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Braves Top 20 Prospects: 11-15

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It's time for the second installment of our post-season top 20 prospects list. In this post, we're covering numbers eleven through fifteen. Feel free to post your own top 10 or 20 as a comment because we want some discussion here. Here they are:

15. RHP Stephen Marek - This right-handed reliever was the second piece of the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to the Angels. Marek, 25, spent all of 2008 between the Angels' and Braves' double-A clubs. Before the trade, Marek showed a very impressive strikeout rate and nice ground ball tendencies in 34 appearances. After being dealt to the Braves, Marek's strikeout rate dropped but the ground ball tendencies increased significantly with the right-hander inducing more than three ground ball outs for every fly ball out. It was only 14 innings though, so don't expect him to stay anywhere near that level. For some reason, Braves fans seemed to think very poorly of Marek right after he was acquired and I'm just not sure why. He brings a low-to-mid 90's fastball with a good amount of movement, a plus curve, and a useable changeup that helps neutralize left-handed batters. He's still a little inconsistent with his mechanics but should be able to stick in the back of the bullpen once he irons that out. Marek will probably start with triple-A Gwinett (almost wrote Richmond there) and it would be surprising if he didn't see at least some time with the major league club.

14. RHP Julio Teheran - Like Gilmore in my last post, Teheran's place on this list is not indicative of how much I like him. Teheran, who has garnered a lot of attention during his short pro career, was limited to only 15 innings in 2008 due to shoulder tendinitis. It's not that it was very serious, but with the kind of talent this 17-year old possesses, the Braves are taking no chances. Teheran's value is all in his scouting report at this point. He's got a very loose arm action that allows his fastball to reach the mid-90's with ease, but what separates him from other teenage power pitchers is the rest of his arsenal. Along with the fastball, Teheran throws an advanced change in the low-80's with quite a bit of sink, along with a hard curve in the high-70's. His mechanics are still a bit inconsistent which causes some control issues but that's not at all a big concern right now. If prospects were ranked purely on potential, Teheran would be among the elite prospects in the game, but he is still a long way off. If he can pitch an entire season, Teheran could very well jump up into the game's elite pitching prospects.

13. LHP Brett DeVall - DeVall headlined what was a pretty impressive class of high school and junior college pitchers that the Braves picked in this year's draft. A sandwich pick out of Niceville HS in Florida, DeVall has a rare combination of projection and polish that is rarely found in any high school pitcher, much less a left-hander. His fastball sits right around 90 mph right now and while his body isn't all that projectable, he could still probably add a bit of velocity over the next couple of years. DeVall supplements his fastball with a fairly raw curve and an advanced changeup. The 18-year old has very clean and repeatable mechanics along with impressive command and a very good mental approach on the mound. DeVall really doesn't have any glaring weaknesses as a pitcher just out of high school and if he develops his curve into a strikeout pitch, then watch out because he could really turn into an excellent pitcher.

12. RHP Randall Delgado - Delgado may have enjoyed the biggest breakout of any of the Braves' prospects this season. After spending all of 2007 in the DSL, the Braves leap-frogged Delgado past the GCL and gave him 14 starts with Danville. Delgado did not disappoint. In 69 innings, the Panama-native posted a 3.13 ERA along with a 81/30 K/BB as well as strong ground ball tendencies. Delgado is going to draw comparisons to former Braves' prospect Neftali Feliz for his live arm and projectability. He doesn't have the velocity that Feliz did when the Braves traded him but at 6'3" 165 lbs, the 18-year old has plenty of room to add velocity as he physically matures. Like most live-armed teenagers, Delgado's secondary pitches and control are a work in progress to say the least, but if he can continue to improve in those areas, the Braves could have a special player on their hands.

11. RHP Craig Kimbrel -
"Wow!" is just about the only word to describe Kimbrel's pro debut. The Braves selected the 20-year old reliever with their third round pick out of Wallace State CC. Kimbrel began the season with Danville but managed to get all the way to Myrtle Beach by the end of the season. The right-hander finished with a combined 0.51 ERA across three levels, with 56 strikeouts and 15 walks in 35.1 innings. Kimbrell uses the generic fastball-slider combo, however his pitches are anything but generic. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph with tailing action that helped Kimbrel get more than two ground ball outs for every fly ball out. While Kimbrel can finish off a batter with his fastball, it's the slider that really functions as his out pitch. His slider sits in the mid-80's with hard, late break and could help him to become a top-flight setup man or closer in the future. There is really only one concern for Kimbrel at this point and that is his mechanics. As a fairly small pitcher, Kimbrel uses a high-effort delivery to achieve his velocity, which puts a lot of strain on his arm. The Braves will just have to cross their fingers on his health and hope for the best. He'll probably start off 2009 in Myrtle Beach where he left off, but don't be surprised if he sees time with the major league club next year.

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