Looking at the Braves 2010 Draft
Matt Lipka. Lipka has spent his 2010 professional debut in the GCL, and he's showing himself to have solid plate discipline and fantastic speed on the basepaths, while lacking power that should develop as he ages. The 18 year old Lipka has a slash line of .298/.355/.399, with a 19/22 stolen base success ratio, which is fantastic. In his 188 at bats thusfar, he's only struck out 22 times while walking 14. More walks and more power would be great, but with a strikeout rate that low, things are looking fine for him. As I mentioned, the power hasn't developed yet, as Matt only has 13 extra base hits over his short season. That will come with time, and the Braves will probably be content taking their time with him.
I put Joe Leonard on my prospect list at #22 after he slugged his way to a quick promotion to Rome. His season ended last week with a broken hand, but he's still a good looking prospect. Leonard was drafted out of Pitt (I won't hold that against him despite hating the city), and today is actually is 22nd birthday. So happy birthday Joe, you're gonna get written about now! He started the year in Danville, and earned himself a promotion to Rome after 10 games. His overall slash line for the season rests at .270/.310/.439, and just by looking at that, you can tell that Leonard's plate discipline could use a tad bit of work. 9 walks in 148 at bats is pretty horrid, though the 29 strikeouts aren't terrible. His ISO stands strong at .169, and he's got some pretty good power for an infielder. Leonard absolutely KILLED lefties in a small sample size this year, going .316/.316/.684 in 38 at bats. I'd love to see what he can do in a full season, and he'll probably get a shot at Myrtle Beach in 2011.
Coming in at #30 on my list was Philip Gosselin, a 21 year old second baseman from the University of Virginia. His professional debut has been marked by ups and downs, lowlighted by him posting an OPS of only .666 for Rome this month. Strikeouts have been a major problem, as he's logged 48 in only 202 at bats since his debut. He's showing some pretty good speed, being successful on 7 of 10 attempts on the bases. Power is maybe a little lower than what you'd expect from a middle infielder, with an ISO of .099, but he's got a solid walk rate of 9.4%. Like Leonard, the college bat Gosselin is expected to move pretty swiftly through the system.
The fourth and final member of the 2010 draft class I put on the Top 40 came in at the bottom of the list at #40, and that was Danville catcher Ryan Delgado. After a .236/.282/.417 July, Delgado looked to be a guy that would be dropping off the list come the offseason...his August has shut me up, as Delgado has RAKED: .320/.370/.620, which shows me that you should never count a college hitter out. The 22 year old has an ISO of .239 thanks to 20 extra base hits in 139 at bats. His strikeout rate isn't bad at 17.1% either. Delgado has transformed himself from a guy who could find himself on the outs of the list to a guy who is going to be moving up the list. It is worth noting though, that he's having issues with southpaws: .214/.261/.429, but only has struck out 4 times in 42 at bats. Yeah yeah, small sample sizes. It will be interesting to see what happens with Delgado in 2011: he's clearly outclassed Danville, but with Christian Bethancourt struggling in Rome, do you have them split time there next season? Do you jump Delgado to Myrtle Beach? Do you promote both of them up a level, despite Bethancourt possibly not being ready for Myrtle Beach? Spring performances could play a huge part in what happens with these young catchers.
Despite only 4 players from the class making my top 40, there are a lot more who have really opened my eyes this summer. 25th round pick Dan Jurik is moving through the system very fast, going from the GCL all the way up to Rome, where he debuted on Sunday. The right-handed Jurik has been a revelation thusfar: in 57 2/3 innings, he's struck out a respectable 45 men while only walking 12. That 1.87 walk rate is something that will definitely get you noticed by me. A .226 BAA is also helping contribute to his success. Jurik was a JUCO pick, and is 23, so he was expected to move fast from the getgo. I'd expect to see him in Myrtle Beach next season with a rocket attached to his back.
Taken 2 rounds after Jurik, Willie Kempf is a 22 year old out of Baylor University who is also moving fast. He's played at the same 3 levels as Jurik in 2010, and is pitching even better, with a 66:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 66 1/3 innings and a GB:FB ratio of 2.10. Kempf has also only allowed 2 home runs. This is a guy who could be in line for a huge breakout year in 2011 once people start to learn his name. He may be under the radar now, but keep your eye on him.
6th round pick Joseph Terdoslavich (a fantastic name by the way) earned himself a promotion to Rome this month, and is having a solid, albeit unspectacular, debut year. He's not hitting with a ton of power, as his .101 ISO between Danville and Rome indicates, but he is getting on base: a .304 average and .355 OBP are nothing to sneeze at. He's not striking out a lot (35 times in 227 at bats), and his 17 walks aren't bad at all.
Andrelton Simmons was the Braves second 2nd round pick, and he was curiously named to the Appy League All-Star team, Danville's only representative. He possesses blazing speed, stealing 18 bases while only being caught 4 times. What impresses me the absolute most about Simmons? He's only struck out 12 times in 220 at bats. Now THAT is amazing. He's struck out TWICE in 86 August ABs. A mark like that is enough to keep BABIP fluctuations very low. Simmons is a 20 year old JUCO pick who's bat has gotten better as the season has gone on (.519 June OPS, .698 in July, .764 in August). I'm interested to see if he's able to retain his low strikeout rate in 2011.
I've only talked about 8 players from the draft, but there are more guys who are having interesting professional debuts...I'll be touching on them once I start up with the MINOR LEAGUE SEASON RECAPS, which will begin this weekend with looks at the DSL and GCL. The organization's other 5 teams will get similarly recapped, much like I sort of did last year before laziness took hold...no laziness this year, folks!
I didn't really talk about the draft a whole lot when it happened...I guess I should take a look at how things ended up with the minor league season coming to a close.
The Braves made 51 picks in this June's amateur draft, and would end up signing 35 of them (by my count at least), including the first 16 picks. The Braves didn't really take any guys who required huge bonuses and as a result, didn't spend a ton of money on the draft. A few players taken would find their way into the BravesHeart Midseason Top 40 prospects list that I did 6 weeks ago at the All-Star Break, and once the season concludes, there will probably be more players that make their way into that list. I'm going to start with a look at the players I've already started to recognize.
My #15 prospect on the list was the Braves first pick in the draft,