1. Mycal Jones
Jones is a very toolsy player, and last season was his first in center field after switching from shortstop. His defense vastly improved after switching positions (as you can tell by the numbers on THT, it's a two win improvement), but there are still some questions about Jones's offense and his maturity. The soon-to-be 25 year-old was arrested for DUI last season a week after coming back from a foot injury that kept him out for a month, and he played just 100 games on the season. Jones did improve some facets of his game in 2011, as while his strikeout remained constant at around 24%, his walk rate improved from 7.4% (which is already pretty decent) up to 12.5%, which is excellent. His power fell off though, with an ISO dropping from .159 to .129. He's still quite adept on the bases (73.9% success rate last seaon, compared to 75.9% in 2010), which is a benefit to his game. If Jones is able to add a little bit of power to his game in 2012, he could be the starter in center in 2013. Or, he could be an organizational bat. The window is closing pretty quickly given his age.
2. Dimasther Delgado
I am a huge Delgado fan, given how excellent his 2009 season at age 20 was for Rome. But Delgado missed all of 2010, and just didn't seem right for the first half of 2011. After the All-Star Break, he looked like a potentially elite pitcher. He'll be just 23 once the season begins and should start off in Mississippi, and if he has a full season like his second half of 2011, he should easily be able to be a top ten prospect in this organization, especially with the projected attrition of the top ten prospects due to graduation to the majors. However, if he has a full season like his first half of 2011, he's probably just filler at this rate.
3. Brandon Drury
Drury was a big riser on prospect lists this offseason after a year that saw him be named the Appalachian League co-player of the year. My expectations for Drury were a little more tempered than others, and I can definitively point at one stat to tell you why: Drury walked just six times in 278 plate appearances. That is a 2.2% walk rate. To put that in perspective, Yuniesky Betancourt had a 2.7% walk rate, Vladimir Guerrero was at 2.9%, and Alex Gonzalez, who we all loved and adored last season, was at 3.7%. Think about that: this guy walked 40% less than Alex Gonzalez. He might be an awesome pure hitter, and at just age 19, there is a huge chance he can improve. But I'm not puting him in my top ten until he walks at least 5% of the time, no matter how high his OPS may be.
4. Adam Milligan
I love Adam Milligan. I remember when he made his debut in Danville (before quickly moving up to Rome) in 2009 when I was writing for BravesHeart, and people were calling him a potentially elite prospect. Like I usually do, I tempered my expectations, knowing what tends to happen to hot prospects. Sure enough, he hurt his shoulder for Myrtle Beach in 2010, and didn't play a game past May. In 2011, he was repeating high-A, this time with Lynchburg, and he was dominant, with a .902 OPS. The problem is, he played in just 65 games after constantly battling injury. Over his career, Milligan has played in 153 games over two full seasons and one half season. That is absolutely awful. If he's able to stay healthy and play in 120 games in a season, Milligan has potential to be an upper echelon prospect in the Braves system. But the odds of that happening are slim based on his last two seasons.
5. Evan Gattis
In 2010 for Danville, Evan Gattis was a 23 year-old debuting rookie. Last season for Rome, he was a 24 year-old who absolutely terrorized Sally League pitching, posting a .986 OPS and 22 homers in 89 games. So, what's the question here? Well, he'll be a 25 year-old in high-A in 2012, and if he doesn't produce...well, that's the point where you cut bait. Last season in Rome was fantastic, but he's set the bar pretty high for himself....and that's not necessarily a good thing when you're as advanced as Gattis is. He's a little old to be considered a "prospect", but if he can keep destroying minor league pitching, he may hit himself into the argument.