Our first Hot Sheet of the 2017 season will encompass the system’s hottest players over the first couple of weeks of the campaign. Going forward, you’ll be able to check back here for the hottest players of each week as usual. As always, this isn’t a “re-ranking” of When Sid Slid’s Top 30, simply the hottest players in the system in any given week during the season.
As is often typical early in the season, the Pitchers tend to be a bit ahead of the hitters – and that’s certainly the case with the game’s most loaded group of hurlers. The arms, they are a coming!!!
So, away we go…
1.) Ian Anderson, RHSP, Rome Braves
The Braves’ top pick in the 2016 Draft is off to a solid start to his first full season of pro ball. Anderson’s given up 3 earned runs in his first 3 starts of the campaign that have covered 13.2 IP. He struggled a little with his location in his last outing when he gave up 2 of those 3 runs, but he’s also sporting a nifty 23/8 K/BB Ratio, 1.02 WHIP, 0.133 Average Against, and has only allowed roughly a hit in every-other inning (6 hits total). If Ian’s able to continue to solidify his control, he’s not only a candidate to move through the system quickly – he’ll also make several folks apologize for wondering if he might have been a bit of a “reach” when the Braves grabbed him.
2.) Mike Soroka, RHSP, Mississippi Braves
The Braves were aggressive with Soroka this spring, jumping both he and fellow 2015 draftee Kolby Allard over a level to open their 19 year old seasons at AA, and neither has seemed to miss a beat. Mike’s made two starts (his third comes tonight) and both have been as dominant as the organization could hope for. Over 11.2 IP so far, he’s delivered a 14/0 K/BB Ratio (that’s right – NO WALKS), while surrendering 1 earned run, a 0.43 WHIP, and a .122 Average Against (5 hits allowed). Soroka profiles as more of a “solid” top of the rotation guy than an absolute “Ace” (think Julio Teheran), he’s well on his way to helping solidify the big club’s rotation for years to come.
3.) Kolby Allard, LHSP, Mississippi Braves
Allard’s most recent outing went a long way to show that he’s really learning “how to pitch” as opposed to simply relying on his “stuff”, going 6 innings with only one strikeout. The thing is, if he continues to be able to do that he’s going to move really fast because he’s long been known as having “Ace”-caliber stuff when he just wants to blow hitters away. For the season, Kolby’s given up 3 earned runs in 16 IP, a 9/4 K/BB Ratio, a .232 Average Against, and a 1.06 WHIP.
4.) Patrick Weigel, RHSP, Mississippi Braves
Noticing a theme yet? Yes, the Mississippi rotation is absolutely loaded, and depending on what happens in front of them this trio may well be ready to contribute at SunTrust Park as early as the second half of 2018 if they’re needed. Weigel’s been a bit of an under the radar guy as far as getting love from the big outlets, but he continues to be one of our favorites here at When Sid Slid. Patrick’s gotten off to as solid a start as anyone else – he’s given up 12 hits and 3 earned runs in his first 14.2 IP, an 18/4 K/BB Ratio, .226 Average Against, and a 1.09 WHIP covering his first three outings. The unheralded 7th Round pick in the same 2015 Draft that produced Allard and Soroka continues to impress.
5.) Lane Adams, CF, Gwinnett Braves
The journeyman outfielder has been making a push to replace fellow journeyman Emilio Bonifacio on the big club’s bench, and we here at WSS would be big fans of the move. While he doesn’t provide quite the flexibility Bonifacio does he can handle CF, and the Braves have two IF/OF utility guys in Jace Peterson and Chase d’Arnaud for versatility anyway. Time to add some offense, and Adams would help there – he’s off to a scorching .378/.383/.667/1.050 start in Gwinnett with a 2B, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs, and has been successful on 5 of 6 stolen base attempts.
6.) Randy Ventura, RF, Rome Braves
After a bit of a dissapointing campaign last season, Ventura’s beginning to look like his old self early on this season. The 19 year old speedster is off to a .370/.420/.391/.811 start in his first 13 games (46 ABs), and he’s 7 out of 8 in the SB department.
7.) Luiz Gohara, LHSP, Florida Fire Frogs
The main piece of the return for Mallex Smith continues to impress with top-shelf velocity, and he’s flashed the tools that have led more than a few scouts to project him as a top of the rotation hurler if he can continue harnessing that stuff. His first 3 starts (14.2 IP) have produced a 1.93 ERA (3 earned runs), and a 13/3 K/BB Ratio. He still needs work on location though, as he’s allowed 14 hits and a 1.21 WHIP when he’s just missing spots.
8.) Alex Jackson, C, Florida Fire Frogs
Formerly the #6 pick in the 2014 Draft, the Mariners shifted Jackson to the OF in hopes that his bat (the consensus best in that season’s high school class) would make him a fast-mover and get him to the bigs quickly. He struggled mightily for a couple of seasons in the Seattle system and they soured on him, but Jon Hart raved about him during the TV coverage during that draft, and Braves’ scouts saw something they really liked when the brass was purging arms in an effort to clean up the 40-Man Roster over the winter. Alex has been turning heads early in his tenure with his new team – he’s off to a .304/.328/.607/.935 start, with 5 HRs and 12 RBIs in his first 14 games (56 ABs). He’s still a free-swinger (with a 1/14 BB/K Ratio), but he’s hitting balls hard again. Back behind the plate, he’s got a good chance to eventually make everyone forget his struggles – as well as which Pitchers were traded for him.
9.) Akeel Morris, RHRP, Mississippi Braves
The former Met (came over in the most recent Kelly Johnson trade with New York) had a solid camp with the big club, and he’s showing that he’s ready to be the “next man up” when there’s a need for another righty in the pen – after Mauricio Cabrera gets bac and is the next man up, of course. Morris has pitched 5.2 innings for the M-Braves in the early-going, and he’s delivered 4 saves and a 5/1 K/BB Ratio. If there’s a point that the brass decides to move a late-inning piece like Jim Johnson or Arodys Vizcaino for more prospects later this summer, the Braves are still well-positioned to have a solid pen.
10.) Lucas Sims, RHSP, Gwinnett Braves
The former Top 100 prospect still has a really scary fastball/curve combo (both with 60 grades) and he flashes dominant stretches like he did last night (7 scoreless IP, 3 hits, 5 Ks, 0 BBs) – but he still struggles to put it all together for multiple starts in a row. That said, his 3 starts in 2017 have yielded a 2.70 ERA, an 18/5 K/BB Ratio, .123 Average Against, 0.72 WHIP, and he’s only allowed 5 hits in 16.2 innings. Still very young, there’s plenty of time for Lucas to put it all together – but the nasty stuff leads to easy Craig Kimbrel comps for those who have seen him a good bit.