Over the next seven weeks, The Times will examine the Braves’ depth at each position from the big-league club in Atlanta through the minors.
Friday: Starting pitching A
June 24: Relief pitching
July 1: Catcher
July 8: First base
July 15: Middle infield
July 22: Third base
July 27: Outfield
When the Atlanta Braves were a perennial World Series contender throughout the 1990s and into the last decade, the reason was simple: starting pitching.
The Braves built their dynasty with the arms of Cy Young Award winners Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux.
If the new generation of Braves is going to get back to the top of the National League, the blueprint will look familiar.
IN THE BIGS
The Braves’ best arms are also their youngest, but veterans Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe still have something in tank — which is good, since both are under contract through 2012.
Tommy Hanson, RHP
Contract terms: 1 year/$456K; eligible for arbitration after 2012 season
2011 stats: 8-4, 2.48, 9.6 Ks/9 IP 1.03 WHIP
Since 2009: 29-19, 3.02 ERA in 69 MLB starts
Locked in: Hanson’s showing the ace potential scouts touted and won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2015 season.
Jair Jurrjens RHP
Contract terms: 1 year/$3.25M; eligible for arbitration; free agent after 2013 season
2011 stats: 8-3, 2.13 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Since 2009: 29-19, 3.00 ERA
Still a bargain: Recent arbitration cases suggest Jurrjens could command $6M this offseason — still a good deal for the team.
Tim Hudson, RHP
Contract terms: 3 years/$28M through 2012; team option $9M for 2013, $1M buyout
2011 stats: 5-5, 4.06 ERA
Since 2009: 24-15, 3.21 ERA
Getting it done: 2010 was one of Hudson’s best seasons. Despite the ERA, other stats suggest he hasn’t dropped off much in ’11.
Derek Lowe, RHP
Contract terms: 4 years/$60M through 2012
2011 stats: 3-5, 4.02 ERA
Since 2009: 34-27, 4.28 ERA
Workhorse: The Braves aren’t getting true value out of their highest-paid player, but Lowe is dependable. He’s thrown at least 182 innings every season he’s been a starter.
Brandon Beachy, RHP
Contract terms: 1 year/$416K; eligible for arbitration after 2013 season
2011 stats: 1-1, 3.45 ERA, 9.3 Ks/9 IP; 1.08 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings
Career: 1-3, 3.34 ERA, 9.25 Ks/9 IP; 1.20 WHIP in 11 starts
Out of nowhere: Beachy entered the organization as a non-drafted free agent out of Indiana Wesleyan in 2008. After a stint as a reliever, he rose from Single-A to Atlanta a little more than a year after becoming a starter.
ON THE CUSP
Mike Minor, LHP
2011 stats: 0-2, 4.50 ERA in MLB; 3-2, 2.23 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in Triple-A
Sixth man: The former first-round draft pick from Vanderbilt has served as Atlanta’s spot starter for much of the season, filling in for Beachy and Hudson on separate occasions.
Julio Teheran, RHP
2011 stats: 0-1, 5.19 ERA in MLB; 6-1, 1.78 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in Triple-A
Ace in the making: Getting roughed up in his first two MLB starts didn’t take any shine off the jewel of the Braves’ minor league system. Teheran is one of baseball’s top pitching prospects.
IN THE FUTURE
Randall Delgado, RHP
Scouts say: The 21-year-old Panamanian prospect came in at No. 3 in the organization’s top 10 in the annual Baseball America’s rankings (behind only Teheran and Freddie Freeman). He’s an All-Star at with Double-A Mississippi this season.
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Scouts say: It was the now-20-year-old pitching prospect — not Melky Cabrera — who was the real key to the deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees prior to the 2010 season. Now up to Double-A, Vizcaino is a top-10 Braves prospect.
J.J. Hoover, RHP
Scouts say: At 23, Hoover is a bit older, but is still considered one of the team’s 10 best prospects. He took his lumps in two Triple-A starts this year, and is now back in Double-A where he strikes out more than a batter per inning and has a 3.06 ERA.
DON’T FORGET HIM
Kris Medlen, RHP
The ’tweener: The former reliever will miss most if not all of 2011 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. When he returns, he could find a home in the bullpen, though he looked solid in 14 starts last season, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.86 ERA.
Current starters: A-
Organizational depth: A+