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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 12, J.J. Hoover

12. J.J. Hoover, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 24 Ht: 6'3" Wt: 215
2010: (A+)
24 GS, 132.2 IP, 3.26 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 8 K/9, 0.5 HR/9
(AA) 4 GS, 20.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 15 BB, 34 K, 1 HR

J.J. Hoover was selected by the Braves in the 10th round of the 2008 draft out of Calhoun Community College. He is a rock solid starter with a legit arsenal that is already developing major league ready stuff, and his strikeout rates so far have proved it.

Hoover racked up a 9.9 K/9 to 1.7 BB/9 over 134 innings for A- Rome in 2009, including a 3.35 ERA and 2.58 FIP. This season put his name on the map considering he was a 10th rounder coming into his first full season. The success continued in 2010, though not at the same dominating rate. Both his K/9 and BB/9 took hits, but his ERA and 3.03 FIP, along with only seven home runs allowed, shows he still had a great season. He made four starts at AA Mississippi to end the season, striking out 34 and walking 15 in 20.2 innings.

Hoover projects as having a strong lower body, giving him durability and a smooth motion on the mound. His fastball ranges from the low-to-mid-90s with tail, a plus curveball and a good changeup. His stuff is advanced at 23 years old, and I would expect the transition to AA to be a smooth one. If his changeup continues to develop, he could have one of the best overall arsenals in the system.

Hoover will be 23 during the 2011 season at AA, so he is on schedule. As long as his K/9 remains respectable, he should move through the system quickly. The fairly large drop from 2009 to 2010 could be cause for concern down the road if it continues, but his stuff should play well in the upper levels. If he remains on track, he could be a regular for 200 innings as a mid-rotation starter.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) K/9 2) AA Jump 3) Changeup
Destination in 2011: All at AA
ETA: 2012
Ceiling: #3 Starter
My Prediction: #3-4 Starter

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