Here is an updated Top 30 prospect list for the Atlanta Braves. We will include only the players in the minor league system. So, for example, Matt Wisler will not be listed, despite pitching only one game in Atlanta. And since both Christian Bethancourt and Mike Foltynewicz saw significant action in Atlanta this season, they will not be listed, as well.
1. Mallex Smith – CF – Gwinnett – A kid with a .340 batting average, a .418 on base percentage and the potential to steal a base every time out is getting attention. It helps to have Peter Gammons mention that scouts are now comparing Smith to Kenny Lofton.
2. Touki Toussaint – RHP – Rome – Acquired from the Diamondbacks, the 19-year-old has two plus pitches (fastball and curve) and they believe the changeup will be just as good eventually. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the trade in the Sally League.
3. Ozhaino Albies – SS – Rome – He’s really 18 and he’s really making a tremendous impression in Rome. Albies has a .376 OBP and a .322 batting average at the All-Star Break. He has done everything to justify his prospect status. The next Rafael Furcal.
4. Manny Banuelos – LHP – Gwinnett – The former Yankees star prospect is back to where he was in 2011, when he almost made New York’s rotation. Now, he’s a half season away from possibly being in the Atlanta rotation to start the 2016 season.
5. Tyrell Jenkins – RHP – Mississippi – The numbers are very good. It would be better if Jenkins had more strikeouts, but that’s nit-picking. He’s having a solid season in his first full year back after shoulder surgery a while back. May be ready sometime next season.
6. Jose Peraza – SS/2B/CF – Gwinnett – He was in the top two or three coming into the season, and only the emergence of others has had Peraza fall a bit. But he’s again hitting near .300 and again stealing bases. Now it’s just a question of where he will play.
7. Braxton Davidson – RF – Rome – Not many 19-year-olds will have a .400 OBP in the tough Sally League. Davidson is still making progress in his transition to the outfield, but he’s showing the ability to hit. That’s why the Braves drafted him a year ago in the first round.
8. Kolby Allard – LHP – Unsigned – It’s hard to rate a player who has yet to throw a pro pitcher higher, but the Braves think this is the lowest he will be on one of these lists from now on. They think he’s a potential ace, but it’s just going to take a while. He’s just 17 years old.
9. Max Fried – LHP – Injured – Don’t forget about this kid, who was acquired from the Padres in the Justin Upton trade. He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Braves think when he’s healthy he could take off and be at the top of this list 12 months from now.
10. Ricardo Sanchez – LHP – Rome – Back after going to Florida to get stronger, Sanchez flashed a great curveball in his best start of the season last time out. The upside continues to be off the charts, and the Braves will watch him closely in the second half of the season.
11. Lucas Sims – RHP – Carolina – Don’t blame Sims for being injured in the bus crash, and he has been passed by several of the new players. Before the accident, Sims was figuring things out. When he returns, Sims could get right back on track quickly. Still has great potential.
12. Steve Janas – RHP – Carolina – Also a victim of the bus crash, Janas was doing really well early in the season. The Braves believe he’s a sleeper, and the 6th round pick from two years ago is a bit older (24) so he could come quickly.
13. Michael Soroka – RHP – TBD – This is high for someone still just 17, but the Braves believe he has top-of-the-rotation potential. Soroka has advanced stuff for someone his age, and the Braves can’t wait to see him against pro competition.
14. Max Povse – RHP – Rome – So far, last year’s 3rd rounder is doing tremendous work in the Sally League. We could see Povse sent to Carolina for the second half of the season if he has another good start or two. Tall kid who is really learning more about how to pitch.
15. Andrew Thurman – RHP – Carolina – Another pitcher who has had his season cut short due to the bus crash, Thurman was really doing well before the accident. The Braves expect him back sometime in July. Also older (23), Thurman could come quickly once healthy.
16. Rio Ruiz – 3B – Mississippi – This may be too high, considering Ruiz’s struggles in AA. But he is just 21 and the Braves still see progress. He needs to pull the ball more and generate power. It has been a rough start to his Braves career, but there is still promise for Ruiz.
17. Dustin Peterson – LF – Carolina – Perhaps a surprise, Peterson has been very solid at the plate with power and getting on base. His season was interrupted by the bus accident, but his progress cannot be diminished in his first season with the Braves.
18. Caleb Beech – RHP – Rome – Last year’s 13th round pick has been a big surprise, with outstanding numbers across the board. He might be moved up to Carolina to be challenged a bit, since the Sally League is a bit easy for him right now.
19. Dan Winkler – RHP – Injured – Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Winkler was close to the big leagues last season with the Rockies before he was injured. It will be interesting to see whether the Braves let him start again (as he did with the Rockies) or make him a reliever.
20. Jason Hursh – RHP – Mississippi - Started off the season terribly but has been better lately. With the numbers getting interesting, when will the Braves put Hursh in the bullpen? That looks to be his future role, especially with the Braves struggling in the pen in Atlanta.
21. Garrett Fulenchek – RHP – Danville
22. Arodys Vizcaino – RHP – Suspended
23. Shae Simmons – RHP – Injured
24. Alec Grosser – RHP – Rome
25. Chad Sobotka – RHP – Rome
26. A.J. Minter – RHP – Draft Pick
27. Jordan Edgerton – 3B – Rome
28. Austin Riley – 3B – Draft Pick
29. Daniel Castro – INF – Gwinnett
30. Johan Camargo – SS – Carolina
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