Salcedo among seven Braves honing skills in AFL

Northcraft, Wren only representatives from Top 20 Prospects list

Salcedo among seven Braves honing skills in AFL

ATLANTA -- After the Braves gave Edward Salcedo a $1.6 million signing bonus before the start of the 2010 season, former general manager Frank Wren said the 18-year-old Dominican shortstop would have likely been a top-10 selection had he been eligible for the First-Year Player Draft.

Nearly five years later, Salcedo does not rank among MLB.com's Top 20 Braves prospects. But the once-heralded prospect still stands as one of the most intriguing players Atlanta has sent to compete in this year's Arizona Fall League.

Braves president John Schuerholz expressed concerns about the club's scouting and player development departments when Wren was dismissed on Sept. 21. The basis of his concern is visible via the less-than-inspiring crop that his club sent to Arizona. None of the seven players Atlanta sent to the AFL rank among the club's top 10 prospects and just two -- right-handed pitcher Aaron Northcraft and outfielder Kyle Wren -- cracked MLB.com's Top 20 list.

Still, as the Braves continue to restructure and fortify their scouting and player development departments, they will evaluate their seven players who will spend the next month participating for Peoria in the AFL. Joining Salcedo, Wren and Northcraft are infielder Daniel Castro and right-handed pitchers Brandon Cunniff, Nate Hyatt and Ryne Harper.

At 23 years old, Salcedo might still be regarded by some as young enough to develop the offensive skills that have not materialized as he has produced a .684 OPS in 586 games at the professional level. Equally concerning is the limited potential the former shortstop has shown defensively. He proved unsuccessful at third base, a position he was introduced to in 2011, and now finds himself attempting to prove he can handle a corner outfield position.

While hitting .212 with 10 home runs and a .651 OPS for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2014, Salcedo spent much of the season's second half playing right field. He has played the same position during each of the first five game he has played for Peoria.

Wren, the son of the recently dismissed GM, has the best upside among the Braves products competing in this year's AFL. Blessed with plus speed that helped him succeed on 46 of his 60 stolen base attempts in Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi this year, he seems destined to at least serve as a backup outfielder at the Major League level within the next couple years.

While recording eight plate appearances in the two games he has appeared thus far for Peoria, Wren has notched one hit and drawn a pair of walks. The 23-year-old center fielder's production did not take much of a hit as he batted .283 with a .713 OPS after a midseason promotion to Mississippi.

Though he has never been a highly touted prospect, Northcraft does at least provide the Braves some depth in the starting pitching department. The 24-year-old right-hander went 7-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) for Mississippi this year. But in the 13 appearances (12 starts) he made after being promoted to Gwinnett, he went 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA.

Northcraft threw three scoreless innings in the one start he has made thus far for Peoria. He received a welcome surprise when he was called up to the Majors for this year's final game because the Braves had scratched Alex Wood from his start, but Northcraft was not needed to pitch that day in Philadelphia.

Harper did not appear to be a future AFL candidate when the Braves took him in the 37th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but he opened some eyes as he notched 93 strikeouts and issued 24 walks in 76 2/3 relief innings for Mississippi in 2014. The 25-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.18 ERA over 148 relief appearances in his professional career.

Hyatt also produced a decent strikeout total, as he punched out 73 batters in 63 innings with Lynchburg this past year. Cunniff began his pro career in the Marlins system and was located by the Braves as he pitched in an independent league in 2013. He seemed to right himself this summer as he produced a 2.05 ERA in 33 appearances for Mississippi.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.