BravesHeart Top 40 Prospects: #20-16
20. Jose Ortegano
Ortegano is another guy I wanted to rank higher, but again…numbers crunch. He spent most of the year in Myrtle Beach, but was called up to Mississippi late in the season, and did a fine job there. Overall for the year, he struck out 7.75 batters per 9 while only walking 2.60 per 9. That K:BB right around 3 is quite appealing. Jose actually did a better job at the higher level this year, posting a 2.83 ERA in AA compared to a 3.49 ERA in A+. He’s currently in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he’s pitching adequately. Not great, but not horrible either. I’m interested to see what Ortegano can do pitching in the rotation for a full year, as only 20 of his 29 appearances this year came as a starter.
19. Lee Hyde
Lee Hyde’s been talked up as a dark horse bullpen candidate for the Braves this season, and quite frankly, his performance warrants that talk. Hyde spent the beginning of 2008 recovering from Tommy John surgery, and only pitched in 10 1/3 innings. In 2009, he still only pitched in 35 2/3 innings during the regular season, but pitched effectively, striking out 11.36 batters per 9 while walking 3.79, and allowing a BAA of only .172. Hyde finished the year in Mississippi, which is where he allowed his one home run on the season. At 24, this will be his last year on the prospect list, but has a chance to start the year in Gwinnett with the possibility of getting a call to Atlanta to shore up some of the bullpen problems.
18. Robinson Lopez
Who is Robinson Lopez you ask? Let’s have a little bit of background information. Lopez was signed out of the Dominican Republic, and is only 18 years old. 2009 was his first season on American soil, and he pitched in the GCL. In the 48 2/3 innings Lopez pitched, he was quite dominant, striking out 7.77 per 9 while only walking 2.22. Lopez also only allowed one longball, in his second to last appearance of the season. The slate is still relatively blank on this young righty, and I’d expect to see him start the year off in Danville, with a possible callup to Rome near the end of the year in the cards if he can do his best Julio Teheran impression.
17. Chris Masters
This may come as a strange selection to some, but the way Masters performed this year totally justified things. He was an 11th round pick this season out of Western Carolina, and spent the season as a 21 year old in Danville. Yeah, he’s advanced for the league. But…Masters struck out an absurd 10.98 batters per 9, while only walking 1.16. Masters also only allowed 1 home run in his 69 2/3 innings pitched. Those are some absolutely absurd numbers. Over his last 6 starts (38 innings), Masters only allowed 1 run while striking out 46 and walking 5. I find it absurd Matt Crim was named Appy League pitcher of the year over Masters, or someone I’ll be mentioning in the next segment of things. It just doesn’t make sense. I expect Masters to start the year in Rome, or maybe Myrtle Beach.
16. Cory Gearrin
Cory Gearrin is the relief prospect everyone seems to love right now, for good reason. He was drafted in the 4th round back in 2007, and got his act together this season. Gearrin’s K rate, which in 2008 was a mindboggling 14.09 per 9 in 2008, dropped off to a more manageable 8.56 per 9 in 2009. But with that falling K rate was a falling walk rate, as that number fell from an unsightly 7.04 per 9 (which pretty much negates his insane K rate) to a fantastic 1.81 per 9. Gearrin also increased his groundball tendencies, up to a GB:FB of 1.60. He only allowed 4 homers in 54 2/3 innings, and finished with an ERA of 2.30. Gearrin is probably the second best relief prospect in the organization, but with the struggles of the only man ahead of him, he could be at the top of the list later on in 2010.
If you're looking for position players in this edition, you can go ahead and ignore this, because the next 5 are all pitchers.