Atlanta Braves’ Top 5 Minor League Prospects
Top 5 Atlanta Braves Minor League Prospects
In the current era of sabermetrics and mega-contracts, specialization and performance enhancing drugs, baseball has become a sport that is increasingly difficult to predict.
If there is one thing the past several years have shown us, it is that success does not always follow money. The New York Yankees’ recent struggles are indicative of that, as well as is the performance of the new-look Los Angeles Angels this season.
Time and again we see teams pay inordinate amounts of money for big-name free agents; blockbuster trades go through between multiple organizations; huge amounts of salary change hands over and over. And all too often these deals and these contracts end up making someone eat their greed and look entirely foolhardy.
It takes much more than putting together a lineup of potential first-ballot Hall-of-Famers to be successful in baseball. It takes dynamism, tenacity, and a unified clubhouse. It takes depth and production from all players; you can’t win a championship on the shoulders of one or two individuals anymore, it takes a contribution from everyone.
Draft picks and farm systems are becoming increasingly important in today’s game. Homegrown talent is not only less expensive, but it gives players time to develop in a single system, gelling with both teammates and coaches alike. A solid pool of minor league talent is nearly essential to success in the major leagues – not only for depth and production, but for potential trades as well.
The Atlanta Braves’ minor league system has been one of the best in recent years, and this season is no exception.
Here are five of Atlanta’s top prospects currently in the MiLB.
5. Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella of the Mississippi Braves (AA) is having an incredible season. He was recently named the best hitter in the Braves’ minor league system by Talking Chop and boasts a .332/.418/.467 batting line this year. He has impeccable bat control and an excellent eye for the strike zone – compare his 36 walks to only 30 strikeouts in 262 AB so far. At just 24 years old, La Stella could make his way to the show very soon, and considering the continued struggles of Dan Uggla it might be sooner rather than later.
4. Kyle Kubitza
At just 23 years old, 3B Kyle Kubitza might not appear to be a stellar prospect at first glance. He has just a .257 BA on the season, and while he has good power (11 HR) his production numbers are a bit low (just 53 RBI in 413 AB). Kubitza’s enormous upside comes in light of his incredible eye at the plate, however. He currently leads the Carolina League in walks with 76, and despite his relatively low BA his OBP is an impressive .376. His eye is only likely to improve, and as such his hitting numbers will undoubtedly go up. Look for Kubitza to post big numbers in the next couple of seasons and be well on his way to a call up for the big league club.
3. Elmer Reyes
Lynchburg Hillcats’ SS Elmer Reyes is having by far his best season, posting a .291/.326/.407 batting line. He’s not particularly spectacular in any aspect of his game, and the major drawback for Reyes may be that he plays SS – with a certain Andrelton Simmons currently manning that position in Atlanta, Reyes doesn’t have much of a shot at getting a call up any time soon. However, he is a versatile player with good bat control and decent production for a middle infielder (his 28 doubles on the season particularly stand out). It is possible he could be converted to 2B or 3B if needed.
2. Robby Hefflinger
Robby Hefflinger has by far the most raw power in the Braves’ minor league system. Between Single-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi this season, Hefflinger has blasted 27 HR and driven in 76. His batting average has plummeted since being promoted to Mississippi (.286 before the switch, .166 since), but it is widely known that the adjustment from Single-A to Double-A is the hardest to make. He will need to improve his discipline and eye at the plate, which is something that will come with experience. Restraint is something that can be taught much more easily than can power.
1. Shae Simmons
Shae Simmons has split time between Lynchburg and Mississippi this year, and thus far the transition has not fazed him in the slightest. The right-handed relief pitcher features a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider, and his control continues to improve. In 51 IP on the year, he has a 1.59 ERA and an astounding 78 SO. If his improvement continues, the Braves could have yet another great arm at the back of the bullpen.