Top 29 Prospects: Atlanta Braves by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel December 12, 2018 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. Top Prospects Team Lists 2019 2018 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Braves Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Cristian Pache 20.1 AA CF 2021 55 2 Austin Riley 21.7 AAA 3B 2019 55 3 Mike Soroka 21.4 MLB RHP 2019 55 4 Ian Anderson 20.6 AA RHP 2020 55 5 Kyle Wright 23.2 MLB RHP 2020 55 6 Drew Waters 19.9 A+ CF 2021 50 7 William Contreras 21.0 A+ C 2021 50 8 Touki Toussaint 22.5 MLB RHP 2019 50 9 Luiz Gohara 22.4 MLB LHP 2019 50 10 Bryse Wilson 21.0 MLB RHP 2019 50 11 Joey Wentz 21.2 A+ LHP 2020 45+ 12 Kolby Allard 21.3 MLB LHP 2019 45 13 Kyle Muller 21.2 AA LHP 2021 45 14 Greyson Jenista 22.0 A+ RF 2021 45 15 Freddy Tarnok 20.0 A RHP 2022 40+ 16 Alex Jackson 23.0 AAA C 2020 40+ 17 Jacob Webb 25.3 AAA RHP 2019 40 18 Huascar Ynoa 20.5 A+ RHP 2021 40 19 Tristan Beck 22.5 R RHP 2021 40 20 Tucker Davidson 22.7 A+ LHP 2021 40 21 Patrick Weigel 24.4 AAA RHP 2019 40 22 Chad Sobotka 25.4 MLB RHP 2019 40 23 Trey Riley 20.6 R RHP 2022 40 24 Izzy Wilson 20.8 A+ RF 2021 40 25 CJ Alexander 22.4 A+ 3B 2021 40 26 Josh Graham 25.2 AA RHP 2019 40 27 Jefrey Ramos 19.8 A LF 2021 35+ 28 Jasseel De La Cruz 21.5 A RHP 2021 35+ 29 Ray-Patrick Didder 24.2 AA SS 2020 35+ 55 FV Prospects 1. Cristian Pache, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ATL) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 50/55 20/45 70/70 70/70 70/70 If we told you a prospect seemed like an injury-independent lock to play elite outfield defense, how much offense would he have to provide to be a star-level player? The industry’s six-week look at Pache during the Arizona Fall League further cemented the belief that Pache has a great chance to be one of the, if not the, best defensive center fielders in baseball as soon as he arrives in Atlanta. He’s a plus to plus-plus runner with a great first step, and he has a knack for contorting his body in ways that enable him to make spectacular catches on flyballs that would otherwise fall in for tough-luck hits. He also has a 70-grade arm when he sets and throws properly, though at times he sacrifices velocity and accuracy in order to get rid of the ball more quickly, which isn’t always the right decision. Pache also has good bat-to-ball skills and solid average raw power, but the quality of his at-bats and his hitting mechanics both vary. His upside is enormous if everything comes together, and Pache just turned 20 years old, but there’s risk that the bat plays down because of Pache’s approach. If that’s the case, he might exist in the Hamilton/Pillar area of WAR production, but even a one-dimensional offensive profile likely results in star level production and because Pache is still just the age of a college sophomore, we anticipate growth in this area. 2. Austin Riley, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from DeSoto Central HS (MS) (ATL) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 70/70 45/60 45/40 45/50 65/65 Riley was a two-way high school player who many teams preferred as a pitcher, but the Braves preferred him as a hitter and liked him more than any other club, popping him rounds before most teams were prepared to draft him. That gamble has paid off. Braves personnel rave about Riley’s makeup and the strides he has made defensively, now projecting him as an average defender at third base after a lot of work on his footwork and keeping his strong frame nimble. He has an easy plus arm and plus plus raw power along with the contact skills to avoid being a huge strikeout type. What sort of hitter Riley becomes is more a matter of choice for him, but we think he’ll end up in the .250 average, with an average OBP and plus game power, meaning 25 homers or so annually. 3. Mike Soroka, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Bishop Carroll HS (CAN) (ATL) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/55 50/55 45/55 90-93 / 95 Soroka is a former hockey defenseman who brings that mentality to the mound, attacking hitters with three above average pitches and command. He attacks the zone with a low-90s sinker down in the zone and is a pitch efficient starter who isn’t gunning for the strikeout. He’s also a shorter strider so his velocity plays down a bit, making his command and offspeed pitches even more important. Soroka’s changeup went from rarely used to a pitch that flashes plus in the last year or so, and his high-spin hybrid breaking ball has always been a trusted secondary pitch. He missed much of 2018 with a muscular issue in his shoulder, but was ready to pitch in the big leagues in September, hitting the mid-90s in simulated games and only staying out of competitive contents because of the Braves’ cautious approach to his rehab. 4. Ian Anderson, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shenendowa HS (NY) (ATL) Age 20.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 50/60 45/55 91-94 / 96 Anderson was a prep standout as an underclassman and despite some minor injuries in his draft year, was the third overall pick in 2016. The Braves got him for an under slot bonus that freed them up to grab Wentz, Muller, and Wilson for over slot bonuses; that group has worked out extremely well so far, especially considering how risky a subgroup prep pitching is. Anderson is the most advanced in terms of his combination of stuff now, command, and size, as evidenced by reaching Double-A at age 20 with excellent stats at every stop. He isn’t the sexiest prospect in terms of spin rates, so his command will need to continue to be a separator as the hitters he faces continue to get better. Anderson flashed a 60 curveball as an amateur but it’s more of a 55 now, while his changeup went from not being used much to flashing plus regularly, passing ahead of his curveball for some scouts. 5. Kyle Wright, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Vanderbilt (ATL) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/60 50/55 45/50 45/50 91-95 / 97 Wright passed up seven figures from the Braves out of an Alabama high school to go to Vanderbilt and got many times more than that three years later as the fifth overall pick. He’s a near ideal combination of frame, arm action, delivery, athleticism, broad repertoire, and feel for pitching. Wright’s fastball is solid, but not a standout swing-and-miss pitch, though his slider often is. Wright mixes in a curveball and changeup that are tertiary options and his lower slot matches the sinker/slider combo a bit better. His best route to early big league success may be to lean on his breaking ball and throw it as often as his fastball, like Chris Archer or Patrick Corbin do. Given the Braves young pitching depth, there may not be a rotation spot for Wright, but his stuff and approach would definitely work in a multi-inning relief role until that spot is available. 50 FV Prospects 6. Drew Waters, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA) (ATL) Age 19.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/60 55/60 30/50 60/55 45/50 60/60 Waters was the rare prep prospect who had present hit tool utility, top-of-the-line prep performance, and 55- or 60-grade supporting tools to give him both high certainty and some ceiling. He got lost in the shuffle a bit in his deep draft class and had a tough pro debut due to both fatigue and swing tinkering. His full season debut in 2018 was a smashing success; he demolished the Low-A Sally League and posted a 98 wRC+ in High-A as a teenager. Waters’ raw power is a 55 that will likely be a 60 as he fills out, and his speed is a current 60 that likely becomes a 55. His center field instincts are above average, so he’s still got a solid chance to stick at the position and his arm is an easy plus. Waters’ carrying tool is his bat and he regained an approach that works for him in 2018. His exciting combination of physical projection, now ability, and ceiling will give him upward mobility in the Top 100 with a strong start to 2019. 7. William Contreras, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (ATL) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 50/55 20/50 45/40 45/55 60/60 Contreras’ older brother Willson is among the best catchers in baseball and was a late bloomer, breaking through at age 23 in Double-A. William had his breakout in 2018 as a 20-year-old, going from a trendy pick to breakout to a consensus Top 100 prospect by mid-season. He has been defensively advanced for years, both in his tools and his mental approach to the game, in part due to help from his brother. William projects as an above average defender with a plus arm. Contreras has also gotten stronger and is growing into his man strength after establishing a feel to hit, so he has a well-rounded approach now. He toned down his swing in 2018 and is slowly adding elements as he feels comfortable, rather than making a noisier swing work all at once. Contreras stands out because there are not many 21-year-olds who project for average to above offense along with above average defense, and have the makeup/mental part of the game under control without any major red flags like injuries. The scouts who like Contreras really like him–rounding up on both the tool grades due to makeup and his overall value due to a high floor at a position that’s a wasteland in the majors right now. This top 10 could be in almost any order, and Contreras may be the guy with the biggest variance as to where various baseball people rank him, which is a positive when his ranking peers are mostly MLB-ready, heavily-pedigreed prospects with much more track record. 8. Touki Toussaint, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Coral Springs Christian HS (FL) (ARI) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 65/65 55/60 50/55 40/45 91-95 / 97 Toussaint was a heralded and famous prep pitcher, showing plus-plus stuff as a high school sophomore and eventually going in the middle of the first round in 2014. He was traded to Atlanta as the prize for taking on Bronson Arroyo’s contract, and has slowly made adjustments to develop his starter traits and harness his high octane stuff. When he’s at his best, Toussaint works 91-94 and will hit 97 mph a couple of times a game when he needs to, mixing in a 55 or 60 grade curveball and hard changeup, though he’ll break out the 70-grade hook once or twice a game. With his power approach and delivery, Toussaint still has some command issues at times, but when he dials his stuff down a bit, he’s learned to be more pitch efficient. At the least, Toussaint is an ideal candidate to be a setup man or closer who can go multiple innings, but there’s a real chance he can be the no. 2 or 3 starter that teams work so hard, and go through so many arms, to find, and he’s ready to contribute now. 9. Luiz Gohara, LHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Brazil (SEA) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 60/60 45/50 45/50 93-96 / 98 Gohara has had an up-and-down couple of years; he’s dealt with serious health issues and death in his immediate family, and living far away from home, along with some relatively less important professional matters, has also proven to be burdensome. A series of off-the-field issues and maturity concerns led the Mariners to sell low on him in the trade that brought him to Atlanta. He has a frame along the lines of a Prince Fielder or a CC Sabathia in that he looks unathletic when static, but you can see he’s deceptively athletic for his size. Gohara has reportedly recently lost a lot of weight and gotten into the best shape of his life (alarm sound). He has high octane stuff with a plus fastball/slider combo and a changeup that’s come to be average, along with better control and command than you might expect from a young power pitcher. Gohara is very close to losing eligibility, but he may be the rare case of a player who actually demonstrates in March that the changes he’s made are real and moves up a list, since it’s hard to upgrade a guy based on verbal reports that he’s making progress in non-competitive environments. 10. Bryse Wilson, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Orange HS (NC) (ATL) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/55 50/55 50/55 91-95 / 98 Wilson is a scout favorite, as an aggressive bulldog 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. His slider will flash 55 in ideal situations, but plays closer to fringe average regularly, while his changeup also flashes 55 at times and is better than the slider most games. Wilson fits in today’s game because the concerns around him involve turning over the lineup and using his third pitch, but he normally has a plus fastball, above average command, plus plus makeup, and at least one average to above offspeed pitch, so he could be a great 2-3 inning reliever who works in various roles. There’s still a chance he could be a traditional starter, but the Braves’ pitching depth likely dictates a hybrid role in the short term. 45+ FV Prospects 11. Joey Wentz, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shawnee Mission East HS (MO) (ATL) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/55 60/60 45/55 88-92 / 94 Wentz has flashed three plus pitches at times, but has never done it all in the same outing. Some thought he was on the verge of doing so in 2018, but he missed huge chunks of the year with oblique and shoulder ailments, though they seem minor to us in terms of their long-term effects. Wentz was 88-92 mph with solid average stuff and average command in 2018, and projects to improve when he has a full, healthy offseason to regain what he was the year before. He is also big and athletic with a smooth delivery and arm action, so there’s the classic projection you’re looking for. Like Muller, Wentz also has 70-grade raw power to provide offensive value when he reaches the big leagues. At its best, Wentz’s fastball was 92-95, hitting 96 mph, and his curveball and changeup were plus, with multi-innings stretches when his command looked above average, which led some scouts to invoke Cole Hamels. Things probably land somewhere between the peak of each of his elements and his average 2018 showing. 45 FV Prospects 12. Kolby Allard, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from San Clemente HS (CA) (ATL) Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 50/55 45/55 50/60 88-91 / 93 Allard has largely been the same pitcher since his draft spring, working with a 45 or 50 fastball, an above average offspeed offering, and plus command. He isn’t big and he got hit around in his first taste of the big leagues, which is what most scouts were afraid might happen to him. It was a short look and many have recovered from performances like that, but Allard has to be fine with what he does, and his style of pitching (along with his weapons) offers almost no margin for error and doesn’t exactly fit where the game is going. Luckily he has advanced feel for what he’s doing on the mound, so there is a path to being a reliable back-end starter. 13. Kyle Muller, LHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Jesuit Prep HS (TX) (ATL) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/50 55/60 40/50 90-94 / 96 Muller is a big, athletic, aggressive lefty with a sturdy frame and above average stuff to go with average type command. He displayed raw power in high school that some scouts graded as a 70, so there’s likely some real value above what most NL pitchers offer at the plate. He had a velocity dip after signing, which most seem to think stemmed from heavy usage in high school. That appeared to be the case, as his velocity was back up this spring after some training at Driveline. Muller isn’t traditionally exciting since he doesn’t have huge velocity or a crazy athletic and loose delivery, but lots of long-time starters have looked like this at this stage in their careers. 14. Greyson Jenista, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Wichita State (ATL) Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 65/65 30/55 50/45 45/50 55/55 Jenista has a skillset that will be familiar to long-time fans of the game, with some qualities in common with players like Jeromy Burnitz, Adam Dunn, and Lance Berkman. Jenista is deceptively athletic for his size (a 50 runner at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds) and has big raw power (a 65) along with a right field profile. Jenista is a late-count, power-focused hitter, so his approach will come with some swing-and-miss and some walks. He’ll need a slight adjustment to his swing plane, as it’s a little too flat for this type of player (he hits more doubles when he makes hard contact than you’d like), and he may age more quickly than player with a slighter build would. The upside is a three-win power-focused corner bat, though a more realistic expectation is probably a low-end regular worth around two wins annually, but he’ll need to make some offensive adjustments between now and then regardless. 40+ FV Prospects 15. Freddy Tarnok, RHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Riverview HS (FL) (ATL) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 50/55 45/55 40/50 92-95 / 98 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. The finer points of pitching, how to mix all of his pitches, and dialing in the repetition of his delivery are still variables, all stemming from his lack of innings. He’s a popular pick to be the breakout prospect in the system and has among its highest ceilings if it all comes together. 16. Alex Jackson, C Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Rancho Bernardo HS (CA) (SEA) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 70/70 40/55 30/30 45/50 60/60 Jackson was selected sixth overall out of a SoCal high school in 2014, and was among the most celebrated prep bats of all time. He ranked at the top of his class for three years and was projected to move from catcher to right field because of his prodigious talent at the plate, like Bryce Harper and Wil Myers before him. He had a tough pro debut with unlucky injuries, streaky hitting, and poor coaching, which he responded poorly to in turn, bristling at the criticism that came with not meeting expectations. Jackson was traded to the Braves, who moved him back behind the plate in an attempt to build some value since his bat no longer profiled as the 6 hit/6 power that was projected out of high school. He made great strides as a catcher in 2018 and now looks likely to be an average-or-close-to-it receiver with a plus arm and plus plus raw power. He’s gotten much bigger since high school and isn’t a runner, and his lessened twitch quickness also makes him more of a mistake hitter at the plate. Jackson being near MLB-ready and given the current state of catching, he could be a 90 wRC+ hitter and fringe-to-average receiver and have a long career. There’s a chance for more, but expectations have settled right around there. 40 FV Prospects 17. Jacob Webb, RHP Video Drafted: 18th Round, 2014 from Tabor College (ATL) Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 50/50 45/45 94-96 / 98 Webb was a low-bonus, late-round, small school pick who still wasn’t really on the prospect radar for most clubs until 2018. His velocity took a step forward (up to 98 mph) and the added armspeed helped his 50 to 55 type stuff grade out a tick better. This improvement made him a lock to be a Rule 5 pick if not protected, so Atlanta added him to the 40-man roster. Like many of the 40 FV-grade relievers on this list, Webb projects as a middle reliever, but he has the best chance to turn into a bit more, and could possibly be a setup man. 18. Huascar Ynoa, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/70 50/55 45/50 35/45 94-98 / 100 Ynoa’s older bother Michel was the July 2nd bonus record-holder for awhile and still sets the pace for non-Cuban pitchers in the market. Huascar was also a premium arm in his class, receiving a high-six-figure bonus and making incremental progress since then, reaching a velocity peak of 100 mph in 2018. Ynoa’s fastball plays down a bit because he’s a short strider and throws a bit of sinker, but it often flattens out up in the zone when he overthrows, happens at his highest velocities. His slider occasionally flashes plus, but projecting a 55 pitch is more reasonable for the type of breaker he can command. Ynoa’s changeup is usable and his command shows flashes, but he was added to the 40-man roster this year and will start burning options now. This ticking options clock limits the time he has to develop starter traits, making a power middle reliever the most likely outcome. 19. Tristan Beck, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Stanford (ATL) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 45/50 40/45 90-95 / 96 Beck was premium prospect out of a SoCal high school, reportedly turning down over $2.5 million to go to Stanford as he had long wanted to do. There, Beck had various injury issues and his stuff and command didn’t progress as many had hoped, but he still showed glimpses of his upside from high school. In instructional league, he ran his fastball up to 96 mph, which didn’t happen often in college, and his signature hammer curveball flashed plus once again. Beck is still in the nether region of starter vs. reliever given his uneven track record and command that doesn’t consistently flash average, but his power stuff will play in any role if he can continue showing what he did in instructional league. 20. Tucker Davidson, LHP Video Drafted: 19th Round, 2016 from Midland JC (TX) (ATL) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 50/55 45/50 40/50 90-94 / 95 Davidson was a low-profile JC arm the Braves gambled on in 2016 and after improving his body composition entering the 2017 season, his stuff and command improved too, and he looked like a potential no. 4 starter. Davidson’s 2018 season wasn’t as good, as his stuff and command were both a bit worse, so he’s now at the nexus of back-end starter or depth relief lefty, though the upside of being a starter in the big leagues keeps him ahead of some of the 35 FV lefty relievers below (Clouse and Burrows) with similar stuff. 21. Patrick Weigel, RHP Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 from Houston (ATL) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/65 55/55 45/50 45/50 40/45 92-96 / 98 As an amateur, Weigel was a big dude with an upper-90’s fastball and little else that showed much consistency, which allowed him to slip to the seventh round. In pro ball, Weigel was able to put it together as a starter, continuing to run his heater into the upper-90’s, but working more 92-94 mph with a four pitch mix that was also average or better. Due to the power of his repertoire and approach, and his long frame, Weigel had the sort of fringy command that made him seem better suited to being a multi-inning reliever than a starter. He underwent Tommy John surgery once he reached Triple-A in 2017 and returned to the mound late in 2018. In instructional league, Weigel’s arm speed was mostly back, hitting 96 mph, but the stamina and crispness of his offspeed pitches wasn’t quite there yet. It’s still too early to expect him to be completely back and there’s an expectation that he will return to his prior form in the upcoming season. That belief led the Braves to add him to the 40-man, as he would’ve been a strong candidate for a rebuilding team looking to buy low on him in the Rule 5 Draft. 22. Chad Sobotka, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from South Carolina Upstate (ATL) Age 25.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/65 50/55 40/45 40/45 95-98 / 100 Sobotka was a pop-up small school pitcher in the 2014 draft, but issues stemming from his size and arm speed limited him in various ways until 2018, when he velocity took the step forward that many foresaw in 2014. Sobotka now hits 100 mph and mixes in a slider that’s a 55 at times. His command will never be great since he has a slightly stiff, 6-foot-7 frame, but his stuff doesn’t need pinpoint control to be effective in a middle relief role. After contributing out of the big league bullpen down the stretch and in the playoffs in 2018, Sobotka is a useful middle reliever with options for the Braves to use and develop further. 23. Trey Riley, RHP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Logan JC (IA) (ATL) Age 20.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/60 50/55 40/50 35/45 92-95 / 97 Riley burst onto the scouting scene in 2018 at Logan JC in Iowa after bouncing back from Oklahoma State. Some teams were hesitant to take him where his talent suggested (second or third round) due to their interpretation of what led to him to leave Oklahoma State, but the Braves were excited to give him an over slot bonus in the fifth round of a draft where they were missing a third round selection. Riley’s stuff is exciting — up to 97 mph, with a slider that flashes plus, and a solid average curve and changeup that flashed average — while his arm action, athleticism, and command give him a chance to start, despite a short track record of doing so. Regardless, his present stuff will play in any role and fits where the game is going, so simply staying healthy, getting innings, and maintaining his stuff should keep him on the prospect radar. 24. Izzy Wilson, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Saint Maarten (ATL) Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 55/60 30/50 45/45 45/50 55/55 Wilson burst onto the prospect scene in 2015, hitting 10 homers in 48 games in the GCL at age 17. He signed as a shortstop but has moved down the defensive spectrum to right field, retaining his loose, lefty swing and physical projection. In the interim, Wilson has had maturity and consistency issues, which he appears to be moving past now. Longer-limbed power hitters typically take the longest to develop offensively, making his pro debut that much more surprising. He’ll be 21 years old next year, with a chance to get to Double-A and regain the everyday player projection some saw in 2015. 25. CJ Alexander, 3B Video Drafted: 20th Round, 2018 from State College JC (FL) (ATL) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 30/50 40/40 40/45 55/60 C.J. Alexander and his brother, SS Blaze Alexander (IMG Academy HS in Florida, drafted by the Diamondbacks), were both drafted lower in 2018 than their talent suggested. Blaze slipped due to demands as an over slot high school pick, while C.J. was old for a junior college player and is limited to a corner, though scouts have some debate about which position is his best fit. C.J. had a big pro debut, getting to High-A and playing in instructs in a season that saw him in real games from late January until October. He has plus raw power and a plus arm, with deceptive contact skills and at least passable defense at all four corner spots. The upside is a low-end regular or the correct side of a corner platoon, which is more likely to happen if he continues to move quickly through the system. His pro ball batted-ball outcomes were lucky but he also played among the longest seasons in all of organized baseball, putting up big numbers at every level. 26. Josh Graham, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from Oregon (ATL) Age 25.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/60 65/70 40/45 92-95 / 97 Graham has some of the best pure stuff in baseball, running his fastball up to 97 mph, flashing a 60 slider at times, and relying heavily on one of the best changeups in the game, which is a 70 for most scouts. His short arm action is a giveaway that he converted from catching while at Oregon. The issues holding Graham back are that he consistently works behind in the count and seems focused on putting up big velocity numbers, which affects his fastball command and allows hitters to sit on his offspeed pitches. Like Didder and Demeritte, hope was bright in the past year that Graham could fix his issues and become a big league contributor, but none of the three have changed much in the interim and now have shorter developmental ropes as they enter their mid-20’s. 35+ FV Prospects 27. Jefrey Ramos, LF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ATL) Age 19.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Ramos was a higher profile July 2nd prospect whose market didn’t materialize as expected, so he waited until 2016 to sign as a 17-year-old in the Braves pool-busting class. Ramos is a left field only fit, with plus raw power as his carrying tool, so he has to hit. He made real progress on that front in 2018, bopping 16 homers and posting a 102 wRC+ in Low-A as a 19-year-old. He’s backed into a corner profile-wise, and has to keep progressing at the plate to avoid his upside being the wrong side of a left field/first base platoon. As an example, the Braves had a version of this at Triple-A recently in Dustin Peterson; he was put on waivers as the demand for this sort of less-versatile player is waning. 28. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (ATL) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ De La Cruz is 92-95, touching 97 mph and flashing a plus slider at his best, so there’s some clear ceiling here. His changeup, command, and delivery all come and go, and he has pitched limited innings for a 21-year-old. A reasonable scenario for him is to continue trying to start for a bit longer, and if he doesn’t emerge in that role, to eventually focus on his fastball/slider combo in shorter stints. In that role, he could work his way into higher leverage late relief, but there’s still a long way to go before that happens. 29. Ray-Patrick Didder, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Aruba (ATL) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Didder can play at least average defense at all the non-pitcher-and-catcher positions on the field and he’s shown plus ability in center, buoyed by plus-plus speed and a plus-plus arm. He’s shown ability at the plate and mistake power at times, but he’s now 24 and still hasn’t put it together offensively for long stretches. He’s Rule 5-eligible and is an ideal 25th man type if a team thinks they can tease out some offense and get a 1-2 WAR player with all of his secondary skills. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.Likely Reserve Position Players A.J. Graffanino, SS Drew Lugbauer, C Justin Dean, CF Andrew Moritz, CF Travis Demeritte, LF Graffanino is the son of Tony, and is an advanced defender with contact skills and feel for the game; he’s likely a reserve but was injured in college and is still adding weight, so there’s low-end regular upside. Lugbauer was a nice find in the 11th round and is at least third catcher quality behind the plate with 60 raw power and 55 arm strength, but he may end up being a primary first baseman and the contact skills come and go. Dean was another late-round find in the Carolinas for the Braves and is a true 80 runner, but is still raw enough that the realistic upside is a speed-oriented reserve. Moritz is a 55 runner who is hit-over-power and can play all three outfield positions, with one scout comparing him to Sam Fuld as a potential instinctual reserve. Demeritte still has easy plus power and is passable at multiple positions defensively, but will need to make some offensive adjustments to have a big league future. Likely Relievers Corbin Clouse, LHP Wes Parsons, RHP Thomas Burrows, LHP Victor Vodnik, RHP Gabriel Rodriguez, LHP Troy Bacon, RHP Jeremy Walker, RHP Odalvi Javier, RHP The other pitchers here are a mix of pure middle relief prospects and chance no. 5 starters who are more likely to slip into long relief territory if we’re being realistic. Clouse and Burrows are similar lefty relievers, with Clouse having a little more velo and Burrows more deception/feel; they share a similar breaking ball. Parsons and Javier are starter types with solid average stuff but nothing is plus, so you’re hoping for a no. 5 starter and will probably get a multi-inning depth arm if things work out. Walker flashes above average stuff from a frame/arm action that scouts like, but his delivery, command, and changeup haven’t progressed, so he’s a likely reliever but with more ceiling than Parsons or Javier. Vodnik and Rodriguez are relief-type arms from the 2018 draft class. Vodnik is a smallish righty who was 87-90 for some of the spring, but was 92-95, touching 98 mph with solid average offspeed in instructs. Rodriguez was a junior college position player who threw a handful of innings in the spring. The Braves saw them all, and stuck him on the mound in pro ball; he also topped at 98 mph, though he’s a project. Bacon can run it up to 96 mph and flashes a 55 breaker along with two other usable pitches and average command at times, but he’s a smallish righty reliever and isn’t always that good. System OverviewThe top 10 of the Braves’ system is still among the best in the game, which is why they still rank highly in our org rankings; Top 100 caliber players are so much more important than the depth pieces. Given some recent trades, graduations, and league sanctions, the depth in the system is down considerably, with something like 15 fewer prospects having trade value (between the list and the Others of Note section) than the list had before those issues. Once you get beyond the 50 FV prospects, this system is very ordinary or even below average. The weaknesses are at the lower levels, though, as the trades and sanctions affected players mostly aged 17-20, so the big league team won’t feel these losses for years and there’s still plenty of ammunition for trades, along with near-ready prospects for the big league team. Their competitive window is securely open now and will likely stay that way for at least 4-5 years, even if the organization opts to move all their chips in for the short-term. The Braves have a rare group of talent in their core and should add a few more pieces to it from this list in 2019, with a trade of a few of the top dozen on this list for an established star with multiple years of control seemingly likely as well. The NL East could go a few different ways this winter, but it looks like every team but the Marlins is trying to win in the short-term and will have a chance at the division. Having a stable of young, optionable power arms should be a useful talent infusion in the second half for the Braves’ rotation and bullpen, constituting a built-in midseason trade of sorts, as payroll is always a factor for mid-market clubs.