Edward Salcedo Ranks as Braves Best MiLB Bat

The thought of Atlanta Braves third base prospect Edward Salcedo forces me to think of a popular Dave Matthews Band song titled, “The Best of What’s Around“. Maybe the lyrics don’t fit exactly, but the title is perfect when discussing the bats, or lack thereof, in the Braves minor league system. On a humid evening in July, I wound up sitting next to a scout I had met two seasons earlier in Savannah and spent much of the game discussing the Braves system. After talking through the top-flight pitching prospects in the organization, the conversation turned to potential big league hitters to which the scout commented, “Salcedo is the only bat in the entire system.” Having scouted Braves affiliates including Rome, Mississippi and Gwinnett in person, I don’t completely agree, but do concede the fact Salcedo is the only prospect system-wide with a middle-of-the-order ceiling.

Video after the Jump

During the first half of the 2011 season, Salcedo posted a line of .268/.346/.420 including a .536 slugging percentage in June leading me to believe he would be promoted to Lynchburg along with catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, his teammate at the time. That promotion never came for Salcedo, and as the season wore on, Salcedo wore out with a sub-.500 OPS in August-September. In scouting the young third baseman, reports matched the statistics as whatever gains were made in the areas of plate discipline and defense dissipated as the days of mid-90’s heat wore on.

However, to simply say Salcedo did not improve in 2011 based on his late-season swoon would be remiss as he did make strides both offensively and in the field. Additionally, his improved conditioning was easily identifiable as his physique, especially through the hips and mid-section, had leaned up considerably.

Offensively, Salcedo began the season with significantly more patience than he had shown late in the 2010 season when he consistently flailed at breaking balls out of the strike zone. Additionally, his breaking ball recognition was still below average, but greatly improved over last year when he washed out in full season baseball to the tune of .197/.239/.295 in just over 200 plate appearances.

Salcedo still has a tendency to attack pitches in front of the plate. This allows him to cheat some on fastballs in, but continues to leave him susceptible to anything middle-out. As he continues to shorten what most would consider a long swing path, the need to be over-aggressive should diminish allowing him to square up on pitches more consistently. Once this happens, his power totals may spike, as his sub-.400 slugging percentage does not reflect his present size or strength. The only hitch to this theory is that I still struggle to see enough explosion in Salcedo’s wrist to project “easy” power. Additionally, I just can’t shake my concern that his signing a couple of years after most big name international prospects caused him to lose nearly two years of development time at the critical early stages.

On defense, Salcedo actually found himself playing a bit of shortstop again which is more of an indictment of Matt Lipka as a middle infielder (now playing centerfield) than endorsement of Salcedo’s defensive prowess. At third base, Salcedo showed improved range and softer hands, which along with his strong arm allow him to project well at third. At present, his error totals are high, but he’s much better reacting to hard hit balls than he is sitting back, or charging balls for that matter. Continued reps on the infield should help iron out the kinks and allow him to improve.

In terms of foot speed, Salcedo runs quite well for a prospect his size. I pulled a 4.15 home-to-first time off of video, but the batted ball included his lunging badly at a pitch in front of home plate leading to a weak ground ball and his being able to cheat out of the batter’s box a bit. In actuality, he’s more of a 4.25-4.3 runner, which definitely isn’t considered “burner” territory.

In a number of other organizations, Edward Salcedo probably would not rank in the top 10, as there’s simply too much distance between where he is and the solid big leaguer Salcedo may eventually be. This does not mean Salcedo does not draw intense interest from scouts, as I consistently witnessed talent evaluators viewing him from a number of angles. In his prime, the projection is there for him to be an Edwin Encarnacion-type from a triple slash standpoint with much better defense. However, he’s just not a good enough prospect at this point to be the centerpiece of a deal to fill a major hole at the big league level.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Ryan
Member
Ryan
4 years 9 months ago

I imagine this guy stays put. But It’ll be interesting to see how Atlanta handles their MiLB pitching surplus this offseason.

Dang
Guest
Dang
4 years 9 months ago

Don’t know enough about Salcedo in respect to other systems but as a Braves fan hearing “probably would not rank in the top 10” wasn’t good. I was hoping Simmons, Lipka, Salcedo, The Turd etc would eventually yield at least 1 or 2 productive big league players, maybe even above average or star. Sounds like that was a very optimistic outlook

Undocorkscrew
Guest
Undocorkscrew
4 years 9 months ago

I pray some team is desperate enough to trade a top prospect or two for Jair Jurrjens. Offensively speaking, Atlanta’s farm is quite easily one of the worst in the game….

Alex Remington
Member
4 years 9 months ago

They don’t have a lot of high-upside bats, but it’s not quite apocalyptically bad. John Sickels’ latest top 20 prospect ranking had eight Braves position prospects at B- or better, including Salcedo.

(Rounding out the list were Andrelton Simmons, B+, and Salcedo, Tyler Pastornicky, Matt Lipka, Joe Terdoslavich, Christian Bethancourt, Brandon Drury, and Tommy La Stella, all B-.) Sure, most of those guys are probably more glove than bat at this point, but the system isn’t completely bare.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
4 years 9 months ago

For the foreseeable future though, they have a young 1B and RF who should produce, Uggla at 2B, Bourne possibly at CF, Prado at LF for probably 2-3 more years, McCann behind the plate. The only question marks are at SS and 3B. A majority of their top position player prospect are at those 2 positions. I’m not too worried. Plus after Lowe’s contract runs out, that’s 15M to play with. With Hudson + Jurrjens, Hanson, Minor, Medlen, Beachy, Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado, they can surely produce a quality rotation and use the excess to improve their other holes.

Adam
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Adam
4 years 9 months ago

Although I generally agree that the Braves system lacks elite position player talent, I’d note that a few guys did take steps forward this year. Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons each emerged as legitimate SS prospects, and both Christian Bethancourt and Joey Terdoslavich had solid seasons. Meanwhile, in the low minors, Drury, Beckwith, Kubitza, Larsson, and La Stella all merit at least a second glance. It’s not impossible that one or two of them can keep hitting in Lynchburg and beyond.

I don’t dispute the system’s obvious dearth of elite hitters, but it’s not a complete wasteland.

Thomas
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Thomas
4 years 9 months ago

“On defense, Salcedo actually found himself playing a bit of shortstop again which is more of an indictment of Matt Lipka as a middle infielder than endorsement of Salcedo’s defensive prowess”. – That assessment actually shows you are sorely misinformed – not to mention it is a cheap shot. Here is why (factual information)
1. At the beginning of the season, the Braves clearly stated that Lipka, Salcedo and Elmer Reyes would work on a sixteen game rotation at shortstop.
2. Salcedo only played 19 games at shortstop – all in the beginning of the season largely, in part, because Lipka emerged as one of the top defensive shortstops in the league.
3. Lipka only committed 15 errors at ss all year, had the third highest fielding percentage among full-time shortsops in the league, and as a fan who saw many games, was outstanding.
4. Bruce Manno, special assistant to Frank Wren, stated in an article in the ajc recently, that the move to centerfield in instructs for Lipka has nothing to due with Lipka’s performance at ss but in fact, has to do with his athleticism, 80-speed tool, and the need in the Braves system for outfield talent.

Paul
Guest
Paul
4 years 9 months ago

The physical similarity to Wilson Betemit, especially on defense, is striking. Good comment about being out front on everything. He gets around the ball on almost every swing in that video.

Someone mentioned Kubitza. He looks interesting, looking forward to that write-up next year. But I wonder where he plays, unless Salcedo gets bumped off 3B already.

Pickles
Guest
Pickles
4 years 9 months ago

Why do people think John Sickels is a solid source when it comes to prospect rankings? I think any one of us can do what he does. Some, like Mike, can do it much better.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas
4 years 9 months ago

Pickles,
I thought Tovar was an excellent defensive ss – certainly, not the best in the league – not even close to the best in the minors but very good. Guys like Profar, Machado, Lee, etc. are better at this time but his potential is high.
I certainly disagree with your assessment of Lipka’s defensive range –

Tomas
Guest
Tomas
4 years 9 months ago

While Mike is absolutely 100% with his comment about Braves being one of the best organization in framing their prospects, I have to ask about Joey Terdoslavich. Braves minor league hitter of the year.

And also, I read that Tyler Pastornicky has nice range, and a good arm, but had a lot of errors. Defensively he is ranked 2nd in the minor league’s for ATL behind Simmons who they say is awesome.

Efrim
Guest
Efrim
4 years 9 months ago

Mike, great read. Are there any other prospects other than Andrelton Simmons that interest you from the Braves 2010 and 2011 drafts? Do we need to wait and see on Matt Lipka since he’s switched defensive positions? Thanks.

Derek
Guest
Derek
4 years 9 months ago

Check out the catch Lipka makes in this video. I’ve always thought he would make a great CF, better use of his plus speed IMHO.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljh4YriNXiY

Greg Schmidt
Guest
Greg Schmidt
4 years 9 months ago

Mike, lets get real here, lets not dig yourself too much! Saw Lipka play in Greenville and in Rome vs Greenville and the kid made about 5 spinning plays behind second base in center field.. not sure what you’ve been doing all year but it sure is not “scouting the sally.” You’re insulting yourself and making yourself look terrible by saying he is a C shortstop, he could very well play in the big leagues as a shortstop and or second base. Only reason he was moved is his body type I believe, he is a big strong kid and flies! CF will suit him well, but for now, get better at assessing guys and try not to put kids down.

Greg Schmidt
Guest
Greg Schmidt
4 years 9 months ago

I disagree, they have a lot of depth at the position and most likely figure CF is his fastest route and his athleticism obviously projects well out there. Maybe an indicator they cant sign a high money demanding Bourn, and looking for Lipka to fill the void in the future. All I am saying is the kid is 19 and he is a top shortstop or was, you’re comments like he has a lack of range are flat out silly, I haven’t seen many SS make that play not to mention the amount of times I’ve seen him make that play in very few times seeing him. Bottom line he has the arm to make a backhand and throw the guy out, saw him pull the Derek Jeter signature move one of the last games in Rome actually! Kid had an outstanding year defensively, give credit where credit is due! Very excited to see him roam the outfield with his speed, he is a young guy and has plenty of time and a high ceiling you sure don’t need to knock him by any means

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