BravesHeart Top 40 Prospects: #10-6
10. Adam Milligan
Milligan was drafted 3 times by the Braves, finally signing last season when he was chosen in the 6th round. He didn’t play at all this year, and started 2009 off in Danville. After making a mockery of the Appy League in his 9 games there (1.256 OPS, .327 ISO), he was promoted to the Sally League, where…he made a mockery of THAT league too. In his 52 games for Rome, Milligan OPSed .981 with a .244 ISO and 26 extra base hits in 197 at bats. Pure insanity right there. Milligan finished his season in Myrtle Beach, where he went 4 for 24 in a week long stint. Milligan has a bright future, and should start the year in Myrtle Beach in 2010. He will be 22 when the season starts, so the lower level dominance doesn’t carry as much weight as it would have if he were an 18 year old doing this, but its impressive nonetheless. A couple of things to keep an eye on: 5.7% walk rate, 22.1% strikeout rate. I’d like to see each of those ratios improve in 2010.
9. JJ Hoover
Hoover was drafted by the Braves in 2008’s 10th round, and only pitched in 4 2/3 innings in his debut season. JJ spent all but 3 innings this season in Rome, and he was totally awesome. He was a midseason All-Star in the Sally League, and it was warranted. At Rome, JJ threw 134 1/3 innings of 3.35 ERA ball, striking out 148 and only walking 25. That’s a 6 to 1 K:BB ratio for a kid who was 21 most of the season. The really crazy thing is that JJ was actually unlucky on the year, allowing a .330 BABIP. He also had a GB:FB of 1.06. When you’re a 21 year old posting those kind of numbers, you’re really special. I find it stunning that Rome was so bad in 2009 with the pitching staff they had, but these things happen when you have no offense at all. JJ will most definitely start 2010 in Myrtle Beach.
8. Zeke Spruill
Spruill was even more impressive than Hoover in 2009. He was drafted in 2008 in the second round, and got off on the right foot in the GCL after being drafted, going 7-0 with a 2.93 ERA. Like Hoover, Spruill was also a midseason All-Star in the Sally League, and he actually started the game. Barring a 19 2/3 inning stint in the GCL for disciplinary issues, Spruill spent his whole year in Rome, posting a 3.03 ERA in 116 innings. Zeke only struck out 95 though, which is directly in line with his stats from the GCL last year. He only walked 24 as well, which is also in line with how he pitched during his debut last year. Spruill is a ground ball specialist, posting a 1.68 GB:FB this year while only allowing 9 homers. Even more impressive about everything Spruill did this year is the fact that he didn’t turn 20 until the season ended. A teenager posting those sorts of numbers is an incredible feat.
7. Dimaster Delgado
This is another swerve from me, ranking Dimaster Delgado higher than Randall Delgado. While Randall is a year younger than Dimaster and strikes out more batters, he also walks a lot more and allows more homers. Despite Dimaster throwing less than 100 innings on the season, he still struck out more than a batter per inning (9.39 to be exact), and only walked 2.34 per 9. Also, he only allowed 4 homers on the year. Dimaster also proved to be unhittable, allowing a .237 BAA aided by a BABIP that was perfectly average at .303. The young Panamanian had himself a fantastic year, and should start 2010 in Myrtle Beach with the rest of the fantastic young Rome starters.
6. Cody Johnson
Cody Johnson is probably the most polarizing of all the Braves prospects. On one hand, he can hit the ball a country mile (.275 ISO in Myrtle Beach, a notorious pitchers park). On the other hand, he strikes out more than me at a New Years Eve party (40.5% K rate). Despite his strikeout problems, Cody was still named a mid and post season All-Star in the Carolina League. Aside from the strikeouts, Johnson really is a fantastic player. He hits for immense power, knows how to take a pitch (15.2% walk rate), and can even run a little (10 stolen bases, though he was caught 7 times). He’s not going to be able to succeed at the major league level striking out as much as he does, but if he can cut that rate to even 30% (which would be a drop of an admittedly high 45 strikeouts), he’ll be an elite prospect. But I don’t think he can do it. You can’t completely discredit him as a prospect because of his strikeouts, though. When someone has the insane power of Johnson, you have to keep talking about him and hoping he can get his issues under control, because he could be an absolute force at the major league level.
So that does it for this batch. I'm considering making another post later today about the Soriano situation, and I will probably end up doing that. No idea what time that will come, though. Until we meet again...
Its time for a rare Sunday update while I'm kicking the tires seeing if DeAngelo Williams is going to start today or not...but yeah, lets look at the back end of the TOP TEN. Top five will be posted tomorrow afternoon.