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Top 100's Paying Braves Some Respect

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It's like Christmas for Braves fans as not one, but two top 100 prospect lists were released today. Kevin Goldstein published his annual list over at Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN. com also chimed in with his take on the best the minor leagues have to offer. Neither is really the pinnacle of this field (that honor is reserved for Baseball America) and Law is considerably less respected and knowledgeable on the subject than Goldstein, which shows up quite a bit in his list. The big news is that the Braves had a very strong showing in both lists, just months away from analysts saying the Braves had sold the farm for Mark Teixeira.
  • CF Jordan Schafer-Goldstein has said before that he is a big fan of the Braves' future center fielder and that landed the 21-year old at number 17, 10-15 spots higher than most people seem to have him. Law has him at number 27, which is a little more within the realm of what most people expected. When taking into account the type of hitting environment at Myrtle Beach as well as his defense (Which Law really seems uninformed on), I can't say I disagree with Goldstein too much.
  • RF Jason Heyward- Heyward, not surprisingly, was the second Braves prospects on both lists. KG has him at 36 and Law at 33.  Despite being the fourth high school hitter selected last year, Heyward was the second of the group on both lists (Although the first is not the same). To me, this tells me how much they like the 18-year old. If he can start this high as a young high school draftee who didn't play that much pro ball, a good full year next season could really put him into the truly elite prospect territory. I'm still wondering how 13 teams took a pass on this guy.
  • SS Brent Lillibridge- Lillibridge shockingly did not make an appearance on Keith Law's list. He did however earn the 63rd overall spot from Kevin Goldstein. The 24-year old shortstop finally moved up to an age-appropriate league this year and although the switch showed a big negative effect early, Lillibridge really bounced back big. He's still got some holes in his game but has more long-term potential than current Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar. The real question is what his role is going to be in this organization next year.
  • RHP Tommy Hanson- Hanson only made Law's list, coming in at 66. He definitely wasn't expected and probably doesn't warrant a top-100 spot after a disappointing '08 campaign.  He still has very good stuff along with a fluid delivery but his control is going to be the key. Right now, I just don't think it is far enough along to have him this high, much less on the list. Top 150 would be a different story though.
  • LF Brandon Jones- Jones was another shocking one as Law left him off his list. The left-handed batting left fielder came in at a reasonable number 70 from Goldstein. I'm not as high on Jones as some but there is no possible way Jones shouldn't be in the top 100 prospects. He's not great in any one area but all of his tools are at least average and that is quite the commodity for someone close to the majors. He's got a chance to hit for average, power, provide some speed, and play a good left field in the future. This is just a ridiculous snub by Law.
  • CF Gorkys Hernandez- Hernandez is the only player besides Heyward and Schafer to grace both lists. One of the two pieces of the Edgar Renteria deal; Hernandez's speed, pure hitting ability, and plate discipline make him an intriguing prospect. He doesn't have much in terms of power projection but he should make for an exciting leadoff hitter in the future with very good defense wherever he lands in the outfield. The 20-year old ranked 83rd on Goldstein's list and 99th on Law's.
  • RHP Jair Jurrjens- Jurrjens is yet another mark against Law as he didn't show up on the ESPN writer's list. Even if you go solely by upside, Jurrjens profiles as a number three starter, which should be easily enough to get him onto the top 100. He landed at 86 on the BP list and while his proximity to a major league starting job is a big plus, his injury concerns are what really knock him down. The right-hander felt some soreness last year and that has thrown up red flags around the baseball world. I'm not all too worried and if he can stay healthy in '08, the opinion on him should shoot up considerably.
  • LHP Cole Rohrbough- Rohrbough was one of the big breakouts for the Braves this past season. The 6'3" left-hander took the 92nd overall spot on Law's list but I'm a little surprised not to see him on Goldstein's list after some of the praise the BP writer gave to the left-hander last year. Rohrbough has impressive stuff and command for a left-hander but the knocks against him are that he's only pitched about 60 innings in his pro career and that has all been done in the low minors. A strong showing next year in a full season should go a long way towards moving him up on the list.
These two really attest to the depth of Atlanta's farm system. There are a lot of very high potential young guys just starting to realize that potential, which means in a few years, this system could be rich with elite talent. If you told me last year that the Braves would trade away the amount they did for Mark Teixeira, I would of laughed had you also told me how many Braves prospects would be thought of this highly.

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