Dynasty: Atlanta Braves 2021 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Hunter Denson ranks the Top 50 prospects in the Atlanta Braves system

The Braves’ system has given them a lot of talent over the past few seasons, sending players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Mike Soroka, and Max Fried, among others, to Atlanta, making them a force to be reckoned with in the N.L. East. Though the system is not as deep as it once was (and a bit top-heavy), more talent is on the way, making the future very bright in Hot-lanta. The fact that this is also the last season they will have with a limited international bonus pool (an unwelcome leftover from the Coppolella era), should make Braves’ fans, and fantasy participants, even more excited.

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 highly. 

 

1. Ian Anderson, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

The 22-year-old Anderson looked good in his MLB debut. Maybe not as good as his 1.95 ERA (3.82 SIERA), but exciting nonetheless. He struck out 29.7% of hitters (11.9% SwStr%), generated a healthy 52.5% GB%, and avoided quality contact. His Barrel% (1.2%) ranked in the top 1% of the league, and his xStats all ranked in the top 7% (top 1% for xSLG). Anderson sits in the low 90s (91-94) with his fastball (15.3% Whiff%, 21.1 PutAway%), and though he uses it most often, the real stars of his arsenal are his plus changeup and curveball.

His changeup ranked 17th overall in Whiff% (39.8%) for similar offerings and 5th overall for PutAway% (31.1%). His curveball, though it lacks spin, generates good results as well (40.5% Whiff%, 21.4% PutAway%). Anderson does need to cut down his walks a bit (10.1% BB% in MLB; +10% BB% in MiLB 2018-2019), but even at that rate, he was efficient enough to post a quality start in half of his outings. Barring the unexpected, Anderson will be in the rotation for the Braves in 2021 and should contend for Rookie of the Year.

ETA: 2021

 

2. Drew Waters, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Triple-A

It is hard to get as excited about Drew Waters as his tools should make him. On paper, Waters has the potential for two plus tools (hit and speed), along with league-average power. Reality is more complicated. Waters has struck out at a higher rate during each of his last three levels (24.8% K% in High-A, 26.7% K% in Double-A, 36.1% K% in Triple-A). His SwStr% at those levels followed a similar path (15% SwStr% in High-A, 16.8% SwStr% in Double-A, 18% SwStr% in Triple-A).

It bears mentioning that Waters has been young for every level, so some of that could be attributed to playing against older competition. Even so, his rank related to similarly aged players (his age or younger) in SwStr% remains less than stellar (4th worst in High-A, 2nd worst in Double-A), 3rd worst in Triple-A). Waters also generates a high GB% (+45% in all three levels), and his power could benefit from putting more balls in the air.

The good news is that, despite these issues, he has produced at a high level in the minors and still has time to improve his approach. If he can do that, he could be a dynamic power/speed fantasy option. Without adjustments, however, he could produce similarly to Byron Buxton at the beginning of his career.

ETA: 2021

 

3. Cristian Pache, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

Pache has been at the top of fantasy prospect lists for a couple of years now, though his defensive prowess has (and continues to) eclipse his offensive potential. Few players offer the type of defensive value Pache brings to the table. Fangraphs rates his arm as 70-grade and his Field tool even higher (potential for 80 grade), and of course, it helps that he also has plus wheels to track down anything a poor hitter might send his way.

His bat, however, continues to lag in development. Though Pache hit well in Double-A during the 2019 season (134 wRC+, 11 HR, 8 SB), his production vanished once he reached Triple-A later that season (92 wRC+, 0 steals, & one home run in 26 games). A brief stint in the Dominican Summer League did not go well either (.120/.241/.160 in 9 games). Even his best-rated offensive tool, his speed, has had limited success in actual execution on the bases apart from an outlier 32 steals in 2017 (Single-A).

Pache will compete to be the opening day center-fielder for the Braves, but the fact that Ender Inciarte will get another chance to win the job should tell you all you need to know about the Braves’ confidence in Pache offensively.

ETA: 2021

 

4. Braden Shewmake, SS

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Double-A

Shewmake kicked off his career at Texas A&M by winning the 2017 SEC Freshman of the year award and never looked back. His offensive production was consistent and well-rounded, resulting in 22 home runs, a .323/.381/.487 slash line, and 32 stolen bases (80% success rate) for his collegiate career. The Braves selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 2019 draft and assigned him to Single-A that summer. Shewmake stole 11 bases there and provided offensive production that rated 51% above league average (151 wRC+) overall.

He finished the season with a promotion to Double-A, where he struggled, posting a meager .217/.288/.217 line (53 wRC+). His tools mimic his career in College Station, good all-around, but without one defining characteristic. He projects for an above-average hit tool and speed. His power is below average, but his frame (6′ 4″, 190 lbs) has room for growth and the potential for more juice with time.

Some think he will shift from shortstop to second, third, or even outfield eventually, though the Braves are committed to keeping him there if possible. Shewmake could make his debut in 2021. His high floor, low ceiling profile makes him a safe fantasy investment.

ETA: 2021

 

5. Tucker Davidson, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

Davidson’s excellent 2019 run (2.03 ERA, 27.2% K%, 1.20 WHIP) in Double-A earned him a promotion to Triple-A, and while his 2.84 ERA there might tell you otherwise, his 5.82 xFIP and 3.7% K-BB% show that he needed more time to find his footing at the new level. Tucker joined the Braves’ 60-man player pool last season and debuted for a 1.2 IP cup of coffee with the club as well. He has good velocity on his plus fastball (touches 98, sits 91-95), a plus curveball, and a slider that recently overtook his changeup after some work on its development during the summer. He needs to improve his command/control if he is going to remain an effective starter.

Based on the offseason Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly signings, there may be one rotation spot open when the Braves meet for spring training. And whoever takes that spot will only be a place-holder until Mike Soroka comes back. Davidson will be in the mix for that opening but will likely head to Triple-A for more seasoning, though he should rejoin the Braves at some point in 2021. Davidson is one of my favorite prospect arms and has mid-rotation potential, maybe more.

ETA: 2021

 

6. Shea Langeliers, C

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Single-A

The Braves selected two college bats from the state of Texas in 2019, Aggie shortstop Braden Shewmake and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers. Langeliers showed good pop, especially for a catcher, during his time in Waco, smashing 31 home runs and adding six more for good measure in the Cape Cod League. He managed to swat two more in Single-A, though his overall production (.088 ISO, 92 wRC+) was mediocre at best.

He projects for average power at his peak, above-average for a catcher, and an average hit tool as well, though he needs more development for that to occur (23% K%, 13.1% SwStr%). The nice thing about Langeliers is that he has the chops to stick behind the plate long-term. He has a plus arm, won a Rawlings/ABCA Gold Glove in 2018, and while he possesses minimal speed, is athletic enough to handle the rigors of the position. His ceiling, if reached, is a top-five fantasy option at catcher.

ETA: 2022

 

7. Kyle Muller, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Double-A

Muller’s second tour of Double-A yielded some positive results. He struck out more batters (+2.3% K%), and his SwStr% (+0.8%) rose a bit as well. He also generated more ground balls (+1.9% GB%) and continued to limit home runs (-4.5% HR/FB%). Unfortunately, his command/control continued to be an issue. Muller finished the campaign with a 14.5% BB% and struggled in other aspects, issuing 16 wild pitches (more than his career total to date) and hitting seven batters (ditto).

That erratic aspect of his game is the main reason he has yet to debut, despite a lethal fastball. That 65-grade pitch has high spin (2600 RPMs), flirts with 98 MPH, and pairs well with his curveball. His changeup remains a work in process. Muller has the chance to be a special member of the rotation if he can clean up his command. Otherwise, he will be a late-inning nightmare for opposing hitters.

ETA: 2021

 

8. Jasseel De La Cruz, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

While his call-up to the big leagues did not result in an official appearance, the mere fact that the Braves brought him up speaks to where he is in his development. He has two pitches that rate as plus offerings; A slider with good spin (2750 RPMs) and a fastball that flirts with triple digits (sits 91-97 MPH). His third offering, a changeup, needs work before it can be considered as a consistent weapon. Like many young pitchers, his control/command (10.1% BB%, 5 HBP, 7 WP in Double-A) could stand further development, especially if he is going to move forward as a starter.

ETA: 2022

 

9. William Contreras, C

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

Contreras, brother of Chicago Cubs backstop Willson Contreras, signed with the Braves for just $10,000 in 2015. Needless to say, he would garner a lot more now. The young catcher played in four games with the Braves in 2020 and had four hits in his 10 PAs. Very impressive for a player without experience above Double-A. Especially so for a catcher. Contreras split 2019 between High-A and Double-A, generating right at league average offensive production at both stops.

He flashed some power (six total home runs in 110 games) and saw improvements to both his BB% (+0.4%) and K% (-2.2%) in Double-A. Defensively, he remains a work in progress. He has a plus arm and sits under 2 seconds with his pop time (1.88-1.95 average per 2080 baseball; MLB average is 2.01 seconds) but still struggles with other aspects of the position (13 passed balls in 2019). Like Langeliers, Contreras has the potential to be a high-end fantasy catcher if he can live up to his tools.

ETA: 2021

 

10. Jared Shuster, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Few 1st round draft picks have the career numbers of former Demon Deacon Jared Shuster – 6-8, 6.17 ERA, 128.1 IP, 169 SO, 1.535 WHIP. Not what you expected, right? I must admit that, upon first glance, I thought those numbers had to be a typo. My apologies to the copy editor for godeacs.com. As you can see by the above numbers, Shuster struggled to perform for most of his collegiate career. A change in mechanics after his sophomore season led to better control and a velocity spike to 97 MPH, a huge improvement on his previous low-90s mix.

He went on to dominate in the Cape Cod League (1.41 ERA, 32 IP, 35 K, 0.78 WHIP) before his junior season and continued to perform well in 2020 (3.76 ERA, 26.1 IP, 43 K, 0.95 WHIP). A swing and miss changeup and a middling slider make up the rest of his arsenal. Developing a reliable third offering is a focus area for Shuster, as is improving his command. Doing that puts him in contention for a mid-rotation ceiling, though he should add value at the back of the bullpen if not.

ETA: 2023

 

11. Freddy Tarnok, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: High-A

On the surface, Tarnok’s overall production in High-A (4.87 ERA, 19% K%, 11.5% SwStr%) makes it look like he failed to progress after earning his promotion there in 2019, especially when compared to his work in Single-A the previous season (3.96 ERA, 23.3% K%, 12% SwStr%). A rough first two months muted the strides he made later in the season, however. After missing June with injury, Tarnok dominated in six July starts, posting a 2.16 ERA in those outings (22.1% K%) alongside a 0.80 WHIP. He came down a bit in August (3.81 ERA, 1.45 WHIP), but did see an uptick in his K% for the month (23.4%).

The bigger story was his dramatic decrease in walks (10.7% BB% first half, 5% second half). That shift is the main reason why missing this season is such a big hit for the young righty, as the pandemic erased the chance for him to build off of that second half. Continuing that trend in 2021 will make his future as a starter more viable, especially if his offerings (fastball, curveball, changeup) continue to trend as above average.

ETA: 2023

 

12. Vaughn Grissom, SS

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Grissom had a seamless transition to professional ball, handling his first taste of Rookie-ball like a veteran, even though he was only 18-years-old. He supplied an even mix of power (3 HR, .113 ISO) and speed (3/3 SBAs) and came in about 20% above league-average production (120 wRC+). His plate discipline stood out as well (8.7% BB%, 14.7% K%), and though his SwStr% (19.5%) looks ghastly, it was actually in the 75th percentile for his age and below. Despite his youth, Vaughn made some noise in the alternate site this year and projects for a well-rounded offensive profile. He should be on the faster movers on this list and could find more power as he matures.

ETA: 2023

 

13. Jesse Franklin, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

The Braves called Franklin’s name in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Franklin hit well during his two seasons at Michigan, smashing 27 home runs with eight stolen bases for his Wolverine career and leading the team in three categories (home runs, slugging, and RBIs) as a freshman. He also had two solid runs in the Cape Cod League heading into his junior year.

Unfortunately, a fluke skiing accident in early January resulted in a broken collarbone and kept him out of action for the eventually canceled 2020 season. The Detroit Free Press wrote a great deep-dive into Walker and quoted Baseball America as saying that Franklin has an “…all-around package of average tools…” and the “…baseball instincts to make the most of them.” Target Franklin as a late-round FYPD sleeper who could surprise.

ETA: 2023

 

14. Spencer Strider

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Due to Tommy John surgery, Strider only tossed 63 IP during his Clemson career, more than half of that coming in relief. He struck out 89 batters (31% K%) in those innings but struggled with his control (13.3% BB%), posting a 4.71 ERA overall. A run in the Cape Cod League after his sophomore season yielded a great ERA (3.38) but muted strikeouts (23.9% K%) and a large number of walks (16.2% BB%). He has heat—his fastball hit 97 in college and reportedly touched 99 at the alternate site—and a developing slider, but it looks like he is destined for the bullpen at the moment.

ETA: 2023

15. Bryce Ball, 1B

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A

Ball slashed .325/.443/.614 with 18 home runs during his only season at Dallas-Baptist University. The Braves took him in the 24th round of the 2019 draft, signed him, and immediately assigned him to Rookie ball. From there, Ball touched two levels that season and hit…exactly like he did in college (.329/.395/.628 with 17 home runs). Ball has ridiculous power, a Rocky-inspired nickname (Drago), and is one of the best first-base hitting prospects in the game. Issues with his approach and his defensive limitations are the main concerns at this point, but the bat will play.

ETA: 2022

 

16. Victor Vodnik, RP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Single-A

Every time I hear the name Victor Vodnik, I always think he sounds like a Bond villain. Some of the hitters he faced in Single-A may agree. Vodnik posted a 2.94 ERA (3.39 xFIP) in 23 mostly-relief appearances therein 2019. He struck out 25.2% of hitters (13% SwStr%), walked 8.8%, and allowed only one home run the whole season. Both left-handed and right-handed hitters struggled against Vodnik, though his reverse split numbers were better overall (RHH – .655 OPS against; LHH – .513 against.

Though Vodnik has mostly relieved at this point in his career, Braves farm director Ben Sestanovich thinks he has the potential to start: “Six-foot righties are always in this world of ‘Can they start?’ But from a delivery and stuff standpoint, I think we feel he has the ingredients to start.” If his secondaries can catch up to his plus fastball (touches 98 MPH), Vodnik would make a very interesting rotation member. He would look good at the back end of the bullpen either way.

ETA: 2023

 

17. Michael Harris, OF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Single-A

Hearing his name called by the Braves in the 2019 MLB draft was a dream come true for Harris, a Georgia native who grew up rooting for the team. Though he had potential on the mound (Perfect Game had him at 93 MPH his senior year), his bat was too much for the Braves to pass up, as noted by the rave reviews bestowed upon him by Atlanta scouting director Dana Brown: “He really has power, athleticism…We were very fortunate to get him.”

Harris had no trouble in his first stop (161 wRC+ & .165 ISO in Rookie-ball) but stumbled a bit upon his promotion to Single-A (53 wRC+, .049 ISO). He projects for average all-around production, though he will struggle to hit for a decent batting average (23.7% K% in Single-A) without further development. Looks to be more valuable in real-life due to his defensive abilities, but he is young enough to shift that outlook as he matures.

ETA: 2023

 

18. Bryce Elder, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: N/A

Signability, not talent, was the main reason behind Elder’s slide to the 5th round in this year’s draft. The Braves took a shot on him and agreed to a $500,000 over-slot deal with the former Texas Longhorn. Elder struggled a bit during his freshman year (5.55 ERA & 1.63 WHIP in 35.2 IP) but found his footing after that (109 IP, 2.73 ERA, 118 K’s in 17 sophomore & junior starts). The 6′ 2″, 220 lb righty looks like he will fit in nicely at the back-end of a rotation, though he will need an additional offering outside of his fastball and slider to do so.

ETA: 2023

 

19. Terone “Trey” Harris, OF

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Double-A

Despite touching three levels in 2019, Harris generated above-average offensive production at each stop (195 wRC+ in Single-A, 152 wRC+ in High-A, and 111 wRC+ in Double-A), something he has done at every step along the way in his minor league career. He has a mix of power and speed, though he has struggled to express the latter in actual execution (8/14 SBAs in 2019). Further work needs to be done on his approach (21.2% K%, 13% SwStr%) as well. Likely a fourth outfielder.

ETA: 2022

 

20. Daysbel Hernandez, RP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: High-A

Apart from some control/command issues (10.5% BB%, 4 HBP, 6 WP), Hernandez mostly dominated in his second, much longer, taste of High-A. He struck out 31.8% of hitters, generated a whopping 17.5% SwStr%, and did a better job limiting home runs (2 HR in 52.2 IP). A lot of his success is due to his fastball (70-grade per Fangraphs). That pitch alone makes him dangerous, but further development on his slider needs to happen for him to become a legitimate late-inning reliever.

ETA: 2022

 

21. Patrick Weigel, SP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

Weigel boasts four offerings in his arsenal, though only two (fastball and slider) currently rate as above average. Two stints at Triple-A have not gone well (19.2% K% & 11.1% BB% combined), and despite having ample experience at the highest minor-league level, Weigel received only the barest cup of coffee with the Braves in 2020 (0.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB). His slider has good spin (2750 RPMs), and there is enough velocity on his fastball (touches 97) to suggest the ability for higher production. I am not sold on him as a starter and think he may find more value focusing on his fastball and slider in the pen.

ETA: 2021

 

22. Kasey Kalich, RP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A

Atlanta continued their Texas-focus in the 2019 draft with their 4th round selection of Kalich, a JUCO-transfer who spent one season at Texas A&M. During his lone season as an Aggie, Kalich struck out 34.2% of hitters in 28 appearances, relying mostly on his 97 MPH fastball and a slider to fool batters. Kalich logged 20.2 IP at Single-A after signing and continued to strike out batters with impunity (27.5% K%), though he did see a spike in walks (12.5% BB%) as well. A broken scaphoid kept him on the shelf in 2020, but he should be ready to go for spring training. Good late-inning relief potential with the chance for more depending on how his purported third and fourth offerings come along.

ETA: 2024

 

23. Ambiores Tavarez, SS/3B

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: N/A

Due to continuing sanctions stemming from the Coppolella regime, the Braves only had $1,572,000 to spend on international free agents. Instead of portioning that out among several players, they decided to push everything towards signing shortstop/third baseman Ambioris Tavarez. Tavarez hails from the Dominican Republic and brings power, bat speed, and a strong arm to the Braves’ system.

ETA: 2026

 

24. Tyler Owens, SP

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Despite his selection in the 13th round of last year’s draft, Owens received the 5th highest signing bonus from the Braves, enough for him to skip college and head directly into professional ball. He pitched well during his brief Rookie-ball assignments and displayed two pitches with plus ability, including a fastball that flirted with triple digits. Like many young hurlers, developing better command/control and a dependable third offering are his main focus areas. His size (5′ 10″) and the unusual “hop” in his delivery make some skeptical of a future in the rotation.

ETA: 2024

 

25. Greyson Jenista, OF

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

Strikeout issues have derailed Jenista’s traipse through the Braves’ system. Coming into 2019, his 20.3% K% in High-A was a career-high, something he blew by during his second stint there (30.3% K%, 14.8% SwStr%) and subsequent promotion in Double-A (29.3% K%, 14.2% SwStr%). His offensive production (103 wRC+ in High-A; 95 wRC+ in Double-A) suffered as a result, and he has yet to show off the above-average power that many expected.

Not having 2020 data makes it hard to know if Jenista can alter his approach and right the ship, though the fact that he was not added to the 60-man player pool this year stands out. He is still young and may just need more time than initial development timelines allowed for him to reach his potential. If he can, he profiles well as a corner outfielder, albeit one with a low batting average.

ETA: 2022

 

26. Alex Jackson, C

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Jackson’s two cups of coffee with the Braves have yielded little return thus far, despite his breakout, 28 home-run (.304 ISO) season at Triple-A in 2019. While the power potential is nice, he has yet to show any plate discipline improvement, whiffing at +30% rates at two levels from 2018-2019 (18.3% SwStr% in Triple-A – 2019). That handicaps his offensive ability and makes it unlikely that he will make enough contact to matter. Right now, he looks a lot like Mike Zunino or Jorge Alfaro, just with less history of consistent power production in the minors than either had.

ETA: 2021

 

27. Stephen Paolini, OF

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Paolini had little draft helium when the Braves selected him in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. Part of that came with being a cold-weather high-school bat who did not participate in most of the bigger showcases in the region. Either way, they saw enough to go over-slot and lure him away from Elon University. He struggled in his debut (73 wRC+, .050 ISO), but projects for a well-rounded offensive profile with below-average power and plus speed.

ETA: 2024

 

28. Jeremy Walker, RP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Shifting from a starter to the bullpen did wonders for Walker’s K%, which went from a career-high of 21.4% (Rookie-ball) to 26.9% (Triple-A) in his first year as a full-time reliever. He finished off 2019 with his MLB debut, appearing in six games with middling results (1.93 ERA, 4.87 SIERA, 5.3% K-BB%). Shoulder injuries wiped out any chance for extra work in 2020. He leads with his fastball, but his main put-away pitch is a curveball that generated good results in his brief time with Atlanta (40% Whiff%, 11.5% PutAway%). Looks like a long-reliever.

ETA: 2021

 

29. Thomas Burrows, RP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Triple-A

Burrows made 43 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, striking out 25.8% of hitters faced across both levels (28.2%, 12.1% SwStr% in Double-A; 24.5%, 12.2% SwStr% in Triple-A). He baffled lefties (.173/.287/.213) but allowed five home runs and a .246/.325/.428 line against right-handed hitters. His stuff is good enough to play against both righties and lefties with improved command (5 HBP, 4 WP) and control (9.8% BB%). Potential middle inning reliever with room for more.

ETA: 2021

 

30. Yoansy Moreno, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: N/A

In Moreno, it appears the Braves found a diamond in the rough. Moreno signed for just $10,000 during the 2019 international period and has a powerful bat to dream on. His max exit velocity generated per Perfect Game was 97 MPH, good enough for the 97th percentile for the 2019 class. His plate discipline needs work, but there is enough potential for him to start climbing industry lists in time.

ETA: 2026

 

31. Mahki Backstrom, 1B

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Backstrom flashed some interesting tools during his Rookie-league debut in 2019, generating a 149 wRC+ to go with a couple of home runs and a steal. Solely a first-base prospect, Backstrom has enough power potential to be an intriguing bat despite evident plate discipline issues (32.9% K%, 26.3% SwStr%).

ETA: 2024

 

32. CJ Alexander, 3B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

Due to various injuries, Alexander has yet to play more than 25 games at any level of the minors since the 2018 MLB draft. The 20th round selection outplayed expectations during his first season, hitting his way to High-A with ease. An April elbow injury cost him two months and likely affected his production the rest of the way, but he was already struggling at the plate (.143/.306/.179 in April) before the injury.

Alexander could approach average power production, though his hit tool will dictate whether or not he will hit enough to see that through. He was left off of Atlanta’s 60-man player pool in 2020 and needs to perform well this season to remain relevant.

ETA: 2022

 

33. Trey Riley, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A

Riley’s lackluster control/command is the main reason he is not higher on this list. Though his walk rate improved upon his promotion to Single-A in 2019, a 16.1% BB% is nothing to celebrate, especially when paired with a pair of sixes to fill the HBP and WP columns. He has two offerings with plus potential (fastball, slider), one that could go above-average (curveball), and a changeup that might squeak in as a league-average pitch with more work. None of that will matter much until he can get things under control, unfortunately.

ETA: 2024

 

34. William Woods, RP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A

Woods is another arm who earned rave reviews for his alternate site performance. A quote from Braves scouting director Ben Sestanovich noted that “He was mid-to-upper 90s with a slider that’s gotten harder…He was pretty interesting.” While we don’t yet know how credible alternate site news actually is, gaining a shoutout from Sestanovich is still a good thing. The Braves nabbed Woods in the 23rd round of the 2018 MLB draft. His last action came in Single-A, where he made 20 appearances (seven starts), posting a 3.35 ERA (4.16 xFIP) and a 26.6% K%.

ETA: 2022

 

35. Landon Stephens, UT

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: N/A

Stephens, another undrafted free agent from this year’s draft, spent four seasons at the University of Miami (Ohio). He provided all-around production during his time there, stealing 24 bases, mashing 22 home runs, and generating a .300/376/.517 slash line. He also played five different positions during his career. That well-rounded production is what drew the Braves to Stephens, and he will have every chance to see if he can join former RedHawk Adam Eaton in realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues.

ETA: 2023

 

36. Justin Dean, OF

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Single-A

It would have been really interesting to see what Justin Dean could have done had the 2020 season not been canceled. In 2019, the speedy outfielder swiped 47 bases (83% success rate), notched nine home runs (.147 ISO), and generated a 141 wRC+. He was slightly older than the competition, but not by much. Dean is tiny (5′ 6″) and likely no more than a fourth or fifth outfield option at the end of the day.

ETA: 2023

 

37. Rickey DeVito, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A

Devito has three pitches with at least league-average potential, including two that could end up slightly above that level with continued development. His fastball sits 92-95 MPH but can touch 97 at times. A promotion to Single-A evaporated the high-end strikeout rate he posted in Rookie-ball (29.1% K%), though he still generated absurdly good ground ball rates (60.7% GB% in Single-A).

ETA: 2023

 

38. Bryson Horne, 1B

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: N/A

Horne started his career in junior college, transferring from there to Columbus State for the 2020 season. He made the most of the abbreviated effort, swatting six home runs to go along with a .425/.510/.725 slash line and walking (13) more than he struck out (8). Horne is a first-base only prospect and will need his bat to lead him through the rungs of the Braves’ system given that defensive limitation.

ETA: 2023

 

39. Philip Pfeifer, RP

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: Triple-A

The 28-year-old lefty first touched Triple-A in 2017 and has been knocking at the door ever since for an MLB debut. An inability to cut his walk rate (12% career BB%) and rein in his command (18 WP across three levels in 2019) are the main reasons why he has yet to debut in Atlanta. He has a fastball that can hit the mid-90s and two above-average secondary offerings (slider, curveball).

ETA: 2021

 

40. Hayden Deal, SP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: High-A

Deal is a ground ball pitcher (58.1 GB% in High-A) who limits walks (6.4% BB% in High-A) but does not generate many strikeouts (19.8% K% in High-A). Might benefit from a shift to the bullpen where a long-relief role may be a better fit for his skills.

ETA: 2022

 

41. Carter Linton, RP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Linton’s father, Doug, is a former major-league reliever who saw action in parts of seven seasons at the highest level. Now Carter has the chance to see if he can carve out his own relief career with the Braves. The young righty has limited collegiate experience, tossing only 39.2 IP in 31 relief appearances. He has a fastball that touches 95 and two other offerings in his arsenal, though both need refinement.

ETA: 2023

 

42. Ethan Workinger, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: N/A

While most of the Braves’ undrafted signings came out of the college ranks, Ethan Workinger comes fresh out of California Connections Academic, an online high school he attended to focus fully on baseball. The young outfielder ranked as the 500th best prep prospect heading into the draft (150th overall for outfield). Workinger has great speed (6.65 seconds 60 yd dash, 98th percentile) and posted a max exit velocity (94 MPH) that ranked in the 92nd percentile for his class. In addition to his speed, Workinger has the potential to tap into more power as he fills out.

ETA: 2026

 

43. Greg Cullen, 2B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Single-A

Cullen slashed .364/.443/.493 for his career at Niagra and has barely skipped a beat since, generating a 138 wRC+ in Single-A in 2019. He hit nine home runs, swiped two bags, and walked at a good rate. He has a good approach and could sniff double-digit home runs with a handful of steals and a solid batting average at his peak.

ETA: 2022

 

44. Jared Johnson, SP

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Johnson was a 14th round selection in 2019 out of Smithville High School in Tupelo, Mississippi. He saw limited action in Rookie-ball after signing and posted a 3.52 ERA in his six starts there. He has good velocity but a long road ahead of him to the show.

ETA: 2025

 

45. AJ Puckett, SP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: High-A

Puckett has not thrown a professional pitch in 3 years, last taking the mound for Chicago White Sox in 2017. This absence was due to a combination of Tommy John surgery and the pandemic. When healthy, Puckett has a plus changeup, two other league-average offerings, and the potential for above-average command. The long layoff makes him an enigma, but he had enough talent beforehand to be interesting.

ETA: 2022

 

46. Geraldo Quintero, 2B/OF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Quintero flashed some serious wheels in his first professional season, swiping 21 bags in 30 attempts. His overall production came in as 16% better than league-average, though without any real power. How he performs stateside will tell us more about his actual potential, though this is a good start.

ETA: 2026

 

47. Brooks Wilson, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: High-A

Wilson has pitched well at every level in his brief minor-league career and posted stellar numbers at his last stop in 2019 (2.47 ERA, 3.40 xFIP, 1.20 WHIP in High-A). He does not strike out too many batters (20.1% K%) but rarely walks anyone (6.9% BB%). Likely nothing more than a long reliever, but could be a spot starter as well.

ETA: 2022

 

48. Jalen Miller, 2B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

The Braves took Miller from the San Francisco Giants during the Rule 5 draft. While Miller has struggled to bring above-average offensive production to the table so far in his career (only one +100 wRC+ season), he does possess good speed (66/94 SBAs) and some pop (25 total HR last two seasons. Looks like a gamble on a potential utility infielder, though more focused on offense than defensive capabilities.

ETA: 2022

 

49. Riley Unroe, 2B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Triple-A

Unroe’s minor-league career stretches back to 2013, when he made his professional debut with the Tampa Bay Rays. He offered good production across two levels in 2019 (155 wRC+ in High-A, 119 wRC+ in Double-A), though that petered out quickly once he hit Triple-A (50 wRC+ in 13 games). He walks a good bit and provides a handful of steals and home runs each season. Mostly infield depth with the chance to earn some PAs as a utility infielder.

ETA: 2021

 

50. Beau Philip, 2B

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: R

Philip, another JUCO transfer, had a successful brief stint at Oregon State University before the Braves selected him in the 2nd round of the 2019 MLB draft. In his lone season in Corvallis, the infielder slashed .311/.369/.486 with five home runs and six stolen bases. He looked overmatched in Rookie-ball (.193/.297/.280, 69 wRC+), though he did continue to flash a mix of power (four home runs) and speed (five steals). Another utility bat without further development.

ETA: 2023

 

 

 

Hunter Denson

Hunter currently writes for PitcherList. He once fouled off a pitch against former big-leaguer Jon Lieber, only to strike out spectacularly on the next pitch. Representing the Red Sox Nation out in the Pacific Northwest

  • Avatar Cubsfan9 says:

    Welcome Cullen

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