Braves Minor League Standouts: Starters

With the regular season wrapping up, we’ll look at who’s performed well this year.  Due to the high difference in “good” performance between starters and relievers, I’ve decided to split them up, so you can check out a post highlighting relievers later today.

Oriel Caicedo, LHP, GCL/Danville, 20 years old – 2.45 ERA, 55 IP, 0.7 BB/9, 5.9 K/9
Caicedo was a signee in 2011 out of Panama, and he started his Braves career with an amazing showing in 2011 at 17.  He then required knee surgery that cost him all of his 2012 season and required gentle handling in 2013.  He split 2014 between the Braves two rookie league clubs, and he’s shown a tremendous ability to stay in the strike zone and keep the ball in the park.  He’s allowed a total of 2 home runs in 167 1/3 professional innings to this point.  One would like to see more strikeouts, but a lefty that can keep the ball in the park and runners off of base is a huge skill set.  We’ll see whether the Braves start him back in Danville or Rome next summer.

Alec Grosser, RHP, Danville, 19 years old – 3.53 ERA, 58 2/3 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Grosser was an 11th round pick in 2013 out of TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA (of Remember the Titans fame).  He’s utilized a lower arm slot and fastball/slider combo to really dominate Rookie Ball hitters thus far, but his changeup is still a work in progress, and he can get hit around when his slider doesn’t have good bite in a night and hitters can sit back on that low- to mid-90s fastball.  We’ll see how his changeup and/or another third pitch develops as he moves up the system, but Grosser has certainly gained some notice this season and will get a chance at full-season ball next year most likely at Rome.

Dilmer Mejia, LHP, Dominican League/GCL, 16 years old – 2.09 ERA, 69 IP, 1.7 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
Mejia was a Braves signing out of Nicaragua who pitched his way stateside with a great performance in the Dominican League this summer.  He’s had some struggles in his time at the GCL, and finding a solid scouting report on him at this point is difficult, but seeing this sort of performance in a guy in his age 16 season is very encouraging, and it will be fun to read what is written about those who’ve had a chance to have eyes on him this year.

Williams Perez, RHP, Mississippi, 23 years old – 3.02 ERA, 125 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
We’ve highlighted Perez here previously, but he has stood out on a very solid Mississippi staff this season.  I don’t foresee Perez ranking highly on any prospect lists this season as his stuff is less than overwhelming, but he does an amazing job of keeping the ball in the ballpark as evidenced by his 0.3 HR/9 in Mississippi this season.  Perez took some time in development after signing late, but he’s hit his stride in the last two seasons.  His future at this point is likely as a back end rotation starter, but guys who can eat innings and keep the ball in the ballpark are very valuable.

Max Povse, RHP, Danville, 20 years old – 3.29 ERA, 38 1/3 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
Povse was the Braves 3rd round pick this June out of UNC-Greensboro, and he was placed at the Braves top-level rookie league team immediately, and he’s certainly showed he belongs.  Povse’s 6’8 frame towers on the mound, and his stuff is generally considered raw, but possible top of the rotation quality in spite of his mediocre results in college.  Povse will get his first shot at full-season ball next year in Rome, and it will be interesting to see how his stuff translates into a full season, but to have as much in the tank for Danville as he has after a full college season has been encouraging.

Greg Ross, RHP, Lynchburg/Mississippi, 24 years old – 2.92 ERA, 145 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
Ross is yet another member of the Braves unheralded 2011 draft that utilized a lot of underrated pitchers to bring out prospects like Cody Martin, J.R. Graham, Gus Schlosser, and others (along with Tommy La Stella and others as hitters).  Per the setup of that season, Ross attended small Frostburg State University in Maryland.  He’s moved up slowly through the system, one step at a time, and this year, he’s spent 15 games at Lynchburg (11 starts) before moving up to Mississippi for 11 games (10 starts).  Ross has performed even better after moving up to Mississippi, though there’s a lot of BABIP fueled low hit rate that has led to his success.  His older age means he has less margin for error than most, but he’ll likely start at Mississippi next year unless he has a very good spring and pushes his way to Gwinnett.  Ross doesn’t project as a front line starter, but if he keeps performing, there will be a spot in a bullpen at least for him in the major leagues.

Daniel Watts, LHP, Rome/Lynchburg, 24 years old – 4.66 ERA, 96 2/3 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Watts was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks after a very poor start to the season for their high-A team (included in the overall season stats, which skews the ERA), and the Braves have reaped the rewards since.  Watts is hittable, and he doesn’t exactly have dominant stuff, so his margin for error is very small, but he could be tried in the bullpen possibly as a way to make his stuff play up if he doesn’t make it as a starter.  He’ll get more shots than most due to being a lefty, so he’ll get a few chances with the Braves.  Most likely he’ll start back at Lynchburg in 2015, but could quickly move up to AA Mississippi with a good start to the season or even a good spring.

Jacob Webb, RHP, GCL Braves, 20 years old – 1.82 ERA, 29 2/3 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
Webb was an 18th round pick out of Tabor College in Kansas this year, and he’s shown the ups and downs of the raw ability that the Braves saw. He’s pitched in 10 games, 5 of those games starts, so he hasn’t had a lot of exposure yet, but the results this far have been very encouraging.  I haven’t had any eyes on Webb, and finding scouting reports has proven fairly difficult.  For now, we’ll enjoy the numbers put up and hope to get a better idea of the type of pitcher the Braves have here going forward.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Take

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