A Minor Review of ’09: Atlanta Braves

Prospect ranking season is here. Top 10 lists will be arriving shortly and in preparation for that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The series is back for a second year.

Atlanta Braves

The Graduate: Jordan Schafer, OF
A lot was expected from the 23-year-old Schafer in ’09, but he hit just .204/.313/.287 in 167 at-bats and ended up back in the minors. His 63 strikeouts in 167 at-bats (37.7 K%) were a huge issue, but he did post a walk rate of 13.9 BB%. His contact rate of 64.6% was well below the league average of 80.5%. Defensively, he had some issues with his range in center field and, overall, he posted a WAR of -0.3. Schafer could very well need some more seasoning in triple-A before he’s ready for another shot at a full-time role in the Majors.

The Riser: Adam Milligan, OF
An injury prevented the ’08 draft pick from making his pro debut prior to the ’09 season. Milligan rose all the way to high-A in his first full season and he just narrowly missed the Top 10 list for the Braves. The outfielder hit .345/.393/.589 in 197 low-A at-bats and received a six-game trial in high-A, as well. Milligan, 21, displayed intriguing left-handed power (.244), but he needs to be a little more patient at the plate with a walk rate of 5.7 BB%. On the year, he held his own against southpaws with an .870 OPS, but he was even better against right-handers: 1.013 OPS. Milligan’s debut numbers were very impressive, but he was aided by a .394 BABIP.

The Tumbler: Cole Rohrbough, LHP
Rohrbough looked to be on the fast-track after solid numbers in his first two minor league seasons. Things fell apart a bit for him in ’09 as he allowed 129 hits in 117 innings of work in high-A. His ERA was 5.77 but his FIP was just 4.34. He posted a walk rate of 3.69 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 7.69 K/9. Rohrbough struggled with his command and allowed too many fat pitches, which resulted in an increased HR/9 rate to 0.92. The Braves could be aggressive with Rohrbough, 22, and move him up to double-A in ’10 given that his numbers were not quite as bad as they looked on the surface. He features an 89-93 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.

The ’10 Sleeper: Dimaster Delgado, LHP
Another left-handed pitcher, Delgado does not throw as hard as Rohrbaugh. His fastball currently sits at 86-90 mph but he projects to add velocity as he fills out. The southpaw also features a curveball and change-up. In ’09 at low-A ball, Delgado allowed 89 hits in 99.2 innings of work, while showing good control with a walk rate of 2.35 BB/9. He also posted a strikeout rate of 9.39 K/9 and did a nice job of limiting the home-run ball (0.36 HR/9). If he can add some velo and/or improve his ground-ball rate, Delgado could see his numbers improve even more.

Bonus: Erik Cordier, RHP
Highlighted in the ’08 series as a potential breakout candidate after returning from surgery, Cordier struggled with his control in ’09. At high-A ball, the right-hander posted a walk rate of 5.50 BB/9 while allowing 115 hits in 121.0 innings. His strikeout rate was just 6.55 and his stuff has not come all the way back to its pre-surgery form. Although he posted a 3.87 ERA, his FIP was 5.20. Cordier, a former Royals prospect, will hopefully continue to show improvements in ’10.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Just wondering – is there a place where I can see all of these posts? Or is there a place where I can find a schedule? I’m looking to find the Yanks/Mets versions of this post but can’t find it anywhere. Thanks.