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.


33 Responses to “Edward Salcedo Ranks as Braves Best MiLB Bat”

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  1. Ryan says:

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

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  2. Dang says:

    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

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    • Undocorkscrew says:

      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….

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      • 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.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Alex, I’ll remain politically correct here by simply saying I’ve scouted everybody on your list in person except for Simmons and disagree with every one of those rankings other than Bethancourt and maybe Pastornicky.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Undercorkscrew,

        I’m actually going to take a look at the system and how the fact they don’t have a ton of hitting prospects isn’t really a big concern for me.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        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.

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  3. Adam says:

    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.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Adam, you are correct which is why I mentioned I didn’t completely agree with the scout I was sitting with although I have a great respect for him as a baseball man.

      For me, Salcedo, Bethancourt, Simmons and Pastornicky all have shots at big league careers with Bethancourt having the highest overall ceiling of the bunch. However, they are all flawed in some way and only Pastornicky is pretty much guaranteed a big league career of some sort.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        Pastornicky is going to be a “protypical leadoff” hitter correct? Higher OBP, speed, plus D?

        Of course, I mean as a ceiling. In all likelihood, if he ends up as good as yunel escobar, it’ll be good.

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      • Pickles says:

        I think Pastornicky is the most overvalued Braves prospect among its fan. I’m not saying he’ll fill a niche for the organization at short. I just think the expectations amongst the members of the fanbase I talk to are very pie in the sky. Am I right to think he’s a major league starter at short but likely a 7th or 8th hitter and not the top of the order guy my Braves fan friends think he’ll be

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Personally, Pastornicky strikes me as more of a 2nd division starter at the big league level who will be fine as a pre-arb guy, but won’t be an asset one wants to invest a number of millions into as a starting shortstop. He’s performing very well right now, but his ceiling is limited.

        Additionally, I actually view him higher than most giving him quite a bit of wiggle room for age-versus-level. Scouting contacts consider Pastornicky a utility guy at the big league level.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        I don’t think he’ll be a mainstay. Maybe be sort of like Francoeur, really good at first, plus defense, but once pitchers figure him out, he starts to slide and fade away and the Braves let him go.

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  4. Thomas says:

    “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.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      With all due respect, the Yankees have been talking up Jesus Montero as a viable catching prospect for years. That’s what organizations do. They talk up their guys to enhance value and the Braves are arguably the best in baseball at framing their own prospects in a positive light.

      What is stated at the beginning of the season will often change quickly as Elmer Reyes completely washed out of the league. As needs develop, priorities change.

      This season I spoke to multiple scouts and had a number of looks at Lipka at SS. When I brought up Lipka, the first thing mentioned by each was that, “he’s not a shortstop”.

      Error totals can be framed many ways. Some shortstops will have 40 because they have dynamic range, but little body control or poor accuracy on throws.

      Others will have few errors because they can field routine ground balls, but are limited in terms of an ability to go deep in the hole, or make other plays a scout would deem difficult. I won’t get too into a full Lipka report because I’ll eventually be completing one, but neither myself, nor scouting contacts viewed him as a viable big league shortstop in the end.

      For the Braves to move him, they must at least question his ability to hop Simmons and Pastornicky at some point on the org. depth chart. To frame Lipka as a top flight defensive shortstop as you have is simply not accurate.

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      • Thomas says:

        #1 – Elmer Reyes being washed out had nothing to do with Lipka’s playing time at short – because LaStella was brought in and Matt Weaver demoted. Salcedo, at anytime could have played shortstop more often but didn’t because of Lipka’s performance.
        #2 – Error totals can be framed in many ways – some truth to that – but can not be substantiated – but fielding percentage does not lie. The fact is Lipka had the third highest fielding percentage in the league – you can try and twist it all day but the facts are the facts. Lipka certainly has the range with an 80 speed tool.
        #3 -Nobody framed Lipka as a top flight defensive shortstop what I said was he emerged as one of the best defensive ss in the SALLY – that is a fact – talk to coaches in the league and they will agree. He surely didn’t deserve the cheap shot you took.
        #4 – I’m sure the first thing out of scouts mouth’s were he’s not a ss – what a joke !!
        #5 – Obviously, you think the Braves moved him to cf – because, as you state, they must question his ability to jump Simmons or Pastornicky – read the ajc article – as the Braves stated it was because of his athleticism and system need in the outfield. But no – what a minute – organization’s frame their prospects – they couldn’t possibly know more than you and your “scouts”. How about naming the scouts that you supposedly talked to and supply verification before you bloviate.

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      • Pickles says:

        Thomas,

        I’m a fan who saw a lot of Rome Braves games too. I thought Lipka has below average range. I’m not talking about Wilmer Flores horrible range but Lipka is below average. If coaches believe that Lipka was one of the leagues best defensive shortstops then I’d like to see the shortstops I missed this season. The best defensive SS in the league is Wilfredo Tovar. He might be one of the best defensive SS in the entire minor leagues. I’m sure you caught a Sand Gnat game, what your thoughts on a plus defensive SS?

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Thomas, I LITERALLY received a text message from a scout who read this piece this morning gloating that he had Lipka pegged for CF back in May and then mentioned the report he submitted to his org. on Salcedo was almost identical to what I posted.

        I’m fine with what I post being questioned, but I haven’t spent the past three years building credibility within the industry only to lose it lying about a conversation I had with a scout about Matt Lipka.

        Usually comments with this much vigor come from a family member or close friend which is cool. You absolutely have the right to your opinion AND the ability to read and believe what you choose.

        Do I know everything? Absolutely not. I’ve always presented myself as a single scouting source and not the final word. Please feel free to dismiss me as a hack. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Pickles, great reply! Tovar is an excellent defensive shortstop and really the best I saw in the league last season. Profar was also tremendous. If they were examples of “A” level shortstops defensively, the Lipka would be a C+ on a great day.

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  5. Paul says:

    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.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      At the lower levels, position doesn’t really matter. If Salcedo opens in A+, the Kubitza is not blocked by an assignment to A. That problem only presents itself when two like positioned players are at the same level like Romine/Montero were and an organization will often opt to slow one down to take care of the logjam.

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      • Paul says:

        I didn’t state it in the comment, but there’s Brandon Drury who I would expect to go to A. As an advanced college hitter, Kubitza would be expected to go to A+ like the Terd.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        That may happen with Kubitza, but it would be just as easy to assign him to Rome and see how Salcedo does in high-A. Still, I don’t think it’s a logjam issue as 3B, DH, and 1B are all options on any given day. Salcedo may even play a bit more SS although I wouldn’t recommend it.

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  6. Pickles says:

    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.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      People use what they have access to. Sickels presents lists in a very easy to digest form. It’s quite brilliant actually even if one doesn’t particularly agree with the assessments.

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  7. Thomas says:

    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 -

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  8. Tomas says:

    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.

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  9. Efrim says:

    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.

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  10. Derek says:

    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

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  11. Greg Schmidt says:

    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.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Greg,

      If Lipka were a great shortstop, he’d be saying at shortstop. The Braves organization can work to spin the Lipka to CF conversation however they choose, but prospects at the lower levels play the position which most maximizes their value until they are forced off of it. If Lipka is the “80 athlete” some are calling him, he would be able to shift to CF within a season at any time in his development.

      Additionally, Lipka is not blocked within the orgaization at this time. Whether at Rome or Lynchburg, Lipka would be able to play shortstop because Simmons will likely be in double-A and Pastornicky in triple-A or Atlanta. In two years, if Simmons or Pastornicky had locked down the SS spot, Lipka could be moved to CF at 20-21 with plenty of time to learn the nuances of an easier defensive position.

      In terms of Lipka being “strong”, I saw plenty of quickness, but not the strength or explosion I was expecting from a former football player. And with a .304 SLG, I’m not sure anybody else saw the big, strong kid you did. Bryce Harper is a big, strong kid. Mike Stanton was a big, strong kid. Matt Lipka does not fit that profile at all. Lipka is more of the quick, pesky type.

      In Rome, I’ve also seen Lipka make a few of those plays, but the flash you described was due more to lack of range and his having to compensate than his being a great defensive shortstop. A Tovar or Profar would make that type of play look more routine to where it might not stand out. Additionally, the true mark of a future big leaguer at SS is the ability to make plays in the 3B/SS hole and complete the longer throws which I did not see from Lipka. Can he really make a backhand play deep in the hole and fire a rocket to first off of his back foot? I just don’t see it. Many future non-SS players can make plays up the middle due to shorter throws and the ease of fielding balls on the glove side.

      As I’ve told other readers who are still enamored with Matt Lipka, I literally have not spoken to a single contact, scout or other, who bought into Lipka as a SS.

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  12. Greg Schmidt says:

    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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