Atlanta Braves Prospects – First Basemen
- Updated: February 28, 2017
The Atlanta Braves roster is sprinkled with a mix of promising youngsters and serviceable veteran stopgaps, but only one truly proven veteran position player that is also in the plans for the future. This same player was the only guy that was safe from the flurry of transactions during the rebuild and that player’s name is Freddie Freeman. The Braves have Freeman locked down for another five years and after the off season signing of center fielder Ender Inciarte to a five year deal, that appears to be the window that the Braves front office has targeted for success.
Freeman signed an eight year extension with the Braves just two seasons before the rebuild began. He was only 24 years old at the time and clearly thought of as the first baseman for the long term. As a result, the position has been sort of neglected throughout the rebuild. Atlanta’s prospect list is loaded on the mound, the middle infield, and the outfield, but the same cannot be said for first base. This is not because of a lack of talent, but simply due to the lack of depth in the system. Although relatively young, there are still a few players making some noise and trying to make a case to be the next guy in line behind Freddie for seasons to come.
- Carlos Castro – (Rome)
2016 Statistics (Single-A) .266/.301/.508, 17 HR, 57 RBI
Castro signed with the Braves out of the Dominican when he was 18 years old. He played in 124 games over three seasons in the Dominican Summer League before making a move to Danville in 2015. He finally got the promotion to Single-A Rome in 2016 and did not disappoint. After having just six homers in the first 665 plate appearances of his pro career, his bat broke out in 2016 when he hit 17 homers and posted an ISO of .243 in 322 plate appearances. While the OBP can be slightly concerning, the raw power tools are there. Castro is extremely aggressive at the plate as he has never posted a BB% over 5% in his five year pro career. Originally signed as a catcher, Castro seems to be the only true first baseman in the system. His strengths do not transition well to many other spots, but he played decently well defensively last year while only committing nine errors in 620 chances. Castro has definitely been a project and has continued his development nicely. He has plenty of time to keep working on his game and should be an exciting power hitter to watch in the system over the next couple of years.
- Juan Yepez – (Rome)
2016 Statistics (Rookie, Single-A) .255/.309/.333, 1 HR, 8 RBI
Yepez spent his 2015 season in Rookie ball splitting time between the GCL Braves and Danville. Just 17 years old at the time, the native of Venezuela slashed .299/.364/.458. He struck out almost 25% of the time that season, but was almost guaranteed to get on base if he put the ball in play. His ability to hit the ball hard led to an eye opening BABIP over .380. He performed well enough in 2015 to spend his age 18 season in Single-A Rome. After just 23 games, Yepez suffered an injury that would sideline him for virtually the whole season. As he enters his age 19 season, I would count on Yepez starting 2017 in Rome and picking up where he left off before the injury, hitting the ball hard. If he can get that strikeout number down and stay healthy, I believe he has the potential to be the best first base prospect in the system.
- Dylan Moore – (Carolina)
2016 Statistics (Single-A, A-Advanced) .269/.379/.441, 14 HR, 63 RBI,
Dylan Moore is sort of an interesting choice to make this list because he is viewed more as a utility guy. Over his two year MiLB career, Moore has played every single position on the diamond with the exception of catcher, yes he even pitched an inning last year with the Hickory Crawdads. With that being said, the majority of the 24 year old’s starts do come at first base and that is where I expect to see him the majority of the time in 2017. The former UCF Golden Knight has only played 10 games in the Braves system after coming over from Texas in an August 25th trade. One thing that Moore proved during his time in the Rangers system is that he is a model of consistency, both at the plate and in the field. He has only committed 19 errors in just under 1200 chances during his career, all while not being totally sure what position he would be playing when he walked in the clubhouse that day. While the glove work is promising and I am sure the Braves love his versatility in the field, his ability to put up consistent production at the plate is what impresses me. While Moore is not as much of a power hitter as the others guys we have mentioned, he will put up an aesthetically pleasing slash line while rarely ever striking out. Whether he sticks at first base or not remains to be seen, but expect him to take the next step this season to some tougher competition in the Southern League.
Featured Image Courtesy of Tracy Proffitt/milb.com