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Prospect Alert
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Columnist: Koby Schellenger

Systems Audit: Atlanta Braves
November 27, 2006

Systems Audit:
Atlanta Braves

1. Elvis Andrus, SS, A. Andrus is young, athletic and loaded with potential. He is still learning how to play at the professional level. Everything about him is potential based.
2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, AA. Switch-hitting catchers with power potential are a rare breed. "Salty" plays good defense and can swing the bat real well. His 2006 campaign was hindered by an injury and he missed some significant time. He has good plate discipline and makes good contact. He doesn't run incredibly well but not too many catchers do. He is going to give Atlanta a very positive situation in two years with Brian McCann and him in the big leagues.
3. Eric Campbell, 2B/3B, A. He began to play some 2B in the HWL as an experiment on his mobility. It was fairly successful. His future is still unknown but I would imagine ATL will try to keep him at second. He has incredible power that he's already displayed but I question his ability to turn 22 HR (in the pitcher friendly park in Rome) into 25-30 major league home runs. He doesn't have the consistency we'd expect from someone like him but he's still developing. He's got the power, he just needs to add discipline at the plate.
4. Matt Harrison, LHP, AA. Harrison moved up the ATL organizational depth charts this year with an outstanding display of adjustment and development. He has incredible control, walking just over 1.5 per 9 this season. He doesn't strikeout many though at just over 6 per 9. This is often a sign of a pitcher who is exceptionally gifted at fooling hitters and forces them to make bad contact, like a Greg Maddux. Harrison isn't quite as crafty but he has good stuff and good size which adds to his deceptive nature.
5. Brandon Jones, OF, AA. Jones was highly touted and christened last year for his excellent production in A ball. He split time this year between A+ and AA and showed signs of progression along the way. He has decent plate discipline and good power. He's been able to turn at least 1/3 of his hits into extra base hits in A, A+ and AA ball.
6. Joey Devine, RHP, AA. Devine was rushed. We can all agree on that. But his failure doesn't indicate he's a bust. He still needs time to develop and learn to pitch but when he's ready he'll be a contributor. He throws a slider and a fastball but needs to add/improve a changeup. He has had control issues following an injury. I think he's still got the ability to be the closer in ATL.
7. Anthony Lerew, RHP, AAA. Lerew has fallen out of favor amongst many baseball pundits. But I still think he's got some fight in him. He throws gas upwards of 97 with some movement. He just has control issues to deal with. He has the pitches, just not the control.
8. Jeff Locke, LHP, Rk. I really like this kid. He has an electric arm and can fool hitters with a deceptive motion.
9. Chase Fontaine, SS, Rk. Fontaine probably won't stick at SS for long. Besides having Elvis Andrus in the system, he doesn't have the range. He has a very good arm which makes third a more likely spot for him. But he doesn't have the power a traditional third baseman has. He has a very compact swing. He'll hit for a good average throughout his career.
10. Yunel Escobar, SS, AA. Escobar is 24 and is a little old for his league. I don't see him advancing beyond a career minor league player but could be a utility player if he develops a little more. His major asset is his defense. He's athletic and quick. He showed tremendous improvement this year in his approach at the plate he simply did not see the results in his average and slugging.
Flier. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rk. Another young pitcher with an electric arm. He's more of a flier to me because he has a more wild delivery. Pitchers who have wild, loose deliveries tend to be more injury-prone and have slower development time.

Future Lineup (arrival date)
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2008)
1B: Adam LaRoche
2B: Eric Campbell (2009)
3B: Willy Aybar
SS: Elvis Andrus (2008)
LF: Brandon Jones (2008)
CF: Ryan Langerhans
RF: Jeff Francouer

Pitching Rotation
1: Tim Hudson
2: Chuck James
3: Horacio Ramirez
4: Matt Harrison (2008)
5: Kyle Davies

Closer: Joey Devine
Setup: Macay McBride, Ken Ray
Middle Relief: Oscar Villarreal, Anthony Lerew

The Braves have long touted a talented and deep system. That was never more evident than last season when despite a plethora of injuries the Braves were able to still win the division upon the power of rookies. Their now "depleted" system is still a good system though it lacks the depth it once had. A series of good draft picks this year have helped bolster the system with some good young arms. What's more, the system has plenty of talent at scarce positions, catcher and shortstop, that will become very valuable trading pieces in due time.

System Grade: B-

Posted by Koby Schellenger: Nov 27 at 10:56 AM

 Comment on Systems Audit: Atlanta Bravesforum

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[1] by dpaullin on 11/27/2006 02:38 pmreply
I've never heard of this Eric Campbell guy, but he sounds interesting. Also, where do you see Brian McCann in the Braves future?

[2] by kschellenger on 11/27/2006 03:09 pmreply
dpaullin wrote:
I've never heard of this Eric Campbell guy, but he sounds interesting. Also, where do you see Brian McCann in the Braves future?

I think ultimately McCann will be traded. Comparing Salty to him (when McCann was in AA) Salty is much better and projects to be a better player, lower average but made up for in OBP/SLUG. As McCann is older he will be closer to the breakdown point which comes rapidly for catchers and he will be expendible while the Braves will want to lock down that catcher spot for the few extra years Salty would have before he gets too old.

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