In 2011 the Atlanta Braves are one of the few teams that have signed all of their draft picks from the first 10 rounds. Many of these players are already part of one of the Braves rookie level teams and this week Minor League Report will take a look at the Braves top draft picks and how they have performed in 2011.
Sean Gilmartin – Pitcher
Gilmartin was the Braves first round draft pick out of Florida State. Compared to Mike Minor, Gilmartin is expected to rise rapidly through the Braves system and quickly make it to the major leagues. Gilmartin has signed with the Braves and reported to team facilities but has yet to play a game as a professional. It’s possible that Gilmartin will get to make a couple starts for one of the Braves rookie league teams before the season ends.
Nick Ahmed – Shortstop
.248/.337/.366 in 167 PA
The Braves second pick of the draft is currently playing in Danville for the Braves higher Rookie League team. A college shortstop, Ahmed is currently 21 years old and holding his own in his first professional season. Although his .248 batting average is less than stellar, Ahmed has showed a little power (11 XBH), a little speed (10 stolen bases) and the ability to take a walk.
Kyle Kubitza – Third Base
.290/.394/.439 in 128 PA
The Braves third round pick has hit well so far in Danville and thus far has been one of the best hitters on the team. A 20 year old college player out of Texas State, Kubitza has stolen 6 bases as well. As a college hitter, Kubitza could move up to full season ball next year where he will have to hit with a little more power to become a solid prospect at third base.
J.R. Graham – Pitcher
2.67 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 9.33 K/9, 4.00 K/BB in 27 Innings
A college pitcher out of Vanderbilt, Graham has been spending time with Ahmed and Kibitza in Danville. Despite allowing a .351 BABIP Graham has posted impressive overall numbers this year. He has struck out more than a batter per inning and shown impressive control in both short stints out of the bullpen and three recent starts. A 21 year old college pitcher, Graham may eventually wind up in the bullpen but the Braves are giving him an opportunity to start for the time being.
Nick DeSantiago – Catcher
.229/.362/.281 in 117 PA
DeSantiago has struggled so far at Danville. The Braves organization is pretty thin on catching prospects outside of Christian Bethancourt so DeSantiago should get plenty of chances to prove he can hit. With Bethancourt already moving up to A+, there is room for a promotion should DeSantiago get things going offensively.
Mark Lamm – Pitcher
3.72 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 10.00 K/BB in 9.2 innings
Lamm started the year out at Daville but has since been moved up to Lynchburg (skipping Rome completely) where he has had some success. Although he hasn’t thrown many innings (2 at Danvile and 7.2 at Lynchburg) Lamm has started his career off with excellent strikeout ratios. Lamm is already 23 and could rise rapidly through the Braves system before ultimately finding a spot in their bullpen.
Cody Martin – Pitcher
0.0 ERA, 13.5 K/9, 12.00 K/BB in 16 innings
Like Lamm, Martin has already played at two different levels in his first professional season. The 21 year old relief pitcher hasn’t allowed a run while pitching for Danville and Rome. Martin has struck out 24 batters in his first 16 innings and his numbers hardly changed after he moved to A-ball. Martin gives the Braves another solid arm in the minors and could be a good bullpen arm if he can keep up his terrific ratios.
Tommy La Stella – Second Base
.263/.358/.449 in 138 PA
The Braves aggressively started La Stella out at Rome after selecting the 22 year old in the eighth round of the draft and he hasn’t disappointed. He has an .807 OBP on the young season and has shown the ability to get on base. On the year, he has 14 walks compared to just 15 strikeouts. The Braves already have a number of middle infield prospects but La Stella could give them another with a solid shot to make the majors. He lacks impact power or speed but his good contact abilities should allow La Stella to get on base at a good rate going forward.
Chase Larsson – Outfield
.264/.382/.480 in 153 PA
Like La Stella, Larsson has put up an OPS north of .800 (.862) without hitting for a high batting average. Playing in Danville, Larsson has suffered from a low (.263) BABIP but has gotten on base at a tremendous rate. Larsson has 22 walks against 17 strikeouts and is putting up an impressive .225 ISO with nine doubles and six homeruns. Already 22 years old, Larsson is a little old for Danville and will have to prove himself at a higher level to solidify himself as a good prospect.
Logan Robbins – Shortstop
.242/.351/.474 in 115 PA
The only top-10 draftee playing in the GCL, Robbins has shown some solid power power (.232 ISO) and speed (10 SB) in his first season. While Robbins has an OPS of .812 he is striking out a ton (29.6% of the time) and unless he can cut down on his whiffs Robbins will struggle to hit for a high batting average. Robbins has a solid walk rate and has shown 10 extra base hits in his first 95 at-bats but will need to make more contact to hit at higher levels. His batting average is just .242 despite a .316 BABIP.