Dynasty: Atlanta Braves 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Is the next Ronald Acuña hiding somewhere deep in the Atlanta Braves system? Probably not, but it still has a lot of exciting names!

The Atlanta Braves system is not as strong as it once was for many reasons. One reason is graduates like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña becoming bonafide stars. The scandal in 2018 would also wipe out some of their depth since they had to release many of the IFA signings they had made over a few years because of it. Alex Anthopoulos also decided to bolster up the team for a playoff run by moving Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, Travis Demeritte and Tristan Beck (names who all easily would have made this list otherwise). In their place are more relievers than you would expect, but most have a high-strikeout upside. Don’t think that means the system is barren now, as it still features high-end pieces that have the potential to become steady fantasy players for your squads.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball-focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as high.

 

1. Drew Waters, OF

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Late 2020

Drew Waters is a controversial prospect to me, but he’s quite easily the best fantasy prospect in the Atlanta Braves system. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft, all Waters has done is hit every level he’s made it to (with plus tools backing it up). While his in-game power hasn’t shown itself yet (just seven home runs in 2019), he’s got elite bat-speed and a beautiful swing. Part of the reason for the lack of power was an elevated groundball rate of 44% in AA which hurt his ability to hit the ball in the air. Even his AVG FB distance wasn’t amazing at 287.8 ft in AA, hindering the power output. While his aggressive approach at the plate hadn’t given him trouble until his most recent stint in AAA, it’s something he’s going to have to work on to be able to truly tap into his power. If the power never comes, however, he’s got many other fantasy tools that fantasy players LOVE.

Waters has 60-grade speed and hit tools which were on display in 2019. A .309 batting average, 16 stolen-bases and 40 doubles combined between AA and AAA highlight a toolsy player. I don’t want to Water(s) down his profile too much, but he did have contact issues in 2019. His strikeout rate in 2019 was a wee bit concerning, as his 26% in AA is passable, but the 36% he showed in AAA isn’t. We do have to remember that he spent most of his time in the high-minors as a 20-year-old and should probably give him some leeway for his ballooned strikeout rate.

 

2. Ian Anderson, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Late 2020

It came to the surprise of many when the Braves selected Ian Anderson 3rd overall in the 2016 MLB draft, as many people saw him as a safer prep arm that didn’t have the upside to warrant that spot.  Fast-forward four years later and Anderson just finished up a year in which he reached AAA and had a 2.68 ERA and 31% K-rate in AA, becoming the best pitching prospect on the farm.

Anderson can work with all three of his above-average pitches, his best being his changeup that has a ton of fade. The fastball isn’t elite but it gets the job done, sitting around 92 MPH. His curveball is a unique one, as it doesn’t feature a ton of spin but still has a lot of depth on it and acts as one of his major strikeout pitches. His walk rates tend to be inflated as he works around the zone, which will lead to higher pitch-totals and shorter outings. All in all, I see a mid-rotation starter with strikeout upside… with the downside of a high-strikeout #5-ish starter that has the occasional blowup.

 

3. Cristian Pache, OF

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Late 2020

The probable #1 on real-life prospect lists, Cristian Pache helps buoy his value to the Braves with 70-grade defense. He’ll easily be able to stay in center field—which will help leagues that roster a center field spot—thanks to a cannon arm and plus speed. Like Waters, he’s toolsy as all hell, but ALSO like Waters, he still needs to put it all together.

His strikeout rate last year wasn’t awful (only 17% in AAA) so he could survive in the majors with that, but swing-happiness has been an issue for Pache. He featured a 17% swinging-strike rate last year which is VERY hard to overcome, but he’s by all accounts athletic enough to make the adjustments needed. He’s got the potential for more power than you would expect from a player with his profile, but currently doesn’t project for more than 20 home runs.

A  .270 20/15 HR/SB season is his most likely outcome, but if he explodes it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. He’ll get playing time thanks to the defense and should be up this year, so his closeness helps the ranking. I also really want him to be good in order to use the team name “Paper Pache”.

 

 

4. Kyle Wright, SP

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Already Debuted

Prospect fatigue is starting to set in with Kyle Wright, who experienced a rough second debut in the majors. While he was only drafted in the 2017 draft at 5th overall, he’s made two unsuccessful attempts to break into the majors now and seems to be at risk of losing a potential starting gig with the Braves. Wright is someone that seems to have better stuff than the numbers show, but still has a lot of potential as a post-hype sorta guy. While control issues haven’t been a problem for him in the minors, so far in the majors he’s missed more than you’d expect a pitcher of his caliber to.

When he’s on, he’s able to throw all five of his pitches for strikes and all play above-average. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam averaging 95 MPH that was absolutely peppered in his brief stint in 2019. His secondaries are the real bread and butter of his arsenal, with his slider being his true out-pitch, throwing it often away from righties and getting a ton of whiffs on it. He does have some reliever risk as the Braves did try him in a relief role to end the 2019 season during which he did fairly well. I tend to think he gets another shot with the Braves and has a chance to be traded somewhere else where he can continue starting, as he has the upside to be a #2-3 pitcher.

 

5. Kyle Muller, SP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Mid 2021

Another Driveline success story had Kyle Muller regaining some lost velocity he hadn’t had since high school, reaching 98 MPH as a lefty. While the control took a step back last year, it can be somewhat accounted for thanks to being so gosh dang tall at 6’6″. He’s still figuring out his control issues with his long limbs, so some time must be taken with Muller. While there’s reliever risk, it’s high-end closing stuff that’s nice to fall back onto as a worst-case.

To pair with his high-octane fastball (that has INCREDIBLE RPM) are two very good secondaries in his curveball and changeup which both are plus. The difference between the ceiling and the floor is massive here, as Muller may never be able to fully take advantage of his strikeout potential and become AAA fodder. I do however believe he’ll learn to harness his stuff, as this is just his 2nd season with this velocity. He’s only 22 and already made AAA, so they should let him marinate there before getting the call hopefully sometime in 2021 and hopefully as a starter.

 

6. Bryce Wilson, SP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Already Debuted

Armed with 60-grade fastballs (yes, fastballs) that he can command to all four quadrants, Bryce Wilson might just be an unlocked slider away from truly breaking out. But I fear, as many others do, that he might not ever do that and he’s just going to have to be a fairly decent relief option.

He’s got a four-seam and a two-seamer that he throws over 70% of the time, which is very hard to succeed with as a current major leaguer. His slide and change-up both flash plus, but have been inconsistent as true strikeout options and are partially the cause of the high fastball usage. With increased repetitions and growth in those pitches, we may see the fastball usage drop to a more normal level, allowing it to play up to the best of its ability. I do foresee Wilson ending up in relief more than the other pitchers ahead of him, so that lowers his value for me… but keep an eye on the slider development. That’s the key difference between a 7th-8th inning guy and a #3 starter here.

 

7. Tucker Davidson, SP

Age: 23

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: Late 2020

Drafted in the 19th round, Tucker Davidson was a good under-the-radar draft pick for the Braves that has blossomed over time. Driveline, once again, had Davidson throwing 100 MPH this off-season helping fuel the idea that he really might be able to start long-term. After the 2018 season, he was looking out of shape, had durability issues and lacked a real out pitch. An initial uptick in velocity helped catapult Davidson back into the prospect picture in 2019 in which he reached AAA. He would spend most of his season in AA throwing a 2.03 ERA with 27.2% K rate mixing in his 96 MPH fastball, hard slider, plus-spin curveball, and improved changeup to get groundballs (50.2%) and swinging-strikes.

I need another year of strong pitching before I can truly buy-in. He only had 19 innings in AAA that were somewhat mediocre (3.6% K:BB rate), so let’s see how he adapts to the gopher ball. His HR/9 in AA was only 0.41 and HR/FB only 6.3% which I can see regressing up a touch since even with the groundball rate, that’s too low. He profiles to me as a #4-5 starter with the potential for more if his pitches continue to progress.

 

8. Bryce Ball, 1B

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Kudos to PL+ member Avery Meyer for initially pumping the tires on Bryce Ball for me in the Pitcher List Discord. Another Big Boi who plays first base for the Braves, Ball bashes bombs. That hurt.

Yes, Ball really does hit the ball really hard and really far in his debut in professional baseball hitting 17 home runs in only 62 games. His average flyball distance in A-ball was 317.6 ft which would have placed him 8th furthest aged 22 or younger (min. 20 balls in play) showcasing the pop he has. He also showed an at least average hit tool, thanks to good bat speed and a willingness to switch to an all-fields contact approach when needed. While his defense at first-base is currently questionable at best, he’s shown a willingness to adapt and work hard… but don’t be surprised if he’s kept down to work on it. Oh, and also because they have another decent first baseman named Freddie Freeman. With the DH coming to the NL, it’s a perfect time to invest in Ball as he’s going to shoot up lists with continued mashing.

 

9. Braden Shewmake, SS

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020 / Early 2021

Taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2019 draft by the Braves, Braden Shewmake was expected to be a fast-riser through the system. His hit tool was really the one standout trait coming out of the draft, with little power to be expected.  Boring Ol’ Slapdick Shewmake is what they coined him (they didn’t). Well, lo and behold, he came out of the draft swinging a hot bat and leaving prospect analysts more intrigued than they previously had been.

He spent most of his time in the minors in A-ball slashing a healthy .318/.389/.473. He showed more power than was expected with 18 doubles and 11 stolen bases to boot. He’s quite lanky, so some physical projection isn’t out of the realm of possibility and with it, some raw power growth potential. There’s a good chance we see him up in September in 2020 if he continues hitting, but we shouldn’t expect him until 2021. He’s more than likely a package of 50’s, which will play at the MLB level as a .270 with 15 homer type of bat with potential for more power.

 

10. Jasseel De La Cruz, SP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020 / Early 2021

Injuries have derailed Jasseel De La Cruz‘s short professional career so far, only throwing more than 70 innings for the first time this year since being signed in 2014. This year he was finally healthy and was able to show what he can do. throwing the first no-hitter in Fire Frogs history. Thanks to this breakout year, he made it to AA and the Braves placed him on their 40-man roster so a call-up can be imminent.

De La Cruz works mostly with his two 60-grade pitches in his fastball and power slider, ramping the fastball up to 99 MPH (albeit with some control issues). His changeup is currently fringy at best, holding him back as a potential starter along with the violent delivery he currently has. While De La Cruz has serious reliever risk, it’s more of an elite relief arm with a small percentage chance he sticks in the rotation. I’d be willing to take a gamble on him figuring out his changeup and having mid-rotation upside.

 

11. William Contreras, C

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2021/Early 2022

Catchers for fantasy are risky business and while we’ve got a run coming up, we have to realize they probably aren’t going to be major contributors. Of the three, I do see William Contreras having the highest upside of them when its all said and done, so he gets to be 9th.

Contreras at first glance seemed to have a worse year in AA than the year before in A+, but saw his walk-rate increase and strikeout rate decrease. While the in-game power hasn’t surfaced yet, he’s got 55 raw power he showcases during BPs and saw his fly-ball rate increase by 10.4% from ’18. The groundball rate is still going to hinder the overall production since he doesn’t feature the speed for a high BABIP high GB rate (like most catchers) and, unless he can increase the line-drive rate, won’t see many seasons over a .250 average. Like most catchers, we have to preach patience with Contreras, and maybe (just maybe) we see a breakout much like his brother Wilson. We more than likely won’t get that, however, and will have to settle for a .250 12-15 HR guy, which honestly is a top 15 catcher these days.

 

 

12. Shea Langeliers, C

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

The most advanced defensively of the Braves trio of catchers, Shea Langeliers, like Shewmake, was a surprise pick by the Braves at 9th overall. While the overall package resembles something like Reese McGuire coming out of college (with a bit more raw power), there’s a very good chance he does make it to the big leagues thanks to his stellar defense. We don’t care about defense for fantasy though!

The hit tool is easy and geared for contact, less-so power. He does have doubles power, so he’s not lacking any current in-game but it won’t blow you away. He’s going to be more of a .270 hitter with 10 home runs, which isn’t awful from a catcher but not exactly high upside. If you’re in a deeper league and looking for a safer floor type of catcher, Langeliers is your man. Other than that, he’s not the type of fantasy asset I like rostering since the later the prospect ranking, the more upside I look for.

 

13. Michael Harris, OF

Age: 19

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022? 

Michael Harris exploded in rookie ball after being drafted and because of this, he earned a promotion to A-ball as an 18-year-old. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2019 MLB draft, Harris was originally a two-way player, but the Braves preferred his bat. It seems to have been the right choice.

His overall ’19 slash-line was .277/.344/.393 and the SLG is only so low because he understandably struggled upon his promotion to A-ball. Even though he didn’t hit as well as he could have, he had just a 23.7% strikeout rate, which is impressive. Harris has an intriguing blend of power and speed potential. While his speed isn’t off the charts, the feeling is that with some strength addition he could also get faster, adding the stolen base appeal. The raw power shows up during BP and impressed the Braves so much during a pre-draft workout that they moved him higher up their board. Expect him to need a couple more years, but he could be much closer than many prep bats.

 

14. Alex Jackson, C

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Debuted

Having arguably the rawest power in the Braves system, Alex Jackson has a chance to be a very good catcher for fantasy purposes. While it was thought for a while he wouldn’t be able to stick behind the plate, he’s gotten a lot better and now profiles to stay there. With Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud as the two catchers in the majors, Jackson is going to find it difficult to get playing time this year unless he comes up and plays a multi-position C/1B/OF role.

The 70-grade raw power is hard to see in games as his hit tool is 40-grade at best. The power is very legit though, hitting 25 home runs in only 85 AAA games. Even with the gopher ball, that’s nutty. The downside to all that power is an inflated strikeout rate, having a 34% K rate. Major oof. If you squint, there’s the potential here for a 30 home run major-league bat with a .230 average. If that sounds appealing to you, he should be very cheap and he’s ready to play now. He’ll continue getting chances, even if it’s not with the Braves because of his defense, so maybe it will happen.

 

15. Freddy Tarnok, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

ETA: Already 2022

The Braves are taking it nice and slow with Freddy Tarnok, as he’s got some untapped potential that would make him a mid-rotation arm. 2019 was a lost year for him because he saw a velocity dip mid-season which helped result in a poor stat line of a 4.97 ERA, 10.7% K:BB rate and 1.44 WHIP. Even with this disappointing year, the Braves think they’ve got something with Tarnok.

He features a fastball that normally sits 92-95 MPH, a curveball with a ton of spin and a developing changeup that all project above-average. The control currently isn’t amazing, but as a still fairly raw pitcher, this is to be expected. He has a ton of athleticism and is expected to have at least average command once finished. He’s got a low, low floor, but a fairly high ceiling and this late, I’d rather the upside he provides than most prospects.

 

16. Victor Vodnik, SP

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022 if as starter / 2021 as a reliever

It’s too bad Victor Vodnik has had injury issues so far in his short professional career because of how cool would it be to say Victor Vodik repeatedly for podcasts, on radio shows, game commentary, etc. Other than JUST that though, Vodnik shows an intriguing under-the-radar skillset as having three potentially average-to-above pitches and decent control for a pitcher. One of the biggest things the Braves will have to figure out for him will be if he can start or relieve. Last year he was mostly limited to 3 inning stints, only having three “true” starts and only one being 5 innings.

This makes me wonder if the Braves already view him as a reliever that goes 2+ innings, that’s able to fully reach back for short-stints and hit 98 MPH. He saw his stuff take a step forward in 2019 and if he were to experience another sort of jump this year, I can’t see why they wouldn’t let him at least try to be a starter, especially if he wants to continue in that role. His 52% groundball rate is exciting as is his plus curveball, but with his shorter stature, a starter’s workload might not be possible. 2020 will be an interesting development year for him and I think his most likely outcome is a fireman that will strike some guys out. That has value in today’s game.

 

17. Justin Dean, OF

Age: 24

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Possibly the best base-stealer in the system, Justin Dean has some WHEELS. He’s got 70-grade speed which helped him steal 46 bases last year in A-ball, a level he was a touch too old for. He nonetheless hit well, slashing .284/.386/.431 with a surprising 9 home runs.

While the power wasn’t expected, he didn’t really cheap into them either, with four of the home runs over 400 ft. The key to his future profile will be the continued growth of power. Even if he never hits 10 career home runs, the stolen bases alone will make him a worthy fantasy option. A bench role isn’t out of the question, but could be a Jarrod Dyson-type that gets rostered for months when injuries do hit.

 

18. Huascar Ynoa, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already debuted

Huascar Ynoa made starts in the minors last year, but projects long-term as a reliever. The Braves more than likely feel the same, as he came up this year and tried his hand at relieving for the big-club to mixed results. In two appearances he went 2 innings with 2 strikeouts and 1 hit (yay) with another appearance of 1 inning and 6 earned runs (nay).

While he’s much like Jassell De La Cruz in terms of the control and reliever outcome department, I don’t see any chance he starts long-term, so he gets dinged down a bit. His slider, while flashing plus, relies heavily on location spotting and he doesn’t always hit those spots, so it comes and goes. He can pump his fastball up to 100MPH, however, and maybe converting to relief will allow his stuff to play up even more. A high-leverage role could be in his future and, with him being only 21, he’s still young.

 

19. Trey Harris, OF

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020/Early 2021

Trey Harris is older than you would think, as he just turned 24 while just hitting AA this year. A senior signing in the 2018 draft, Harris has hit at every stop so far, showcasing a possible solid skillset of 50’s for everything.

Overall in 2019, he hit .323/.389/.498 which is way better than most people probably expected from him. His strikeout rate rose in AA, but a 23% strikeout rate is still livable.  I think he might profile more like a 4th outfielder, but I do see a path in which he keeps hitting his way and proving people wrong. 2020 will be a true test of his skills and hopefully, he’ll be able to hit for his age-appropriate level. He might have more than we all expect and it’s best to invest now while he’s cheap.

 

20. Patrick Wiegel, SP

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2020

It’s too bad Tommy John struck mid-season in 2017 for Patrick Wiegel, as he was showing that he had a case to be one of the top pitching prospects for the Braves. Now he’s finally back and showing that he still has the stuff he did pre-TJ, but the role still has to be defined for him.

He still showcases four above-average pitches in his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup with the fastball/slider being his best. He sat 93-96 MPH with it in his 11 starts in AAA this year but can hit 99 MPH in shorter stints. Unsurprisingly, he had control issues working his way back but in the past hadn’t shown bad control, so hopefully, it’s more of a blip than anything. While the strikeouts were never a big part of his package, they were high enough to succeed as a starter, but more than likely would tick-up in relief. With him being so close to the majors, his age and the injury history,  I could see him becoming a 3-inning-type of pitcher so the Braves extract some value sooner rather than later.

 

21. Greyson Jenista, OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2021

A big question mark on this list is Greyson Jenista, who once had sleeper prospect status written all over him. Strikeouts and surprisingly light in-game power have knocked his prospect ranking down a bit, but he did show some improvement in the 2nd half in 2019. At the start of July, he saw a stretch that resulted in his walk-rate rising, strikeouts decreasing, and a steep increase in OPS. Was this just a hot stretch? Maybe! But maybe he’s finally starting to tap into something.

He’s never been afraid to take a walk, which helps this profile play since he’s always going to strike out a fair bit. His hit-tool isn’t the best which gives him a three-true outcome kinda vibe but unfortunately, the power isn’t anywhere close to that outcome yet. He hits a ton of flyballs and has decent raw-power, so with some changes to the swing, he may unlock some more pop. He’ll need it to continue placing on these lists.

22. Daysbel Hernandez, RP

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

A high-octane reliever that might have a closer type upside, Daysbel Hernandez had a 31.8% strikeout rate in High-A. His control is a little spotty at times, but his 10.5% walk rate was the lowest of his career so far.

He features a 70-grade fastball that touches high 90’s and a slider/curveball hybrid that garners a ton of swings and misses. The fastball itself has a ton of movement and will help it miss barrels to limit home runs. I can see him rising three levels this year and making the majors if he comes out of the gate flying, but I think 2021 is a more realistic outcome.

23. Vaughn Grissom, SS

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2024

Vaughn Grissom was an 11th round signing by the Braves in the 2019 draft but certainly could have gone in the top three rounds if not for his asking price. They were able to save some money with their first 10 picks and got him signed. He features a solid set of tools across the board and, as you would expect, is fairly raw.

Sticking at shortstop might be hard for him because of his height, but he might not have to considering his baseball IQ. He would easily be able to slide over to third base if needed. He projects to have his power over his hit tool but was able to walk 8.7% in his first taste of rookie ball. Does he have the power for third? That’s a good question and one Grissom will have to answer in the coming year.

 

24. Mahki Backstrom, 1B

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2024

A young slugger, Mahki Backstrom was one of the youngest players from the 2019 draft class, but he sure doesn’t look it, standing 6’5 and 220 lbs. Lots of power projection is the key here and he didn’t fall flat last year in the rookie league after being drafted.

He slashed .300/.402/.442 with a 14.2% walk-rate, which is very encouraging. The power isn’t there yet, which is to be expected, but the raw power stands out. A 33% strikeout rate is a tad worrisome, but overall it was a very successful year.  Someone that will be a slow burn through the minors, don’t expect to see him for four years minimum.

 

25. Jefrey Ramos, OF/DH

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2022

A very poor defender, Jefrey Ramos is going to have to prove a lot with the bat to become a major-leaguer. While he certainly has the power to do that, so far his other tools are really lacking, specifically the hit tool.

He swings too often at bad pitches, indicating the pitch recognition isn’t the best, but still only sported a 19.9% strikeout rate last year. Too often he’ll waste at-bats, indicated by his high groundball rate so even a touch of improvement for his pitch selection would be huge. Will it happen? Probably not. But he does have some intriguing upside compared to the rest of the field.

26. CJ Alexander, 3B/1B

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2021

An injury-marred 2019 wrecked the momentum CJ Alexander had carried from his debut in professional ball in 2018. He proved he could stick at the hot-corner and possibly an average hit-tool which wasn’t totally a given after being drafted. There are still questions about it, however, and his ability to consistently make contact.

The big pull with Alexander is his raw power, which hasn’t really shown itself yet. He’s shown a stellar eye at the plate, willing to take a walk and for a masher, the strikeouts haven’t been an issue before his stint in AA this year. If he gets back on track this year he could become an intriguing bench option for the Braves sooner rather than later.

 

27. Stephen Paolini, OF

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2024

A cold-weather weather kid, Stephen Paolini has a LONG way to go but has an intriguing set of tools to dream on. Drafted in the 5th round in 2019 after the Braves were one of the few teams to scout him heavily, he struggled in his first taste of rookie ball but is understandable having not faced advanced pitching before.

Even with the struggles, he showed a 15% walk-rate and is currently working on his swing after not being impressed with his in his initial debut. Plus raw power, potentially plus-plus speed, and a developing hit tool gives scouts a player to dream on and could be one to watch for in the coming year.

 

28. Tyler Owens, SP

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2024

A short 5’10, Tyler Owens has to prove he can handle a starter’s workload with his frame, but he performed well enough in rookie ball last year to continue seeing. The Braves decided to draft him in the 13th round and he surprisingly accepted it, as he had a commitment to the University of Florida. It was the best for them he did, as he did so well he got promoted to advanced rookie ball, impressive for a 2019 draftee.

He currently shows a fastball with a lot of late movement, sitting 92-96 MPH but hitting 99 MPH with it thanks to newfound arm speed. He’ll throw a breaking ball that projects as plus and a changeup that needs more repetitions. A big 2020 will do wonders for Owens fantasy prospects and he could rise up this list by year-end.

 

29. Phil Pfeifer, SP

Age: 27

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2021

I thought about not including Phil Pfeifer onto this list because of his age but I am no AGEIST. A career middle-reliever coming into 2019, the Braves decided to send him to A+ to try starting and boy, did he take off from there. Thanks to changing his pitch mix, he posted a 2.97 ERA, 10.7 K/9 and put himself into prospect contention.

He didn’t lose a ton of velocity moving from the bullpen to starting, which is a surprise and one that helps enforce the idea he can start long-term. He features a curveball and slider that are above-average and a changeup that’s lagging. There’s back-of-the-rotation/fireman role stuff here and, if the changeup comes along, maybe more.

 

30. Hayden Deal, SP

Age: 25

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

An undrafted free-agent in 2018, Hayden Deal has come a long way. I love a good UDFA story and, as it currently stands, Deal will more than likely make it to the majors, whether it be as a starter or, more than likely, a reliever.

He throws four pitches, a low-90s fastball, changeup and slider that both flash average and his real gamechanger, a high-80’s cutter. The cutter tunnels well with the fastball and so far has worked wonders, posting a .2.17 ERA in 2018 and 3.24 ERA in 2019. While the upside is capped here, I can see a chance he becomes a back-of-the-rotation guy on the strength on his cutter, but it really depends on how much more the other pitches advance.

 

31. Ricky DeVito, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Unlike famous-last-name-sharing Danny DeVito, Ricky DeVito is a lean 6’3″ pitcher drafted in the 2019 draft in the 8th round. He only made eight starts after a long collegiate season but showed well, posting a 3.78 ERA in A ball in the four starts there. While it came with a 5.71 FIP, he still shows enough promise that he could move up this list.

His fastball gained velocity after being drafted, touching 97 MPH on occasion, but with the newfound velocity, he experienced control issues. All three of his pitches flash plus and over time and pitch improvement could reach that. He’ll start back in A-ball this year and with a good couple of months should be up to AA.

 

32. Beau Philip, SS 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2022

A surprise 2nd round draft pick in the 2019 draft (thanks to taking a $500,000 signing cut), Beau Philip had a rocky start to his professional career last year. There’s a good chance he makes the majors as a bench option, but fantasy-wise, the tools don’t currently scream amazing to me.

I’ve read some reports that his raw power could be a 55 or 60 which would help push him into the fantasy-relevant territory. He has quick bat speed, keeping his hands above his shoulders, uses a leg kick to create momentum and his hands active before the pitch. He’s got good pitch recognition and was very selective in the videos I watched. With some added mechanical work he could have 50-grade in-game power and become an intriguing fantasy prospect.

 

33. Kasey Kalich, RP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: Already 2021

A sleeper reliever prospect, Kasey Kalich was drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 MLB draft and should be a quick-moving relief-only prospect. He made it to A-ball and showed some control issues that’ll have to be ironed out.

What he does offer is a blazing fastball that reaches triple digits, a slider/cutter hybrid sorta pitch that reaches low 90’s, and introduced a curveball into the arsenal once in pro-ball. All three pitches have above-average spin-rates on them and should help him limit the damage allowed. His profile screams future high-end relief option, but he needs to work on some things before that can happen.

 

34. Jeremy Walker, RP

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Debuted

The Braves transitioned Jeremy Walker from a mediocre starter to a decent sinkerball reliever after the 2018 season and it seems to have been the right call. While there more than likely won’t be save chances in the future with him since he doesn’t have elite strikeout stuff, he could become a middle-relief guy that is able to get holds.

His sinker sits mid 90’s and, along with his curveball, was able to generate A TON of groundballs, a 54% rate in AAA in 2019. He also throws a slider and changeup but didn’t utilize them a ton as a reliever. A multi-inning role is a possibility with him being a starter recently and having four pitches.

 

35. Jared Johnson, SP

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2025

I can find little information on Jared Johnson, but from what I have read, I can see a path to which he shoots up lists next year with a good performance. Like most prep arms, you gotta bake the risk into the arm and he’s incredibly raw, but he’s essentially an unknown at this point thanks to dominating the lesser competition in high school.

According to his high school coach, he throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, but only really used his fastball and slider, the former touching 97 MPH. In six starts in Rookie league (none of them going longer than 3 innings), he did a very good job with  3.74 ERA and 12 strikeouts. He’s probably going to be the guy you have to wait for the longest so far on this list, but maybe he’ll be really good?

 

36. Geraldo Quintero, SS

Age: 18

Highest Level: DSL

ETA: 2025

The top IFA signing in 2019 for the Braves (thanks to still feeling the effects of the scandal), Geraldo Quintero was the best player on his DSL team in 2019, hitting .264/.379/.376 with 21 stolen bases What was really special was the fact he walked more than he struck out (12.6%/11.8%) and played shortstop, 2nd base, center field, and left field so he could definitely be a multi-position type of player.

One issue was he had a MASSIVE popup rate which will hurt the overall package in the future, but he does currently have good bat-to-ball skills. If he continues to progress and show plate discipline I can see a leadoff hitter type of mold in Quintero.

 

37. Greg Cullen, 2B

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

While he was a bit old for A-ball, Greg Cullen had a decent year, hitting .270/.393/.401 with 9 homers in 130 games. The guys over at FanGraphs say he had above-average exit velocities so some raw power might be in the bat, and if he can keep up the plate discipline (0.71 BB/K rate) we might be cooking with gas. A promotion to AA to start the year would make sense, and possibly he sees the majors in September.

 

38. Riley Delgado, SS

Age: 24

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

A polished college bat, Riley Delgado has shown such good contact skills to the point where he’s hit over .282 the last three years while having a strikeout rate below 9.4%. The only downside? Almost no power to speak of, with his .081 ISO the highest mark over that time.

He repeated A+ for the 2nd year in a row, having a below-average wRC+ in both (94/95). While he may never become a true fantasy asset, the hit-tool gives him something to push himself ahead of other prospects and something he can build on.

 

39. AJ Graffanino, SS

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2022

AJ Graffanino would end up missing all of the 2019 season due to an injury, but in 2018, he had a decent year in A-ball. While his power seems non-existent, he hit .301/.333/378 while walking 5.2% of the time. He hit a ton of line-drives and limited the groundballs, which were very encouraging. He should begin in A+ and while his bat may never hit for a ton of power, by all accounts his defense is good enough to take him far.

 

40. Andrew Moritz, OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2022

Like AJ Graffanino, Andrew Moritz was part of a disappointing 2018 MLB draft class and the two of them might end up being the best players from the class, even if they don’t have Greyson Jenista‘s upside. Taken 172nd, Moritz, like Graffanino, has shown good bat-to-ball skills and NOT MUCH ELSE. He won’t strike out a ton, won’t walk a ton either, and has almost no power. The 50ish-grade hit tool puts him here and he does have a touch of speed, so maybe he chips in some stolen bases.

 

41. Trey Riley, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2023

2019 was a disappointing season for Trey Riley, as he struggled with command the whole season, walking 46 while only striking out 41 in 58.2 innings. The root of the cause is a max effort delivery thanks to his mechanics. The quality of his pitches gives him some hope, as he’s got a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup with the two breaking balls flashing plus. If he can learn to harness in the fastball there’s a fairly high ceiling here, but like another Riley (Pint), wildness could be the reason we don’t get to see the stuff.

 

42. Logan Brown, C

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2022

Logan Brown probably is going to be a backup catcher, that’s how far down the upside list we are. He’s got the defensive chops (including a cannon of an arm) to make it to the majors, so the bat has to be just not terrible. Well, a 63 wRC+ isn’t amazing in A+, but earlier in the year in A-ball, he had a .301/.351/.383 slash line, which is better. Ultimately he’s more than likely a .250ish backup catcher with some doubles power, but at least we know he’s going to make it to the majors someday.

 

43. Gabriel Noguera, SP

Age: 23

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

After the 2nd suspension of his career for drug use (probably marijuana), Gabriel Noguera was finally able to get some major innings under his belt. A 3.59 ERA is pretty damn good for not having pitched since 2017 and while the walks were a tad high at 10.3% walk rate, it’s understandable. If he continues to progress in 2020, I could see him having some fantasy upside, as he has some raw stuff potential.

 

44. Troy Bacon, RP

Age: 23

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

Troy Bacon repeated A+ for the 2nd year in a row and while his ERA went up, his FIP went down and strikeouts rose to 11.06 K/9. He threw more than just one inning in most of his appearances in 2019, so a multi-inning role is more than likely his outcome with a lot of strikeouts. He will throw his mid-90s fastball up in the zone and use a slider as his main breaking pitch.

 

45. Riley Unroe, 2B

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2021

Riley Unroe shot through two levels of the minors in 2019, as he was too advanced for A+, hit well in AA and finally struggled a touch when he got to AAA. While he was older for A+ and AA, he had hit better than he ever had before in both levels, so this leads me to believe he was able to improve his hitting in 2019. While he won’t ever hit for a ton of power, he did steal 14 bases last year so he could someday hit for some average and steal some bases. With how in-demand steals are, maybe that will have some value.

 

46. Ray-Patrick Didder

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2022

A deep sleeper on a lot of people’s lists going into 2019, Ray-Patrick Didder disappointed hugely. After posting a 117 wRC+ in AA last year with 9 stolen bases in just 46 games, he regressed to a 89 wRC+ with just a .285 SLG (ouch). He’s 25 and not getting any younger, so this will be the make-it-or-break-it year for him. He managed to steal 28 bases, so the speed is still very apparent and he did post the highest walk rate of his career, so if he can get that average back up and continue walking at the same pace, he can sniff a shot at the majors.

 

47. Dilmer Mejia, SP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2023

Dilmer Mejia has been pitching in the minors since 2014, but injuries would derail his next three years before coming back strong in 2018. He followed that up in 2019 with a 2.66 ERA, showcasing pinpoint control while still striking out 1.9% of batters. While not amazing, when you walk just 5% of batters you can get away with having a lower rate like that. His fastball is only low 90s, however, so the higher he goes the lower margin of error he’ll have.

 

48. Braxton Davidson, OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2022 / Never

His 3rd year repeating A+ was even worse for Braxton Davidson and his ranking here is strictly because of the upside he once possessed. He didn’t play at all in 2019 because of a broken foot that occurred at home plate after hitting a walk-off homer in the AFL championship game. In 121 games in 2018, he had an abysmal 44.3% strikeout rate with 20 home runs but seemed to turn it around in the AFL. He posted a .354 OBP and .530 SLG in the 18 games there, showing the potential of a 1st rounder. I still have some hope he can come back and hit his way to the majors SOMEHOW.

49. Nolan Kingham, SP

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2021

Fun fact, I had first heard of Nolan Kingham about a year ago, but totally mixed him up with Nick Kingham. Hopefully, his outcome is better than Nick’s, as while he’s been a low strikeout pitcher he’s also had good ERA’s to accompany him (3.92 last year between three levels). While his repertoire doesn’t scream elite prospect, he’s shown the ability to pitch deep into games and could be able to make it in the majors as a back-of-the-rotation inning eater. While the value for them isn’t amazing, in the deepest of dynasty leagues, that has value.

50. Tyler Neslony, OF

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2021

Last but not least, Tyler Neslony needs a break to finally get a shot sooner or later. Last year he repeated AA and showed he could more than handle it with a 140 wRC+, 19.2% walk rate and .827 OPS in 58 games. His groundball rate was a tad high at 46%, but if he can get that down, maybe he’ll get a shot someday in the majors.

 

 

Main photo by Alyssa Buckter

Jamie Sayer

Dynasty and prospect extraordinaire, Jamie loves writing about prospects of all ages. A Diehard Bluejays, Leafs and Raptors fan, Jamie can be reached on Twitter at @JamieSayerPL and on Reddit /u/jamiesayer.

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