Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects


Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Atlanta Braves. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Braves Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 AJ Smith-Shawver 20.4 A+ SP 2025 45+
2 JR Ritchie 19.8 A SP 2026 45+
3 Dylan Dodd 24.9 MLB SP 2023 45
4 Spencer Schwellenbach 22.9 A SP 2025 45
5 Jared Shuster 24.7 MLB SP 2023 45
6 Owen Murphy 19.6 A SP 2026 45
7 Luis Guanipa 17.3 R CF 2027 45
8 Roddery Muñoz 23.0 AAA SIRP 2023 40+
9 Ignacio Alvarez 20.0 A+ 3B 2025 40+
10 Diego Benitez 18.4 R 3B 2027 40+
11 Adam Maier 21.4 R SP 2025 40+
12 Darius Vines 25.0 AAA SP 2023 40
13 Victor Vodnik 23.5 AAA SIRP 2023 40
14 Cody Milligan 24.3 AA CF 2024 40
15 Luke Waddell 24.8 AAA 2B 2024 40
16 Geraldo Quintero 21.5 A+ 2B 2025 40
17 Drake Baldwin 22.1 A+ C 2026 40
18 Braden Shewmake 25.4 AAA SS 2023 40
19 Brooks Wilson 27.1 AAA SIRP 2024 40
20 Blake Burkhalter 22.6 A SIRP 2026 40
21 Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. 22.4 A+ CF 2026 40
22 Cole Phillips 19.9 R SP 2027 35+
23 Douglas Glod 18.2 R CF 2027 35+
24 Adam Zebrowski 22.6 A+ C 2025 35+
25 Tyler Collins 20.1 A CF 2026 35+
26 Ambioris Tavarez 19.4 A SS 2026 35+
27 Seth Keller 18.9 A SP 2027 35+
28 David McCabe 23.1 A 3B 2027 35+
29 Jesse Franklin V 24.4 AA LF 2024 35+
30 Austin Smith 23.8 AA SIRP 2025 35+
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45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Colleyville Heritage HS (TX) (ATL)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/60 40/50 30/50 35/55 93-96 / 97

Smith-Shawver was a two-sport star in high school and committed to Texas Tech for football (QB) and baseball. He was drafted as a long-term project with a big frame (6-foot-3, 205 pounds), present arm strength, and a loose, efficient arm action that portended secondary pitch development. Things have gone swimmingly so far, as Smith-Shawver has already begun to throw harder (he’s now parked at 93-96 mph for whole outings and reaching back for more when he wants), and his slider has morphed from a crude, velo-dependent weapon into a nasty, more polished two-plane pitch that he is commanding with exciting consistency early in 2023. The Braves have augmented his release point a little bit and it’s created more lateral action on his slider than he had in 2022 and, at least in the early going, he seems to have shelved his changeup in favor of a new curveball. The Braves system is replete with plus athletes with ideal baseball frames and picturesque deliveries, and of all the young arms in the system who fit this description, Smith-Shawver is the one with the best combination of those physical characteristics, present velocity, and command. Finding a viable third pitch is the only thing standing between Smith-Shawver and a spot on the Top 100.

2. JR Ritchie, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Bainbridge HS (WA) (ATL)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 55/60 40/50 20/50 91-94 / 96

Straight out of prep pitching prospect central casting, Ritchie has a super fast, whippy arm action, a snappy, devastating breaking ball, a projectable frame, and consistent, low-90s velo that peaks in the 94-96 mph range, which is where he’s been sitting in medium-length outings at the start of 2023. Ritchie and fellow 2022 high school draftee Owen Murphy share many traits, but Ritchie’s frame separates him from the 45 FV pitchers in this org because it gives him the chance to add to (or at least sustain) this mid-90s fastball velocity (which only Schwellenbach, with an atypical mechanical look, can match) as his body matures. He’d show you 94-96 in short showcase outings as an amateur, but area scouts would see his velo dip late in games during his senior spring. Ritchie’s gorgeous arm action portends further changeup development (his feel for locating it is already fair), and his feel for spin should enable him to develop a second good breaking ball over time. Teenage pitching prospects are inherently risky but Ritchie checks a thorough combination of scouting and analytical boxes, and he has a great chance to eventually be a high-impact starting pitcher.

45 FV Prospects

3. Dylan Dodd, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Southeast Missouri State (ATL)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/30 50/50 50/50 70/70 90-92 / 96

Dodd began his college career at Kankakee Community College in Illinois before matriculating to Southeast Missouri State for three more years. He didn’t truly establish himself until 2021, his fourth year removed from high school, when Dodd struck out 120 batters and walked just 17 in 96 innings. The Braves made him their third round pick, altered his delivery, and coaxed a little more velo and fastball playability out of him; the following year, Dodd raced all the way to Triple-A in his first full season while maintaining his stuff across a 30-inning workload increase.

Compared to college, Dodd’s delivery looks totally different at “footstrike,” the moment in a pitcher’s mechanics when their front foot touches down on the mound. Dodd’s stride direction is more closed and he’s generally deeper into his lower half, which is now more engaged throughout his delivery. Getting Dodd lower to the ground impacted the approach angle of his fastball in a way that helps it play a little bit better in the strike zone, and the changes didn’t mess with Dodd’s fantastic command. He ran a 3.36 ERA in 2022 while sitting 91-93 mph and throwing his fastball for strikes a whopping 73% of the time. Dodd also has fantastic glove-side command of his mid-80s slider, which has average vertical depth thanks more to his arm slot than his ability to spin the baseball. He’s great at killing spin on his low-80s changeup, which always seems to finish just beneath the bottom of the strike zone.

Dodd’s precise and consistent execution of all his pitches is what’s driving his performance most of all, and he looked like a high-probability backend starter throughout 2022 mostly because of his special command. Then in the spring of 2023, he had a two-tick velo spike while maintaining his feel for location. He broke camp with the Braves big league team, and after his first two big league starts, his average fastball velocity is back in the 90-92 mph range and he’s generating swinging strikes at a paltry 3.5% rate. Pitchers who tend to be successful with low-90s stuff are either aging greats who adjusted to losing velocity or guys who’ve gotten to the bigs without having it in the first place. The latter group tends to pan out as a 45 FV, which is why we’ve adjusted Dodd back into that FV tier as his fastball has keeled off. Plus-plus command weaponizes the slider and changeup in a way that will allow him to be a good no. 4/5, but one who’s maybe on the outskirts of a postseason rotation.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Nebraska (ATL)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/55 30/50 92-96 / 97

Schwellenbach was a two-way star at Nebraska, the team’s starting shortstop for three years and their closer for one, and the 2021 John Olerud Award winner as the country’s best two-way player. He hit .282/.405/.423 in college and often worked multiple innings in relief. While he was viewed as a prospect on both sides of the ball, the teams most interested in Schwellenbach before the draft were the ones that thought he was only scratching the surface on the mound after having pitched for just a year in college. During his 2021 season at Nebraska, his fastball averaged 95 mph across most of the season but dipped down to 93 in his last two starts, and it was later determined that he needed Tommy John, which delayed his pro debut by a full year.

Assigned to Low-A Augusta to start 2023, Schwellenbach’s first couple of appearances were short but exciting. Across about two innings per outing, he sat 94-97 and touched 98 while showing feel for locating both his slider and changeup. It’s hard to know whether this improved fastball velocity will be sustainable over a larger workload as Schwellenbach pitches deeper into games and amasses more and more innings throughout his first pro summer. If he maintains his feel for locating both his slider (which lacks vertical finish right now) and changeup, then he’ll project as a starter, even with the atypical mechanical look. If he holds the velo, it’ll be one of impact. Here Schwellenbach is valued as if his healthy floor is what he’s shown early on during his return: He’s sitting 94-97 with feel for two secondaries two innings at a time, which would make him an impact reliever and still be a good outcome for a second round pick.

5. Jared Shuster, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Wake Forest (ATL)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 45/45 60/60 55/60 91-93 / 95

Shuster’s velocity has fluctuated quite a bit during his career as a college and pro prospect, sometimes changing from start to start. Altogether, he averaged just 89-91 mph in 2022 and lost nearly 300 rpm of spin from his heater compared to 2021. Then Shuster came out showing a little velo spike during 2023 spring training, though it’s tough to be confident that it will stick given his history. While Shuster has below-average fastball velocity, his heater has other characteristics that help enable it to punch above its weight, though it isn’t a plus pitch at its current velocity. He continues to rely on his plus changeup, of which he has plus command. Shuster locates his cambio down and to his arm side with remarkable consistency. It is by far his best offering and has enough action that hitters tend to swing inside of it even when it’s finishing in the strike zone. Shuster’s slider is not so great and relies on living in that enticing, off-the-plate location where most sliders play best. Shuster’s ability to get it there is not as consistent as it is with his other offerings, but the way he hides the ball gives him some margin for error in that regard, especially against opposing lefties. While Shuster doesn’t have a tool for every situation, he is a lefty with a plus changeup whose fastball has sneaky utility despite medium velocity, the skill set of many a no. 4/5 starter.

6. Owen Murphy, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Riverside-Brookfield HS (IL) (ATL)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/60 55/60 25/55 91-94 / 95

Murphy sat 88-92 mph during the summer showcase circuit, but even though he’s boxy of build and not super projectable, he found more arm strength during his senior spring and sat in the low-to-mid-90s closer to the 2022 draft. He seems to have held that little uptick early in 2023, as he came out sitting 91-94 and touching 95 in his season debut with Augusta. Murphy’s present velocity is only okay, but plus-plus fastball spin and uphill angle help to create big, bat-missing life at the top of the zone, and Murphy’s feel for locating his heater is very advanced. He also has feel for two good breaking balls, a power low-80s curveball and a mid-80s cutter/slider. The curveball plays beautifully with his fastball and Murphy is adept at burying it in the dirt. His delivery is silky smooth and repeatable, with a gorgeous arm action and balance over his front side. Murphy’s athleticism is evident on the mound and when he’s in the batter’s box (he could probably have played two ways in college if he had ended up at South Bend) and, aside from his middling physical projection, he is otherwise the prototypical prep prospect with a mid-rotation ceiling.

7. Luis Guanipa, CF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 17.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/55 20/55 70/70 45/60 40

Guanipa was ranked sixth in the 2023 International class thanks to his combination of bat and foot speed, which gives him a chance to both hit for power and be an impact center field defender. Rhythmic and explosive, the ball comes off Guanipa’s bat with shocking force for an athlete his size. The finish of Guanipa’s swing and his wiry build are evocative of Trea Turner. He’s rail thin, but he hits line drive lasers into the left-center field gap with the flick of his wrists and then floats from base to base. He has the tools to be a very dangerous big league leadoff hitter.

40+ FV Prospects

8. Roddery Muñoz, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 30/30 35/40 94-97 / 98

Muñoz’s debut may be on the horizon as, after just one Double-A start, he was moved to the bullpen and promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. He’s an athletic righty with a strong lower body and a long, sometimes erratic arm action that impacts his command, and regardless of whether or not he had already moved to the bullpen, he was going to project as a reliever here.

Having missed much of 2021 due to injury, Muñoz returned in 2022, starting the season at High-A (a level above where he left off the previous season); he spent most of the year there before a late-summer promotion to Double-A. His strikeout rate across the two levels was just under 27%, but it improved over the course of the season; his K-rate through the end of June was below 25% and improved to 30.4% from that point on. His fastball resides in the 95-96 mph range with ride and run that explodes in on the hands of righty batters, and he mixes it equally with his plus slider, with both clocking in at 46% of his pitches. He throws the slider in the 89-91 range and it features mostly lateral action, almost like a cutter. This is his best bat-misser, with a whiff rate of 44%, a chase rate of 40%, and a strike percentage well above the big league average for sliders. Muñoz hasn’t had an immediate velo spike to his fastball or slider with the move to the bullpen, but he may have scrapped his changeup. It was already a distant third pitch, something he barely threw and then only to lefties. His feel for it wasn’t nearly as refined as that for his fastball or slider, and in the early goings of 2023, he seems to have ditched it almost entirely. The sinker/slider combination is nastier than a typical middle reliever’s, more like that of a third banana in a contender’s bullpen. Muñoz is likely to make his debut this year. Whether he grabs hold of an integral role will depend on his command.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Riverside Community College (ATL)
Age 20.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 30/45 40/40 35/60 60

Alvarez turned 20 just before list publication and began 2023 with a fairly aggressive assignment to High-A Rome. He’s a Yandy Díaz starter kit: Of such muscular build that he is at risk of sliding to third base if he continues to thicken, he has great feel for the strike zone and promising bat-to-ball skills, but his swing is not at all optimized for power and will likely dilute his in-game production if it doesn’t change. Obviously, in Yandy’s case, this has been fine, and he’s turned into a very productive big leaguer even though he slid from shortstop to third base as a prospect and never meaningfully adjusted his swing. Alvarez’s early career performance indicates his feel for the zone and for contact are both special enough that he might traverse the same path. While stout and relatively projectionless, Alvarez is loose and rotates with verve in the batter’s box, and he moves well on the bases. He often lets the baseball travel deep in the zone and has the power to do damage the other way. He’s a well-rounded player likely to stay on the dirt (even if it isn’t at shortstop) while bringing above-average OBP and contact production to the party. Power potential is lurking below the surface, just not in the way it typically does for prospects this young, as rather than coming via physical projection, it’s likely to manifest in a swing adjustment that taps into raw pop that already exists. Alvarez is one of the few hitters in the system who has a chance to be more than just a 1-WAR role player.

10. Diego Benitez, 3B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/55 20/50 40/40 35/50 60

Benitez had one of the more potent and advanced hit/power combinations in the 2022 international class and signed for a cool $2.5 million. Because he had more mature physicality for an amateur, the general sentiment from the international scouting community was that he was at greater risk of sliding down the defensive spectrum, and many thought Benitez would perhaps not grow into significantly more power. Benitez has a square, thicker build that is likely to continue to thicken as he enters his 20s. While he hit just .196 in the DSL in 2022, his underlying contact data was still strong (strangely, it was very good in the zone and slightly below-average overall) and he remains a good-looking hitter. He’s smooth and balanced in the box, able to generate impressive pull-power for his age even with a measured, conservative style of swinging. This is the FV tier in which Benitez was evaluated as an amateur and it feels premature to come off him because of a bad surface-level statline in a month and a half of DSL play, especially when the more granular TrackMan data is mostly encouraging. He has a puncher’s chance to be an everyday third baseman, but he’s still a great distance from the bigs.

11. Adam Maier, SP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2022 from Oregon (ATL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 45/55 30/50 92-94 / 97

Maier was arguably a top 50 draft prospect before he blew out in March of 2022; he had his UCL repaired with an internal brace procedure rather than have Tommy John. The Braves gave him an over-slot $1.2 million in the 2022 seventh round and he’s expected to continue his rehab and pitch in games sometime in 2023. Healthy Maier sits 92-94 and will peak in the 95-97 mph range depending on the outing. His fastball has impact sink and tail, which often enables it to slip underneath the barrel of right-handed hitters, and his slider’s two-plane wipe pairs nicely as a glove-side action pitch with his sort of fastball and has near elite spin. A consistently-finishing changeup rounds out a starter’s three-pitch mix. Maier is small of frame but is an above-average on-mound athlete whose stuff is geared to induce weak contact and work efficiently. He’s a key name to monitor on the Braves backfields so, if at all possible, he can be evaluated in game action before the 2023 trade deadline.

40 FV Prospects

12. Darius Vines, SP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Cal State Bakersfield (ATL)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/35 40/45 55/60 50/55 88-92 / 94

Vines began the 2022 season at Double-A, working exclusively as a starter. In 20 games there, he put up a 28.5% strikeout rate against just 6.7% walks, this despite a slow start to the season. His fastball is in the 90-92 mph range but plays up thanks to his command over his entire arsenal, as well as an ability to mix his three pitches well, often offering secondaries early in the count. His changeup is his signature secondary, accounting for 32% of his pitches in 2022, and he threw it for a strike a remarkable 72% of the time, resulting in whiff and chase rates just shy of the 50% mark. Having ditched his curveball midway through the season, Vines threw his slider 25% of the time last year, and while it’s much closer to an average offering than his changeup, he’s shown an ability to locate it with enough consistency to be effective, especially in terms of rounding out his arsenal and boosting his fastball’s playability despite its low velocity. This, along with the plus changeup and his proven strike-throwing ability, allow for a stable no. 5 starter projection for Vines, who opened the 2023 season on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.

13. Victor Vodnik, SIRP

Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Rialto HS (CA) (ATL)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/45 50/55 35/40 96-99 / 100

Vodnik’s fastball velocity has vacillated wildly during his lifetime as a prospect but lately it’s absolutely booming. He sat 94-95 mph during most of 2021 and early in 2022, but last year his velo steadily crept up over the course of the season and averaged 96.7 mph in the month of September. When he showed up to 2023 spring training, Vodnik was averaging 98 and touching 100, and he’s carried that into the early goings of the Double-A season – a tiny sample, to be sure, but a promising start nevertheless. Both his fastball and his plus changeup (31% usage) inspired better-than-average in-zone swing-and-miss and worse than average chase rates in 2022, and his command of the cambio could stand to improve if Vodnik expects to induce whiffs from advanced hitters in high-leverage spots. He also throws a slider that touches the lower 90s, sitting more consistently around 86 mph, but he threw it just 6% of the time last year. Vodnik can best be thought of as a two-pitch middle relief prospect who relies on stuff more than execution.

14. Cody Milligan, CF

Drafted: 9th Round, 2018 from Oklanhoma State (ATL)
Age 24.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 30/30 20/30 60/60 45/50 40

Milligan played his freshman year with Oklahoma State in 2018 before transferring to a junior college in Kansas in search of more playing time. There, he was an everyday catcher, stole 30 bases without being caught once, and posted a 1.263 OPS, which was good enough for him to be selected in the ninth round of the 2019 draft. His transitioned to second base in pro ball and his power production dried up, with his slugging percentage hovering below the .300 mark in 2019 and 2021. But Milligan had a breakout season in 2022, starting with 55 games at High-A, where he slashed .329/.458/.452 and walked more often than he struck out. It should be noted, however, that he was a touch older than the average High-A player, and when he was promoted to the more age-appropriate Double-A, those numbers dipped across the board; his 68 games there amounted to a performance slightly below league average. He’s shown virtually no in-game power, hitting just two homers all season in 2022 (one at each level), but his blend of contact and speed is enough to make him an interesting offensive player.

A significant 2022 development was Milligan’s leap on defense. After logging innings at all three outfield positions at High-A, he split his Double-A games between center field and second base, and played clean defense at both spots. Milligan is now more of a center fielder than he is a second baseman. We think he’s viable at both spots, and that versatility is driving his placement here despite the Braves seeming to prefer some players who are behind him on the list (they put Braden Shewmake on the 40-man, for instance). Milligan’s defensive versatility differentiates him from the smattering of other middle infielders with no power in the system and makes him a more valuable bench prospect.

15. Luke Waddell, 2B

Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Georgia Tech (ATL)
Age 24.8 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 30/30 20/20 40/40 30/30 30

Waddell’s bat-to-ball skills and swing decisions are among the best in the minors, with just a 6% in-zone whiff rate in his shortened 2022 season, during which he walked more often than he struck out. It’s important that his patience/contact combo be exceptional, as he has virtually no power, and at a thicker-built 5-foot-7 and nearly age 25, he is unlikely to develop more of it. Waddell has spent time at second, third, and shortstop, but he may not be an infielder at all. His effort level is admirable, but because he has to get rid of the baseball as quickly as possible to compensate for a lack of arm strength, he makes a lot of routine plays look difficult. His actions are quick but his hands aren’t especially reliable, and his raw arm strength is only a fit at second base. Realistically, he’s a 40-grade second baseman who can play third in an emergency and will hopefully add left field to his mix soon to have just enough defensive versatility to squeeze on a roster.

Waddell has demonstrated premium bat-to-ball ability and he’s done it for basically his entire lifetime as a prospect. His compact stature helps him be super short to the baseball and very difficult to beat in the zone, as he spoils tons of pitches and sprays contact the other way. He’s essentially a one-tool player, but it’s the most important tool, and Waddell is superlative in this regard. He has one of the lowest swinging strike rates in all the minors across the last few seasons combined. So long as he keeps his body in check and stays athletically viable, we think he’ll hit his way into a part-time role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 5″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 40/40 30/40 50/50 40/50 45

Quintero is a compact, switch-hitting infielder with precocious feel for contact. He has gotten noticeably stronger during the last year, but it has cost him some of his lateral range and athleticism on defense, limiting his versatility. He hasn’t played the outfield since 2019 and hasn’t played shortstop since 2021. While Quintero’s bat-to-ball skills are impressive for a young switch-hitter, his strikeout rates have crept closer and closer to average as he’s reached the mid-minors. He still shows an impressive ability to shorten up and catch pitches on the inner third, and he’ll let breaking balls travel deep before unloading on them to all fields, but he’s begun to swing underneath hard, riding fastballs up and away from him, which are becoming more common as he climbs the ladder. Unless Quintero were to become a special bat-to-ball guy, like a César Hernández or Eric Sogard, he’s likely ticketed for a utility role, and because the 2B/3B combo presents only a medium amount of versatility, there’s a chance Quintero ends up in Domingo Leyba limbo and struggles to find a true role.

17. Drake Baldwin, C

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Missouri State (ATL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/45 30/30 30/45 45

A patient (bordering on passive) left-handed hitting catcher with power, Baldwin signed for just south of $700,000 as the Braves third rounder in 2022. He slashed .318/.426/.549 throughout his college career in Springfield, had as many walks as strikeouts, and posted a 51% hard-hit rate (Missouri State plays in the same stadium as the Cardinals Double-A team, so it’s fitted with all the tech) in a pretty sizable sample as a junior. He is still a work in progress on defense, especially as the Braves have drastically altered some stylistic elements of his receiving, most notably paring down Baldwin’s footwork and putting him more regularly on one knee. Baldwin is still getting feel for how to exit his new “crouch” on throws down to second base while maintaining a consistent arm stroke. He has the toughness and athleticism to stick, though, which is especially evident in his high-effort ball-blocking. Even though he’s a college draftee, Baldwin is likely to be a developmental prospect. His swing is a little high and stiff in the lower half, and he tends to swing over the top of pitches that finish low in the zone, so he may end up having a power and OBP-driven offensive skill set if it turns out his plate discipline is real (early on, pro scouts have been skeptical). If everything comes together maybe we’re talking about a primary catcher here, but we think Baldwin will more likely be a bat-first backup.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (ATL)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/50 40/40 30/30 60/60 45/45 45

Shewmake is a long, lanky, lefty-hitting infielder with a proven ability to put the bat on the ball but virtually no power. He’s listed at roughly the same weight as fellow hot-bat-no-pop middle infielder Luke Waddell despite being roughly nine inches taller than him, and his inability to fill out his frame has affected his ability to tap into power despite adjusting his swing to better create lift. Shewmake also tends to swing more than he should, with a 56.4% swing rate at Triple-A in 2022, and while he managed not to pair that with an inflated strikeout rate, his free-swinging tendency resulted in a heap of infield flies and weak contact overall, dampening the overall impact of his swings.

He’d only ever played shortstop until midway through 2022 when he played a few games at second, and thus far in 2023, he’s spent more time there than on the left side of the infield despite the Braves’ needs at the major league level. Infield versatility creates a more realistic pathway to a big league role, but Shewmake’s throwing has been iffy enough that we wonder if second base is just a better fit for him. We want to see better defense from our 45 FV middle infield utility players and have Shewmake evaluated here as a more neutral defender whose big league utility comes from his ability to put balls in play from the left side.

19. Brooks Wilson, SIRP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Stetson (ATL)
Age 27.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 60/70 40/50 90-93 / 94

Wilson had Tommy John surgery in January of 2022, resulting in him missing the entirety of the season. Before that, Wilson had had a three-tick increase in velocity between 2019 and 2021, with his fastball sitting around 93 mph and possessing favorable characteristics that increase its playability despite that velo. His splitter is his best offering, with a cartoonish trap-door drop off just as it approaches the plate. In addition to the heater and splitter, Wilson’s upper-70s curveball also has big league utility, though as of his last outings in 2021, it was behind the other two in terms of its development. The three-pitch mix is intriguing and could make for a realistic multi-inning relief role, though he’s thus far only been used for an inning of work at a time. He’ll likely return in 2023 and if his pre-injury stuff has returned, he’ll likely make his big league debut during the summer.

20. Blake Burkhalter, SIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Auburn (ATL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 204 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 55/60 30/40 94-96 / 97

Burkhalter had a velocity swoon in April of his draft year and dealt with a stretch where his heater only sat about 92 mph. It ramped up again late in the season and peaked during the 2022 College World Series, where he was bumping 97, tilting in a hellacious cutter as hard as 92 mph, and also missing bats with the occasional changeup. While his violent delivery pushed him toward the bullpen, Burkhalter’s repertoire depth gave him a shot to start and his stuff seemed to be improving as the draft approached. Burkhalter was electric in his lone Grapefruit League appearance (up to 97, nasty upper-80s cutters with more depth when Burkhalter wanted it), but his final fastball (94.7 mph) and 18th pitch of the inning was three ticks slower then his first one (97.7 mph) and just two weeks later, the Braves announced Burkhalter needed Tommy John. The surgery makes it more likely Burkhalter ends up fast tracked in relief after he’s done rehabbing. If his stuff returns post-op, he has a setup man projection.

Drafted: 17th Round, 2022 from College of Central Florida (ATL)
Age 22.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 45/50 30/40 60/60 45/60 55

A Day Three JUCO pick from the 2022 draft, Kilpatrick is a 2023 spring pop-up guy for us thanks to his terrific defense and feel for the strike zone. Some of the defensive plays he made toward the end of spring training were ridiculous. Within six balls in play, he made outs racing into the triangle at Fenway South, comfortably went back on a hard-hit ball straight over his head near the track, and made a sliding play coming in toward the left/center field gap. He looks like a slam dunk center fielder who also knows how to take a walk. While Kilpatrick’s hitting hands are lively, they are imprecise, and it’s tough to project anything close to an average hit tool here. But if he develops enough power to be dangerous and force pitchers to nibble, the on-base skill will shine enough for Kilpatrick to play a part-time big league role as a glove-first outfielder in the Jake Marisnick mold.

35+ FV Prospects

22. Cole Phillips, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Boerne HS (TX) (ATL)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 40/50 30/45 20/50 94-98 / 100

Phillips had a huge velo spike during his 2022 senior spring. After sitting about 91 mph during his showcase summer, he was sitting 94-98 with relative ease during his draft year until he had Tommy John in early April. The Braves still saw fit to give him about $1.5 million in the second round. Phillips has a powerful, athletic delivery and a slightly more mature physicality than the typical high school prospect, though scouts have had varying opinions about the quality and consistency of his secondary stuff. It made developmental sense for Phillips to sign rather than go to school since, for one, the Braves have shown the ability to augment secondary stuff during the rehab process, and that’s the area where Phillips needs the most developmental love. The length of the pro schedule will also allow Phillips to get some late-summer work whereas the college schedule would not have. Phillips has some of the most extreme prospect variance in the Braves system. It’s tough to value an arm strength-only prospect whose future is clouded by surgery on the same level as the near-ready big leaguers in the 40 FV tier, but if Phillips returns with peak arm strength, and especially if his secondary stuff has improved, he’ll be in the 40+ FV tier by the end of 2023 baseball activities.

23. Douglas Glod, CF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 18.2 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/55 20/50 55/45 30/45 40

Glod is a quarter stick of dynamite, a physically mature 18-year-old infielder with plus bat speed and advanced feel to hit. The Braves signed him for $1.3 million in January of 2022 and he had a pretty vanilla pro debut, but we still value him as a lower-level prospect of note because of how explosive his swing remains. Because Glod is so stout for his age (if you’ve read the prospect list this far down, you know this body type is common in Atlanta’s system), there’s risk he falls down the defensive spectrum. There was some hope that he might be able to play second base when he was an amateur, but he was sent out exclusively in center field in 2022. He’s valued here like a low-level flier who’d be a sweetener in a trade rather than a prospect with a more proven and stable pro track record.

Drafted: 13th Round, 2021 from St. John Fisher (ATL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/60 35/50 30/30 30/40 40

Zebrowski is extremely strong and has rare power for a catcher. His raw power is comfortably plus, and even though Zebrowski is likely to end up with a below-average hit tool, he presents viable offensive ability for a catcher. This is where Zebrowski’s development will be most important. He’s currently a slow-twitch defender whose overall game plays down because he does everything just a bit too slowly. Whether it’s exiting his crouch on throws to second base or giving mislocated pitches a shot to be called strikes, Zebrowski is a soundly below-average defender right now, but he’s not so bad as to be considered 1B/DH-only just yet. We’re talking about a Division-III draftee with just one full pro season under his belt, after all. Braves fans are familiar with the relatively low rate of actualization for developmental catchers like this (Alex Jackson, Brett Cumberland, Drew Lugbauer, etc.), but once in a while you get an Evan Gattis.

25. Tyler Collins, CF

Drafted: 8th Round, 2021 from McKinney Boyd HS (TX) (ATL)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 35/40 20/30 60/60 40/50 55

Collins is a short-levered, contact-oriented outfield prospect with terrific hand-eye coordination and a slasher-style approach to contact right now. He runs well and has the skill foundation of a traditional leadoff hitter, with perhaps less physical projection than is typical for a 20-year-old prospect. His most likely avenue to a sizable big league role will be to develop a plus or better hit tool and stay in center field, and at this stage the latter is much, much more likely to occur. Here Collins is projected as a low-end extra outfielder who isn’t bringing much to the table offensively.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/55 20/45 50/50 40/50 50

Tavarez is a projectable, low-to-the-ground athlete with flashy defensive actions and above-average bat speed. His overall game is undercooked and his swing decisions are especially raw, so severe that they put him in a low-probability bucket as a prospect. The athletic ability to play shortstop and hit for power are both here, and Tavarez is young. He’s just the age of an old-for-the-class high school draft prospect who’s been given his first full-season assignment. But he’s also struck out in about 40% of his 100 career plate appearances at the time of publication and, to the eye, it’s quickly clear Tavarez is a risky, free-swinging prospect. He’s talented enough to consider him a toolsy, low-and-slow dev project to monitor.

27. Seth Keller, SP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from Hanover HS (VA) (ATL)
Age 18.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 40/50 45/60 25/60 87-93 / 95

Keller has a great athletic foundation for the development of his secondary pitches and his command. He was a two-way amateur prospect who sat 92-93 mph and touched 95 at the 2022 Draft Combine, and also looked athletic and fast during position player drills and workouts. Keller can really sell his changeup with his arm speed, and he creates enough action on it to miss barrels. Because he has such a small frame, he lacks traditional body-based velo projection, and he’s small enough that you could reasonably question if he’ll have a starter’s stamina. But for a pitcher who hasn’t concentrated on pitching for all that long, Keller’s feel for location is very good and he may just be scratching the surface. Ideally, he and the Braves will find a better breaking ball, but if the changeup and command each mature into plus attributes (which is feasible), there’s a Zach Davies outcome here.

28. David McCabe, 3B

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from UNC Charlotte (ATL)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/45 30/45 30/30 30/40 50

McCabe is a big, contact-oriented, switch-hitting corner infielder who has more power from the left side than the right. He’s one of the better offensive players in Charlotte history, slashing .341/.451/.679 during his career there. Big and slow-footed, McCabe played first base in UNC’s meaningful games and we think he’s a better fit there, but he’s been sent out exclusively at third base so far as a pro and if he can even become a 40-grade defender there, it will go a long way toward helping him profile in a corner utility role. The contact-oriented McCabe is especially adept at making low-ball contact, and because he’s coming from a mid-major school, he wasn’t often tested by mid-90s, letter-high velocity. How he responds to that as he climbs the minors will also dictate whether there’s enough bat here to play a role near the bottom of the defensive spectrum. We like him as an older sleeper in the system.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Michigan (ATL)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/55 40/50 50/50 40/45 40

Franklin was a bat-first high school prospect from the Pacific Northwest who ended up playing center field for a stellar University of Michigan roster. He raked as a freshman (hitting .327 and slugging .588), then saw fewer hittable offerings as a sophomore, but showed patience enough not to chase, instead doubling his walk rate. His sophomore year culminated in an attention-grabbing postseason run, but his 2019 on the Cape was decidedly less impressive and his speed looked more suited to a corner than to center field. Then the injuries started. He missed the first portion of the 2020 season due to a broken collarbone he suffered while skiing and didn’t make it back on the diamond before that season’s shutdown. The Braves still took a chance on him in the 2020 third round and initially appeared to have been rewarded, as Franklin launched 24 home runs at High-A in 2021. But he followed that up with an abysmal Fall League showing, had TJ early in 2022, and is on the shelf to start the 2023 season with a hamstring strain. When we last saw Franklin for a meaningful period of time, he looked like a power-hitting corner outfielder with strikeout issues that threaten his profile. Now we’re waiting for him to face upper-level pitching for an extended stretch to better understand the specifics and severity of his strikeout woes, as well as where he’s at athletically after the long layoff.

30. Austin Smith, SIRP

Drafted: 18th Round, 2021 from Arizona (ATL)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 30/40 94-97 / 98

After three seasons at Division III Southwestern (TX), Smith transferred to the University of Arizona and enjoyed a velocity spike throughout his only season there, with some 88 mph fastballs at the start of the year and some 98 mph fastballs at the end. In 2022, he continued to sit 94-97 and touch at least 98 while closing at Rome. The consistency of his delivery improved significantly at Arizona and Smith did a better job avoiding walks in 2022 than he had previously during his career, though his fastball is still the only pitch he’s throwing for strikes at an average rate. He had been working with a shapely mid-70s curveball at U of A, but considering how much arm strength Smith has, on last year’s Braves list we anticipated he’d develop a harder breaking ball as a pro and indeed Smith’s most-used secondary weapon is now a mid-80s slider, a pitch that’s still a work in progress from a movement standpoint. We have him projected as an arm strength-dependent up/down reliever here, but continued slider dev might enable him to snatch a more consistent role.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Catching Depth
Javier Valdes, C
Tyler Tolve, C

Both of these guys are well-built and bring one offensive tool to the table (Valdes has above-average feel for contact, Tolve has big power), but both are pretty rough behind the dish. Valdes, 24, struggles with ball-blocking and controlling the running game. Tolve’s issues are less specific and apply more to his defense overall, and he may not make enough contact for the power to matter, but he’s only 22.

Young Players to Know
Luis Sanchez, 3B
Didier Fuentes, SP
Leiker Figueroa, INF
Adam Shoemaker, LHP

Sanchez, 19, is a compact third baseman who walked twice as often as he struck out in the 2022 DSL, then got some travel squad reps during the Grapefruit League. Boots on the ground scouts are describing him as more of a skills-over-tools type. Fuentes, 17, was sent to Low-A to start 2023. He is very flexible and athletic but looks to have some strength and conditioning work to do, which might help him find more consistent feel for his riding, low-90s fastball and inconsistent secondary stuff. Figueroa has above-average physical projection and bat-to-ball skills, but he’s not an especially twitchy athlete. Shoemaker is a 6-foot-6, 20-year-old Canadian lefty who had a velo spike before the 2021 draft and got about $500,000 in the 11th round. He’s dialed back down into the 89-92 mph range and is a late-blooming sleeper at this stage.

Spot Starters
Tanner Gordon, RHP
Allan Winans, RHP
Luis De Avila, LHP
Alan Rangel, RHP

Gordon, 25, commands 92-93 to the top of the zone and has an average breaking ball and changeup. Winans, 27, survives with a heavy sinker and above-average changeup. De Avila is the youngster of this group, just 21, but he’s relatively projectionless and is sitting just 90-92 mph. He has a shot to develop plus command of a plus changeup and be a 40. Rangel is similar to Gordon but with a grade less of command.

Bats on the Fringe
Cal Conley, 2B
Keshawn Ogans, SS
Brandon Parker, RF
Brandol Mezquita, RF

Conley is similar to Luke Waddell in that neither of them is sure-handed enough to play a big league shortstop, and maybe not the infield at all. Conley is different than Waddell in that he is a more balanced offensive player with average hit and power, both of which play down due to his approach. Ogans is almost the complete opposite, a slick infield defender who can play short but who probably won’t hit a ton. Parker has an interesting combination of power and patience, but he’s a corner-only guy and has been old for the level to which he’s been assigned, so we’re still skeptical. If he gets a quick hook to Double-A and keeps hitting, we’ll re-evaluate. Mezquita is a little more clearly short of hitting enough to profile in a corner because of his hit tool, though he does have an enticing bat speed/foot speed combination.

Relief Looks
Luis Vargas, RHP
Jared Johnson, RHP
Trey Riley, RHP

Vargas is an athletic, undersized 20-year-old righty who worked deep into games (at least, deep into games by 19-year-old standards) as a starter in 2022, but he looks more like a reliever. He sits 92 mph with ride and has a potential plus slider. Johnson, 22, is back from TJ and again sitting 93-94 with a pretty good slider and mixed strikes. Riley sits in the mid-to-upper-90s with natural cut, but he has zero feel for the zone.

System Overview

The overall quality of the Braves system is below average, but that’s largely due to the org’s “If you’re ready, you’re ready” approach to prospects. This philosophy rocketed Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider to the big leagues, exhausted Vaughn Grissom’s rookie eligibility, and has made Ian Anderson (who just underwent Tommy John surgery) a de facto prospect again as, like Kyle Wright before him, he struggles to find his long-term footing at the highest level.

This system has two clear chunks. The first is the high-ceiling pitching group concentrated mostly at the top of the list. The Braves tend to use draft resources on lots of “tip of the iceberg” prospects, where the context of the player’s evaluation inspires hope for future development. Among those are a number of former two-way players (Owen Murphy and Spencer Schwellenbach) or multi-sport athletes (AJ Smith-Shawver). Whether the affinity for these types of prospects stems from the multiple developmental routes they allow for, or simply comes from the Braves thinking it implies an additional level of athleticism, they sure are eager to scoop them up. The same is true of players whose draft stock was altered by injury. This applies to Strider, Schwellenbach, Cole Phillips, and Adam Maier. There are plenty of recent examples of hurlers whose early development was impacted by TJ and then went on to impress (Lucas Giolito, Jesús Luzardo, and Walker Buehler, to name a few), and the Braves seem to like to fish in that prospect pool.

The other common theme throughout the list is that of contact-driven up-the-middle guys, most of whom offer no power at all. This is particularly interesting considering the current big league shortstop situation. As the org navigates around it, it helps illuminate the Braves’ internal opinions of their large population of pop-free middle infielders. When Orlando Arcia was placed on the IL, Grissom was tapped as his stand-in, which may indicate where the org views Braden Shewmake fitting in the long run (and that it’s likely not at shortstop).

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10 months ago

It may not be a sustainable model but “get 1-3 years out of an almost ready young pitcher” seems like an interesting model, and maybe a different model than “wait until you are near certain that someone will be around the middle of the rotation, and give promising young guys a shot in late inning relief towards the end of the season?” That second model may not be the dominant model but it feels like the current model for most playoff teams. The Braves seem way more willing to send guys- even pretty established guys- down instead of trading them.

10 months ago
Reply to  dukewinslow

I don’t think the Braves are intentionally following the model. Like, I doubt they wanted Soroka’s Achilles to betray him, no one wanted Anderson to suddenly lose his feel for his fastball and change-up, they were probably less than thrilled that Newcomb could never develop command, and it certainly wasn’t their intention for Foltynewicz to suddenly lose 7 tics off of his fastball, thus rendering him unusable as an MLB starter. Pitching is just volatile.

10 months ago
Reply to  v2micca

I also don’t think they want it… but I think the Braves follow through on an understanding that ANYTHING can happen to pitching, and it is indeed volatile. So, utilize it while it’s quality rather than trying to make it perfect, because if it breaks, you get zero value.