The Braves’ top prospect, 20-year-old right-hander Lucas Sims, has witnessed a dramatic – and alarming – drop in his K-rate. Switch-hitting shortstop Jose Peraza is flashing more power to go along with his game-changing speed. Keep an eye out for Wesley Parsons. And the club may have found one of the better power bats in the draft class in Braxton Davidson.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE.
1. Lucas Sims, RHP, Age: 20
The good: Sims’ control (2.92 BB/9) has taken a fairly noticeable step forward in high Class A this season. The bad: He’s been too gopher-ball-prone so far, posting a homerun rate just a tick above 1.0 HR/9. The ugly: The young right-hander has struck out just 38 in 71.0 innings (4.82 K/9).
2. Jose Peraza, SS, Age: 20
En route to the best offensive performance of his career to date, Peraza, who’s hitting .333/.359/.448, has topped the league average offensive production by 25%. Flashing more power (.115) to go along with his plus- to plus-plus-speed.
3. Christian Bethancourt, C, Age: 22
After flashing some promising offensive upside last season, something that he’s really never shown before, Bethancourt is back to his old ways with Gwinnett. Through 51 games, the defensive-minded backstop is hitting .271/.300/.372 with just 14 extra-base hits.
4. Wesley Parsons, RHP, Age: 21
I named Parsons among the Top 25 Breakout Candidates in my book, The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual, heading into the season. And the former undrafted free agent hasn’t disappointed. He’s averaging 8.73 K/9 and a miniscule 1.88 BB/9, numbers in line with his production in low Class A last season.
5. Braxton Davidson, 1B/OF, Age: 17
Considered one of the better power-hitting prep prospects in the class this season, the Braves snagged the lefty-swinging Davidson with the 32nd pick in the draft.
6. Cody Martin, RHP, Age: 24
Another year, another season of strong peripherals for Martin, who’s fanned 63 and walked 20 in a little more than 70 innings of work with Gwinnett. The 6-foot-3 right-hander has now made 26 appearances in Class AAA over the past two seasons and has very little left to prove. Big league ready. Back-of-the-rotation-type arm.
7. Jason Hursh, RHP, Age: 22
One of the bigger reaches in the draft last season, the Braves, nonetheless, have fast-tracked Hursh and had him begin the year in Class AA. Unfortunately, he’s now nearing 100 career professional innings with a strikeout rate below 5.0 K/9.
8. Garrett Fulenchek, RHP, Age: 18
Already agreed to a slightly above-slot bonus as well as eight semesters at Dallas Baptist. Big right-hander with a lively arm.
9. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Age: 20
Placed on the DL with a forearm injury, which, unfortunately, is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. Cabrera’s made just three appearances, throwing 10.1 innings with nine strikeouts and eight walks.
10. Victor Caratini, 3B, Age: 20
The club’s second round pick – 65th overall – last June, Caratini is holding his own as a 20-year-old in low Class A. The switch-hitting third baseman is batting .291/.351/.394, though he’s slugged just 15 extra-base hits. At some point he’s going to have to start showing more power; Caratini owns a career .120 ISO.
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