Prospect Rankings: Top 20 Pitchers

Who is the number one prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization? Check out our Top 20 pitching prospects list, a part of the Top 40 list of all of the prospects in the Atlanta Braves Organization.

Instead of a Top 40 list of all the prospects, BravesCenter.Com has decided to break our list up into a Top 20 for the pitchers and a Top 20 for the position players.

The list was compiled using several factors: current performance, proximity to the big leagues, and overall potential. A player with more overall talent and potential may be a bit lower on the list if another player is a little closer to the big leagues. Also, a player with better potential who is not currently playing well may be a bit lower until his play improves.

The lists will be updated bi-weekly.

1. BUBBA NELSON - He has been promoted to AAA after a consistent season in Greenville. He would have more wins (as would the other G-Braves pitchers) if he had better run support. Now the Braves are going to see how Bubba can handle the bullpen. A September call-up to Atlanta is not out of the question. This change does not mean Nelson will not be a starting pitcher.

2. ADAM WAINWRIGHT - Adam is finishing strong, which is something he has not done the last two seasons. His fastball is maintaining the velocity. Strikeouts remain up and the walk total remains low. Still a top-of-the-rotation starter who will debut in 2004.

3. ANDY PRATT - The only question is Pratt's control. His slider is nasty when he can keep in the zone. Richmond has not been a huge challenge for him. Consistency could be better. He'll head to Atlanta in a few weeks and go to Orlando next March with a great chance.

4. MATT BELISLE - Could be the best story in the system. Three years ago, he was being compared to Kevin Brown. Then a back injury pretty much put him two years behind. Now he's back to where he was before the injury. Pitchers search for consistency and he's found it this season in both Greenville and Richmond. He'll be called up in three weeks.

5. MACAY MCBRIDE - His numbers in Myrtle Beach are similar to what he did in Macon in 2002: low ERA, low walks, high strikeouts. He's still a couple of years away, but when he's ready, someone will have to move out of the rotation.

6. DAN MEYER - Meyer's stock has risen more than any prospect over the past two months. The classic example of a college pitcher who is more advanced than high school kids. How did Billy Bean not draft this guy in 2002? He'd be in AAA with Oakland. With Atlanta, he'll develop a little more slowly and head to AA in 2004.

7. BRETT EVERT - Comeback player of the year in the Braves system. Two months ago, he was a candidate to be dropped off the 40-man roster. But a Jung Bong bullpen stint got him back on track. This guy could be a innings eater in the big leagues. If he does well in August in his remaining 5 starts, he could be a surprise promotion to Atlanta in September

8. ANTHONY LEREW - Best pitching prospect in Rome. His career ERA remains in the low 2 range, even after 250 career innings. Where will he be in three years?

9. KYLE DAVIES - Davies has had a solid season. At times, he's dominated and looked like he could be at a higher level. Other times he has shown why it's good to take time to slowly develop young pitchers.

10. BLAINE BOYER - Blaine has accomplished every goal the Braves have given him this season. He has gotten solid innings in Rome. Here's a guy who could skip over Myrtle Beach and possibly head to Greenville in 2004 as their closer. Smoltz' replacement?

11. ZACH MINER - Zach has not dominated as many predicted in Myrtle Beach. He has had a solid season and continued his development. He's a guy who could bust out at any time and dominate whichever level he's at.

12. ROMAN COLON - Why would a middle reliever in AA be so high? Well, Roman Colon has put himself in contention for a 40-man roster spot and a solid chance at being in the Atlanta bullpen in 2004. Other scouts hope the Braves leave him off the 40-man, but it won't happen again.

13. JO JO REYES - We're hesitant to put a kid in the GCL up this high. But Jo Jo Reyes deserves it. He's that good. The Braves now feel Reyes was top of the first round talent but slid to pick 43. 4 solid pitches and great control. Horacio all over again?

14. CHRIS WATERS - Chris has struggled all season with nagging injuries. This is the first adversity he's had in his Braves career. He'll go to winter ball to hopefully get back on track. Don't discount Waters. The Braves still think highly of his chances and he's a favorite of many in the organization.

15. JOSE CAPELLAN - Throws consistenty in the high 90's but must stay healthy. Jose has had some numbness in his fingers over the past few weeks, but it's nothing serious. Another pitcher who must be protected this winter. Doubtful the Braves will let him go.

16. ALEC ZUMWALT - Another hard thrower who has done tremendous work after being switched from the outfield. He was solid in Myrtle Beach and deserved the promotion to Greenville. Another protection question this winter.

16. MATT COENEN - Matt started off strong but has slumped as the season has progressed. It will still a good trade to get a prospect like Coenen for someone who was not going to make the Atlanta roster. Coenen will head to AA in 2004.

17. MATT MERRICKS - Injuries have been the trouble for Merricks, but catchers rave about his stuff being some of the best in the system. His ball moves every time he throws it up there, and that's half the battle. The other half, for Matt, is staying healthy.

18. SEAN WHITE - Sean's numbers are not the best in Danville, but he's impressed scouts with his work habits and acceptance of a few suggestions on his delivery. The changes are causing his numbers to suffer a bit now, but the Braves feel he could be a very good prospect in a few years.

19. CHUCK JAMES - Last season's 20th round draft choice has been outstanding in Danville. He has allowed only 22 hits in 40 innings and struck out 53.

20. PAUL BACOT - Can't ignore the sub-1.00 ERA for our second round pick from this June. He simply gets people out. He could join Reyes in skipping Danville and heading straight to Rome in 2004.

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