Atlanta Braves 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
The Braves have graduated plenty of talent in recent years, and their system isn’t as deep as it used to be, but Atlanta still has plenty of high-level prospects waiting to impact the big league club. Cristian Pache and Drew Waters are both ready to get their first major league look, while the top of the system also has plenty of arms—Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller, Bryse Wilson, Tucker Davidson, etc.—who could impact the team in either starter or reliever roles as soon as this year. The quality of hitters tapers off a bit after recent draftees Shea Langeliers and Braden Shewmake, but there are plenty of upside arms throughout the top 30.
1. Cristian Pache, OF
Pache’s sensational defense and improved bat might have had him already entrenched in Atlanta’s outfield by this time in a normal year. Whenever he makes his big league debut, he will impact the club immediately.
2. Drew Waters, OF
Waters has the hitting and extra-base ability to be an impact hitter at the top of a lineup, but his strikeouts are concerning enough to give some pause. Even with those concerns, he’ll provide value with his legs and outfield defense in any spot.
3. Ian Anderson, RHP
Anderson has consistently impressed going back to his days as a high schooler, but last year’s Triple-A stint was his first professional bump in the road. Still, he has a solid trio of above-average offerings to go along with good control.
4. Kyle Wright, RHP
Wright has been on the cusp of breaking through to the big leagues, but his control has abandoned him each time he’s reached the major league level. When he’s on, his pure stuff is among the best in Atlanta’s system, but he needs to show more consistency. He’s one of the favorites to claim the fifth spot in the rotation, with LHP Cole Hamels missing the start of the year.
5. Kyle Muller, RHP
Muller’s fastball is likely the best pitch in the system, a heavy upper-90s heater with impressive angle. Add progress with multiple secondaries and Muller’s pure stuff is plenty exciting. He’ll need to harness his control to start at the highest level, but his pure stuff gives him bullpen potential as well.
6. Bryse Wilson, RHP
Wilson rocketed through the minors and made his big league debut as a 20-year-old in 2018. He has the frame, durability and fastball/changeup combination to be a reliable starter, but he’ll need to limit the long ball. Improving his breaking ball could help.
7. Shea Langeliers, C
Atlanta’s 2019 first-round pick, Langeliers has a terrific all-around defensive game, but don’t sleep on his bat. He has a solid hit tool with more power than you might expect, giving him exciting everyday upside potential behind the dish
8. William Contreras, C
Contreras could be the toolsiest catcher in Atlanta’s system thanks to plus power potential, athleticism behind the dish and big arm strength. Consistency in his game has held him back and he needs more at-bats against upper-level pitching, but the upside is exciting. Contreras has been one of the team’s most impressive prospects in training camp. When big leaguers Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud began showing symptoms of COVID-19 (though neither tested positive) Contreras was called to Atlanta and made his big league debut.
9. Braden Shewmake, SS
Atlanta’s second first-rounder in 2019, Shewmake had a terrific professional debut, moving all the way up to Double-A Mississippi, where he struggled in 14 games. Shewmake has a polished bat with a long track record of success, and positional versatility that could allow him to play all over the field.
10. Tucker Davidson, LHP
Davidson’s powerful fastball/curveball combination is loud enough to fit in a bullpen or starting role for the Braves this season, particularly after showing much better fastball command in 2019.
11. Jared Shuster, LHP
12. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP
13. Patrick Weigel, RHP
14. Michael Harris, OF
15. Victor Vodnik, RHP
16. Freddy Tarnok, RHP
17. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
18. Alex Jackson, C
19. Bryce Ball, 1B
20. Bryce Elder, RHP
21. Jesse Franklin, OF
22. Greyson Jenista, OF
23. Kasey Kalich, RHP
24. Trey Harris, OF
25. Jeremy Walker, RHP
26. Daysbel Hernandez, RHP
27. Logan Brown, C
28. Beau Philip, SS
29. Justin Dean, OF
30. Spencer Strider, RHP
Upper-level depth is a strength for Atlanta, with almost all of the team’s Top 10 prospects ready to impact the big league club within the next two years. That includes a variety of player types: righthanders and lefthanders, catchers, outfielders and infielders—giving the Braves plenty of internal help as they look to continue leading the NL East.
International signing restrictions over the last few years have led to the lower levels of the system thinning out more than they might have otherwise. While there are a handful of catchers, middle infielders and outfielders in the system, 1B Bryce Ball is the only impact bat with a corner infield profile to speak of.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
The Braves included each of their top 13 prospects on the 60-man player pool, after adding first-rounder LHP Jared Shuster to the group shortly after signing. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see more than half of those players impact the big league club this year in some capacity.
OF Cristian Pache had a scary moment in a training camp scrimmage when he jammed his right foot sliding into second, but all indications point to it being a very minor issue that shouldn’t be a lingering problem. He was diagnosed with a Grade-2 right ankle sprain. In late June, RHP Jeremy Walker was placed on the 45-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement.