Leading the way is left-handed Australian pitcher Steven Kent and right-handed Panamanian pitcher Eliezer Murillo. Kent impressed the Braves with an American workout early this year and was signed in early July. Kent is short in stature with a solid fastball and plus off-speed offerings. The tall and lanky Murillo already sits in the high 80's and reaches the low 90's on occasion. He may develop into a power pitcher in time. Both pitchers were 16 years old when they signed, so the Braves will most likely keep their innings down. Both were high profile signings in there respective countries.
Yoel Campusano is a mystery at this time. All that is known for sure is that he is an infielder and an international signing that will skip the Dominican Summer League and play in the Gulf Coast League in his first season. Players who make that kind of jump are usually held in high regard by the organization.
Neftali Feliz is also a bit of a mystery. The Dominican right-hander was used sparingly in his first season and put up subpar numbers. That didn't discourage the Braves from inviting him to the Fall Instructional League and handing him a visa for the 2006 season. Best guess is that the Braves wanted to limit the innings on his young arm and that his potential is not reflected in his stats.
Venezuelan lefty Jose Ortegano won the Pitcher of the Year award in his 2004 rookie season. His numbers and innings improved in 2005 but did not receive the same honor. However, Ortegano will pitch stateside in 2006. Mexican southpaw Edgar Osuna had a similar rookie season to Ortegano's in 2005. Osuna won the Pitcher of the Year award for the DSL Braves I team, but unlike Ortegano he will make the jump to the GCL in his second season. Osuna and Ortegano averaged more than a strike out per inning.
The six-foot-six Aussie Matt Timms had injury problems early last season, but the right-handed pitcher has overcome them and has convinced the Braves that he is ready to come stateside. Japanese outfielder Takumi Hamaoka will make his American debut as well.
Concepcion Rodriguez will bring the biggest bat out of the DSL to Florida in 06. The second-year outfielder out of Panama led all DSL Braves with five home runs. Rodriguez won the Player of the Year award for the Braves I team.
Dominican infielders Tony De La Cruz and Juan Estevez will also play in the GCL this season. De La Cruz had a solid second season, winning the Braves II Player of the Year award. Estevez put up mediocre numbers after he was one of the first players the Braves signed out of the 2005 class.
Venezuelan Victor Hernandez and Panamanian Javier Dominguez have spent the last four years catching in the DSL. Both will probably start their fifth season in the GCL. Neither has done much with the bat, but both still managed an invite to fall instructs and a visa for the upcoming season. With visas still at a premium they will have to show a little more offense or sparkle defensively to stick around. The latter is probably the key for both. They both were protected at the Double A level for this past Rule V draft.
Carlos Sencion dominated the DSL in his fourth Season. The Dominican lefty has always had good numbers and his failure to advance has always been puzzling. Unlike the players above, Sencion at this time is not listed as having a visa for the upcoming season. But there is little doubt that the Braves see value in Sencion as they protected him at the Triple A level for this past Rule V draft.
Sencion, who led all DSL Braves with 73 strikeouts and took home the Braves II Pitcher of the Year award, will pitch somewhere in the organization in 06. Sencion could start at a more advanced level like Danville, Rome, or even be placed in the Mexican League.
After two average seasons Jorge Casso enjoyed his best campaign in his third year with the Braves. The Dominican outfielder will probably see time in center for the GCL Braves.
Joaquin Saldana is another pitcher whose stats must not give an adequate picture of his skills. While the Dominican right-hander has posted two subpar seasons to date, he also has been given the ball to start in some of his games in both seasons. Using the same logic that is used in the GCL, that pitchers the Braves feel have the brightest futures get put in the rotation, Saladana must have an upside. Saldana will be 22 in May, so he needs to show improvement quickly.
The Braves have signed left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno, who defected from Cuba in June of 2004. Bueno was a starter in the Cuban League and should be fairly advanced, allowing him to start at a full season level.
Rubi Koko is the most notable name not tabbed to get a ticket off the island. Koko still has problems with strikeouts and making consistent contact. However, the outfielder from Curacao is still extremely gifted as his other stats showed.
Venezuelan catcher Osman Marval is another puzzling omission. Marval was invited to fall instructs after his first season and followed it up with another impressive campaign. With all the catchers being promoted out of the DSL in the last two years, Marval would seem to have the highest offensive upside. Maybe he is working out a few kinks and the Braves are just being patient with him.
Some other players worth watching: Pedro Mauricio rhp, Estarlin Morrillo rhp, Reilyn Pasqual rhp, Junior Rojas rhp, Eligio Lagua rhp, Samual Medina rhp, Luis Ortega rhp, William Ramirez rhp, Osman Marval c, Fran Diaz inf, Jean Garcia inf, Carlos Hung 1b, Samual Sime inf, Waner Tejeda inf, Erick Mendina of, Deivi Hernandez of.
PEÑA, Jhonatan; CORNEJO, Guerlain (L)
FERNANDEZ, Freisy; LAGUA, Eligio; MAURICIO, Pedro; MEDINA, Samuel; ORTEGA, Luis; ROJAS, Junior; MORA, Francisco; PASCUAL, Rey; RAMIREZ, Wiliam
VILLALONA, Carlos; MARVAL, Osman
BELLIARD, Nicauri; DIAZ, Fran Tony; TEJEDA, Waner; GARCIA, Jean
KOKO, Rubi; MEDINA, Erick; PARRA, Camilo; OSORIO, Willy
BATISTA, Jhonatan (L); DIAZ, Grabiel; CASTRO, Francisco; MENDEZ, Jose; MORILLO, Estanlin; PORTES, Eudi; VARGAS, Adrian;
CORPORAN, Bienvenido; SEVERINO, Miguel; SUCRE, Jesus
BERROA, Nilson; DE LA CRUZ, Martires; HUNG, Carlos; NARVAEZ, Andres; SIME, Samuel
CARABALLO, Eduardo; HERNANDEZ, Deivi
LEBRON, Angel; NUÑEZ, Edwin; AVILAN, Luis (L); GARCIA, Ysidro; REYES, Marcos
ALMANZAR, Ricardo; FALCON, Daniel; MALDONADO, Jose
There are more players on this list then visas allow. The Braves will most likely release a few of these players or some may receive a Green Card.
ANDRUS, Elvis; BLANCO, Gregor; DURAN, Carlos; GUERRA, Junior; HERNANDEZ, Moises; HERNANDEZ, Victor; MEJIA, Ernesto; ORTEGANO, Jose; RIVAS, Carlos; RAMIREZ, Maximiliano; ROSARIO, Eduardo; SILVA, Yohan
CASSO, Jorge; CARMONA, Eliazar; DE LA CRUZ, Tony; ESTEVEZ, Juan; FELIZ, Neftali; JOSEPH, Onil; GUZMAN, Carlos; HERNANDEZ, Diory; PAYANO, Nelson; SANTIAGO, Jose; SALDANA, Joaquin; SANTOS, Jose; SUERO, Ovandy; TEJADA, Jonathan
VALENZUELA, Sergio; TERRAZAS, Ivan; OSUNA, Edgar; TREJO, Jaime
KENT, Steven HENDRICKS, Donovan; RICHARDS, Glen; TIMMS, Matt; WHITE, Dean
ACOSTA, Manuel; CAMARENA, Jose; CASTRO, Yeliar; DOMINGUEZ, Javier; GONZALEZ, Raul; MURILLO, Eliezer; RAYO, Pedro; RODRIGUEZ, Manuel; RODRIGUEZ, Concepcion
Juan Mota, Angel Ponce, Will McMichael, Michael Rodriguez and Carlos Sencion are not assigned visas but are still with the club. Next years assignments for these players are unknown.
Matt Kennelly and Daniel Lamb-Hunt will most likely be assigned to the Australian Developmental League.
Jang Ji Cho may not be given a visa this season, as he is expected to miss most or all of this season due to injury.