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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 11, Brandon Beachy

11. Brandon Beachy, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 25 Ht: 6'3" Wt: 215
2010: (AA)
27 G, 6 GS, 73.2 IP, 1.47 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 12.2 K/9, 0.4 HR/9
(AAA) 8 G, 7 GS, 45.2 IP, 2.17 ERA, 1.2 BB/9, 9.5 K/9, 0.4 HR/9
(MLB) 3 G, 3 GS, 15 IP, 3.00 ERA, 7 BB, 15 K, 0 HR

Brandon Beachy's rise to the majors is a story in itself. He was an undrafted free agent out of Kokomo, Indiana and Indiana Wesleyan University. He battled shoulder tendinitis in college and wasn't a devoted pitcher, but the Braves took a flyer on him and it has certainly paid off.

Beachy toiled in the lower minors between starting and relieving, putting up unimpressive numbers but slowly working his way up. However, whether it was mechanics or a new feel for his stuff or what, he flipped a switch in 2010, beginning with a strong showing from the bullpen at AA Mississippi. It was enough to give him some starts at the higher level, and he took off, completely dominating through six starts and earning a promotion to AAA Gwinnett.

His success continued at AAA, walking only six in 45.2 innings and recording a 1.73 ERA as a starter. Even then his season wasn't finished, as he received his major league call up when Jair Jurrjens went down with a knee injury. He was thrown into the fire by facing the Phillies twice in very important games, and he certainly held his own.

My ranking of Beachy is definitely lower than most, but it is because I am not completely certain of his future projection. He has a fastball in the low-90s that must run on the corners to avoid getting hit due to little movement. The times he left it up against the Phillies he was hit hard, but luckily most of the liners found gloves. The evidence is a .370 BABIP in those three major league starts. Now, I do realize tension and adrenaline lead to missed spots and leaving the ball up in the zone, but it still shows that Beachy is vulnerable due to little movement. His curveball got a large number of his strikeouts in the minors, and when he has a feel for the pitch it snaps hard. His changeup is also solid, pretty much on the same level as the curve. He has two legit offspeed pitches that can stick in the majors, but I do have concerns as to how much we should expect.

Beachy's true strength is his control. The highest BB/9 of his career so far is 2.66, but that was coupled with a 12.2 K/9 in AA. Low walk rates will always be his strongest stat. His K/9 rates in the minors also shows he should be able to maintain solid strikeout numbers, though I don't believe he will be able to display major punch out ability like he did in the minors. High strikeout rates and great control, combined with a strong intelligence on the mound, shows Beachy will be able to stick in the majors. However, he will also need all of these to avoid getting hit hard. His stuff isn't that of a frontline or even potential frontline starter. Until he gives 100+ innings in the majors, I will remain a little lower on Beachy than most. The only chance of this happening in 2011 is a major injury to a starter. At 24, we know what we have in Beachy, so it's just a matter of finding an opportunity.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) MLB Innings 2) Hits Allowed 3) Fastball
Destination in 2011: Half at AAA/Half at MLB
Ceiling: #3 Starter
My Prediction: #5 Starter

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