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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 23, Cory Gearrin

23. Cory Gearrin, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 25 Ht: 6'3” Wt: 200
2010: (AAA)
52 G, 80.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 3.6 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 0.7 HR/9

Cory Gearrin was selected by the Braves in the fourth round of the 2007 draft out of Mercer (originally from Chattanooga). He was drafted as a straight reliever with big strikeout rates along with control issues, but as a side-armer, Gearrin always posts great groundball and home run rates.

Gearrin has moved up the ladder slowly for a college reliever. Some brief struggles at A+ Myrtle Beach in 2008 held him up, and he spent half of 2009 there before finishing at AA Mississippi. That 2009 season was the best he's had as a pro, recording a 2.30 ERA and 1.8 BB/9 between the two levels. He entered 2010 with higher expectations as someone the Braves could call on if the need arose. He was never called on, but he had a solid year at AAA Gwinnett, though his walk rate did increase closer to his career averages. However, his home run rate stayed the same, showing the Braves he is pretty much a finished product.

As mentioned above, Gearrin comes from the side and lives off groundouts. Control has long been his main problem, and it's not something that is alleviated by being a groundball pitcher. We saw great improvement in his walk rate in 2009, but last season seems to be a sign that it was more of a fluke. I'd say it's his one concern. Gearrin is losing a good bit on his strikeout rate as he progresses, but it's not too terribly concerning due to his style of pitching, as long as the strikeouts aren't replaced by more line drives.

Gearrin is just about done developing and has nothing left to prove in the minors. The Braves have no room for him right now, though, and it appears the only way they will is if they cut ties with Peter Moylan. It's safe to say his future with the Braves depends on this, but either way he will make a major league roster soon and should stick.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Control 2) Home Run Rate 3) MLB Debut
Destination in 2011: Majority at AAA; cup of coffee in majors or more if injuries call for it
ETA: 2011
Ceiling: Set-Up Reliever
My Prediction: Middle Relief

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.