Atlanta Braves 2021 MLB Prospects Chat
On the heels of today's Braves Top 10, Carlos Collazo is answering your Atlanta farm system questions below.
Carlos Collazo: Hey guys, thanks for stopping by today's Braves chat! I'm happy to talk through all of the top ten guys in detail and many of the players who ranked outside of the top 10 as well, though I am still sorting through the back of the list for the prospect handbook. Speaking of which, if you haven't pre-ordered that you can here:
Carlos Collazo: With that, let's jump into your questions. Thanks again for stopping by and supporting BA. We really appreciate it!
- Great list as always Carlos. How does the lose of Perry Minasian affect the system? What are your thoughts on Jesse Franklin? Personally I love the pick. When does the first combined 2021 draft rankings come out? I know right now there is individual lists (college and HS) but was wondering when a combined list of the 2 come out. Thanks as always Carlos. Keep up the great work!! Also, do you have any clue when the competitive balance A and B picks will be announced?!? Looking forward to the full 2021 draft order!!
Carlos Collazo: I don’t think it should impact the system too much, but don’t have a ton of first-hand knowledge for the Minasian question specifically. His name has been linked to GM spots before this and I’m guessing the Braves knew this would happen at some point sooner or later. I would imagine they have things in place to be just fine with his departure.
Carlos Collazo: I like Franklin, but we didn’t have him ranked as highly as where the Braves took him. He checked in at No. 150 on our final BA 500 and the Braves popped him with the 97th overall pick. He put up good numbers with Michigan when healthy but has dealt with a number of injuries and missed the 2020 season because of a broken collarbone. He’s got solid-average tools but most of the scouts I talked with pre-draft raved about his baseball instincts and work ethic more than anything. Like most drafted players, it would have been nice to see what he did in pro ball.
Carlos Collazo: Look out for our first combined draft list for the 2021 class in January. Thanks for the kind words!
- Surprised to see Bryse Wilson on the list. With MLB suspending the September rookie eligibility rule for 2020, I thought he exceeded 45 days.
Carlos Collazo: Our policy for prospect-eligibility doesn’t have anything to do with MLB’s rookie eligibility. For us it’s 50 innings, 30 games (for relievers), or 130 at bats in the majors before you aren’t eligible. Wilson is close to the cutoff (42.2 innings) but didn’t quite reach it in 2020.
James (Hoover, AL):
- Hi Carlos - I love the work BA does and thank you guys for being the best of the best in the baseball industry. Terrific content all the way around. While the Braves have of recent moved Allard, Wentz, Encarnacion, Cumberland, and guys of this sort, we haven't seen the Braves trade a big-time prospect in a while, and this might be the year to do it to improve the Big League club seeing as we were right on the cusp of advancing to the World Series. Could that happen this offseason? Obviously I'm looking primarily at Pache or Waters. Do you think this is the offseason that we could move a big-time prospect and not just a peripheral, outside the Top 10 guy?
Carlos Collazo: Again, thank you for the kind words! We are very grateful to all of our supporters and subscribers for allowing us to continue doing the work we do. It wouldn’t be possible without you guys.
Carlos Collazo: Yeah, the highest ranked prospect the Braves have traded recently was AJ Graffanino in the deal that allowed the Braves to acquire Tommy Milone. He ranked towards the back of the list last year and is far from the big-time prospect status you are talking about. The new Braves FO hasn’t shown much willingness to this point to part with any of the top tier prospects in the system. I think that makes sense considering where the current big league team is at and the holes those prospects have and will continue to fill. Pache and Waters both have pretty clear paths to playing time and could be really good players on valuable contracts. The same could be said for basically all of the pitchers at the top of the list, Shewmake and both catchers as well.
Carlos Collazo: The team has done a really good job of supplementing a young, talented and affordable home grown core with savvy short term signings on the free agent market and I would expect that to continue before they traded one of these guys at the top of the system. If there were more young guys who needed a lot of time to develop at the top of the list I could see that player getting traded, but the top of Atlanta’s system is full of guys ready to help sooner rather than later.
Carlos Collazo: I can’t wait for the Braves to trade someone immediately after I made all of these comments haha. However they just announced a one-year FA signing of LHP Drew Smyly so maybe I actually am correct here.
- Have you heard of any prospects increasing their stock that were at the ATS that didn't play a role in the majors ?
Carlos Collazo: The one guy who I consistently heard good things about was Shea Langeliers. It sounds like he put a lot of work in with the bat and made some impressive strides on that side of the ball. The Braves like where he’s at offensively and some in the org saw more power than they were expecting to see from him as well. It’s hard to really increase your stock a ton this year for obvious reasons but the information on him is promising.
Jacob (Wilmington, NC):
- Braves had an interesting approach to the 2019 draft, going overslot with a bunch of promising high schoolers: Vaughn Grissom, Tyler Owens, Jared Johnson, Joey Estes, Mahki Backstrom, and Kadon Morton. Any updates on these guys and odds some/all start the 2021 season in A ball?
Carlos Collazo: Grissom is probably the guy who jumps out to me most of this list. He was at the team’s alternate site and showed a more advanced bat than you would probably expect for a 2019 high school draftee. His feel to hit and understanding of the zone is pretty good for his age and the amount of time he’s had with player development. If he can become a utility infield type I think there could be some value there.
Carlos Collazo: The Braves seem to be much more analytically inclined/model driven in the draft now than when Brian Bridges was scouting director. We’ll see how that works out for them.
- How close was Michael Harris? Any reports from him from the alternative site?
Carlos Collazo: Close. He was one of the first names left off the top 10. You just have to project more on a guy like him who still has some holes to clean up at the plate than many of the older and more polished names in front of him. His tool set remains exciting but a lot of his development needs to come with more reps against pitching in actual games IMO. His tools remain exciting and he is one of the better prospects the team has at the lower levels in a system that doesn’t have a ton to point to down there.
- For fantasy purposes - you like Waters more than Pache? Safe to say Pache has the better glove and Waters the better bat?
Carlos Collazo: That seems like the right call. We have 45/55 on Pache’s hit and power compared to 55/55 for Waters. A significant amount of Pache’s value is tied to his standout defensive ability in center field, where Waters’ seems more balanced. There are real question marks still with both players as hitters. Pache has pulled balls at a pretty high rate and will need to use the opposite field more, while Waters obviously had strikeout issues in 2019 at Triple-A. The Braves feel good about how he’s managed his at-bats this year and believe he improved his discipline but we’ll need to see that translate to game situations. He’s been better against righties than lefties, which is the platoon split you want if you have one, but he has also focused on improving from the right side this year as well. Both players could benefit you in the SB category as well, with Pache having better pure speed but Waters being the more efficient base stealer.
Aaron (Seattle, WA):
- What is the main differentiator between Langeliers and Contreras at this point? Do you see one taking the majority of starts over the other or does one get traded? Thanks!
Carlos Collazo: Defensive polish is probably the biggest factor separating the two for me, though that’s funny to say considering Contreras is the one who got some big league time this season. Their offensive tools are pretty similar, but Langeliers is just in a different tier defensively with a better arm and better actions overall on the defensive end. I guess arms don’t matter as much today for catchers as they used to but when we are splitting hairs it comes into the argument. This isn’t to belittle Contreras’ defensive development—he has continued to improve there—but Langeliers has a real chance to be a 60 defender at the game’s most premium position. Still, we have them ranked close for a reason. It’s not a massive difference.
dave (grayson, ga):
- Outside of the top 10, the system looks pretty weak to me. Comparable to the state it was in when Coppolella decided on the full rebuild. What does the organization think of the lower levels of the system?
Carlos Collazo: That’s a fair assessment. The Braves system is trending in the wrong direction for the right reasons, thanks to continued graduations of players who are helping the team win. The focus on collegiate players at the top of the draft in recent years and the restrictions on the team in the international market have prevented the team from re-stocking the lower levels as quickly as they might have otherwise.
Carlos Collazo: The team is now in its final year of penalties on the international market, so perhaps that starts to shift with the 2021-2022 international class. But barring big steps forward a handful of their later drafted HS signees or the second and third tier of college prospects that make up the back of the system I would imagine Atlanta starts falling in the 10-20 range in our future org rankings. Again, that’s not a bad thing because… the Braves are winning now and were just a game away from the World Series. But yes, the lower levels do need some reinforcements to keep the talent coming.
- Any insight to what is going to happen with Atlanta’s MiLB affiliates? Gwinnett (AAA), Mississippi (AA), and Rome (low A) are all owned by the team, and the Florida Fire Frogs (high A) seem to no longer exist. With the Midwest League, a new Mid-Atlantic League, and the Carolina League reportedly ticketed for High A, who will be Atlanta’s High A affiliate? An existing team in the Carolina League? A team that moves up to the Carolina League (like Columbia)? Or will they have an FSL team at North Port and move Rome up to high A?
Carlos Collazo: JJ is going to pinch-hit for me on this one as he is infinitely better suited to address the question.
Carlos Collazo: JJ: "Nothing is finalized and I won't say anything is certain until MLB actually unveils the list of 120 affiliated teams, but it is very likely that the FSL will lose two teams in the shuffle and the Fire Frogs (the nomadic wanderers of the FSL in the past couple of years) are almost assured to be one of those two teams. Expect to see the Braves add a team in the Carolina to fill out the remainder of their Class A minor league lineup. With Rome and their soon-to-be-named affiliate they have the flexibility that either could end up in low Class A with the other going to high Class A. Landing a Braves affiliate in the Carolinas (Braves country) will be a nice pickup for some city/operator."
- My perception is the Braves have had a lot of prominent pitching prospects over the last several years and a majority of them have disappointed. Am I being fair?
Carlos Collazo: This seems to be a pretty common perception. Maybe it’s because the Braves were so clear about rebuilding around pitching and their top prospects wound up being hitters (Acuna, Riley, Pache). Maybe it’s because highly touted guys like Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Sean Newcomb and others have struggled and/or taken longer than expected. I think the premise of your critique is unfair. MOST prospect disappoint if you think most are going to wind up being successful major leaguers in some capacity. Or if you think all of them are going to hit their ceiling 100 percent of the time. That doesn’t happen and pitchers are even scarier than hitters given the injury risk.
Carlos Collazo: I think the Braves have done a good job overall. Mike Soroka was an all star, finished second in ROY voting in 2019 and also got Cy Young votes as a 21 year old. He was on the same path in 2020 before getting hurt. Max Fried was phenomenal this year and got Cy votes and a gold glove award (for whatever you think that’s worth at the position). Ian Anderson debuted and was exceptional as a 22-year old. Many of the other pitchers in the system are still young, have still shown flashes and still have plenty of time to figure things out. Development isn’t linear.
- After Ian Anderson, which pitcher in Brave's system has the hightest ceiling?
Carlos Collazo: For me there are a cluster of names who are all right around the same in terms of upside after Anderson. I would point to Muller as the highest upside arm not named Anderson. If he can improve his fastball command he’s got a real weapon of a pitch from the left side and his breaking stuff is better than Bryse Wilson’s.
Tim Burke (Orlando):
- I saw where Jared Johnson hit 100mph at Braves instructs, is he a fast track arm through the system now?
Carlos Collazo: Johnson has massive arm strength and pure arm talent. I would not call him a “fast track arm” simply because he throws hard however. He has thrown just 15.1 professional innings and was pretty raw coming out of the draft. Atlanta has been aggressive in terms of pushing prospects in the past but I don’t think Johnson would be a player who fits that category.
- Which prospects do you think were hurt the most by the extended layoff?
Carlos Collazo: It’s hard for me not to pick Drew Waters considering his strikeout issues at Triple-A in 2019 and how much he could have benefitting from simply getting those reps. You can do a lot of development without games, but it seems more difficult to make big strides as a hitter than it might be for a pitcher. And his weakness isn’t something like a lack of power or physicality that could be addressed in the weight room or something like that. He seems like the obvious choice for this one. Those ABs are so important.
- Long time listener, some time troller here...curious as to what you all have been hearing about Michael Harris as we see him as a top 10 guy in the system. Also, has Shea Langeliers' stock increased appreciably over the last year? If so, is that more because of graduations or because of positive things you have been hearing from scouts?
Carlos Collazo: I believe I’ve touched on both of these in previous questions but yes I could see that for Harris in the future. Langeliers is ranked higher because of graduations and because of positive information we’ve gathered on him, though I don't know how much his "stock" has risen around the league.
- I'm wondering how close Bryce Ball was to the top 10, and what reports on him came in throughout the summer from the alternate site?
Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t say Ball was particularly close to cracking the top 10. He has some limitations given his position and it would have been hard to move that sort of profile up in the rankings without continued performance. I still like the bat but want to see what he can do against upper-level pitching. Having the DH now has to be good for him though!
- Do you really think Touki has the stuff to be a closer? I would think A.J. Minter or Huascar Ynoa would be more likely to have that role in 2024.
Carlos Collazo: He undoubtedly has the stuff to be a closer. Whether or not he can ever develop the control and consistency would be the bigger question.
Carlos Collazo: When Touki is on there are few pitchers in baseball I'd rather watch. It's just... how frequently can he be on?
- How does the 8-9-10 compare with Elite systems or at least those with high end depth at those spots?
Carlos Collazo: There’s less upside for the Braves in those spots compared to teams like the Rays and Padres. I’d rather have the Nick Bitsko/JJ Goss/Joe Ryan trio than Shewmake/Shuster/Davidson I think, and I would probably rather have whatever the Padres 8-9-10 winds up being as well. But it’s not a massive difference in those spots specifically I don’t think. After you get outside of the top 10 is where I think the difference really becomes more obvious when comparing the Braves to the elite systems.
Carlos Collazo: OK everyone, that's been about an hour and I have gotten through most of the questions in the queue. Apologies to those who I couldn't get to, but as always feel free to reach out to me directly on Twitter (@CarlosACollazo). I'm pretty good at getting back to everyone there. Thanks again for chatting, hope you all are doing well and stick around the site for more team chats and top 10s as we continue rolling them all out!