Sticking with the All-Star spirit, I put together a team using the Braves minor league system. This is NOT a list of top prospects. Instead, it is an acknowledgement to the players who have put up a solid first half of 2009. That said— here is what I came up with:
SP Zeke Spruill (Rome) 7-5 3.06 ERA 71 SO
SP Scott Diamond (M-Braves) 3-9 3.47 ERA 81 SO (Don’t let the record fool you)
SP Mariano Gomez (Gwinnett) 6-3 2.22 ERA 31 SO
RP Vladimir Nunez (Gwinnett) 2-2 2.11 ERA 49 SO
RP Clayton McMillan (Rome) 1-0 2.82 ERA 20 SO
C J.C. Boscan (M-Braves) .283 0 HR 27 RBI
1B Barbaro Canizares (Gwinnett) .323 10 HR 64 RBI
2B J.C. Holt (Gwinnett) .273 26 RBI 10 SB
SS Brandon Hicks (M-Braves) .224 4 HR 25 RBI (There wasn’t much to choose from)
3B Donell Linares (MB) .291 7HR 51 RBI
IF Freddie Freeman (MB/M-Braves) .301 6 HR 41 RBI
OF Jason Heyward (MB/M-Braves) .313 11 HR 41 RBI
OF Cody Johnson (MB) .261 23 HR 64 RBI
OF Matt Young .283 2 HR 21 RBI 26 SB
OF Reid Gorecki (Gwinnett) .265 7 HR 31 RBI
There are some players that I was hoping would be on this list, but have had disappointing starts to the season. For example, Craig Kimbrel had a completely dominant start in Rome- posting a .090 ERA 10 SV. But Kimbrel has struggled, with an ERA approaching seven, since his call to Myrtle Beach.
Cole Rohrbough is one of my favorite prospects in the Braves system, but has followed the big club’s lead with 3 months of inconsistencies. The former 22nd-round pick is 4-7 5.97 ERA 31 BB this season for the Pelicans. I expect a much better second half from Rohrbough.
Lastly, Eric Campbell was the Braves’ first selection (2nd round) in the 2004 Draft. Unfortunately, he has had injury problems from the get-go. He is finally (somewhat) healthy this season, but has not realized the potential Roy Clark and his staff saw before drafting him. Campbell is hitting .250 3 HR 29 RBI for AA Mississippi this season. Though he is still relatively young, at 24-years-old, it looks as if the player, once thought to replace Chipper at 3B will be a career minor-leaguer.
When the Braves acquired Javier Vazquez this off season for virtually nothing, or what I had thought was nothing, I was happy. Now, I’m not so cheerful after seeing what Tyler Flowers has done in the minors this year. Flowers has hit .298 14 HR 44 RBI and was just bumped up to AAA Charlotte. The Braves could sure use a right-handed power bat in the near future. I’m not saying I would take the deal back—Vasquez has been superb. I’m simply pointing out it may come back to bite the Braves in the end (no pun intended).
Obviously this is just my opinion of how these players performed during the first half of the 2009 season. I’m sure there are some very deserving players that are not on this list, but I don’t expect they are reading this, so I won’t apologize.
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Until next time…Go Braves!