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lawr-michaels-top-10-prospects-three-braves-in-top-six | February | 2005 Articles

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Lawr Michaels’ Top 10 Prospects — Three Braves in Top Six

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Lawr Michaels has gained a bit of a reputation for spotting some top prospects before anyone else. For example, he ranked Albert Pujols #10 as early as preseason 2000, and he had Carlos Zambrano ranked #1 in 2001 and 2002. Looking at this year's top 10, you can also see the last six years at each top-10 ranking. The next biggest surprise, behind the fact that three of the nation's top six minor league prospects are in the Atlanta Braves' farm system, is that none of the three are Andy Marte or Jeff Francoeur:

#4: Jose Ascanio (19, P, Braves): The first of three Braves top young hurlers is another who is more of the beanpole archetype. At 6', 150, a good wind could like blow Ascanio over. Conversely, as a closer, he converted nine saves, allowed just 58 hits over 65 innings, and struck out 64 while walking just 15. To reiterate some of the thoughts in the introduction, control like that as a 20-year old just has to be watched.

#5: Jake Stevens (19, P, Braves): Stevens, a teammate of Ascanio at Rome, was so solid as a starter, going 9-5, 2.27, with 140 whiffs over 135 innings, allowing just 100 hits, and 39 walks.

#6: Kyle Davies (21, P, Braves): At 21, Davies is the old man on this list. A fourth round selection in 2001, Davies was 9-2, 2.63 at Myrtle Beach before going 4-0, 2.32 at AA Greenville and then stalling as he reached Triple -A Richmond (0-1, 9.00, but one start only). Davies hurled 142 innings last year, and whiffed 173, over just 57 walks and 100 hits.

Attentive Braves fans are likely already familiar with Kyle Davies, who is currently on the Braves 25-man roster and is expected to have a considerable impact in Atlanta quite soon. However, considering his role as a starter throughout his minor league career, Bobby Cox might prefer to let Davies have one more season in the minors, since there is no room for Davies in the Braves' 2005 rotation (if none of our five gets injured), and Davies has only pitched one game at the AAA level. Jake Stevens and Jose Ascanio are huge surprises at the top of this list, though. Despite Michaels' listing them as being age 20, both of them are 19 and spent 2004 with single-A Rome in the South Atlantic League. As Michaels' pointed out, the talent these two young pitchers possess combined with their ability to keep the ball over the plate is what makes them stand out. Keep an eye on them in 2005, where they are expected to pitch for AA Greenville in the Southern League.

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