Braves Top 30 Prospects: 30-26
Update: Due to the acquisitios of Gorky Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens in the Renteria trade, I've had to shift a large portion of the list down two spots. Erik Cordier and Gregor Blanco have been knocked off so here is the updated #30-26.
This is the first in a series of posts with the Chop-n-Change top 30 prospects for 2008. Atlanta's farm system definitely lost some of its star power with notable prospects Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Elvis Andrus now playing for the Rangers and Jo-Jo Reyes, Yunel Escobar, and a couple others surpassing the requirements of a prospect. Obviously those players will not be included on the list and at some point you have to stop calling a player a prospect, so players right around 25-26 and older won't be included either. Feel free to comment on the list or submit your own for discussion. Here are numbers 30-26.
30. Nick Fellman- This 6'3" right-hander was taken in the 12th round this year out of Minnesota State, where he led all NCAA Division II closers with 18 saves in 2006. Fellman racked up some very impressive stats as rookie-level Danville's closer. In 28 innings, Fellman had a 2.25 ERA while allowing only 16 hits and 7 walks and racking up 46 strikeouts. Don't look too far into those numbers as he is a college closer pitching to primarily high school and junior college players but his scouting report does include a pretty good low-90's fastball and a nice slider. Some added velocity would be nice but is unlikely. Still, watch for Fellman to possibly have a quick ascent through the farm system.
29. RHP Dustin Evans- Evans had a disappointing year starting for Myrtle Beach. In 21 starts, the right-hander posted a 4.70 ERA with 35 walks and 72 strikeouts. I'm not really sure what to make of his numbers though because his home stats just don't really add up. Evans got 1.36 ground outs for every fly out at Myrtle Beach. Now Myrtle Beach is considered an extreme pitcher's park that kills home runs with strong wind coming in from the outfield, however even with such a high ground ball rate, Evans had a significantly higher home run rate at home than away. Some of the bad performance has to be attributed to bad luck but not too much. Past the numbers, Evans has a mid-90's fastball with what can be a dominant slider. Sooner or later, he'll probably have to move to the pen but with that kind of stuff it is probably the best chance for him to succeed.
28. 2B J.C. Holt- Holt is very much like an infield version of Gregor Blanco. He is a left-handed hitting slap hitter with good speed, defense, and no power. Holt has a leg up on Blanco in that he is a good base-runner, but his plate discipline is a definite downgrade. Holt, who hit .266 with Myrtle Beach in '06, improved to a .309 mark between Mississippi and Richmond this past season. The 5'9" second baseman was 23/32 in stolen base attempts but only had 26 extra-base hits and no home runs in 433 at bats. He gets on base a good amount but his plate discipline is mediocre as Holt was on pace to strikeout almost 100 times in 500 at bats. He doesn't have a future as a starter in the bigs, however he should be a nice utility man, who again could get a chance on what was a very weak bench last year, in the near future.
27. RHP Cory Rasmus- His brother is by far the more notable prospect, but if Cory can stay healthy, he might start climbing up some prospect lists. The 19-year old righty missed all of 2007 recovering from surgery but should be ready to get back on the mound by next year. He mixes a low-90's fastball with an average changeup and his out pitch, a nasty curve. The real question now with Rasmus coming off of surgery is if he can regain that form. He has all the tools to be a big-time prospect but Rasmus will have to stay healthy before he starts getting some more recognition.
26. 2B Chase Fontaine- After being selected in the second round in 2006, Fontaine put in a somewhat disappointing season to follow up a very promising '06 campaign. The comparisson that is always made is to Chase Utley in their similar approaches. Both left-handed batting second basemen have short, compact swings at the plate. Fontaine's future will be determined by two factors right now. He needs to add some power and improve his defense. Fontaine has room to fill out and add strength so that doesn't seem like too big a deal, however his defense has been atrocious. A position change would more than likely take away any chance of starting in the big leagues so he has to improve his defense and stick at second, where his offensive skill set would play much better.