Braves’ Hurston Waldrep Could Be On A Fast Track


It’s not an expectation, but it’s a possibility that 22-year-old righthander Hurston Waldrep will reach the big leagues this season.

The Braves drafted Waldrep out of Florida with the 24th overall pick last year. He pitched at all four of Atlanta’s full-season affiliates in his pro debut, recording a 1.53 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.

The Braves, retooling their depleted minor league system, have taken pitchers in the first round of the past four drafts.

“We got a really athletic college starter with power stuff,” Braves scouting director Ronit Shah said. “He’s been 95-99 (mph) with two plus breaking balls and one of the best secondary pitches in the draft with his splitter.”

Waldrep pitched to a 3.68 ERA in three collegiate seasons, the first two at Southern Mississippi before transferring to national power Florida. He helped the Gators reach the College World Series in 2023, when he finished third in the nation with 156 strikeouts.

The Braves had been following Waldrep since he was in high school in South Georgia.

The splitter is undoubtedly Waldrep’s most effective pitch. Shah said the pitch “has a chance to miss a lot of bats at the big league level.” His fastball command is a work in progress and will largely determine how quickly he reaches the majors.

Four of Waldrep’s eight starts last season were made at Double-A or Triple-A. That type of rapid ascent indicates that he could be on the fast track to Atlanta.

It’s easy to envision Waldrep as a long-term piece in the Braves’ rotation. Spencer Strider is signed on a lengthy deal, but lefthander Max Fried is a free agent following the season. Charlie Morton is 40 years old and pitching year to year.

Certainly, Waldrep could become an integral part of the Braves’ rotation soon.


— The progress of righthander Owen Murphy will be interesting to watch this season. The Braves drafted him 20th overall in 2022, with the two-way high school star committing to just pitching. This will be Murphy’s second full minor league season after he posted a 4.72 ERA across 21 starts in Low-A Augusta and High-A Rome last season.

— Righthander Drue Hackenberg will begin his first full season with the organization after it drafted him in the second round last summer. He made two scoreless starts in Low-A Augusta before making his Double-A debut. The Virginia Tech product could ascend quickly. He excels at getting ground balls.

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