The Braves are the grown up version of the D-Backs. They don't have a solid lead-off options, although Martin Prado will do more than justice to the lead-off than most teams have. What he lacks for in speed, is made up by the power of this team. The addition of Uggla will be huge from a power standpoint and a healthy Chipper Jones is always better for any team. The pitching rotation is nasty, from top to bottom, they might have the most underrated pitching staff in the league with Kimbrel possibly ready to shoulder the burden. The Braves could be one of a handful of teams to have 8 position players and all 6 of their premium pitchers drafted.
LF - Martin Prado - He doesn't have much power, but he has enough to make up some value as an outfielder. His true value is being an outfielder with 2nd/3rd base eligibility. I have him ranked in the top 5 for 2nd basemen, and in the top 10 for 3rd baseman. Prado is a contact guy, who doesn't make any errors.
C - Brian McCann - McCann will probably hold the two spot until Chipper gets injured. McCann is a fantastic offensive catcher who's now in his fantasy prime. He's as consistant as they come in terms of fantasy value and I have him ranked in a group of three just behind Mauer and V-Mart in the top 5.
3B - Chipper Jones - He's not the baseball guy he used to be, and as far as players that bat 3rd in their line-ups, he's probably amongst the bottom 3rd. Still, he is a 3rd baseman and someoen will take a chance on him at some point in this draft as 3rd basemen are very thin this season. The future HOFer, has seen injuries consume his abilities to man the hot corner and he's two years removed from being the offensive force of the Braves, I have him ranked between 15th and 20th for 3rd baseman.
2B - Dan Uggla - It isn't for sure that he'll man the 4th spot in this line-up, but when you look at who's batting in front of him, and who's batting behind him, you have to like Uggla regardless of his defensive definciencies or strikeouts. You can count on Uggla hitting 30+ dingers and surpassing 100 RBIs on the season and at the 2nd base spot, other than Cano and Utley, you can't find that kind of power production from the 2nd base position (maybe Hill, if he rebounds). I have Uggla as a top 10 2nd baseman.
RF - Jason Heyward - JaHey as they call him, had his first almost full season as a big leaguer and he suffered through a miriad of injuries throughout the season. He was the pre-season lock for rookie of the year and fell a bit short. He has some serious potential though. Last year at this time, they were talking about how far he could hit dingers and that his power may surpass the best sluggers in the game today. While 2011 will probably showcase some of that, and 2010 was a good stepping stone, I have him projected between #20 and #29 for outfielders.
1B - Freddie Freeman - The next up and coming Braves prospect should arrive this spring as a permanent fixture in the Braves line-up. His AAA numbers are really good .319/.378/.521, he hit 18 dingers and had 87 RBIs in 461 at bats. I have him listed as Atlanta's top offensive prospect and have him ranked between 25th and 30th for 1st baseman.
SS - Alex Gonzalez - The Braves are one of a handful of teams that could have a player at every position on the field hit 15 or more homeruns. Gonzalez is definitely someone who will clear 15 and probably 20 again. He has really good power, he has shown decent defensive skills in the past, just not last year (19 errors). His SO/BB proficiency is pretty terrible (118 Ks vs. 31 walks). His power puts him in between 10th and 15th though in my projections of shortstops.
CF - Nate McLouth - What a terrible year for McLouth. Don't get me wrong, he'd be the perfect leadoff hitter if he truly has righted the ship. Otherwise he'll be competing with Jordan Schafer, who also had a bad year last year and at one time was the future of Atlanta in Centerfield. Taking a flyer on McLouth isn't a terrible idea, drafting him to be a starting outfielder is a terrible idea.
#1. Tim Hudson - While he's not the most amazing #1 on any team, he is probably one of the most consistently good. Here's what you get with Timmy - 15-17 wins, 225+ innings, sub 3.00 ERA and a decent number of strikeouts between 130-150. I have him projected between 400-415.
#2. Tommy Hanson - He has tremendous upside and with that he should see a massive improvement in his statistics. He had only 10 wins last year, despite a 3.33 ERA, and ended the season with 173 k's in 200 IPs. Those are good numbers, that and he only walked 54. His upside is huge and he could be in for a huge season. I have him projected between 400-415.
#3. Derek Lowe - He is a very consistent starting pitcher and despite the occassional blister, he is very healthy as well. Last year he won 16 games, which is pretty strong considering his 4.00 ERA, he'll get you a fair amount of strikeouts as well and with his sinker he can rescue himself out of innings with limited damage. There are two things working against Lowe, 1) walks, 2) age. His 1.17 ERA in September should be a sign of good things to come. I've projected Lowe between 350-375 FPTS.
#4. Jair Jurrjens - Jair had an injury riddled existance last season and went from rising star to potential flop. He's dropped some weight and hopes that it will improve his flexibility and health. When he is on, there are few better pitchings in the NL East (outside of Philadelphia of course). He's an above average strikeout pitcher, but he's also above average in the walks department. Hopefully a slimmer, healthier Jair will net better results, I have him projected between 350-375 FPTS.
#5. Mike Minor - In just his second minor league season, he went from AA to AAA to Majors and amassed this stat-line 9-8 155.3 IP 3.96 ERA 183 k's 55 BBs. That's pretty impressive. Throw in that he's only 23 years old and you have the recipe that continues to make Atlanta pitching one of the best in the Majors, year in and year out. I have him projected over 300 points this year, if he earns a spot out of spring training and can hold it down, he could push to 400 points.
Craig Kimbell - The only downside to Kimbell is that Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might split the duties between him and Ventor. Basically Kimbell is Carlos Marmol, just for the Braves. In 20.3 IP last season he struck out 40 batters, while walking 16, he has a ton of upside and is very nasty. His minor league career he has 149 IP and 242 K's, 95 BBs and only 74 hits. Nasty is probably putting it mild.
Prospects: Freddie Freeman, Mike Minor, and Craig Kimbell are the big prospects and they appear to be locks for starting jobs this season.
Up next: Baltimore Orioles