The “all arms” system continues to produce solid hitting even though most pundits don’t seem to want to talk about that. The organization also continues to be aggressive with promotions, with several players having shown scouts and the brass enough to push them to tougher challenges early on.
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.
1.) Ronald Acuna, CF, Mississippi Braves
Yes, the Mississippi Braves is intentionally italicized – our Hot Sheet headliner is one of those youngsters to receive an aggressive promotion, and he’s done absolutely nothing to make anyone question he deserved it so far. Since being bumped to AA Tuesday, Acuna has completely gone off to the tune of a .500/.529/.875/1.404 slash with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 6 runs scored, and 3 SBs in his first 4 games since joining many of his former Rome teammates. Assuming the organization chooses to be patient with most of the kids for the balance of the season, Southern League fans look to be in for a treat when the Braves visit their towns the rest of the year.
2.) Mike Soroka, RHSP, Mississippi Braves
Soroka followed up a couple of iffy starts with a gem last night against Mobile, taking a perfect game into the 7th inning – finishing with 6.2 scoreless IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, and 5 Ks. Another of the youngsters the Braves have “pushed” according to some, he looks to be able to handle it – his latest performance brings his season numbers to a 2.84 ERA and 0.89 WHIP through 38 IP, with a .187 Average Against and a 36/8 K/BB Ratio.
3.) Patrick Weigel, RHSP, Gwinnett Braves
There’s that pesky italic again – although Weigel’s promotion isn’t likely to raise quite as many eyebrows since he’s a little older. The 22 year old has worked his way to one step away from helping the big club at SunTrust Park. 7 starts (37.1 IP) of 3-0, 2.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP ball with a .234 Average Against and a 38/11 K/BB Ratio have convinced the brass that he’s pretty close to being ready to throw his name into the fray in what should be a very interesting rotation competition next spring. The fact that he’s averaged 9+ Ks per 9 IP for his career while allowing only 11 HRs in 238.2 professional IP seems to make that sound pretty reasonable. Weigel makes his first AAA start Saturday.
4.) Alex Jackson, C, Florida Fire Frogs
Jackson continues both his reintroduction to prospect freaks and his season long tear, posting a .394/.500/.879/1.379 week with 7 2Bs, 3 HRs, and 13 RBIs. The most impressive number of all might have been his 5 unintentional BBs. Last week raised Alex’ season OBP by 25 (!) points, and if he somehow develops patience to go along with his pop and hit tool, look out – the Braves could have one of the bigger steals of the recent past on their hands, particularly if the reports about his improvement behind the plate continue to come.
5.) Austin Riley, 3B, Florida Fire Frogs
Riley stayed hot with a .355/.460/.581/1.040 week with a 2B, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, and 8 runs scored. Apparently Florida State League Pitchers throw LOTS of sliders, because according to Keith Law Austin has a “slider-speed bat”. I’m not entirely sure how to take that other than to point out that with a season line that’s now up to .281/.344/.460/.805 with 7 HRs, it doesn’t appear that many people are blowing Riley away just yet.
6.) Luiz Gohara, LHSP, Mississippi Braves
Our third promotion likely makes the Mississippi rotation and squad can’t-miss when they get to a town in your area. Gohara, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, and Mike Soroka give the AA Braves 4 SPs who very well may be in a major league rotation within two years, and all four will receive consideration for and may be listed in some midseason Top 100 prospect lists. While Luiz did give up a couple of earned runs in his final start for the Fire Frogs, he also struck out 9 Daytona Beach (Reds) hitters in 4.1 IP – including Cincy’s top prospect Nick Senzel three times.
7.) Ricardo Sanchez, LHSP, Florida Fire Frogs
The Braves haven’t been overly aggressive with the young lefty they acquired from the Angels in the early part of the rebuild. While the numbers aren’t overly impressive yet – 3.55 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and a .260 Average Against in 33 IP in 2017 – he’s now averaging 9 Ks per 9 IP, and his overall numbers are inflated because of two rough starts where he allowed 9 of the 13 earned runs he’s given up this season. Since the second of those bad outings, he’s allowed 4 earned runs in 22 innings with a 25/4 K/BB Ratio.
8.) Mauricio Cabrera, RHRP, Gwinnett Braves
Pen help should be on the way for the big club soon in the form of Cabrera. After having been shelved for the early part of the season with elbow soreness, the big righty with his even bigger fastball (touching 104 MPH) is close to returning. Mauricio delivered two hitless innings for Gwinnett last week, allowing 1 walk and striking out 1 while picking up a Save on Thursday.
9.) Lane Adams, CF, Gwinnett Braves
Adams continued hitting following his demotion to Gwinnett, slashing .313/.313/.563/.876 with a double and home run in 4 games for the G-Braves, continuing to beg the question that many of us have had for some time now – “why is Emilio Bonifacio still a Brave?” After the brass went out and got another young utility player with speed in Danny Santana, there’s no need for a light-hitting veteran bench player with no pop – and Adams was about the only non-starter that provided even a minimal threat when pinch-hitting.
10.) Sean Newcomb, LHSP, Gwinnett Braves
Newcomb’s time is approaching, and if the big club doesn’t start to see improvement from the veterans that were brought in to buy developmental time for the young arms soon, that time may get here before planned. Following his most recent start, Sean’s now gone 7 innings in two of his last three outings (18 total IP) with a 22/6 K/BB Ratio. Both Newcomb and Lucas Sims are beginning to knock pretty hard on the door, and if the brass could get any kind of decent return for any of the veterans the Braves might have to answer pretty quickly.