Atlanta Braves 2022 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: 3B Ignacio Alvarez (5) made consistent contact and showed good strike zone discipline at the junior college level, but those skills translated to his pro debut as well, where he slashed .287/.451/.394 with a 148 wRC+. Alvarez rarely chased outside of the strike zone (14% chase rate) and made plenty of contact (15.2% miss rate), giving him a pair of foundational hitting skills to work with.
Best Power Hitter: 3B/1B David McCabe (4) has a lot of raw power in the tank—particularly from the left side of the plate—and posted the best 90th percentile exit velocity of Atlanta’s 2022 draft class. If he can elevate more consistently in 2023 (he had a 47.6% groundball rate in his pro debut) that power could start to show up more in the home run column.
Fastest Runner: The Braves drafted a lot of corner positions and catchers in 2022, so there aren’t many obvious burners for this category, but OF Kevin Kilpatrick (17) has been a solid baserunner in his college career and also went 10-for-11 (91%) in stolen base attempts in his pro debut in the Florida Complex League and Low-A Carolina League.
Best Defensive Player: Alvarez (5) earned lots of praise for his defensive work at the hot corner in junior college, with scouts believing he could be an above-average defender at the position with an arm that could be plus as well. He even played 80 innings at shortstop in the Carolina League and looked solid at the position.
Best Fastball: RHPs Cole Phillips (2) and Owen Murphy (1) both have plus or better fastballs, though Phillips might earn the edge currently, with a chance for a 70-grade heater. He has a lot of life on a pitch that was regularly in the 95-98 mph range this spring before he got injured, while Murphy sits more in the low 90s but has also shown impressive carry.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Blake Burkhalter (2s) has a devastating slider/cutter that was a wipeout pitch in college and looks like a plus offering moving forward. He generates whiffs and weak contact more with the power and late bite of the pitch instead of significant movement and shape. Murphy (1) has always shown impressive feel to spin multiple breaking balls and has a potential plus curveball.
Best Pro Debut: Alvarez (5) would be a candidate for this category given his all-around game, but RHP JR Ritchie (1s) lived up to his billing as a polished prep arm. He started five games (including three with Low-A Augusta) and posted a 1.88 ERA while striking out 14 batters and walking five. He sat with a 92-93 mph fastball and touched 95. Don’t be surprised if Ritchie moves quicker than most high school pitching prospects.
Best Athlete: Murphy (1) was a two-way player in high school and was also a talented football player. His athleticism translates nicely to the mound with loose and fluid movements that should allow him to take quick steps forward as he focuses on pitching only in pro ball.
Most Intriguing Background: Murphy’s (1) multi-sport background and two-way status give him the nod here. The Braves have done a nice job developing former two-way players (Michael Harris and Austin Riley are two prominent examples) and Murphy looks to be the next in line.
Closest To The Majors: Burkhalter (2s) was a reliever only in college, but it sounds like the Braves are going to give him a chance to start thanks to his impressive command. If he does go back to a reliever role he has the fastball/slider combo to move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): SS EJ Exposito (16) hit a career-best 13 home runs with Long Island during the 2022 season and also impressed in the MLB Draft League, where he slashed .333/.460/.491 with as many walks (13) as strikeouts (13).
The One Who Got Away: The Braves signed all 22 players they drafted in the 2022 class.