BravesHeart Top 40 Prospects: #30-26
30. Riann Spanjer-Furstenburg
The man they call RSF had one heck of a year in Danville, winning the Appalachian League Player of the Year award. So why’s he so low? One word: age. As a 21 year old in Danville, his domination is lesser than that of two of the pitchers you’ll see later on in the list. He definitely had a bang-out awesome year, as the .953 OPS will tell you. But there are a couple of red flags, like the .184 ISO (good, but not fantastic), and the 6.8% walk rate (it’s a start, but could use some improvement). I do however, love the 15.8% K rate. I’d like to see what he can do next year with a full season of ball on his plate.
29. Todd Redmond
The 2008 Southern League Pitcher of the Year (cough) had a rough go of things in Gwinnett in 2009. Redmond’s ERA rose nearly a run to 4.47, his K rate dropped down to 6.58, and the walk rate that he needs to be so low because of his lack of stuff shot through the roof, up to 2.92. That isn’t a horrible number, but when you figure in his flyball tendencies and low K rate, you get worried. Redmond also allowed 1.30 homers per 9, which is a staggeringly high number. At this point in his career, he can really only stay at Gwinnett due to the logjam of pitchers in Atlanta. Maybe if someone goes down, he can be called on for a spot start, and do better than Chuck James did in 2008.
28. Jaye Chapman
I don’t really know why I have Chapman on this list, aside from the fact that he could be a decent bullpen arm in the future. Chapman struck out 10.24 this year in Rome and Myrtle Beach, while walking 3.72. More impressive to me is the 3 homers he allowed in 58 innings, a testament to his groundball abilities (1.38 GB:FB). Remember Kevin Gryboski? That’s who Chapman reminds me of, a guy who can get the double play when you need it and won’t kill you in other areas of the game.
27. Gerardo Rodriguez
Here’s a guy that was signed by the Yankees at age 17, and has been a solid producer for the Braves the past 2 seasons. Rodriguez evenly split the season between Rome and Myrtle Beach this year, and proved to be a solid outfielder for both teams. In fact, he actually got better when he moved north, upping his OPS from .776 with Rome to .831 as a Pelican. Rodriguez has fantastic power (.218 ISO), but like many young power hitters, he has two major weaknesses: he strikes out a lot (30.4%), and doesn’t walk much either (5.8%). Think Cody Johnson, just not as good.
26. Ernesto Mejia
Mejia’s on this list with a caveat: he’s not TECHNICALLY a Brave right now. Mejia is actually a minor league free agent at this very moment, as he was signed by the Braves at the tender age of 16 back in 2002. He’s a little old for the list at 24 (his birthday is actually tomorrow, happy birthday Ernesto!), but is still an intriguing guy. Mejia was a beast last season at Myrtle Beach with a .231 ISO, and was named a Carolina League All-Star on the mid and postseason rosters. Only thing is, he blew his knee out at the end of the year. So Mejia spent most of 2009 working his way back into playing shape, and ended up only getting 121 at bats this year, finishing off in Mississippi. He didn’t show the insane power he did last season though, with a .165 ISO, but the high strikeout rate (right around 26% each of the last two seasons) remained. On the bright side, Mejia upped his walk rate to a respectable 8.2%. I’d like to see how the Braves get both him and Freddie Freeman playing time this summer.
I'm debating getting 5 more up later this evening, depending on how long my class runs. I have to decide...do I want to do schoolwork, or blogwork? We shall see...
I trust that you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving break...I know I did, and now its time for 5 more prospects!