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Keep these kids in mind for the future

There are plenty of pitching prospects to talk about, but how about some hitters to watch in the Braves farm system.

The thought is the Braves have only pitching prospects, not position player prospects. Well, of course, that’s not true. There were a couple of players that shined in rookie ball this past summer that deserve attention. Here are five to keep in mind as we look ahead to 2016.

Austin Riley
Bats R – Will be 19 years old in 2016 – 6-2, 230
2015 stats: GCL and Danville – played third base
.304 - .389 OBP – 12 HR – 40 RBI – 2 SB – 66 hits in 217 at bats
NOTES: Baseball America named him the 10th best prospect in the GCL and the 2nd best prospect in the Appalachian League. The 41st pick in the 2015 draft. Atlanta got that pick in the Craig Kimbrel trade. The comparisons will be interesting to watch in the next few years, but the name that comes up right now is Matt Holliday.

Ronald Acuna 
Bats R – Will be 18 years old in 2016 – 6-0, 180
2015 stats: GCL and Danville – played mainly in CF
.269 - .380 OBP – 4 HR – 18 RBI – 16 SB – 54 hits in 201 at bats
NOTES: Baseball America named him the 11th best prospect in the GCL and the 14th best prospect in the Appalachian League. Signed for $100,000 in July 2014. Probably getting highest grades among the 2014 international signees so far. One comparison is Starling Marte. 

Isranel Wilson
Bats L – Will be 18 years old in 2016 – 6-3, 185
2015 stats: GCL Braves – played in RF and CF
.222 - .349 OBP – 10 HR – 22 RBI – 3 SB – 32 hits in 144 at bats
NOTES: Signed for $350,000 in December 2014. Led the GCL in home runs. Power potential is there but he is very raw. 

Leudys Baez
Bats R – Will turn 20 next June 26 – 6-0, 160
2015 stats: GCL and Danville – played mainly in LF
.267 - .289 OBP – 5 HR – 19 RBI – 6 SB – 68 hits in 255 at bats
NOTES: Signed for $400,000 in July 2014. Was hurt for part of last year, but the Braves feel he can really hit and will show that more when healthier. 

Juan Yepez
Bats R – Will be 18 years old in 2016 – 6-1, 200
2015 stats: GCL and Danville – played mainly 1B and some at 3B
.299 - .364 OBP – 4 HR – 31 RBI – 3 SB – 60 hits in 201 at bats
NOTES: Signed for $1,000,000 in July 2014. His rap has always been that he's got a bad body. The power is developing. Probably will be limited to first base.

How many of these players will make the Rome Braves roster for opening day in April? Well, Riley is likely a lock. He's quickly become one of Atlanta's top prospects. The Braves will want to push him to Rome to start the season. But the others might fight it out in spring training for a job in Rome. 

Either way, contrary to popular belief, there are some position player prospects to keep an eye on in the Atlanta farm system.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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