Top 27 Prospects: Atlanta Braves

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Atlanta Braves. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Braves Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Cristian Pache 21.2 AAA CF 2021 60
2 Drew Waters 21.1 AAA CF 2021 55
3 Ian Anderson 21.7 AAA RHP 2020 55
4 Kyle Wright 24.3 MLB RHP 2019 50
5 Bryse Wilson 22.1 MLB RHP 2019 50
6 William Contreras 22.1 AA C 2021 50
7 Tucker Davidson 23.8 AAA LHP 2021 45+
8 Shea Langeliers 22.2 A C 2021 45
9 Braden Shewmake 22.2 AA SS 2021 45
10 Kyle Muller 22.3 AA LHP 2021 45
11 Alex Jackson 24.1 MLB C 2020 45
12 Jasseel De La Cruz 22.6 AA RHP 2020 40+
13 Michael Harris 18.9 A RF 2024 40+
14 Victor Vodnik 20.3 A RHP 2023 40
15 Vaughn Grissom 19.0 R SS 2024 40
16 Huascar Ynoa 21.6 MLB RHP 2021 40
17 Freddy Tarnok 21.2 A+ RHP 2022 40
18 CJ Alexander 23.5 AA 3B 2021 35+
19 Jeremy Walker 24.6 MLB RHP 2019 35+
20 Stephen Paolini 19.2 R CF 2024 35+
21 Greyson Jenista 23.1 AA RF 2021 35+
22 Bryce Ball 21.5 A 1B 2022 35+
23 Ricky DeVito 21.4 A RHP 2022 35+
24 Trey Harris 24.0 AA LF 2021 35+
25 Patrick Weigel 25.5 AAA RHP 2019 35+
26 Philip Pfeifer 27.5 AAA LHP 2020 35+
27 Tyler Owens 19.0 R RHP 2023 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 50/55 30/45 65/65 70/70 70/70

Even though he hit .278/.340/.474 as a 20-year-old at Double-A Mississippi, there are still some level-headed, long-term questions about Pache’s offensive ability. He had a 17% swinging strike rate last year (if we 20-80’d swinging strike rates, that’d be a 30), and you might quibble with elements of the swing, most notably that the bat path only allows for power in certain parts of the zone, and Pache has a passive, shorter move forward. The hand speed and rotational ability to hit for power is there, and he’s athletic enough to make adjustments in order to get to that power (selectivity might also be an issue), which, coupled with some of the flashiest, most acrobatic defense in pro baseball, gives Pache a cathedral ceiling.

Even though he’s already started to slow down a little bit, Pache’s reads in center, his contortionistic ability to slide and dive at odd angles to make tough catches, and his arm strength combine to make him a premium defensive center fielder — he’s a likely Gold Glover barring unexpected, precipitous physical regression. Even if he’s not posting All-Star offensive statlines, we think he’ll provide All-Star value overall because of the glove.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA) (ATL)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/60 55/60 40/50 60/60 45/50 60/60

Waters’ initial rise to top 50 prospect status was surprising to some, coming as it did by the end of his first full season. He’s got 55-to-60 grade tools across the board and always hit in high school. Some teams were and remain turned off by his loud personality, while others just see him as a colorful guy. The other concern is his aggressive approach at the plate, which didn’t give him any trouble until his taste of Triple-A late in 2019, and some scouts and analysts think it could be a problem in the big leagues.

That’s the soft part of the profile, but the indicators both to the eye (scouts rave about the swing, bat speed, and feel at the plate) and in the stats point to elite ability to manipulate the bat. One club told us his percentage of balls hit with 95 mph-plus exit velo and a launch angle between 10 and 30 degrees (i.e. hard hit line drives and fly balls) was in the top 3% of the entire minor leagues. And that comes as a 20-year-old in the upper minors who has plus speed and a plus arm, and who profiles in center field, with other variables that could allow you to keep rounding up from there. The happy version of this story is Starling Marte, and as soon as the middle of 2020; the sad version includes multiple years stuck in neutral at the big league level, trying to argue that the upside and defense makes up for the big strikeout rate. We’re leaning more to Marte at this point.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shenendowa HS (NY) (ATL)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 55/60 45/55 91-94 / 96

Anderson is tracking like a mid-rotation starter, even though he hasn’t added velocity since high school, because his secondary stuff is excellent. The pitch with the most obvious beauty is his shapely curveball, which has enough depth (despite its paltry spin rate) to miss bats in the zone, and also pairs well with his fastball’s approach angle. His change has tail and fade, and either it or the curve can finish hitters. The Braves amateur department really stuck out their necks in 2016 by cutting an underslot deal with Anderson, and then using the savings to sign Kyle Muller and Bryse Wilson, who are both key near-term pitching staff stalwarts, and Joey Wentz, who was traded. That’s an impressive class, especially considering how risky a subgroup prep pitching is.

50 FV Prospects

4. Kyle Wright, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Vanderbilt (ATL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/55 45/50 45/50 94-97 / 99

Wright has now had two frustrating cups of coffee with the big league club, and some of his underlying issues (chiefly, a fastball that doesn’t produce results anywhere close to what you’d expect given how hard he throws) mimic those of the Aaron Sanchez type of pitching prospects who Look Right but don’t quite pan out.

We’re betting that Wright, who is very athletic and has the frame and mechanical ease to eat innings, and who has also developed a very deep repertoire, will find a way to be at least a league-average starter eventually. Whether that’s through further changes to his fastballs’ movement (he throws a four- and two-seamer right now, but both are sink/tail pitches rather than the ride/vertical life breed) or a heavy mix of his various secondary offerings, Wright has promising outs. If he and the Braves ever find a way to make the fastball play better than that, his ceiling is substantial, so there’s rare variance for a 24-year-old here.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Orange HS (NC) (ATL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 50/55 50/55 92-96 / 98

Wilson is a scout favorite. He’s an aggressive bulldog with a football background who relies on spotting his fastball in all quadrants of the zone, with the velocity, movement, and command all grading above average on his various fastballs (he has a distinct four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter). He’s a solid athlete with strong command and a solid average changeup, and everyone raves about his work ethic and makeup.

The issue, which will dictate his value in the bullpen or rotation, is his breaking ball. He’s been working on the slider all offseason and the team is optimistic that all his other strong qualities will manifest themselves in its development. Wilson will be limited to one time through the order if he can’t live up to that optimism, though it’s not as if there isn’t value in that, and Wilson’s mentality might arguably be better suited for it.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 35/50 45/40 45/55 60/60

Stay on Contreras despite the relatively vanilla offensive performance. The Braves pushed him quickly — half a year at Hi-A, half at Double-A at age 21 — and the developmental priority seems to be defense for now. Contreras also has quite a bit more raw power than his 2019 output would suggest. His swing is a lot like Pache’s right now, which is indicative of some of his issues but also how athletic Contreras is for a catcher. He can drop the bat head and yank balls out to his pull side at times, then lunge at breaking stuff away from him at others. It’s rare physical talent for a catcher who projects as Atlanta’s everyday backstop.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 19th Round, 2016 from Midland JC (TX) (ATL)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 40/50 91-95 / 98

Davidson was a low-profile JC arm who the Braves gambled on in 2016. After improving his body composition entering the 2017 season, his stuff and command improved too, and he looked like a potential no. 4 starter. After plateauing at that level for a bit, Davidson’s 2019 represented another step forward. He ran his heater up to 98 during the regular season, then got some attention weeks ago when he hit 100 mph at Driveline on a motion capture-enabled mound. His four-seam fastball has big rise and velocity, while his curveball has plus spin and his slider is 88-91 mph, with all three garnering strong results in terms of whiffs and grounders. The main adjustments in this bump were mechanical, with another round of refinements to his frame. There’s now mid-rotation upside, and Davidson has reached Triple-A as the optimization process is now closer to complete.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Baylor (ATL)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/55 30/50 35/30 50/55 60/60

Langeliers was a mid-tier prospect in high school who took a big step forward as a freshman at Baylor and on the Cape that summer, developing the raw power to be more than just a catch-and-throw type. He still didn’t put up much in the way of traditional statistical production until the second half of his junior season, which amazingly occurred after a very quick return from a broken hamate bone. He was scouted heavily over the summer with Team USA, so scouts knew solid average raw power and some feel for contact were present to go along with above average defensive skills and a plus arm.

Langeliers’ frame is compact and stout, and his bat’s impact is a question mark, but he has everyday tools and more power should come in 2020 with the broken hamate in the rear view.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (ATL)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/40 55/55 50/55 55/55

Shewmake isn’t a traditionally exciting player, as nobody really saw big raw power or flashy tools leading up to the draft. Some clubs were down on him and we piled on by moving him down in our rankings just before Day One, seeing a non-shortstop with a track record of hitting but without much power or any loft, who seemed one-dimensional given a swing that often barred-out. It would appear that point of view was wrong, given Shewmake’s quick transition to pro ball, which better showcased his ability. He went straight to Low-A after signing and was outstanding at the plate, with an excellent approach and sneaky power, to go along with very positive public and private defensive metrics at shortstop.

The key gap between the two points of view was tied to Shewmake’s long frame: his long stride made his speed, defensive range, and defensive instincts seem less impressive and impactful, when in reality, they may all be plus. There’s also raw power upside if there’s more physical development and a possible loft/swing adjustment, and that now seems more likely given how advanced, instinctual, and coachable he’s proven to be so far. There’s a good bit more variability here than you’d expect for a college hitter with a three-year major conference track record, so the first half of 2020 will let us know if there’s more helium left in this balloon.

10. Kyle Muller, LHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Jesuit Prep HS (TX) (ATL)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 50/55 45/50 30/40 92-95 / 98

A bit of a pitch design autodidact who got the Driveline treatment during the 2018-2019 offseason, Muller came back with more interesting stuff, as well as a skyrocketing walk rate. His stuff is great, especially the fastball, which has one of the highest spin rates in the minors. Muller’s delivery has become less staccato, less deliberate, and more athletic, but his max-effort style and difficulty repeating likely pushes him to the bullpen, or at least keeps his innings count down if he ends up starting.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Rancho Bernardo HS (CA) (SEA)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 70/70 50/55 30/30 45/50 60/60

Not only does Jackson have the highest hard hit rate (95 mph or above) in this system, he has one of the highest in the minors, as 51% of his balls in play last year were scorched. His epicurean approach at the plate, and what it does to his peripherals, makes Jackson a hit-tool risk, and at most other positions that would be very scary. While he is still not a great catcher, he improved considerably in 2019 defensively, particularly at framing, by copying some of Tyler Flowers‘ methods. The league average wRC+ at catcher before framing quantification was in the low 90s. If things return to that level, Jackson’s power should enable him to profile everyday. He could be more of a backup, DH/1B sort for a few years and fall into an everyday role toward the end of our six-year evaluation window.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 40/45 40/40 91-97 / 99

De La Cruz is sitting 91-97 and touching 99 as a starter, and it’s reasonable to expect that he will be parked toward the top of that velocity range in relief, which is where we have him projected. It’s rare for deliveries as chaotic and violent as De La Cruz’s to root into a rotation, but with his arm strength and the power, downward action on his slider, he could end up with high-leverage stuff. He’s now on the 40-man.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Stockbridge HS (GA) (ATL)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 55/60 20/45 50/50 45/55 60/60

Harris would have been an elite college player with top-five round ability both as a hitter and a pitcher, but most scouts preferred him on the mound. He was used unusually during his senior spring, and some scouts think that he could be 90-93 with everything average to above within 12 months in a pro setting, counting on his quick arm and above average athleticism, projectable frame, and his limited showcase presence and coaching in the projection.

The Braves preferred Harris as a hitter most of the spring; he blew them away in a pre-draft private workout, showing plus raw power, making him a priority on draft day. He also beat expectations in his pro debut, and there’s now some thought that he could be a center fielder as he gets more instruction, and may get faster as he gets stronger. There’s no bad data to consider due to his lack of exposure before his draft spring, so some would see Harris as a comp round pick in a 2019 redraft. We won’t really know his ceiling until he fails some, making him one of the biggest risers from the 2019 class thus far.

40 FV Prospects

14. Victor Vodnik, RHP
Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Rialto HS (CA) (ATL)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/55 40/50 40/50 92-96 / 98

Vodnik got on the national stage hitting 97 mph in the fall before his draft year, but his size and 87-90 mph draft spring velo kept him from becoming a high pick. The Braves scooped him up late and got him back to 92-95, touching 98 mph, with solid average offspeed in instructional league the fall after the draft. He made another stuff jump in 2019.

Vodnik is a good athlete with plus extension, particularly for his size, and he’ll run his heater up to 100 while mixing in a plus breaking ball and throwing more strikes than Jasseel De La Cruz. But Vodnik is still on the smaller side, and is more butcher than surgeon. Given the athleticism and lack of experience with his current arm speed, Atlanta is optimistic and wants Vodnik to tell them what sort of role suits him best going forward, with one to two inning relief stints most likely.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from Hagerty HS (FL) (ATL)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/55 25/50 50/50 40/50 55/55

Because he was a high school teammate of 2019 fifth overall pick Riley Greene, Grissom was heavily scouted as he broke out during his senior spring, rising from a pocket follow to an early round prospect. The Braves saved money on their picks in the top 10 round so they could splurge on prep prospects who slipped. Grissom wanted to be a Brave and Atlanta scouted him closely all spring, convinced he could stick at shortstop, despite a 6-foot-3, 180 pound frame that had many scouts assuming he’d move off the position. His tools are average to a hair above across the board, and his offensive approach is more power-over-bat.

16. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 35/40 94-98 / 100

In many ways, Ynoa is like De La Cruz: a minor league starter with big time arm strength who ultimately projects in the bullpen. In fact, some industry feedback on this org list thought Ynoa, who is a little younger than De La Cruz and a level ahead of him in the minors, belonged higher. But Ynoa’s slider has horizontal wipe and relies more on location to miss bats, and he doesn’t stick it there consistently, whereas others in the system are more likely to have an impact breaking ball. The Braves briefly tried Ynoa in the bullpen last year before returning him to the rotation for most of the summer, but we think he’ll ultimately end up in middle relief role.

17. Freddy Tarnok, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Riverview HS (FL) (ATL)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 50/55 45/55 40/50 89-92 / 96

Tarnok was primarily a hitter in high school, and many teams didn’t take him seriously as a pitcher or even see him multiple times until late in the spring. The Braves were the team highest on him, and talked him into giving pitching a shot full-time with a well-over-slot bonus.

Tarnok is, as expected, still raw, but it’s easy to see what Braves scouts were so excited about: he has near-ideal body and arm action, along with standout arm strength, athleticism, and ability to spin the ball. He was a trendy breakout pick for 2019 but had a mostly lost year, including a velo dip into the mid-to-upper-80s in a game we saw, but bounced back to the normal 92-95 mph heater late in the year. Some teams were ready to buy low during the velo dip, but the Braves still believe in Tarnok’s potential.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 20th Round, 2018 from State College JC (FL) (ATL)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 60/60 40/50 40/40 40/45 60/60

Alexander (the brother of D-backs shortstop prospect Blaze Alexander) slid to the 20th round due to questions about his profile as a large-framed, power-first, likely first baseman who had only player at the JC level and was 22 just after the draft. He answered many of these questions with a big pro debut, getting to Hi-A and playing in instructs, where his defense at third base was better than expected as was his hit ability against pro-level pitching. The profile is now a prospect who’s a lefty stick who can play all four corner spots, but his progress slowed with an injury-marred 2019. He’s still a hair ahead of Trey Harris and Greyson Jenista in the bench power bat competition near the bottom of the list.

19. Jeremy Walker, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Gardner-Webb (ATL)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 45/50 40/45 45/45 91-94 / 96

Walker is a big, athletic kid who’s always had an above average sinker — which got into the mid-90s deep into games — along with two good breaking balls and control. But his command, changeup, and the optimization of his tools kept him from reaching his potential as a starter. In 2019, the Braves moved him to the bullpen, and things went well, leading to a late-season cup of coffee. Walker leaned into the heavy sinker and the curveball and found something that works for him. The role is a groundball middle reliever who could also be a longman who goes multiple innings, but the upside is basically just a 40 FV if he gets there.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from St. Joseph HS (CT) (ATL)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/55 20/40 65/65 45/50 55/55

Paolini was known to most Northeast area scouts entering the spring of 2019, but as a kid who wasn’t good enough at the Area Code Games tryouts the summer before to go see again in the spring when the weather warmed up. Atlanta was one of the only teams that scouted him heavily; in face, many teams didn’t turn him in at all. The Braves came up with $600,000 to buy him out of a commitment to Elon as a pure tools bet.

He has above average power potential, easy plus speed, and an above average arm, along with the elements to hit, but not much of a track record against pro-level pitching yet, so this one may move slowly.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Wichita State (ATL)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/55 50/45 45/50 55/55

Jenista had mid-first round buzz at times leading up to his draft year, with a deceptively-athletic body that packed plus raw power, average speed, and an above average arm into a 6-foot-4, 240 pound frame. We dinged him at draft time for having too flat of a swing plane for his type of player, and cautioned that he may age quicker than other similarly-aged and tooled guys.

He made it to Double-A by age 22 in 2019, but the lack of in-game, over-the-fence-power, along with too many strikeouts as he’s reached the upper levels means that real changes need to be made soon to keep his prospect status. His results were stronger in the second half of 2019, and appeared to be BABIP-fueled, but the Braves saw some positive adjustments.

22. Bryce Ball, 1B
Drafted: 24th Round, 2019 from Dallas Baptist (ATL)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 35/55 40/40 45/50 45/45

After two seasons at Northern Iowa Community College, which has produced a bunch of NFL players — including Kurt Warner — but never an MLB athlete, Ball transferred to Dallas Baptist for his junior year, and he raked. He followed up a .362/.487/.625 line at NIACC with .325/.443/.614 at DBU, then followed that up with a raucous summer in pro ball. Between his spring with the Patriots and summer with the Braves, Ball hit 35 bombs, though many came while he was in the GCL, crushing pitching that was beneath him. The power is real.

There’s skepticism surrounding the bat control, but Ball has the power to mis-hit balls into the gaps, or over the fence. We want to see him pushed quickly and see how the contact skills play against full-season pitching, but Atlanta may have something here.

23. Ricky DeVito, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Seton Hall (ATL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 45/55 35/45 92-95 / 97

Devito’s stuff was up after the draft. He was 90-94 when former FanGraphs’ Northeast correspondent Josh Herzenberg saw him during the spring, then he was up to 97 after he signed, like on the Cape the summer before. The command/control element is still on the starter/relief-only fringe, but if Devito’s pitch-quality improves a little bit he has a strong chance to be a three-pitch reliever.

24. Trey Harris, LF
Drafted: 32th Round, 2018 from Missouri (ATL)
Age 24.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 55/55 40/50 45/45 45/50 40/40

Harris is a stocky stick of right-handed hitting dynamite, listed at just 5-foot-8. He was a 2018 senior sign who, after two bad underclass years, has performed at every stop. He could play a lefty-hitting bench outfield role.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 from Houston (ATL)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/50 45/50 40/45 92-96 / 99

Weigel had made tons of progress through college and the low minors, and was on track to possibly be a big league starter (or a late-inning reliever if the command didn’t come) until he needed Tommy John surgery as he got to Triple-A in 2017. He returned late in 2018 and in instructional league with velo that peaked in the mid-90’s, but he wasn’t all the way back yet. The Braves added him to the 40-man anyway, expecting his stuff to return and by the end of 2019, it had.

Weigel’s velo is back to pre-surgery levels, sitting 95 and hitting 99. His slider is above average while his curveball and changeup flash average and his command is fringy. He was best when in relief in Triple-A late in the year, and is likely a big league middle reliever with a little more in his toolbox than the average two-pitch bull in a china shop.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Vanderbilt (LAD)
Age 27.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 50/55 40/45 40/50 90-94 / 95
From his time at Vanderbilt through his 2018 pro season, Pfeifer was a reliever with four pitches and fringe command. His performance was never quite good enough to become a big league middle reliever, so as a last resort of sorts in his age 26/27 season, the Braves put him in the Hi-A rotation in 2019. His performance was fantastic, with comparable stuff to his relief self through the aid of pitch design (90-94, touching 95, a slider and curveball both flashing above average, with the changeup behind), and he made his way back to Triple-A in this new role. He was added to the 40-man roster this winter and may now be an inventory, multi-role big league piece if he can sustain in this role.
27. Tyler Owens, RHP
Drafted: 13th Round, 2019 from Trinity Catholic HS (FL) (ATL)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 40/45 35/45 92-96 / 98

Owens was a smallish righty who looked likely to be a valuable college utility arm for Florida (up to 95, solid average breaking ball, some feel) until he hit 98 mph in a pre-draft All-Star game, at which point the Braves felt comfortable overpaying him in the 13th round for $547,500. He hit 99 mph in his pro debut and, similar to Victor Vodnik, will also flash a plus breaking ball at times with the newfound arm speed. He’s likely limited to short stints given his build, and the command hasn’t been quite dialed in since the velo bump.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Power as a Carrying Tool
Kadon Morton, CF
Mahki Backstrom, 1B
Jefrey Ramos, LF
Greg Cullen, 2B
Brendan Venter, 3B
Drew Lugbauer, C/3B/1B

Morton, a two-way high schooler with a great frame and easy plus speed, and Backstrom were two of Atlanta’s Day Three, overslot high schoolers. Backstrom has more power right now, but Morton is toolsier and has the higher ceiling. The rest are big power corner guys of varying ages. Ramos is only 20 but seems poised to be a low OBP hitter. Cullen has pretty strong exit velo data but was old for the level. Venter and Lugbauer are really only first base fits, and it’s a tough profile.

Bench Sorts
Beau Phillip, SS
Andrew Moritz, CF
AJ Graffanino, SS
Justin Dean, CF

Phillip was a second rounder who took a $500,000 haircut. He has utility bench tools. Moritz is a tweener outfielder with good instincts. Scouts really liked Graffanino at times in high school and in college, but he’s been hurt at times and not performed at others. Dean is a 70 runner.

Younger Arms
Darius Vines, RHP
Roddery Munoz, RHP
Jared Johnson, RHP
Kasey Kalich, RHP
Alec Barger, RHP
Lisandro Santos, RHP
Justin Yeager, RHP

There’s a relative lack of arm strength toward the bottom of this system. Vines is TrackMan0friendly reliever with an average heater/breaker combo and a 55 changeup. Munoz is a two-year DSL pitcher up to 97. Johnson was a 2019 overslot high schooler on Day Three. He was up to 92 in pro ball, and is a bigger kid with a stiffer delivery that popped up late in the spring. Kalich spent a year at a JUCO, then was a draft-eligible sophomore at Texas A&M, so he may be an under-scouted, sleeper relief prospect with a mid-90s heater. The last three are all 21-year-olds who were up to 96 at Danville.

Older Arms
Corbin Clouse, LHP
Thomas Burrows, LHP
Daysbel Hernandez, RHP
Josh Graham, RHP
Luis Mora, RHP
Kurt Hoekstra, RHP
Troy Bacon, RHP
Brad Roney, RHP

Clouse and Burrows are both close to the big leagues and profile as the second lefty in a bullpen. Hernandez has mid-90s heat and could be a middle relief piece if his breaking ball becomes more consistent. Graham throws hard but his fastball doesn’t miss bats, and it affects the way his excellent changeup plays. Mora has the highest ceiling of this group, and he’s been up to 101, but he’s very wild. Hoekstra is a conversion arm up to 95 with an average slurve. Bacon isn’t big, doesn’t have huge velo, and operates with small margin for error at the top of the zone, but is getting results. Roney was a conversion arm at Southern Miss that quickly showed upper-90’s velo in pro ball, but command and health have been problems.

System Overview

The tide has receded in this system, and it’s currently shallow due to trades and graduations, and because of the fallout from the previous regime’s scandal, which has kept it from acquiring two years of international talent. Still as top-heavy a system as you’ll find in baseball, Atlanta has several promising, everyday type players at the very top of the farm but very little depth right now.

But wait, let’s talk about their 2019 draft class. Initially, we did not like it. We were lukewarm on Shewmake, and thought Beau Phillip was a reach. But the team took a high-volume approach with a bunch of overslot picks on Day Three, which was a logical approach considering that the International program’s hands were tied, and the class looks pretty interesting now. There’s industry love for Shewmake among clubs that think he’s still growing into his body, Harris and Ball had summers so strong that their stock rose. Suddenly there are some interesting, toolsy types percolating near the bottom of the system.

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4 years ago

Kyle Wright is THE GUY for distributions/simulations of FV, not point estimates (I’m sure there are other guys). What a frustrating career, through little apparent fault of his own. The Braves’ treatment of him has been strange, particularly since they’ve managed to turn a lot of marginal guys into starters. They can’t seem to get him to “work” at the MLB level as a reliever and don’t seem to want to trust him to start until he gets outs as a reliever.

4 years ago
Reply to  dukewinslow

What makes you think that a pitcher who can’t get outs as a reliever can get outs as a starter? I don’t think the Braves have mismanaged Wright’s development in the way you’re suggesting. You can argue they might have made helped him make more pitch design improvements or something, but not giving him 20+ starts at the big-league level hasn’t kept him from realizing the potential he was thought to have before the draft. His fastball is just not as effective as scouts anticipated. It’s not like he’s the first successful and highly touted college pitcher who turned out to have a more hittable fastball than expected (Mark Appel says hello).

The Braves gave him an opportunity to make the starting rotation last year. Almost all of his innings last year came as a starter, and had he pitched well out of the gate in 2019, he would have likely kept a spot in the starting five. He didn’t. In his first three starts, he had as many walks as strikeouts, and it wasn’t exactly like he was lighting it up as as starter when they sent him back down to AAA. He actually pitched pretty well in a very small sample out of the pen. Wright will again have the opportunity to make the starting five this year.

The Braves have broken in plenty of starters by allowing them to pitch out of the bullpen first. They did it with Alex Wood. They did it with Julio Tehran. That’s not the problem.