Ten minor league pitchers to watch
Jonny Venters – He's already making an impression in big league camp on Bobby Cox, who called Venters' sinker the best he's seen in a while from a lefty. Venters needs to go to Gwinnett and get his control under control. If he does that, there's a good chance he could be called upon if the Braves need a starting pitcher or a lefty reliever this season.
Mike Dunn - With Scott Proctor doing well and on pace to possibly start the season in the majors, Dunn might get squeezed out. He still has a shot to make the Atlanta club, but the numbers may not be in his favor. Most believed he was ready to make a major league roster, so if he gets sent down, he could be the first one called upon.
Jose Ortegano - Here's a kid who could really get on the radar with an impressive March. Ortegano is a favorite of Frank Wren, and while nothing he does will blow you away, fact is he gets people out. I'd like to see him get 25 starts in Double-A. Let's see what he can do over the course of a full season, and then we may know what Ortegano might be down the road.
Craig Kimbrel - The numbers last year were scary. Kimbrel is a guy who strikes people out and walks a lot of hitters. But if he's considered the future closer, the heir apparent to Billy Wagner, let's see what Kimbrel does at the higher levels. Send him to Gwinnett and let's see how close Kimbrel may be to being a factor in the big leagues.
Lee Hyde - The Braves have a lot of pitchers who could be on the cusp of being a big leaguer. Hyde is at the top of that list. Coaches felt he made tremendous strides last year; that's why he was put on the 40-man roster. But Hyde could really benefit from one more healthy season in the minors. Then a year from now he could be ready to go.
Mike Minor - Will Minor need one year or two years to get ready for the big leagues? He's a college pitcher who is very advanced. The Braves could push him to start the season in Mississippi to start the season. If he gets 25 starts there and does well, that may be all the Braves need to see to convince them Minor could be a bottom-of-the-rotation starter in 2011.
Julio Teheran - This will be Teheran's chance to get a complete season with a full season club. The flashes of brilliance have been obvious, but we need to see consistency and durability. The stuff is there, so those other things are now needed to put a better timeframe on how long Teheran will need in the minors. If he goes out and does well in 25 starts, Teheran will be on his way through a quick trip to Atlanta.
Cole Rohrbough - Here's a kid who really needs to bounce back and show why so many of us were high on him going into last year. Rohrbough took a step backwards, but there is no doubt his stuff is still there. Will the Braves promote Cole up to Double-A, or will he have to have some success in Myrtle Beach before he moves up a level? Don't give up on this kid. He'll have a good chance to show last year was a mirage and that he is a good prospect.
Brett DeVall - The Braves believe DeVall is healthy and ready to go. There is no doubting DeVall's stuff, but he's just got to go out there and stay healthy. Expect DeVall to be in the Rome rotation, and if he has a solid season the lefty could easily become a top ten prospect after the season.
Arodys Vizcaino - Is he really as good, or even better than Teheran? We'll find out when the former Yankee prospect heads to Rome. Baseball America's Jim Callis believes Vizcaino could be even better than Teheran. If so, don't scream at Frank Wren about that Javier Vazquez trade just yet. Fans will be watching every start to see how good this kid may be.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly column for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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