Braves With A Great Developmental Season

What's the best way to judge progress in a minor league system? Is it wins? Players traded? Or Players Promoted? BravesCenter's Bill Shanks takes a look at how good a year the Braves had in developing young players in 2004.

There are many ways that people determine the overall success of a minor league system. Some people may look at the combined won-loss record of all minor league affiliates. But that is being short-sided. Wins and losses won't tell you how many players actually developed.

But there might be some figures that can gauge the overall success of a farm system's ability to develop players.

We are going to take a look at the amount of players who were promoted to the next level. Now obviously, players who did not get a promotion still could have had a great year of development, so this doesn't tell the whole story. But when you look at how much these players who were promoted did improve at their next level, then you get a better idea of the overall progress that was made in the system.

At least one member of the minor league organization believes this season was a huge success.

"If you look at how we did in player development, it might have been as good as it's been in a long time," says Greenville Manager Brian Snitker. "As far as moving players, putting guys in the big leagues, and putting guys in the next level that did well. I would think that this year is some kind of unbelievable success. I don't care about won-loss records, which was still pretty good. But everybody we sent up did well in AAA and everybody we got from Myrtle Beach did well."

GRADUATED FROM MINOR LEAGUES TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES

  • Comment: These are the players that stepped in from spring training and became regular contributors to the Atlanta Braves. Even though Estrada was with the Phillies a few years ago, he was in our minor league system in 2003 with Richmond.
    ADAM LAROCHE – Established himself as the Braves starting first baseman JOHNNY ESTRADA – Not bad for a throw in, huh? He was always more than that.

    MINOR LEAGUES TRADED FOR MAJOR LEAGUERS

  • Comment: This was the only deal made the entire regular season. Of course, the system helped produce two major trades in spring training when Bubba Nelson, Jung Bong, Andy Pratt, and Richard Lewis were traded for Chris Reitsma and Juan Cruz.
    MATT MERRICKS (FOR TOM MARTIN) – Marginal prospect with little chance.

    RICHMOND PLAYERS BROUGHT UP TO MAJOR LEAGUES

  • Comment: Players who were called up for a short term and contributed and possibly even stayed. One of the functions of AAA is to have players ready to help at the big league level if needed.
    TRAVIS SMITH – Came up when Ramirez was injured and had a few good starts.
    TIM DREW – Has pitched well in his 11 games.
    ROMAN COLON – He's the reason Alfonseca won't be back next season.
    CHARLES THOMAS – What can you say?
    NICK GREEN – If he hadn't stepped up, Jesse Garcia would have been the starter. Ugh.
    WILSON BETEMIT – Got called up for 2 weeks in mid-year and back again now.
    JOSE CAPELLAN – He deserved a win in his first start.
    DAN MEYER – So far, so good.
    SAM MCCONNELL – Was an effective lefty when up. Didn't deserve to go down.
    DAMON HOLLINS – Played well when he was up

    GREENVILLE PLAYERS SENT UP TO RICHMOND

  • Comment: A true indication of how solid the system performed. Richmond got into the Governor's Cup Finals with about 50% turnover from their Opening Day roster.
    JOSE CAPELLAN – AAA was no match for him.
    DAN MEYER – Had quality starts and continued to impress.
    KYLE DAVIES – Just got better and better and better.
    KEVIN BARRY – Was unhittable in AA and then got even better in Richmond.
    MACAY MCBRIDE – Won a playoff game for Richmond after good year in AA bullpen.
    JC BOSCAN – Bounced back and forth from AA and AAA.
    JAMES JURRIES – Wore down late but had 18 homers after promotion to AAA.
    BILLY MCCARTHY – Hit .300 in AA and then improved to .354 in AAA.
    KELLY JOHNSON – Late season promotion after great follow up year in AA.
    ADAM STERN – Help Richmond win playoff game; Very solid year in AA.
    NAPOLEON CALZADO – AA Batting Champ who did not play much in AAA.

    MYRTLE BEACH PLAYERS SENT UP TO GREENVILLE

  • Comment: May be the biggest jump before you jump to the major leagues.
    JOSE CAPELLAN – Temporary stop on the Capellan to Atlanta train
    KYLE DAVIES – 73 K's in 62 IP's. An Avery-life ride for his season.
    JEFF FRANCOEUR – Hit only .197 but wore down after his injury in Myrtle.
    SCOTT THORMAN – The most improved player in AA. His .252, 11, 51.

    ROME PLAYERS SENT UP TO MYRTLE BEACH

    Comment: Many times this just gets players to next year's stop a little early.
    SEAN WHITE – Pitched better in Myrtle than he did in Rome. A future middle reliever?
    JAKE BLAKENEY – Will return to the Beach next season.
    MIGUEL BERNARD – Tremendous season in Rome got him an early look in Myrtle.
    ARDLEY JANSEN – How much better will he be in two years? Maybe very good.

    Yea. It was a great year in our minor league system.

    Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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