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braves-top-30-15-11 | November | 2007 Articles

2007 Archives

Braves Top 30: 15-11

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15. 3B Eric Campbell- Campbell, who debuted this past season as our number one prospect, really hurt his stock on every level in 2007. After trying out second base before the season, he was moved back to third but succumbed to injury issues very early. Just like Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2006, it was a nagging wrist injury that did in Campbell. However, unlike the aforementioned Saltalamacchia, Campbell never really came back to form after the injury. Aside from the injury, Campbell was also suspended by the team late in the season, adding to his reputation of a bad attitude. At 22-years old, Campbell still has time. He showed his power this past season as well as improved plate discipline, but the .221 average and his off-field problems killed him. I am more worried about his attitude right now than his performance, which I still believe in. 14. LHP Steve Evarts- Evarts is one of the large crop of left-handers the Braves took in the 2006 draft. At 6'3" or 6'4" depending on who you ask and about 180 lbs, Evarts has a great pitcher's body for a left-hander. The 20-year old is very lanky with a fluid 3/4 delivery that puts good movement on his pitches. His fastball clocks in at 89-93 normally but the velocity will come as he fills out. The lefty has terrific command of his pitches which include the fastball as well as an improving curve and a changeup, which is his bread and butter pitch. The changeup is excellent, especially for a pitcher of his age, and some believe that the pitch would is an above-average major league pitch even at this point. Evarts was held out of full-season ball because of off-the-field problems but posted a 1.95 ERA with Danville and a 34/4 K/BB in 37 innings of work. Presumably Evarts will start next season with Rome and a full season of work is going to be a big test for him. 13. OF Cody Johnson- Johnson struggled last season after being drafted in the first round but really rebounded well in '07 leading to the Short-Season Player of the Year Award. Taken for his power, the outfielder really put that on display, leading the Appalachian League in homers at 17 (seven higher than the next best). Johnson hit .305/.374/.630 for Danville in 243 at-bats. The negatives are still very much there though. Johnson had a disproportionate K/BB, striking out 72 times with only 26 walks, coming from a big hole in his swing. He is blessed with incredible raw power, however to put that into use at higher levels, his approach at the plate is going to have to improve significantly. Johnson is one of those prospects who could end up at two different extremes. If his approach doesn't improve enough, he could be headed down the Russell Branyan path as a layer with tremendous power but doesn't make contact. Or, he improves his contact ability and becomes a major league regular who can hit for decent average and a ton of power. Lets hope for the latter. 12.  RHP Jamie Richmod- Richmond is a personal favorite of mine. The 6'3" right-hander doesn't have the highest ceiling in the world but I like his chances to become a quality middle-to-back of the rotation starter. His big plus is his command. Out of any of the Braves prospects, Richmond is probably the best in that category with almost four strikeouts for every walk, even though his K/9 wasn't all that high. Richmond pitches in the 89-92 range generally with a fastball and curve, which both will need to improve. He still has the chance to get some more velocity if he adds on some muscle. The big key for him to become a quality major league starter though, is going to be keeping the ball on the ground. He got just over one ground out for every fly ball out, but that is going to need to go up as he progresses to succeed as a command pitcher who pitches to contact. 11.  LHP Jeff Locke- What a surprise, another lefty from the '06 draft. Locke was taken by the Braves in the second round for one reason, his fastball.  Locke works in the mid-90's with a fastball he can command well, something that is almost unheard of for a 19-year old left-hander.  This past season, Locke was part of a formidable Danville rotation, impressing across the stat board. He went 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 61 innings along with a 0.92 WHIP, great groundball tendencies, and 74 punch-outs. His secondary stuff still needs quite a bit of work but if he can have at least two other average pitches to work with, Locke is going to have a good amount of success down the road. Like a number of the lower-level pitchers, Locke is going to have a major test in seeing how he holds up over a full-season worth of work next year.

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