Braves top 5 fantasy prospects
1. Julio Teheran, SP
Josh’s take: Prospect followers sure are a fickle bunch. A poor major league showing left some onlookers questioning Teheran's blue chip prospect status. Those questions are much ado about nothing, as his star is as bright as ever. Teheran dominated Triple-A as a 20 year old, sporting a sparkling 2.55 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP. His strikeouts were down a bit from year's past, 7.59 K/9, but his control was stellar, 2.99 BB/9. He has the goods to strikeout more batters than he did this year, and it is just a matter of time before he does. His repertoire is headlined by a 93-95 mph fastball that he can touch 97 mph with. He compliments it with a change-up that is a plus pitch with plus-plus potential, a curveball, and a slider. The key to his whiffs jumping to another level is sharpening up either one, or both of his breaking pitches. His combination of youth, major league readiness, and high ceiling makes him an elite pitching prospect.
Charlie’s take: The ket for fantasy owners is patience with regard to Teheran. Sure, he has the pure stuff to make a fantasy impact now, but he's still extremely young and likely to come accross some struggles at the big league level in his first go around. If this happens, punce on panincing keeper league owners. For those of you that have invested in the young righty, don't lose faith should he not dominate right away. Chances are, before long, he will.
2. Arodys Vizcaino, SP
Josh's Take The Yankees have to be kicking themselves for dealing Vizcaino to acquire Javier Vazquez a few years ago. Like Teheran, Vizcaino was young for the upper minors, and eventually the majors. He pitched the entire year at 20 years old, and turned 21 in November. There are no questions about his stuff, but durability and future role are debatable. Vizcaino was diagnosed with a minor UCL tear in 2010, and opted for rest and rehab. So far, so good. Still, his career high in innings pitched was reached this year when he threw 114.1. The team promoted him to the majors as a reliever, and if they question his ability to handle a starter's workload, that could be his long-term role. He'd have more value as a starter, so it would be in the team's best interest to continue to build his innings and see how that plays out. He has all the pitches necessary to work through a lineup repeatedly. His repertoire includes a 93-95 mph fastball that clocks as high as 97 mph, a plus curveball, and a change-up. Vizcaino has used that pitch mix to strikeout more batters in the upper minors than Teheran, and he also has excellent control. Monitor developments in how the Braves handle him, because his fantasy value would be hurt greatly if he's not used as a starter.
Charlie's take: While Vizcaino ranks behind Teheran in just about every prospect ranking, I actually believe he might have better stuff than Teheran. He needs to prove he can avoid injury first, but at this point he might actually be a bit of a sleeper value to target in keeper leagues since he has more question marks than Teheran, yet just as much, if not more potential.
3. Randall Delgado, SP
Josh's take: Delgado had more major league success than both Teheran and Vizcaino, and threw more innings than both as well. In spite of what one might assume with that information, he is the pitcher of the three that would probably benefit the most from more time in the minors. The facet of Delgado's game that needs the most work is his control. For the most part, it has been passable, but at 3.79 BB/9 in 182.2 innings in Double-A and Triple-A combined could stand for improvement. On the positive side of the ledger, in those same 182.2 innings he has a 8.72 K/9. Delgado throws a 92-94 mph fastball, a change-up and a plus curveball. His ceiling isn't as high as Teheran or Vizcaino, but it is relatively high in its own right, and the floor is fairly high too.
4. Edward Salcedo, 3B
Josh's take: Unlike the arms on this list, Salcedo is a ways away from reaching the majors and a much less sure bet. He began his career as a shortstop, but filled out to the point that he needed to be moved to third base. His propensity for committing errors could move him off of third to a corner outfield spot, but for now, he can still be dreamed on as a third base prospect. Salcedo was a very raw prospect when he signed, but he matured a great deal repeating Low-A in 2011. He has plus power potential, and projects to hit for at least a solid average if not a plus average. That combination would play in the corner outfield, but it would be fantasy gold at the hot corner.
Charlie's take: They key to Salcedo's value will be his defensive development. If he can stick at third base, he has a chance to provide power at a thin position. If not, even his power numbers might get lost in the depth of the outfield. The fact that he lowered his strikeout rate in 2011 was a big plus, but we're far from knowing if he can sustain that skill at the upper levels. His upside at third garners his ranking here, but he's one to be approached with caution.
5. Joey Terdoslavich, 1B/OF
Josh's take: His strong play in the Arizona Fall League has helped propel Terdoslavich into the spotlight to a certain extent. His best defensive home would be at first base, but the presence of a younger and better player on the major league squad, Freddie Freeman, has the Braves planning to develop him at third base. From a fantasy perspective, that move would create a windfall for those that own stock in him. Terdoslavich is a switch hitter with plus power potential and the ability to hit for average. He had a good year in High-A, and should start the season in Double-A. Because he's learning a new position, I wouldn't expect to see him until sometime in 2013.
Charlie's take: The dude can hit a fastball, as I found out in the Arizona Fall League last year. I was behind home plate during the Rising Stars game when he took a 99 MPH Gerrit Cole fastball deep over wall just right of center field. He even walked it off a little before assuming his home run trot. When asked, Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated said that Tewrdoslavich would not be as good as current Braves first baseman, Freddie Freeman. That's not so bad considering Freeman just hit .282/.346/.448 with 21 home runs as a 21-year-old rookie. Still, his upside isn't great, as I see him as a source of power, but little else.
Top 5 for 2012
1. Julio Teheran, SP
2. Tyler Pastornicky, SS
Josh's take: The days of superstar offensive production at the shortstop position are a thing of the past, and that makes a player with Pastornicky's profile intriguing in fantasy these days. He doesn't offer much power, but does have good speed that should result in 25-35 stolen bases over a full season. Pastornicky didn't walk much in the upper minors, but hit for a solid .299 average in 395 Double-A plate appearances, and a more impressive .365 average in 117 Triple-A plate appearances. His average sat in the upper-.250s in High-A and Double-A before this year, so there are questions about his true batting average ability. Pastornicky has a clear path to playing time at the moment, so he has the potential to be a fantasy contributor in NL-only leagues, and as a middle infield option in large mixed leagues.
Charlie's take: The Braves completely comfortable with rolling into 2012 with Pastornicky as their everyday shortstop. I put zero weight on his 2011 numbers at Triple-A, where he hit .365/.407/.413. Those stats came in a very small sample of 117 plate appearances and were fueled by a .398 BABIP. At best I would expect him to hit around .260 this season. His value will come in the number of bases he can steal. His stolen base success rate was only 71 percent between Double and Triple-A last season, so while the potential for 25 swipes is present, the big league learning curve could very well get in the way.
3. Arodys Vizcaino, SP
4. Randall Delgado, SP
5. Jose Constanza, OF - Constanza will open the year as the Braves fourth outfielder after a solid major league debut. He has no power, don't be fooled by the two home runs he hit in 119 plate appearances for the Braves this season, that total represents the same number he hit in 811 Triple-A plate appearances in 2010 and 2011. Constanza's game is predicated on making tons of contact, and speed. He's no spring chicken as far as prospects go at 28 years old, but could be a two-category fantasy contributor in large five outfield mixed leagues, or NL-only formats if an injury opened up regular playing time.