Originally posted on Chop-N-Change  |  Last updated 2/2/12
10. Zeke Spruill
Injury issues. Maturity questions. There was a lot of turbulation surrounding Spruill going into 2011. What he did was nothing short of outstanding. As a 21 year-old, Spruill spent about 2/3 of his year with Lynchburg, and 1/3 with Mississippi. While a Hillcat, Spruill threw 130 innings in 22 starts, struck out 92 and walked 23. He threw a minor league-leading six complete games as well. Once getting the bump to Mississippi, his dominance waned, but only slightly. In seven starts, Spruill threw 45 innings, walked 17 and struck out 16. He is an absolute groundball machine and does a fantastic job at keeping the ball in the park. He'll start off at Mississippi and attempt to master that league, with a promotion to Gwinnett looming.
THT Projection

9. Andrelton Simmons
Simmons has quickly become one of the highest regarded prospects, but I'm not necessarily sipping the Kool-Aid quite as heavily as others. In his first full year, Simmons was moved up to Lynchburg, where he showed he was a defensive whiz with a cannon arm, with THT grading his defense as two wins above replacement level. His bat is good for a middle infielder, with a line of .311/.344/.408 last year, but the lack of power really worries me. Simmons also has interesting plate discipline, as he doesn't strike out (43) or walk (29) a lot. At the end of the day, I'd really like to see him add some more walks and some more power to his game before I proclaim him a top 100 prospect.
THT Projection 

8. Tyler Pastornicky
We went with the more advanced shortstop prospect over the one with the higher upside, so sue us. Playing with Mississippi for most of 2011, Pastornicky hit .299/.334/.414 with 34 strikeouts and 24 walks in just 91 games. He earned a late season promotion to Gwinnett, where he hit .365/.393/.414. His power disappeared after the promotion, but he's still doing all of this on offense at a higher level than Simmons, at a younger age (about three months younger, to be exact). The 22 year-old will start 2012 as Atlanta's starting shortstop, and there is some disaster potential here after just a month's worth of games at AAA.
THT Projection

7. Christian Bethancourt
Bethancourt played all of 2011 as a 19 year-old, which many fans aren't considering when looking at his progress as a prospect. In 54 games at Rome, he hit .303/.323/.430 before earning a promotion to Lynchburg, where he struggled to a .271/.274/.325 line in 46 games. The plate discipline is obviously an issue, as he walked just 11 times in 100 games. But Bethancourt's power definitely took a step forward after an ugly 2010 (at age 18!), and his performance in the AFL this fall was impressive, as he hit .306/.324/.556. The five AFL homers he hit matched his season total in just 20 games. Bethancourt is still growing and maturing, and this is a prospect list, not a "sure thing" list. Bethancourt is still an excellent prospect, despite people jumping off the bandwagon left and right.
THT Projection

6. JJ Hoover
Hoover turned himself from a middle of the road starting pitching prospect into a potentially dominant relief prospect in 2011, and that certainly helps his long-term value. In 13 2/3 innings out of the bullpen for Gwinnett after being promoted from Mississippi, Hoover struck out 25 and walked just six, while not allowing an earned run in the process. This is a guy who's role has completely changed from April to August, and now as a reliever, his career has a second life. I'd expect him to start the year in Gwinnett to get more of a feel for his new role as a reliever, and possibly earning a callup to Atlanta in the late summer.
THT Projection 
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