I never actually knew anyone who skipped a grade in school . . . other than characters on sitcoms, that is.
Here’s a look at how some of the Braves’ prospects are adjusting since skipping ahead midseason. For hitters I’m listing AVG/OBP/SLG, and for pitchers Innings Pitched, ERA, SO, and BB. I’ll put the lower level numbers first, with the new level numbers second.
- Brandon Jones .257/.359/.420 — .280/.336/.515
- Gregor Blanco .287/.397/.375 — .299/.399/.347
- Martin Prado .278/.330/.352 — .289/.314/.343
- Kala Kaaihue .329/.458/.614 — .217/.327/.450
- Matt Harrison 81.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 60 SO, 16 BB — 36.1 IP, 4.46 IP, 29 SO, 5 BB
- Jo-Jo Reyes 75.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 84 SO, 25 BB — 31 IP, 2.61 ERA, 24 SO, 16 BB
- Will Startup 25 IP, 0.72 ERA, 29 SO, 6 BB — 27 IP, 4.67 ERA, 21 SO, 10 BB
Jones looks like the class of the Braves positional prospects. I don’t really expect the power surge he’s experienced since leaving Myrtle Beach to last, but you have to be impressed with a guy who raises his slugging 100 points while moving from A to AA. Blanco and Prado are more modest successes, in that they haven’t been bad since moving up. Blanco’s .399 OBP and good outfield defense make him look potentially useful. As for Kaaihue . . . you didn’t expect him to put up a 1.000 OPS in high-A, did you? But you probably didn’t expect .777 either. Remember that he’s moving up and that there are growing pains, but I am worried (based on his twin brother’s track record in the Royals’ system) about stagnation as he moves up.
Pitching has been an organizational problem this year, from Atlanta on down. One bright spot is Jo-Jo. His ERA is down since moving up, but his strikeout to walk ratio has gotten worse. Matt Harrison, on the other hand, has kept his strikeout to walk ratio stable while seeing his ERA rise. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and I think he’ll continue to improve with experience at the higher level. Startup has taken his lumps in AAA, allowing infinitely more homeruns (3 in AAA vs. 0 in AA), but is settling down lately. I expect a September callup for him.