Top 3 Tuesdays - Young Braves Stars
After struggling mightily during the first half of the 2012 season, Mike Minor has emerged as Atlanta’s most consistent starting pitcher in 2013. He is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 65 innings this season. His only poor start came on the road against Detroit when he gave up six runs in six innings. This is Minor’s fourth season in Atlanta but he’s still only 25 years old after playing his college baseball at Vanderbilt. If he can continue to strike out batters like he has this season, Minor will quickly emerge as one of the best pitchers in the National League.
Jason Heyward is the young slugger from the Atlanta organization that has been receiving all the attention over the past few years but it might be Freeman who ends up becoming the better player. The 6’5”, 23 year old is already one of the best defensive first basemen in the game and he’s becoming more and more consistent at the plate. Freeman is 2nd on the team in RBI with 31 despite having missed a significant amount of time to injury. With his power at the plate and athleticism in the field, he has the potential to create havoc for a long time.
Considering the roller coaster ride Braves fans are on with Dan Uggla at 2nd base, it’s refreshing to have a guy as good as Simmons playing shortstop. Like Freeman, Simmons is only 23 years old but he already appears to be comfortable playing in the big leagues. He has a DWAR of 1.6 with a cannon for an arm while being one of the most sure-handed fielders in the game. Combined with his speed and hustle, Simmons is the perfect fit to be the Braves’ shortstop for the next few years.
Guys like this and other young studs like Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton and Brandon Beachy means Frank Wren has built this team for present and long-term success.
Photo by Charles Atkeison.
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