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  1. Like the list a lot Marc.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 10, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  2. Does the hype that surrounded Heyward and to a lesser extent Freeman make what Pastornicky is about to do seem less special? The Braves have a 22 year old (and will be for the whole season) who tore up AAA last year and could be ready to become a MLB regular at SS, but no one seems to care.

    Comment by TK — February 10, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  3. Pastornicky is a nice little player but he’s not in the same class as the other two which is probably why the hype is… non-existent at this point. As I mentioned, he’s the kind of guy you have to watch a bit to appreciate, so fans will start jumping on the bandwagon once that happens.

    Comment by Marc Hulet — February 10, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  4. Thanks Ben.

    Comment by Marc Hulet — February 10, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  5. Love these lists Marc keep up the great work. Looking over this list I was struck by just how many of these players came from the International Market. Granted a few came from other organizations it’s pretty clear that Atlanta has some impressive international scouting going on. Has there been much study/evaluation on a team specific basis regarding success in the international market?

    Comment by Justin — February 10, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  6. I have a feeling there will be a revolving door of shortstops in Atlanta. And it will hilarious!

    Comment by Dekker — February 10, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  7. I have no idea how you can say that the escobar trade was a good idea for the braves. Gonzalez is done, and pastornicky wont ever be half the player that yunel is.

    Comment by Bleh — February 10, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  8. I never realized that it was once possible to be made fun of for being a Braves fan. Thank you for the history lesson.

    Comment by buddy — February 10, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  9. Wow… you’ve made me feel old.

    Comment by Marc Hulet — February 10, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  10. It was the right move for the braves. They had a lot riding on that 2010 season to make it back to the playoffs after a drought. They called up Heyward on Opening day (forgoing the standard practice of delaying service time), and It was Bobby Cox’s last year. Escobar was an unbelievable asshole with a .618 OPS and 0 home runs.

    Since they made the playoffs by one game, I am very, very skeptical they would have made it with Escobar that season. They broke the playoff drought and the attendance rose in relation to the league the following season.

    Comment by Dekker — February 10, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  11. Who know else are notoriously huge assholes? Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. “Club house chemistry” is one of the more overstated things in baseball. You only ever hear when good players are good in the club house, if a player is good enough, teams are going to put up with their shit. Go resign Franceour if you want a good clubhouse. Trading Escobar was a mistake

    Comment by j6takish — February 10, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  12. Might as well be the obligatory jays fan. Pastornicky or Escobar, who ya got?

    Comment by Big Jgke — February 10, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  13. “He should fit in nicely at the top of a lineup in the two-hole where he can focus on advancing runners and wreaking havoc on the base paths in front of the big guns.”

    Let’s not give Fredi any ideas …

    Comment by Luke M. — February 10, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  14. “Let’s not give Fredi any ideas …”

    What? You don’t like his ideas of pitching Venters/Kimbrell at any and every opportunity? Or starting a 30 year old rookie in RF over a supremely talented, albeit slumping Heyward? Or Sticking with Derek Lowe right until the. very. end.?

    Comment by Dan Holland — February 10, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

  15. I honestly think this is our year. This pitching staff is going to be lights out. A lot of talent at the plate.

    Comment by Travis — February 10, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  16. Because Bobby Cox is known for giving up on guys and not being able to control a clubhouse right? They knew Yunel was capable of being a good SS. He was one the year before for the Braves. I don’t know what exactly went down, but it had to be extreme for Cox to basically give up on a player.

    I hated watching Yunel struggle that year. I hated it when he was traded too because I wanted him to turn it around and perform to his talent level. It wasn’t going to happen in Atlanta that year though. I know he’s a good SS, but getting rid of him doesn’t bother me much. You can’t compare Yunel to Bonds or Arod. He was sulking and had basically quit on a team battling for the playoffs. Now getting rid of Andrus, that’s a different story.

    Comment by Brain of G — February 10, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  17. ………….Scott Proctor is all that needs to be said.

    Comment by Brain of G — February 10, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  18. .365/.407/.413 at 21 in 117 PA in AAA to go along with .299/.345/.414 in 512 PA in AA

    .323/.408/.555 across high A, AA, and AAA, mostly high A and AA as a 19 year old

    .319/.378/.521 all in AAA as a 20 year old.

    Who are you going to hype up? High average can inflate on base. High average can be caused by inferior minor league defense and pitching. High average, high on base, and high slugging at a younger age is more indicative. Pastornicky’s ISO is under .100 I believe just eyeballing it, at least in AAA. In AA it’s not much more.

    Plus they get compared to others. Jurickson Profar SS, Rangers farm, .286/.390/.493 in A as an 18 year old. Pastornicky at 19 in A ball .269/.336/.346. It’s projection. Pastornicky, judging from his slugging, doesn’t hit the ball hard enough. He seems to make a lot of contact, but better pitching and defense might negate that advantage.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  19. Not really. Pastornicky is just a place holder. Lipka is in the outfield, pretty sure Salcedo was moved to third, in fact he played 100 games there as opposed to 19 at shortstop.

    It’s really just Pastornicky who should be a solid major leaguer holding the spot and trying not to suck until hopefully Simmons realizes his potential and takes over.

    If not, as a Braves fan that day dreams everytime I watch Elvis Andrus on the Rangers thinking of what could be….how about Lipka/Salcedo/Simmons/Pastornicky for Profar? Give us a mulligan.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  20. Saying that “well barry bonds and ty cobb were assholes too” as an argument that clubhouse chemistry is overrated is one of the most overrated arguments saber guys use. Yunel was a clubhouse problem apparently and when he was putting up 4-5 WAR (much like Cobb and Bonds), you can tolerate him being an asshole more. When he’s putting up less than 1 WAR and hitting .238/.334/.284, while you’re in a playoff race, and he’s 27, you feel a lot more comfortable trading him. Don’t let hindsight bias tell you otherwise.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  21. Yea, 6th inning, bases loaded, up by like 2, 1 out, yea, let’s bring in Proctor. It’s not like we don’t have a guy with a 70+% groundball rate….lost that one, grand salami off Proctor.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  22. I hope so too. 4th best record last year even with Uggo and Hey struggling, then they shit the bed. If all goes well, should be a great year. It’s ridiculous that most mainstream places and boards think Atlanta is a 4th place team. Mitch Williams thinks the Phillies will run away with the division and has ATL at 4th. It’s why I come on here, to get an educated opinion.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  23. 4th best in the majors last year, 4th in the NL East this year is what they’re predicting. My paragraph could be confusing.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 10, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

  24. You talk about Pastornicky moving over to second base. When would that happen? Right now they’ve got Dan “The Human Statue” Uggla playing second, and I don’t see him sitting in favor of Pastornicky. The Braves prefer his bat, and he’s Fredi Gonzalez’s favorite, seeing as how he had Fredi’s back in his dispute with Hanley Ramirez down in Miami.

    Comment by ChuckO — February 10, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  25. If the Braves did not think Pastornicky could be a long term option, they would have traded for a shortstop this winter. Whether he will be or not is yet to be determined, but they saw something in him when they traded for him and see something in him to hand him the job before spring training.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 10, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  26. It could happen if Chipper retires after this season, or it could happen after that season if the Braves feel that they can’t take Uggla’s horrible defense. Uggla’s skill set could work at third better than at second, and I think him being in left and Prado at second would have been the correct decision from the start.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 10, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  27. yea this is a great list with lots of good info!!

    Comment by Mike — February 10, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  28. why are you so down on terdoslavich?? he did put up good numbers in low A and had another strong showing in AFL.. hes making a move to 3b this season, some in the braves org are hoping he could replace chipper in time..

    Comment by Gabe Abreu — February 10, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  29. little bit old for the league

    Comment by SF 55 for life — February 10, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  30. I hope so too, but I don’t feel as good about things as I did last February. I’m not convinced Heyward is going to magically bounce back; I’m not convinced F Freeman won’t have a sophomore slump season like Heyward did; I’m almost sure O’Ventbrel will regress at least a little, they were historically great last year(for 5 months); I’m not convinced one of our glut of young starters is going to develop into a #1 this year(it’s too early for Teheran, of course); I’m not convinced Pastornicky is going to hit enough to make up for his average defense. I shudder at the thought of missing Alex Gonzalez.

    I agree that a 4th place finish is very unlikely. Everything I described above would have to happen, plus a bunch of injuries.

    I still don’t see us overtaking Philadelphia. Like us, they had a lot of things go wrong last year but still won 102. I don’t see Halladay or Lee showing their age yet. My only hope is they get even worse offensively, but they’ve already improved by removing the human scarecrow(Ibanez) from left field. As we saw last September, they are a supremely confident team, and deservedly so.

    What I feel the Braves really need to get over the top is a #1 hitter. Who is going to provide that type of offense for them? McCann? He’s running out of time to have a breakout season, and he’s already doing far enough as a catcher offensively; Heyward? I would love it if he really blossomed, but I worry he may never develop a true power stroke. The Old Man? It just seems impossible that he will play 140-150 games and he has to show his age at some point. Uggla? If he magically hit .290 and showed the same power as last year, he might be the best choice.

    I really hope Frank Wren is trying to ship a few of our young starters for a really big bat. That’s what we need the most.

    Comment by bstar — February 10, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  31. Nice list Marc! Quick question, what do you think about Tommy La Stella? I know he was a little old for Rome but his bat is legit.

    Comment by Jay212033 — February 11, 2012 @ 1:29 am

  32. ummmm Escobar.

    Comment by Steve — February 11, 2012 @ 1:58 am

  33. I’ll take the playoff appearance we were unlikely to get with Escobar. Enjoy 4th place.

    Comment by TK — February 11, 2012 @ 2:27 am

  34. Why would they have traded for a SS? Who would they have traded for and who would they have given up?

    Pastornicky only needs to play solid SS for 1 or 2 years with the hope that Simmons can be called up and play really well.

    You are suggesting they trade prospects for a SS for 1 or 2 years instead of just promoting Pastornicky and betting on him not sucking?

    I think they HOPE Pastornicky develops into a long term shortstop, but to me it just looks like he’s there to hold down the fort.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 11, 2012 @ 2:59 am

  35. I don’t think they need a true number 1 hitter. They just need consistency. Uggla, Heyward, Freeman, Prado, McCann, Bourn can all be 6 very good hitters. When Chipper is healthy that is 7. The only hole might be Pastornicky.

    On paper I feel like Atlanta has a better lineup and pen than the Phillies. A better rotation pen then the Nats, and Marlins.

    Maybe I’m too optimistic about Chipper, Heyward, and Uggla.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 11, 2012 @ 3:02 am

  36. Yea, my question is, why didn’t they call Terd up to AA? At least for like a month. Just looking at his numbers, he was tearing up the league. Terd tearing up high A at 23 is about as impressive as Cespedes tearing up the Cuban pitchers at 26. I really hope he (Terd) continues though.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 11, 2012 @ 3:05 am

  37. Before the 2010 season, Bobby Cox said that Escobar was a top 3 SS and he could easily see him end up being the best SS in baseball. There were one or two reports about his ‘attitude’ prior to 2010, but Escobar was CLEARLY loafing in the first-half. Not running out grounders(which was all he hit), showing off his arm by waiting until the last possible moment to throw the ball, ignoring stop-signs and just being miserable on the bases in general.

    I think that game against the Mets is what made their decision. Guy nearly broke Troy Glaus’s arm(which in hindsight would’ve been doing the team a favor, but still).

    He might not be having any disciplinary issues in Toronto, who knows? If he’s playing hard and producing, good on the guy for straightening up. He clearly had an issue with management and/or numerous players in Atlanta though, why else would they move a 4-win SS? I doubt Wren thought that Alex Gonzalez would continue his power surge and that the package he was getting was all that fair. Gonzalez was given a standing ovation when he arrived in the clubhouse and another one during his first plate appearance in a Braves uniform. That should be a telling sign that he just wasn’t working in Atlanta……

    Comment by Undocorkscrew — February 11, 2012 @ 3:38 am

  38. It may be a stretch, but my main reason for optimism next year is a bounce back in OBP. They led the league in OBP in 2010 and with the same team(subtract Infante and add Uggla) finished close to last in 2011. They brought in Parrish and clearly wanted more power out of the lineup, and it showed. Not blaming Parrish entirely for the ob-base regression, I have no idea how much a hitting coach influences an offense. But I do know that almost every position player seen their OBP drop below their career levels. I expect Uggla to not miss the entire first-half, I think that’s a reasonable expectation. Same goes for Prado in getting closer to his career norms. A full season of Bourn should also help. Pastornicky won’t be much of an upgrade over Gonzalez but if he can play passable defense and manage an OBP over .280, his speed will bring more value to the club. Don’t think that’s all that unreasonable to expect either…..

    I don’t expect Heyward to come out and produce a .300, .400, .500 line with 35 HR, but he doesn’t have to. His projections for next year are pretty much in line with what I expect and I think it’s reasonable, assuming he can keep that shoulder healthy. A lot of teams have a lot of ‘ifs’, but I fully expect a better offensive showing from the Braves next season. Like you said, the pitching will probably regress a bit. The back-end of the pen was phenomenal, can’t expect that same production in consecutive years. Hudson, Hanson, and Jurrjens are coming off of injuries, and while the Braves have plenty of young, impact arms…….the health of those rotation veterans is likely to make or break their season, particularly Hanson and Hudson. Hanson is supposedly feeling great and they smoothed out his delivery by getting rid of that hitch he’s got, which should put less stress on his shoulder and stop guys like Aramis Ramirez from stealing bases…..

    If I’m wrong about the offense, Wren does have plenty of young pitching he could reasonably flip for an impact bat. I’ve still got plenty of confidence in this team going forward…

    Comment by Undocorkscrew — February 11, 2012 @ 3:58 am

  39. I’m far from a scout, but I got to watch him play around 20 games last year and wasn’t overly impressed(it was during his worst stretch of the year I found out though). He’s 23 in high-A and doesn’t walk a whole lot. I guess that’s why scouts aren’t too high on the guy. Oh, and he looked like he had no clue what he was doing at 1B defensively, he attempted some hilarious scoops.

    He’ll turn some heads if he can do the same at AA this season.

    Comment by Undocorkscrew — February 11, 2012 @ 4:04 am

  40. Yeah, that 0.7 WAR from Gonzalez really locked the Braves into a playoff spot. Might as well say we wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs without Kyle Farnsworth or Troy Glaus while you’re at it.

    Comment by HasonJeyward — February 11, 2012 @ 6:06 am

  41. La Stella was in consideration for the back end of the list but my lists tend to be prejudice against relievers and all but the top pure second base prospects… just from a lack of future value standpoint and the fact most successful big league second baseman played SS (and some 3B) in the minors.

    La Stella has very little chance to remain at second base and is likely headed to a corner outfield spot so his bat will have to be very good for him to be an everday guy.

    Comment by Marc Hulet — February 11, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  42. Glaus kind of did carry the Braves for about a month and a half.

    Comment by Undocorkscrew — February 11, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  43. I honestly don’t understand how people who watch the Braves very closely can be against that trade. I’m not a “Braves can do no wrong” guy, but I believe they would not have made the playoffs with Yunel. It really comes down to why you think he was performing so poorly. If you think it was a natural dip, then the trade makes no sense. If you don’t, then it makes sense. I don’t understand how people who believe the former.

    Comment by TK — February 11, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  44. You know it’s funny. I seem to recall that Yunel was projected to be an average glove with around .290-.300 points of empty average. Not saying theyre comparable, just struck me.

    Comment by deadpool — February 11, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  45. I’m not a braves fan especially but as a baseball fan I hope that Heyward soon becomes a special player. He needs a little more help in that lineup but I hope he can stay healthy and be really good.

    Comment by chuckb — February 11, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  46. It was the right trade at the right time, for sure.

    Comment by bstar — February 11, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  47. Yes, the news on Tommy Hanson reworking his mechanics a bit has been really encouraging. I’m not worried about Hudson, despite his age. He’s been phenomenally consistent his whole career, so even with a slight dip in production I still think he’s going to be the glue that holds the rotation together.

    Comment by bstar — February 11, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  48. @Undocorkscrew

    And sank the team the rest of the time. He was barely above replacement level over 483 PAs. So yeah, I think the team could’ve reached the playoffs without him.

    The .270 BABIP didn’t help. Went back to .296 after the trade and .316 in 2011. Kelly Johnson had a similar BABIP dip in 2009 that saw him get non-tendered. He’s put up 8.2 WAR in the two years since.

    Comment by Hason Jeyward — February 12, 2012 @ 12:59 am

  49. He’s either a non roster invitee or he’s on the 40 man, I don’t remember which. If Terd produces again in the minors, I bet he gets called up ala Constanza last year.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 12, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  50. he was 22 in baseball years. and it was his first full season. i feel like when guys really need to get hacked for age-relative-league is when they’ve been slaving away for years with mediocre results and then suddenly break out in their second year at the same level, that kind of thing. JT’s not young, but so far his trajectory is (1) he showed up (2) he hit. sure he doesn’t get extra credit for being young but what’s a college guy supposed to do.

    Comment by wily mo — February 12, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  51. Empty average with great defense and the best infield arm in baseball. No big deal, though.

    Comment by Luke M. — February 12, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  52. Hey guys, stop piling on Fredo – he had nothing to do with our collapse in September.

    It was 100% the players’ faults.

    (At least that’s what some self-proclaimed know-it-all wrote here.)

    Comment by Nick in ATL — February 12, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  53. My feelings as well. Unfortunate too, because his bat profiles very well as a second baseman.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 14, 2012 @ 8:23 am

  54. Yea the offseason started off with middle infielders getting ridiculous contracts. Once the front office saw what guys like Carroll were getting I’m pretty sure they just said “screw it, Pastornicky’s close enough to being ready.” I don’t think they’re expecting him to be tops in the league or anything, but he should at least do an average job for the time being. I honestly think they just realized they could probably get by just fine this season, not shell out a ton of cash, and re-assess next year.

    Comment by blurba — February 16, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  55. Just ask the players. They’re the ones that gave Gonzalez a standing ovation when he first arrived to the clubhouse to replace Yunel. That speaks volumes about Yunel and the kind of player/teammate he was.

    The Braves netted plus defense from Gonzo, a solid prospect in Pastornicky, and a relief pitcher that they traded for two guys that each played huge roles in winning a couple of playoff games. I can definitely live with what went down.

    Comment by blurba — February 16, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  56. I don’t really think there’s a question. They’re going to have to move Uggla eventually. You don’t aim to win off of your pitching and then sit idly by as your crappy infield defense holds back the impressive pitching staff that you’ve spent years building.

    Comment by blurba — February 16, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  57. I also kind of think that Uggla’s going to be in ATL longer than Fredi, though. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I’d be willing to bet that if Fredi doesn’t move Uggla off of 2nd, the next guy in line will.

    Comment by blurba — February 16, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  58. I’m continually impressed at how the Braves always seem to have young talent to mesh with their veterans, and they keep right on being successful.

    Obviously the Braves are known for pitching, and I don;t think it’s due to their former pitching coach (or at least his magic didn’t transfer to Baltimore).

    Do they have a higher success rate for pitching “prospects” than other organizations (in general, or on average).

    I know ATL is not necessarily saber-friendly, but they have to be doing something right, as luck generally doesn’t last this long.

    Interesting that their top 3 prospects are all IFAs, and seemingly MLB ready at age 22. How much did these guys cost to sign? As say compared to 3 high pitching prospects in recent drafts?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 16, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  59. It’s funny with LaStella’s glove. His defense was knocked at coastal and is again questioned in pro-ball. He broke the fielding % record @ coastal. The guy can hit and will likely get a chance to prove himself at 2nd base in Lynchberg (I don’t think the coaches intend to move him just yet). Only Gosselin ahead of him so he could stick there. His #’s in Rome were certainly impressive. If Ahmed doesn’t stick at SS he could move to 2nd, but LaStella is a better hitter.

    Comment by 2bagger — March 27, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  60. JJ Hoover at #13, that’s wild. We used to sit at the same table at high school lunch haha. JJ’s gonna make it

    Comment by Mingy — March 28, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  61. Any thoughts on Mauro Gomez?

    Any upside to him other than the power? I know the plate discipline is not there, but the MiL OBP is not terrible.

    Comment by Steve C — April 2, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

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