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Braves' organization rich in pitching

No organization has been richer in young pitching talent than the Atlanta Braves the past few years and the results have been obvious.

Tommy Hanson made a run at the National League rookie of the year in 2009 and Craig Kimbrel won the honor last season.

Jonny Venters is Kimbrel's left-handed complement in the Atlanta bullpen and Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor have established themselves as major-league starters with Hanson.

Now comes the next wave, led by Julio Teheran -- the pitcher of the year last season in the International League with Gwinnett -- and Randall Delgado.

But the old baseball adage holds true. As it as been shown over and over, you can never have enough good pitching.

That's because of the injury factor. And like other teams, the Braves haven't been immune.

Hanson suffered shoulder woes late last year and Kris Medlen had reconstructive elbow surgery during the 2010 season. Now it is Arodys Vizcaino who is sidelined.

Tabbed as the best relief prospect for 2012 by Baseball America, the right-hander won't pitch at all this season.

He felt elbow discomfort during his first spring appearance and had to have Tommy John surgery.

The Braves are better able to handle that kind of bad news than most teams, but it is still a blow.

Vizcaino, 21, was rated as the Braves' No. 2 prospect behind Teheran by Baseball America and one of the Top 100 in baseball. Baseball America has the native of the Dominican Republic at No. 40 and MLB.com at No. 58.

That pitching remains the strength of the Atlanta organization is shown by the Baseball America and MLB.com Top 100 lists.

Teheran, who was 15-3 last season with the G-Braves, is ranked fourth by MLB.com and fifth by Baseball America.

Following the 21-year-old from Colombia is Vizcaino and Delgado, 22.

The native of Panama is ranked No. 41 by MLB.com and No. 46 by Baseball America.

But the Braves' top prospects are not all pitchers. After producing successive rookie of the year candidates in outfielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman, the organization now boasts a number of top shortstop hopefuls and a catcher on the rise.

Slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons is No. 65 on the MLB.com list of top prospects and Baseball America has the 22-year-old native of Curacao at No. 92. No scout who saw him this spring competing for the Atlanta shortstop job with fellow rookie Tyler Pastornicky doubts his range, soft hands or rocket arm.

But Simmons, ranked as the Braves' No. 3 prospect by MLB.com and No. 4 by Baseball America, may be only a little better defensively than Nick Ahmed, drafted in the second round last June out of the University of Connecticut. He is ranked as the Braves' 12th best prospect by MLB.com and No. 15 by Baseball America.

Catcher Christian Bethancourt is the fourth Braves prospect in the MLB.com Top 100. The 20-year-old from Panama is ranked No. 90 after showing that defense isn't his only strength with a good year at the plate in Class A last season.

The top hitting prospect in the Atlanta system may be Joey Terdoslavich, who set a Carolina League record with 52 doubles and adding 20 homers and 82 RBIs while batting .286. The 23-year-old will play third base this season after being mainly a first baseman last year.