Atlanta BravesOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Atlanta Braves Team Projection
Looking for a fantasy baseball analysis of the Atlanta Braves starting rotation and bullpen?
1. SP Mike Minor
Minor improved across the board in 2013. His walk rate (2.0) was a career best, which was helped by his jump in first strike % (64%). His K rate (8.0) also improved from 2012 (7.3). Mike had success against both RH (.237) and LH (.217) batters, but he allowed 57 extra base hits to righties - (18 HR's). He allowed 2 runs or less in 19 of his 32 starts, and his AFB (90.4) was in line with his 2012 season. Minor throws three very good other pitches - changeup, cutter, and curveball. His changeup has the most value against righties (.197) and his cutter is his out pitch against lefties (.154). Mike had a career 3.14 ERA in the minors with 262 K's in 235 innings. Minor doesn't have elite upside in K's, but he has a chance at 200 K's based on his minor league success and the improvement of his command. If Atlanta scores more runs, Minor could win 20 games with a sub 3.00 ERA. His skill set is higher than Tommy Glavine in his prime.
2. SP Kris Medlen
Medlen finished with a solid season in 2013, but his skill set regressed. His walk rate (2.1) was very good, but it was less than 2012 (1.5). His K rate (7.2) also declined. Furthermore, he didn't dominate righties (.259) or lefties (.256). His command was also weaker against lefties (33 of 47 walks). Kris was a much better pitcher at home (2.26 ERA). Over his last 11 starts, Medlen went 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 67 K's in 78 innings. His AFB (89.4) declined from 2013. Kris throws a plus changeup as his #2 pitch, followed by a very good curveball. His FB rate (30.7%) has been short over the last 2 seasons. Batters only hit .207 vs. his changeup and .161 vs. his curveball. Last year, Atlanta scored 2 runs or less in 13 of his starts (3-9). Medlen was 12-2 when the Braves scored 3 runs or more. Overall, he has a short resume, but has 25 wins over the past 2 years covering 43 starts. Kris is a solid major league arm with upside in ERA and WHIP. Just like Minor, he has upside in wins with better scoring by the Braves. His only strike may be the lack of upside in K's.
3. SP Julio Teheran
It's pretty easy to see why the top 3 starters for the Braves had success last season. All three pitchers threw a high % of first pitch strikes. Teheran had better command (2.2) than he did during his minor league career (2.7), which led to a solid K rate (8.2). Julio didn't pitch well in his first 3 starts (13 runs and 28 base runners in 17 innings with 5 HR's allowed). After 6 strong starts, his upside started to shine through when he struck out 20 batters over 2 starts (14.7 innings). On the year, he allowed 2 runs or less in 16 of his 30 starts. Teheran started to fade over his last 7 starts, allowing 4 runs in 4 starts. Over a 20 start span from mid April to mid August, he only walked more than 2 batters once. Julio was dominant against RH batters (.204), but has weakness against lefties at this point of his career (.289 with a .483 SLG %). His AFB was 91.5, and his #2 pitch was a slider, followed by a curveball and an occasional changeup. His changeup was expected to be a plus pitch, but he didn't trust it last season. Last year, righties couldn't touch his four seam fastball (.174), but it had a lot less value against LH batters (.329 with a .504 SLG %). His step forward in 2013 was due to the huge improvement of his slider. Teheran was expected to have the best changeup in the Braves system, so he could have electric upside if that pitch gains value in 2014. Julio is the Braves future ace with Cy Young upside. His K rate will spike dramatically when his changeup becomes a plus pitch.
4. SP Brandon Beachy
Beachy wasn't able to be a fantasy factor in 2013 after a slow recovery from Tommy John surgery. He struggled with his command (4.5) in 9 starts in the minors, which led to a shorter K rate (7.4). The Rockies drilled him in his first major league start on July 29th (7 runs in 3.7 innings). He settled down to pitch reasonably well in 4 starts in August (2-1 with 2.73 ERA). He threw more strikes with Atlanta (1.2 walk rate), but his K rate (6.9) was short. In addition, his AFB (90.2) was lower than his 2012 season (92.0). Brandon threw his changeup as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and slider. During his best season, his slider was his 2nd best pitch. Last year, he was shutdown in late August due to soreness in his right elbow which led to arthroscopic surgery in late September. Beachy is expected to be healthy for the start of spring training. He flashed upside in 2011 with an electric K rate (10.7). Brandon had a career 2.60 ERA in the minors with 269 K's in 253 innings. I expect him to work hard in the offseason and he has upside in 2014 if he doesn't have any setbacks. However, he'll probably be limited to 150 innings. A fantasy player will need to be careful and not overpay.
5. SP Alex Wood
Wood was a nice short term find for fantasy owners from late July through August last year. He pitched 6 straight solid outings (1.54 ERA with 35 K's in 35 innings) before blowing up in September in 2 starts (11 runs and 22 base runners in 7 innings). Alex didn't dominate either side of the plate (RH batters - .261 and LH batter - .267), and his AFB was 91.7. Wood threw a changeup as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball. Alex was 9-5 during his short minor league career with a 1.73 ERA and 114 K's in 114.7 innings. His walk rate (3.1) came in higher than his minor league resume (2.4), while his K rate (8.9) remained in a good area. His success last August proves he is ready to be a starter in the majors. The key to his development will be the value of his curveball. Wood has a chance at a sub 3.50 ERA with 150 K's. I expect him to pitch about 180 innings, but his WHIP has some risk until his command takes a step forward.
6. SP J.R. Graham
Graham had a tough 2013. He developed a sore shoulder in mid May, which led to a 5+ month stint on the DL. He appeared to be almost 100% healthy in late October. He had a very good season in 2012 between High A and AA, and throws a mid 90's fastball and a solid slider. His changeup is a below average pitch, which will hurt him as he reaches the higher levels of the minors. He has had solid command (2.1) at the lower levels of the minors, but his command did take a step back at AA (3.0). He will most likely repeat AA. Graham may be needed for bullpen depth this season.
7. SP Lucas Sims
Sims delivered on his scouting report in 2013. He was tough to hit at High A (.203) while having success against both RH (.210) and LH (.190) batters. His walk rate (3.5) still needs work, but his K rate (10.3) is very strong. Lucas throws a plus curveball and a mid 90's fastball. His changeup is developing and it should have upside with more experience. Sims is expected to start the year at AA. His goal is to push his innings over 150 in 2014, which gives him a chance to make the majors sometime next year.
8. CL Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel has been electric in his 3+ seasons in the majors (1.39 ERA with 381 K's in 227.3 innings). He has led the National League in saves in each of the last 3 seasons (46 per season). His command (2.7) was a step back from his elite 2012 season. This decline was due to a much lower first pitch strike % (57% - 71% in 2012). His K rate (13.2) remain a plus, plus asset, but it was a step down from his career average (15.2). RH batters only had 3 extra base hits in 112 at bats (.116 BA) and he held his own against lefties (.211). His AFB (96.9) was the highest of his career. His only other pitch is a swing and miss curveball. Last year, batters only had 9 singles with 55 K's in 83 at bats against his curveball (plus he only allowed 1 walk). Kimbrel has elite upside in K's with a chance at 50+ saves again in 2014.
9. RP Jordan Walden
Walden has struggled with injuries over the last 2 seasons. He missed time in May with a sore shoulder and in August due to a groin issue. His command (2.7) made a nice step forward in 2013, while his K rate (10.3) remained in a very good area. Jordan was a much better pitcher against LH batters (.190 - .247 against righties). Last year, Walden struggled in his last 3 outings of the year (8 base runners and 6 runs in 2.1 innings). His AFB (95.5) has declined over the last 3 seasons. He throws a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by an improving changeup. In 2013, Jordan was a FB pitcher for the first time in his career (50.8%). Walden has a 32 SV season on his resume with improving command. If Kimbrel gets tripped up, Walden will be the next option to close.
10. RP David Carpenter
The Braves have done a very good job of getting their pitchers to throw a higher rate of first pitch strikes. Carpenter has always had a plus fastball (95.1), but he struggled to locate it. Last year, he threw 66% first pitch strikes, which led to a huge improvement of his skill set (2.7 walk rate and 10.1 K rate). His 2nd best pitch is a slider, followed by low value changeup. Carpenter was dominant against RH batters (.183) with an excellent BB::K ratio (8:48). His command was less against lefties (12 walks and 26 K's in 85 at bats), but they only hit .224 against him. David even had better command (1.8) after the All Star break. Carpenter has a short resume of success, so he needs to prove he can do it in back to back years. He has 1 major league save and 53 in the minors.