The Augusta GreenJackets came back from a six-game deficit to take the South Atlantic League Southern Division second-half title this season. A big part of the turnaround was aggressive hitting, but pitching kept the team in the race all year.
The GreenJackets boasted several quality prospects this season, especially on the mound, and they came up big down the stretch.
BEST BATTING PROSPECT: Matt Duffy. The Long Beach product hit .307 with four home runs and 22 stolen bases in Augusta while recording a 13.3 percent walk rate, which was higher than his strikeout rate. Duffy showed an advanced feel at the plate for the level, and outstanding instincts helped his tools to play up even more. He finished 2013 hitting .292 with five home runs at San Jose.
BEST PITCHING PROSPECT: Chris Stratton. As pitching coach Steve Kline said during the season, there’s a reason Stratton is a first-round pick. The right-hander drew a less-than-favorable review from Baseball Prospectus midway through the season, but watching every home start by Stratton this season would change minds. He cruised through the SAL while working on certain pitches and certain locations at times, and sometimes he only used half his arsenal. Stratton is an advanced college product who won’t be fully tested until perhaps Double-A, but what he flashed in Augusta showed he should be up to the task.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Eric Sim. Simply put, Sim is a major league quality defensive catcher. In 60 games behind the plate for the GreenJackets this season, he threw out 46 percent of runners attempting to steal, blowing away the rest of the league’s catchers. He was called up to San Jose to finish the season, where he threw out 50 percent of the 20 runners who attempted to steal.
BEST POWER HITTER: Mitch Delfino. Delfino did the best he could with the park he was given, hitting 13 home runs with a .413 slugging percentage. The third baseman flashed above-average power throughout the season, but it came up especially big during a strong second half. His biggest blast came Aug. 3 on a walk-off blast in the 12th inning that hit a light pole.
BEST BASERUNNER: Jesus Galindo. Galindo finished fifth in the league with 48 stolen bases, his fourth consecutive season with 40 or more steals. He is also an efficient runner, getting caught just six times this year. Galindo’s speed will be his ticket to the upper levels, provided he can stay healthy.