo on the front cover of this article. Symbolism, my dear readers…Symbolism. Read and you’ll understand!
The Atlanta Braves, for many years, were a top-5 ranked Minor League System…
However, over the last half decade, with the promotions of homegrown talent such as Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Jonny Venters, Tommy La Stella, and Shae Simmons, the once stocked Minor League system has taken a hit in the rankings. I’m here to say that I think we will see a steady climb over the next few years due to the fantastic work that is going on in one of our Minor League affiliates: The Mississippi Braves.
If you’re not aware of the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate…
Mississippi, as is much of the AA Southern league, is known for it’s suppression of offensive stats. I don’t know what’s in the ol’ drinking water down in Pearl, but I’ll say that the players are not feeling oppressed. Take a look at these stats of 5 hitters and 2 pitchers that are doing some real work down in Mississippi!
Atlanta Braves prospects thriving in Mississippi!
Kyle Wren- In his first 40 plate appearances at Mississippi, Kyle has not missed a beat, putting up a .400 OBP with 4 steals and only 1 caught stealing. Yes, he’s actually improved with a jump up to AA! His slash line for the year: .304/ .363/ .362 with 37 stolen bases to 10 caught stealing.
Jose Peraza- Many Braves’ fans and writers have been spending lots of time looking at Peraza’s b-ref page, and for good reason! Peraza was promoted to AA a few days prior to Wren, and he hasn’t stopped hitting either! Since joining AA, Peraza, like Wren, has been even better than what he was at High-A Lynchburg. Through 17 games, Peraza has collected 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 4 BB, 7 stolen bases and is slashing .342/.375/ .474. On the year, Peraza has swiped 42 stolen bases to only 10 caught stealing and has an .826 OPS. That’s some kind of work for a player not known for his power!
Daniel Castro- Castro continues the trend of getting better with a jump up in classes. Currently sporting a .931 OPS through 9 games, Castro was putting in good work at High-A, but nothing like what he’s done in the small sample at Mississippi. Our own Benjamin Chase had this to say about Castro in April:
“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.”
His OPS on the year is at .733, but if the trend continues, Castro will be knocking at .800 very soon. With a “glove-first” mentality, if he continues to hit, Ben’s climbing up the prospect ladder will certainly come true.
Cedric Hunter- Once a highly touted prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, now a “non-prospect” in the Braves organization, the 26 year old Hunter is having a career year. Coming off a successful 2013 campaign, Hunter is mashing the ball to the tune of a .909 OPS. If he continues to hit, look for Cedric to be putting his name into the 4th OF hat in 2015 or for a late callup this year, however don’t expect to see his name on any prospect lists.
Kyle Kubitza- Kyle is still hitting (.879 OPS). Kyle is still stealing (16 SB to 1 CS), Kyle is still making errors (20). Most scouts say that Kyle is an above average defender and I’ll stick with their opinions. He’ll most definitely climb the prospect ladder next year!
Williams Perez- Not even on the radar at the first of this year, and now his radar is sounding off everywhere! As a regular in the starting rotation, Perez has put up some really good numbers: 16 games, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. Relying more on deception than velocity, Perez will move up the prospect ladder this next offseason, but will probably never reach elite prospect status as most soft-tossing lefties rarely do.
Chasen Shreve- Harnessed control and a huge increase in strikeouts (12.7/9 up from 6.2/9) that spawns from a new, deceptive arm slot, Shreve is dominating both righties and lefties in AA. Since Shae Simmons promotion, Shreve has been the closer at Mississippi and in his last 10 games has struck out 26 batters in 14 innings, giving up only 3 runs. A 2.44 ERA on the year, look for Shreve to show up on the Top-20 prospects in 2014, but not too high as he is destined to relief.
Out of the 7 mentioned above, look for 6 of these guys to climb the prospect ladder this upcoming offseason, with Peraza leading the way! Thanks for putting the Braves back on the prospect map, Mississippi! Keep on hittin’ and pitchin’.