We heard from Snowshine yesterday on his top-30 prospects in the Braves system and now it’s my turn. Our top-10 looks quite similar (with one exception) but ranking 11-30 is a guessing game of evaluating talent that isn’t fully developed yet and that’s what makes it so dadgum fun! Enough talk, let’s get to the players.
Atlanta Braves Top-30 Midseason Prospects
Cristian Pache– Could be following RAJ’s footsteps as it isn’t too big of a stretch for Pache to become baseball’s #1 prospect come May of next year if he gets promoted to AAA and continues hitting. The last skill needed to show was power and it is here.
Drew Waters– Still needs to develop the RH swing, but he’s right behind Pache in talent.
Ian Anderson– Walking a bit too many but has been a K-monster since the end of April racking up 95 in 69.2 innings.
Kyle Wright– I feel the Braves hit the force promotion button with Kyle when he likely wasn’t ready. He was a young starter when drafted with all the potential in the world, but it was still potential. Looks like he has really figured it out in his last 4 appearances with a whole lot of K’s and very few BB’s.
Bryse Wilson– He’s looking more and more like a MLB pitcher even though the stats haven’t fully backed it up. He’s running up the fastball to 97-98 and is still utilizing 4 pitches. He’s a bulldog, ladies and gents, and is going to be a serious innings eater.
William Contreras– Has really struggled with the bat in 2019 after breaking out in 2018 at Low-A. It might take a step backward to step forward for Contreras and I’m guessing that’s why Langeliers is now here.
Kyle Muller– Driveline-aided, Muller has added some serious velocity and was putting it all together in May, but has been struggling of late as the walks have spiked again. I still believe he’s a #2-3 starter, but it’s going to take consistently harnessing that added velo to get there.
Shea Langeliers– A defensive minded backstop with serious leadership ability behind the plate, the Braves think there’s more to Langeliers bat than meets the eye. Could easily argue he should be above Contreras.
Braden Shewmake– The hit tool that’s been advertised has shown up as he’s rocking a .437 batting average in Rome. No doubt he’ll be promoted before the end of the season and soon he’ll see talent that matches his own.
Travis Demeritte– Likely the biggest surprise on this list. I’ve watched Demeritte a whole lot this season…and last season. 2 years at Mississippi seemed to depress Demeritte as the light-tower power that he’d shown was simply swallowed. I’ll admit, I was pretty hacked off with the Braves when he didn’t get promoted to AAA in 2018, but I’m glad that he’s there..and crushing now. He’s increased his walk rate, BA, OBP, and SLG while lowering his K-rate, all the while adding corner OFer to an already impressive defensive resume. Oh…and he’s OPS’ing over 1.000.
Joey Wentz– In 2018, his velo came…and Wentz. Apologies for the Dad humor. Joey went through a fun little period known as “dead arm” and it really put a damper on his prospect status. He’s been recovering that status in his last 3 outings as the velo is reportedly back and the strikeouts are piling up again.
Tucker Davidson– Another Driveline guy that added velo, Davidson sat low-90s and even high-80s last year, but now is pumping mid-90s regularly and has been a consistent force for Mississippi. There’s an argument to be made that he’s surpassed Wentz as a prospect, but I’m sticking with Wentz due to pedigree.
Huascar Ynoa– We saw what he could do at the MLB level with that FB/slider combo and I think we will see it again before too long. For me, that’s how I see him as I just don’t think he has the stamina to stick as a starter.
Luiz Gohara– He’s here because of his name, but it’s another lost season for Gohara. I was told repeatedly how dumb I was to be upset when the Braves traded Mallex Smith for him. That’s a deal I’d like to have back, for sure.
Kolby Allard– I don’t pretend to be a pitching expert, but Kolby Allard looked bottom of the barrel bad when he pitched in the MLB in 2018, with a fastball topping out at 89. Now the fastball is sitting 90-93 and that’s all he really needs to make the rest of his pitches work. His last 6 starts have been great, but I think his future lies in another franchise’s arms.
Jasseel De La Cruz– Due to injury, De La Cruz was in Rome all of last year. Now, he’s in Mississippi. That tells you all you need to know about his development. An electric arm that is pushing mid-90s, a slider as an accompaniment, and the changeup is the desert. He’s got serious workhorse potential.
Patrick Weigel– As with all players that are coming back from Tommy John, the Braves are slowly building Weigel’s arm strength and it’s time we started paying attention to him again because his giant fastball is darned near ready. I could see him as a multi-inning relief option later this year as he’s already occupying a 40-man roster spot.
Trey Harris– A 5’10, 200 pound 32nd rounder in 2018, Trey Harris isn’t supposed to be this good and yet he’s carrying a .959 OPS on the year. It’s hard not to like a good story and that’s what Trey feels like. He’s beloved by all, works hard, and I sure do love me an underdog.
CJ Alexander– Bone spur surgery kept CJ out until recently and we haven’t seen enough to gauge how real his 2018 performance was, but don’t forget he got a big league ST invite and that tells you a little bit about what the Braves thought about him.
Victor Vodnik– I won’t deny that it bothered me when the Braves moved Victor out of the bullpen and into the rotation recently, as I thought for sure he was going to be fast-tracked to the MLB as a back end bullpen guy. Apparently not. The ceiling is high for this kid as he possesses an ungodly fastball and if he can develop 2 more pitches that equal that standard, look out. However, the floor for this kid is high as well and that’s where the real fun begins.
Michael Harris– I have always liked guys that profile as a 2-way player (love me some Kyle Muller) and recently drafted Michael Harris is one of those guys. At 18, there’s not much to know yet, but he’s athletic and fast, and sometimes it’s necessary to trust the people that know more than you.
Alex Jackson– I’ve watched a lot of Alex this year and I cannot imagine there’s another player in AAA that has suffered from bad luck at the plate more than AJax. The BABIP matches the argument too, as it currently sits at .238. Alex might be on the outside looking in when it comes to MLB catching duties, but I do believe he is an MLB player and will do well for someone. Once a bit pudgy, his physique is quite impressive and he’s monstrously strong, and I think we’ll see an uptick in his numbers for the rest of the season.
Mahki Backstrom- Matt Powers is a writer over at Talking Chop and there’s no one else that puts more time and energy into the Braves draft as he does, and when he tells you that Backstrom was the steal of the draft and could’ve went as a 1st rounder in 2018, you listen. At 6’5 220, Backstrom profiles as a 1B, but Powers thinks there’s a bit of Jason Heyward in that body and wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting work in LF.
Daysbel Hernandez– With a FB that sits 95-98 and a slider that leaves the strike zone with ferocity, 22 y/o Hernandez is being groomed for the back end of the bullpen and I’d be willing to bet he’ll be a fast riser.
Freddy Tarnok– There’s no fun way to put this…Tarnok has been bad this year. To keep his innings in check in 2018, he built up to starting. Now that he’s been a regular in the rotation, he’s not fared well. Here’s where we get to say “trust the stuff”.
Justin Dean– Like Harris, Dean was a later round pick in 2018. Also like Harris, he’s making the baseball field his playground in 2019 as he’s getting on base at a .405 clip and has successfully stolen 26 bases out of 32 attempts. Possessed with a good glove but small stature, Dean feels like a Mallex Smith story and I’m 100% here for watching that develop.
Tristan Beck– Once thought of as a first round talent, Beck was considered a 4th round steal back in 2018. Just recently deemed healthy enough to pitch, Beck doesn’t possess the best stuff but is intelligent and knows how to get people out. For me, he feels like he might have a Josh Tomlin type career.
Hayden Deal– Went undrafted, Deal was signed in 2017 and is making noise at High-A with his cutter. Already 24, Deal could move quickly, especially if he continues to dominate both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
Beau Philip– 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft, Philip was Oregon State’s short stop this past season and is said to be raw even though he’s played competitive college ball. Only 20 years old, Philip is starting out at Danville, but I’ve a feeling he’ll be spending a whole lot of time in the offseason at instructs rebuilding his swing.
Jeremy Walker– Throwing a bone here, Walker is doing something that we as Braves fans, who had to endure the bullpen walkathon the first 1.5 months of 2019, would be quite impressed were we seeing it regularly. But I HAVE seen it regularly and it’s been glorious! He’s not walking people. Yes…Jeremy Walker should be Jeremy NOT Walker as he’s allowed a miniscule 0.8 BB/9 this year. Recently promoted to AAA, Walker has had a great year for Mississippi going multiple innings piggy backing off of Ian Anderson. If he can continue his good work at AAA, he could be next in line for the bullpen shuffle.
Explanation: Jenista has been the biggest disappointment from the 2018 draft and for a guy that was already positionally challenged, he might not be given that long of a leash to get right. Both Clouse and Burrows had serious chances to become lefties in the MLB pen early this year and both crapped the bed. Burrows is on a seriously good run since being demoted to AA and has yet to allow a walk in 11.1 innings of 1.59 ERA baseball. Clouse has just recently started a rehab stint with the GCL after imploding at AAA, allowing WAY too many walks. If he can return to 2018 form, he could receive another shot in 2020. For me, Sobotka being left off is semantics. He’s 25 years old…and 25 year old players shouldn’t be prospects anymore.