The Atlanta Braves’ 2016 Top Prospects Grades, Part 2

Passing scores, but could stand to study a little bit more

Atlanta Braves prospect Braxton Davidson

Suddenly a forgotten prospect, Braxton Davidson is turning it around in advanced Single-A Carolina.

Welcome to the second installment of our three-part series grading the Atlanta Braves organization’s top 30 prospects based on their play in 2016. (Part 1, consisting of the barely passing to outfight failing, can be found here, while the B students are here and the straight-A’s here). These six players are pretty evenly split between ones showing signs of living up to their promise and ones who have most likely peaked.

The number before each player’s name was his prospect ranking by before the June draft, and they’re listed in ascending order of worst grades to best.

No. 14 Rio Ruiz, 3B

Age: 22
Good stats: Hitting solid .269 with .352 OBP for Triple-A Gwinnett. Committed only six errors and .972 fielding percentage is best of career.
Bad stats: Though his six home runs are already one more than the he hit last season for Mississippi, Ruiz’s .374 slugging percentage leaves something to be desired for a corner infielder as does his .746 lifetime OPS, which has declined as he’s faced better competition.
Summary: Acquired from the Astros in the Evan Gattis trade in which Mike Foltynewicz was the prize, Ruiz is running out of time to show his left-handed bat can be the middle-of-the-order threat both franchises were hoping for. His only above-average season came as a 20-year-old for Lancaster of the advanced Single-A California League, when he hit .293 with 11 home runs and an .823 OPS, but even that little bit of pop has disappeared at higher levels. He was promoted to Gwinnett to start 2016 despite a miserable showing in Double-A, where he batted only .229 in 126 games with a paltry .318 slugging percentage. A glimmer of hope can be found in the fact he’s still nearly five years younger than the average International Leaguer, but all indications are the power just isn’t there. That won’t work when you’re also a lifetime .263 hitter.
Grade: C-

No. 5 Touki Touissaint, RHP

Age: 20
Good stats: 85 hits allowed in 104 IP at Single-A Rome. Batters only hitting .224 against him. 8.1 strikeout rate.
Bad stats: 3-8 record in 19 starts. Pedestrian 4.50 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Poor walk rate (4.9 per 9 IP).
Summary: Only Sean Newcomb and Kolby Allard were more highly ranked than Touissaint on the pitching prospect list before the draft. A first-round pick, 16th overall by the Diamondbacks in 2014, Touissaint was thought to be a steal by the Braves when they traded only journeyman Phil Gosselin to acquire him. He may still be, but so far the results are underwhelming for both organizations. Touissant hasn’t been hit hard (.237 average against), but his lifetime 5.15 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are just plain bad largely because while his strikeout rate is good it’s not dominant enough to overcome his walks. Still, he’s having his best pro season so the trend is in the right direction.
Grade: C

No. 17 Ricardo Sanchez, LHP

Age: 19
Good stats: Walk rate (3.8) and strikeout rate (7.8) are both better in his second full pro season.
Bad stats: 5.23 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 86 innings, all as a starter, for Single-A Rome. Allowing more than a hit (87) per inning, including 12 home runs.
Summary: Picked up in January of 2015 from the Angels in a trade involving minor leaguers, Sanchez has played each of the last two seasons as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. The good news is he’s getting a lot of experience as a full-time starter and has shown a little improvement in 2016. The walks are down and the strikeouts are up, though his ERA is essentially identical to last season’s 5.45, as is his WHIP (1.46 in 2015), and batters are hitting nearly 20 points higher (.269 compared to .250). A small guy (5-11, 170), if Sanchez has a future it’s likely as a relief specialist.
Grade: C

 No. 24 Johan Camargo, SS/2B/3B

Age: 22
Good stats: A .279 average for Double-A Mississippi with career-best .714 OPS. Fielding at higher than a .970 clip at three infield positions, which is far better than his lifetime performance.
Bad stats: .321 OBP and one stolen base in 98 games don’t pair well with six-foot, 160-pound frame that generates little pop.
Summary: Camargo is a small guy who doesn’t hit for power (eight homers in 1,639 at bats), doesn’t steal bases (21 while being caught 16 times), is only OK at getting on base (.337 OBP) and has, until this year, played subpar defense. He is a lifetime .280 hitter with a good eye and low strikeout rate, but Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies are the Braves’ middle-infield future. It’s hard to see what Camargo brings to the majors even as a utility player.
Grade: C

 No. 13 Braxton Davidson, OF

Age: 20
Good stats: Career .367 OBP. Already has as many home runs this season at advanced Single-A Carolina (10) in 346 at bats as he did last season for Rome in 401 at bats. Currently also has highest slugging percentage (.387) of short career.
Bad stats: Slugging percentage is still too low for someone drafted for his power. Walk rate, though still good, is down against better competition while strikeout totals (139 already after 132 last year) are even more prodigious. Has yet to hit over .242 in a season and has whiffed 316 times in 894 at bats. A high school first baseman, he has flashed a good arm in the outfield but also has 20 errors and a poor .954 fielding percentage playing primarily right.
Summary: Davidson has seen his ranking on the Braves’ prospect list steadily slide since he was former general manager Frank Wren’s final first-round pick in 2014 (32nd overall), partly because of a huge influx of new young talent in the meantime and partly because of his somewhat disappointing performance. Davidson was the fourth-youngest player to start the season in the Carolina League, however, just as he was one of the five youngest to start last season in the South Atlantic League, so viewed in that light his performances are cause for cautious optimism – especially considering his steady improvement over the past two months after a terrible start.
Grade: C+

No. 23 Jason Hursh, RHP

Age: 24
Good stats: 2.05 ERA for Double-A Mississippi. 1.14 WHIP. 42 hits allowed in 57 innings. Held hitters to .204 average.
Bad stats: 6.6 strikeout rate isn’t bad, but only average.
Summary: Taken 31st overall by the Braves in 2013 out of Oklahoma State, Hursh is a rare college pitcher in the organization. He was a starter for his first two-plus seasons before moving to the bullpen last year after being roughed up in Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, and in his third go-round with Mississippi Hursh was having by far his best season to earn a promotion back to Gwinnett on July 29. Relieving instead of starting has made Hursh a different pitcher, with strikeout rates (6.6), WHIP (1.12), average against (.202) and ERA (1.98) in 2016 that are far better than his career numbers going into the season. Hursh will never have overpowering stuff and was going nowhere as a starter but may have created a chance to make a place for himself in the Atlanta bullpen.
Grade: C+

Coming tomorrow: The B honor roll.