33% Review: Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects, Part 4

OF Randy Ventura of the Rome Braves at spring training. (Photo: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

In this fourth and final part of the 33% review, I will be looking at 15 players in the organization outside of the OFR Top 30 Prospects that have gotten off to good starts. I’ve also included where these players placed on the super-secret Top 100 list.

Part 1: Prospects # 30-21

Part 2: Prospects # 11-20

Part 3: Prospects # 1-10

 

Tucker Davidson, LHP

Age: 21
Current Assignment: Class A Rome
OFR Prospect Ranking: Outside Top 100

2.48 ERA
2.76 FIP
13 G, 0 GS
29 IP
2.79 BB/9, 10.24 K/9

Rome’s bullpen has been very strong  this season, with a collective 3.15 ERA so far. Consider Davidson as representative of several pitchers, including Jon Kennedy, Brandon S. White, Thomas Burrows, Adam McCreery, and Matt Custred, all of whom have gotten off to good starts.

I chose Davidson though because he’s both the youngest of that group and the one that has logged the most innings. Davidson was a 19th-round pick in last year’s draft, and he’s really taken to Braves coaching. His velocity has improved since the draft, and he’s getting excellent bite on a slider that is generating plenty of whiffs. Davidson’s a big boy and has been used to pitch chunks of games at a time.

Oriel Caicedo, LHP

Age: 23
Current Assignment: Class A Rome
OFR Prospect Ranking: Outside Top 100

2.98 ERA
3.37 FIP
11 G, 3 GS
42.1 IP
0.85 BB/9, 5.95 K/9

Caicedo is also part of that Rome bullpen but has also been used as a spot starter, a roll that he has filled for Rome going on his third year now, but not as successfully as he has this year. Caicedo has sneaky velocity, but mostly works off a change-up with good downward plane and a curveball that doesn’t have much depth but with which he can hit the corners for called strikes.

Caicedo is succeeding because A-ball level hitters aren’t really used to spot starters with good control and he probably wouldn’t be as successful if/when he moves up, but right now he’s got a niche and he’s executing it well.

Carlos Franco, 1B/3B

Age: 25
Bats: L
Current Assignment: Class AAA Gwinnett
OFR Prospect Ranking: Outside Top 100

.282/.349/.525
151 wRC+
12 HR, 0 SB
8.7 BB%, 28.2 K%
(AA and AAA levels combined)

This year is Franco’s 9th season in the Braves organization, and is proof to the adage that teams should always be loathe to give up on power, both power pitchers and power hitters. Franco is built like a strong safety, but hadn’t hit more than 11 home runs in a season until now. In his second tour of duty with Mississippi, Franco’s power exploded and it’s earned him a bump up to AAA Gwinnett with Rio Ruiz‘s promotion to the majors. It’s not far-fetched to imagine Franco eventually being an Adonis Garcia-caliber bench bat in the majors some day.

Keith Curcio, OF

Keith Curcio of the Mississippi Braves. (Photo: MiLB.com)

Age: 25
Bats: L
Current Assignment: Class AA Mississippi
OFR Prospect Ranking: 99

.271/.339/.400
115 wRC+
2 HR, 6 SB
8.9 BB%, 16.8 K%

Curcio is the kind of player who also seems to do something every game that help his team win, and his first season at the AA-level has continued that trend. Curcio has played all three outfield positions at some point this season and has hit well up and down the order, but mostly out of the leadoff spot. A 6th-round senior sign in 2014, Curcio isn’t going to be on any major prospect lists, but keeps doing the things that managers love.

Carlos Castro, 1B

1B Carlos Castro of the Florida Fire Frogs. (Photo: Tom Holle/Florida Fire Frogs)

Age: 23
Bats: R
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 79

.345/.381/.529
164 wRC+
6 HR, 1 SB
3.2 BB%, 20.6 K%

Last year with Rome, Castro belted 17 home runs, an infusion of power that was sorely needed in the dog days when third base prospect Austin Riley was struggling and outfielder Ronald Acuna was on the shelf with a hand injury. Despite the homers, Castro’s all-or-nothing tendencies and poor defensive work at first base meant that his long-term outlook was not great.

Moving up a level, Castro still is all-or-nothing, but the results of his at-bats have more often come up “All”. Until injured when getting hit in the face with a pitch on May 11, Castro was the Frogs’ most productive hitter, and combined with catcher Alex Jackson‘s injury it’s probably no big mystery why the Frogs are only 4-13 since then. The day before that painful HBP, Castro had the kind of day that any hitter at any level typically can only dream of, going 5-for-5 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI.

Tyler Neslony, OF/1B

Age: 23
Bats: L
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 78

.297/.381/.483
150 wRC+
3 HR, 0 SB
11.2 BB%, 19.4 K%

Neslony was a 9th-round senior sign in the 2016 draft and has performed beyond his pedigree. Last season he blitzed through Danville and Rome, hitting a combined  .280/.341/.384. This season found him with the Fire Frogs, but behind Ronald Acuna, Ray-Patrick Didder, and Braxton Davidson on the depth chart. Neslony produced off the bench however, and opportunity for regular play opened up at first base when Carlos Castro went down. As Ron Washington told Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball, learning first base is incredibly hard, and Neslony has had a trial by fire, making 9 errors in 19 games at first so far. However, Neslony has made up for it with the bat, and it will be awfully difficult to move him back to the bench when Castro returns.

Chase Johnson-Mullins, LHP

Age: 22
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 67

1.59 ERA
3.02 FIP
12 G, 0 GS
22.2 IP
3.97 BB/9, 10.32 K/9

A big guy with a minuscule ERA so far this season, Mullins has been a bulwark for a beleaguered Fire Frog bullpen.  He’s been successful by essentially not allowing any hits against him, which seems like a good tactic; opponents are only hitting .155 against him. Mullins is still working on his control, but he’ll be successful as long as no one can tee him up.

Devan Watts, RHP

Age: 22
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 58

1.45 ERA
2.45 FIP
14 G, 0 GS
18.2 IP
2.41 BB/9, 12.54 K/9

The one reliever that has been sharper than Chase Johnson-Mullins has been Watts, who has been limiting hitters to a .182 average against plus rarely walking anyone. Watts throws a sinker/slider combo that can be devastating and is setting himself up for a quick climb up the organizational ladder.

Kade Scivicque, C

Age: 24
Bats: R
Current Assignment: Class AA Mississippi
OFR Prospect Ranking: 49

.301/.341/.398
112 wRC+
2 HR, 0 SB
5.6 BB%, 15.3 K%

Erick Aybar may not have turned out to be a total waste for the Braves. Atlanta flipped the chicken-bone afflicted shortstop to Detroit for Scivicque, a 4th-round senior sign out of LSU. After a successful late promotion to Mississippi for the Southern League playoffs and a good showing in the Arizona Fall League, Scivicque has hit the ground running with the M-Braves. Not only is he hitting well, but all indications are that the talented young pitchers love throwing to him, which can carry him far in this pitching-crazy organization.

Randy Ventura, OF

Age: 19
Bats: S
Current Assignment: Class A Rome
OFR Prospect Ranking: 48

.335/.374/.359
116 wRC+
0 HR, 17 SB
5.9 BB%, 17.7 K%

Ventura is leading the South Atlantic League in hits and stolen bases as a 19 year old. Ventura uses his strong hands to adjust to pitches on the fly, fouling off pitches until he can get one he can handle. Once on base, Ventura can be a huge distraction to opposing pitchers.

If this sounds like Ozzie Albies, it’s because they are very similar hitters. The difference is that Albies has more power (albiet doubles power), while Ventura is a touch faster. Ventura is good enough to play centerfield, but with the presence of Cristian Pache in Rome, he’s been relegated to right field, where he has plenty of arm.

Drew Harrington, LHP

Age: 22
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 46

2.89 ERA
2.58 FIP
9 G, 9 GS
46.2 IP
1.93 BB/9, 7.52 K/9

A rare high-round college pitcher draftee in the Hart/Coppolella drafts, Harrington was pitched sparingly in Danville after a long season with Louisville, who went deep into the college playoffs. Going into the season, it was unclear if the Braves saw Harrington as a starter or reliever.

For now at least the answer is definitively “starter”, as Harrington skipped over class A Rome and has been a very good Fire Frog. Harrington hasn’t missed many bats, and opposing hitters have had success against him, but Harrington is extremely stingy with walks and does a nice job of limiting damage. Harrington may need to make some adjustments after allowing 4 earned runs in each of his last two starts.

Anfernee Seymour, OF

Age: 22
Bats: S
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 44

.305/.358/.368
113 wRC+
0 HR, 11 SB
5.1 BB%, 22.1 K%
(A and A+ levels combined)

Seymour joined the Braves organization from the Miami Marlins in the Hunter Cervenka trade. An outfielder in high school, the Marlins attempted to convert him to shortstop. After arriving in Rome, it was pretty clear that Seymour wasn’t a shortstop. He also wasn’t much of a hitter. What he was, however, was fast. Really fast, as in maybe the fastest player in the minor leagues.

This offseason, the Braves moved Seymour back to the outfield, where he admits he’s more comfortable. He also looks to have hit the weight room, and now he stings the ball a little more than last season, where every hit seemed like an infield one. The Seymour-Pache-Ventura outfield in Rome was a wonderful thing to see defensively, but the band was broken up when Seymour was called up to Rome to replace Ronald Acuna when he was promoted to AA. So far Seymour has been even better at high-A, hitting .329/.383/.384. This is not to say everything is perfect; Seymour gets caught stealing way more than he should considering his speed, and it would be great to see him walk more and strikeout less, but overall Seymour has essentially flipped the script on his career.

Akeel Morris, RHP

Age: 24
Current Assignment: Class AAA Gwinnett
OFR Prospect Ranking: 35

1.59 ERA
2.20 FIP
16 G, 0 GS
22.2 IP
4.45 BB/9, 11.12 K/9

Now in his third season with the Braves organization, Morris stands at the cusp of the majors. Morris is the rare reliever with an outstanding change-up, and he rode that pitch for 7.2 near-perfect innings at Mississippi before getting the call to Gwinnett. Morris has been very good since the promotion, the only blemish being a uncharacteristic number of walks. Assuming he demonstrates this won’t be an ongoing issue, he could get the call-up with the next injury of switch-out for poor performance.

Johan Camargo, IF

Age: 23
Bats: S
Current Assignment: Class AAA Gwinnett
OFR Prospect Ranking: 34

.311/.357/.481
132 wRC+
3 HR, 1 SB
5.2 BB%, 15.5 K%
(AAA and MLB levels combined)

Camargo has used a strong spring training performance to make him a regular major league call-up, making it up twice so far this season before being returned to Gwinnett. A light-hitting shortstop for most of his minor league career, Camargo started having more quality plate appearances and hitting the ball with more authority in AA Mississippi last season. Camargo has built on that and already has 3 home runs for Gwinnett while playing mostly shortstop, forming a strong defensive keystone with second baseman Ozzie Albies.

With Jace Peterson struggling again this season, it may not be long that the Braves call Camargo up for a more permanent stint; he would make a strong platoon partner with Rio Ruiz and a better defensive substitution at shortstop or second base than either Peterson or Danny Santana.

Tyler Pike, LHP

LHP Tyler Pike of the Florida Fire Frogs. (Photo: Tom Holle/Florida Fire Frogs)

Age: 23
Current Assignment: Class A+ Florida Fire Frogs
OFR Prospect Ranking: 31

2.20 ERA
2.82 FIP
10 G, 10 GS
57.1 IP
3.61 BB/9, 9.10 K/9

Pike was the Player To Be Named Later in the Alex Jackson trade with the Mariners. Like all of the other players the Braves acquired from Seattle, Pike is off to a terrific start with his new organization.

Pike just missed my Top 30 list back in December. I liked that he seemed to turn a corner in 2016, even though he was still shuttling back and forth between high-A and AA ball. I liked that he had experienced adversity in the California League, which tends to destroy pitchers. I liked what I read about him coming out of high school as a 3rd-round pick. And I really liked the idea of Pike working with Dennis Lewallyn, one of the best pitching coaches in the minor leagues and someone who had a track record of success with pitchers similar to Pike’s profile.

So far at least all of that has come up aces, and with Luiz Gohara promoted to AA, Pike has been the de facto ace of the Fire Frogs staff.

 

I hope you enjoyed the 33% review of the Braves top prospects. Look for more coverage of the minors here on OFR as shortly we’ll be reviewing the Braves’ 2017 draft picks. In July, I will update the Top 30 list in conjunction with a 67% review.

 

About Andy Harris 78 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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