The Atlanta Braves farm system has been depleted, to put it nicely. Top prospects Michael Harris II, Vaughn Grissom, and Spencer Strider all graduated and dominated the Majors in 2022. Offseason trades have also seen Justyn-Henry Malloy, Kyle Muller, and Freddy Tarnok all depart the system. These three were the Atlanta Braves’ top prospects in my rankings.
Despite that, Atlanta still has some intriguing names for dynasty leagues. The system is far from flashy and will likely be ranked as one of the worst in baseball, but don’t let that deter you from rostering any Braves prospects. Just look at the long list of players they have developed in recent years. Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright are just a few names that Atlanta has developed through their farm system over the years. Michael Harris, Vaughn Grissom, and Spencer Strider were not top-100 prospects in most publications before last season, and look how they turned out.
But without further ado, let us get to our list. Here are the Atlanta Braves Top Prospects for fantasy baseball.
Atlanta Braves Top Prospects For Fantasy Baseball
1. Jared Shuster, LHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats(AA/AAA): 139.1 IP/3.29 ERA/1.04 WHIP/145 K
Jared Shuster was the Braves’ first-round pick in 2020 out of Wake Forest. The lefty finds himself atop the farm system rankings after several graduations and trades. Shuster vaulted up draft rankings in 2020 as his fastball took a huge step forward, from sitting around 90 mph to 94-96 mph before the COVID shutdown. The fastball has since taken a step back but averages around 92 mph.
His slider averages around 84 mph and induces plenty of swings and misses. But if you are looking for Shuster’s bread and butter pitch, it is his changeup, which is an easy plus pitch. It sits between 80 and 82 mph with low spin, tumble, and some deceptive fade. He generates a large number of whiffs with the pitch. Shuster won’t blow you away and is likely never a high-end starter, but the consistent strikes help give him a high enough floor to be a starter at the Major League level.
2. AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP
Age: 20/2022 Stats(A): 68.2 IP/5.11 ERA/1.35 WHIP/103 K
AJ Smith-Shawver may not be a household name yet, but don’t be surprised when he ascends rankings in 2023. You might be even more confused by looking at his stats above. Is the Braves system just that shallow? Yes, but Smith-Shawver is a legit arm.
His fastball sits upper-90s, and he locates it well at the top of the zone. Smith-Shawver’s slider is a huge swing-and-miss pitch that he is comfortable throwing to both left and right-handed batters. His third offering is a changeup that is still developing but shows nice promise with its fading action. The fastball and slider are easily plus with a chance to be 70-grade pitches. Invest in AJ Smith-Shawver now in a dynasty league.
3. Owen Murphy, RHP
Age: 19/2022 Stats(RK/A): 12 IP/4.50 ERA/1.08 WHIP/17 K
Owen Murphy was the Braves’ first-round selection in the 2022 draft as a two-way prospect. Murphy only pitched in his debut but showed his potential in a small sample. In his senior high school season, Murphy dominated in 51.1 innings with a 0.14 ERA; yes, you read that right.
He struck out 137 hitters and only walked four. Murphy’s fastball currently sits in the low-90s but with room to add velocity. It already features good characteristics thanks to a low release point that creates an excellent IVB. Murphy’s slider can also morph into a cutter and sits in the mid-80s. He rounds out his arsenal with a curveball and a changeup. The upside is immense if Murphy fully focuses on pitching as a professional.
4. J.R. Ritchie, RHP
Age: 19/2022 Stats(RK/A): 14.1 IP/1.88 ERA/0.98 WHIP/14 K
J.R. Ritchie followed Owen Murphy as the Braves’ competitive balance pick (35th overall) in the 2022 draft. Ritchie has a well-rounded arsenal of four pitches and throws plenty of strikes with each. His fastball sits around 93-95 mph but has topped out at 97. His slider and curveball can sometimes blend, but it has good sweeping tendencies. Ritchie rounds out his arsenal with a changeup that plays well off his fastball and slider. He has a repeatable delivery and currently profiles as a starter at the Major League level.
5. Darius Vines, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats(AA/AAA): 140.2 IP/3.77 ERA/1.23 WHIP/156 K
Darius Vines was the Braves’ seventh-round pick in 2019, his third time being drafted. Vines was selected by the Astros out of high school and again by the Cubs while he was in junior college. During the shutdown in 2020, Vines put in a ton of work on his own, and he came back in better form than ever. Vines has a strong command of his four pitches, and despite a fastball that sits in the lower-90s, it plays up due to how well he locates it. The profile isn’t flashy, but Vines has been a solid arm throughout his Minor League career.
6. Geraldo Quintero, 2B
Age: 21/2022 Stats(A/A+): 442 AB/.258/.356/.412/8 HR/34 SB/73 R/59 RBI
Geraldo Quintero may be smaller but don’t be scared off by his 5’8″/155 lb list height and weight. Quintero is akin to Ozzie Albies, a switch hitter of similar stature. He signed in 2018 and lost the COVID season in 2020, delaying his stateside arrival. The 20-year-old spent the 2022 season between Low and High-A, finishing with a .257/.356/.408 slash line with eight home runs and 34 stolen bases.
He displayed solid bat-to-ball skills and had just a 17.8 percent strikeout rate while walking 11.4 percent of the time. Quintero only chased pitches out of the zone at a 25.4% rate and had a solid zone-contact rate. His average exit velocity was underwhelming, but there is still room to grow for the young prospect. Quintero stands a solid chance to move up rankings in 2023.
7. Ambioris Tavarez, SS
Age: 19/2022 Stats(RK): 65 AB/.277/.304/.385/1 HR/3 SB/12 R/8 RBI
Ambioris Tavarez was the crown jewel of Atlanta’s 2020/2021 international signing class. It was their first major signing in the international market since 2017 when the Braves were handed a huge punishment from MLB. They still had only half their international pool in 2020/2021 and used a significant portion to sign Tavarez for $1.5 million. Tavarez made his complex debut this year but was delayed due to thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He played just 17 games where he slashed .277/.304/.385. Reports from those who have seen Tavarez’s workouts and game performances rave about him. Don’t be surprised to see Tavarez much higher on this list next year.
For the first time since 2016, the #Braves signed a J2 player for more than a million dollars. Ambioris Tavarez has big bat speed and power. Plenty of room to grow into his 6’2 175 frame. He will need to quiet the swing some, but there is upside here. pic.twitter.com/4PJophtCx7
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) January 16, 2021
8. Cole Phillips, RHP
Age: 19/2022: Did Not Pitch Due to Tommy John
Cole Phillips was the Braves’ second-round selection in 2022 out of Boerne High School in Texas. The right-handed pitcher was trending towards being a first-round pick after a huge step forward in his senior season. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery ended his season in April and likely kept him from pushing into the first round. Phillips’ arsenal progressed, though, as he saw his fastball velocity gain several miles-per-hour and was sitting in the mid-90s consistently. Phillips features a curveball and a changeup which both flash being solid pitches. His frame has room to add muscle as he stands at 6’3/200 pounds. Phillips may not pitch until late 2023 but is a name to watch in the system.
9. Adam Maier, RHP
Age: 19/2022: Did Not Pitch Due to Injury
Adam Maier is another Braves 2022 draft pick who also missed time due to injury. Maier began his college career at the University of British Columbia, which canceled its season in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. Maier got 19 innings before the shutdown in 2020 but did not pitch again until the Cape Cod league in the summer of 2021.
His performance led him to transfer to Oregon, where he made three starts before an elbow injury sidelined him for the season. Maier has an athletic and repeatable delivery with a fastball reaching the mid-90s. He locates it well at the top of the zone and has a slider and changeup that play well off it. While there are still a lot of unknowns with Maier, the Braves were thrilled to go over slot to draft Maier in the seventh round.
10. Victor Vodnik, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats(AA/AAA): 34.2 IP/2.34 ERA/1.4 WHIP/47 K
Some expected Victor Vodnik to be selected in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft after Atlanta left him unprotected. In 2022, Vodnik transitioned to a reliever and was dominant in the 34.2 innings he pitched. He posted a 2.34 ERA with 47 strikeouts. Vodnik has a live arm, and his fastball can reach triple digits. He also generates plenty of swings and misses with his changeup. His slider flashes being an above-average pitch at times but is inconsistent. Given the command issues, Vodnik’s best fit is in the bullpen, and he could be in Atlanta sooner than later.
11. Ignacio Alvarez, 3B
Age: 19/2022 Stats(Rk/A): 94 AB/.287/.451/.394/1 HR/8 SB/25 R/11 RBI
Ignacio Alvarez was also a part of the 2022 draft class, which feels like all that’s left in the Braves’ system. Alvarez was a 19-year-old Junior College selection who had a solid debut in Low-A for Atlanta. He displayed excellent plate discipline, as shown by his 12 percent strikeout rate and 21 percent walk rate. Yes, you read that correctly. Alvarez chased just 13 percent of the time, and while it was a small sample, that is elite. He is listed at 6’0/190 lb, but looking at him, you can see room for muscle in his profile. If he adds power, he could develop into an intriguing fantasy asset.
12. Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP
Age: 22/2022: Did Not Pitch Due to Tommy John
Taking a step back from the 2022 draft, the Braves selected Spencer Schwellenbach in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Schwellenbach was a two-way player who spent most of his time as a shortstop at Nebraska due to an elbow injury from high school. He did become Nebraska’s closer in 2021, where he pitched 31 innings, earning ten saves. The Braves drafted him as a pitcher, but Schwellenbach has yet to pitch as a professional due to his Tommy John Surgery in August 2021. We know that Schwellenbach has a big fastball and slider combo. He also features a solid changeup with command of all three pitches. But there are still plenty of unknowns, considering he has not pitched as a starter since he started college.
13. Dylan Dodd, LHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 142 IP/3.36 ERA/1.18 WHIP/153 K
Dylan Dodd is another former two-way player the Braves seem to have an affinity for. Dodd dropped hitting after he left junior college and became a top senior sign for the 2021 draft class. The Braves took him in the third round, and Dodd made his way to High-A in his draft season. He took a significant step forward in 2022, pitching his way from High-A up to Triple-A, pitching 142 innings over 26 starts. He posted a 3.36 ERA with a 26 percent strikeout rate and a 5.3 percent walk rate.
Dodd does not blow anyone away with his low-90s fastball, but he throws it consistently for strikes and locates it well. He also utilizes a slider and changeup. Dodd is not a flashy arm but has the capabilities to be a starter due to his excellent command.
14. Diego Benitez, SS
Age: 18/2022 Stats(DSL): 138 AB/.196/.363/.283/2 HR/3 SB/25 R/27 RBI
Diego Benitez was the Braves’ prized possession of the 2022 international signing class. There is plenty of projection on his 6’1″ frame, but the results in the Dominican Summer League were quite disappointing. Across 182 plate appearances, he managed just eight extra-base hits which were good for a .283 slugging percentage. One of the few encouraging things was his 15.9 percent walk rate. The potential is there for Benitez, but with little film to parse from the DSL, it is hard to say much more about him until we see him in games stateside. Benitez was one of the top players in the 2022 signing class, so it is too early to be entirely out on Benitez after one summer. Check out the clip of his swing from Trent on Twitter.
Here’s a short clip of Diego Benitez, the Braves newest signee. pic.twitter.com/0lVzmwVI2q
— Trent (@Trenciarte) January 15, 2022
15. Seth Keller, RHP
Age: 18/2022 Stats(RK): 2 IP/18 ERA/2.5 WHIP/1 K
Another 2022 draft pick makes the Braves’ top prospect list in Seth Keller. Keller was a prep right-hander from Virginia who is slightly undersized but has shown a solid mix of pitches. There is plenty of bullpen risk here, but there is also room for growth as Keller throws strikes consistently and has fast arm speed. Keller utilizes a split-change with low spin rates, generating plenty of swings and misses. He also mixes a sweeping slider that runs spin rates up to 2500 rpm. With the Braves’ track record of developing arms, Keller could take a step forward in 2023.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)