For an organization that prides itself on being pitching rich, the Braves saw that reinforced Monday when Baseball America named seven pitchers among its Top 10 Braves prospects for 2013.
1. Julio Teheran, RHP
2. J.R. Graham, RHP
3. Christian Bethancourt C
4. Sean Gilmartin LHP
5. Lucas Sims, RHP
6. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP
7. Alex Wood, LHP
8. Evan Gattis, LF/C
9. Zeke Spruill, RHP
10. Jose Peraza, SS
Teheran, 21, was named the Braves’ top prospect for the third consecutive year. After a dominant 2011 season in Triple-A, he admittedly struggled in his return to Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, but he’s been back to form in the Dominican Republic this winter. Teheran, who went 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts in Gwinnett last year, is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in seven starts this winter for the Licey Tigers.
He hasn’t allowed a run in his past three starts – while giving up only two hits – over 16 2/3 innings. He gave up only one hit, struck out eight and walked none in six innings on Sunday while pitching in front of Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren, who visited the Dominican over the weekend.
Graham, a hard-throwing right-hander with an upper 90s fastball, was named the Braves minor league pitcher of the year after going went 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 starts this season for Single-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi last summer. He had 110 strikeouts and only 34 walks in 148 innings combined at the two levels.
Bethancourt, a more defensive-minded heir apparent to catcher Brian McCann, was named a Braves Top 10 prospect for the third time in four years. He was No. 6 in 2010, No. 9 in 2012 and is now No. 4.
Rounding out the top five are the Braves’ first round draft picks from each of the past two years, left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who is bound for Triple-A on a fast-track trajectory, and Lucas Sims, the right-hander the Braves drafted No. 21 overall in June out of Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga.
Last year’s Top 10 Braves prospects included Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino (traded in July to Cubs in the Paul Maholm deal), Randall Delgado and Andrelton Simmons (both ineligible this year because of time spent in the majors), Gilmartin, infielders Edward Salcedo and Tyler Pastornicky, Spruill, Bethancourt and third baseman Brandon Drury.