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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 18, Andrelton Simmons

18. Andrelton Simmons, SS/RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 22 Ht: 6'2" Wt: 170
2010: (Rk)
62 G, .276/.340/.356, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 18 SB, 16 BB, 14 K

Andrelton Simmons was a second round pick by the Braves in 2010 out of Western Oklahoma State Junior College. He was drafted as a pitcher but debuted as a shortstop last season. However, that may not last long, as his true value could lie on the mound.

Simmons actually hit better than I expected at Danville in his pro debut, but his bat doesn't play past the lower levels. He has a good idea of the zone and decent on base ability, but he shows no sign of being able to drive the ball. His skinny frame solidifies my belief because, while he will fill out some, he will remain lean in the shoulders and legs. His body projects well as a pitcher.

Simmons' defense is very good. He has fluid motions and one of the best defensive arms in the system. He could play as a backup shortstop in the Majors now. But again, I have doubts that this is his calling.

Simmons has been clocked at 98 MPH off the mound, and his fastball is said to be plus now. I have yet to find accounts on the rest of his stuff, but a decent breaking pitch that he can command to pair with the fastball would set him as a top 15 prospect. A good breaking pitch would put him higher. As I said above, his body projects well as a starter or reliever due to his lean frame, and at 21 years old for the 2011 season, he has plenty time to develop even more arm strength if he is allowed to do so.

Simmons is ranked in the top 20 for two reasons: his defense will carry him to the Majors, and his raw ability as a pitcher projects very high. Which one will continue to push him higher on my list remains uncertain, but if I had to guess right now, I'd say pitching. When and if he will get that shot is unknown. Until then, look for more of the same from his bat in the lower levels.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) A Shot at Pitching? 2) Power 3) Zone Discipline
Destination in 2011: All at A-
ETA: 2014
Ceiling: Backup Infielder; Closer
My Prediction: Closer

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