Braves’ Jesse Franklin Looks To Make Up For Lost 2022

The Braves’ 2020 draft class already looks like one of the most successful in recent history.

Atlanta made just four picks, yet three of those players have reached the majors: righthanders Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder and lefthander Jared Shuster.

The player who hasn’t yet reached MLB is 24-year-old outfielder Jesse Franklin, a third-rounder out of Michigan who has seen his career disrupted by injuries dating back to college. The Braves loved his power and speed combination.

Franklin appeared in 101 games for High-A Rome in 2021 but had Tommy John surgery in 2022 that limited him to just 15 games for Double-A Mississippi. He missed April this year before debuting on May 6.

During his first full pro season in 2021, Franklin made good on his power-speed potential, swatting 24 homers and stealing 19 bases.

This is an important season for Franklin, who wowed the Braves at the alternate training site in 2020. Heading into 2022, he had a case for possessing the most raw power in the system. His speed confirmed the athletic ability of a player who starred in three sports at his Seattle high school.

Franklin must drastically reduce his 28% strikeout rate in the minors and make more consistent contact. It appears unlikely that he will hit for average.

“His combination of power and contact skills is very exciting,” Braves assistant general manager Ben Sestanovich told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2021. “To see both skills showing up in games this year is especially encouraging for a player who missed an entire year of game action (in 2020).”

Injuries have been a part of the story for Franklin. He broke his collarbone in a skiing incident prior to the 2020 season and then lost the season to the pandemic. He had shoulder problems in high school and had surgery on a torn labrum.

Now, he is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Franklin was a breakout star in college baseball in 2019, slugging .477 and helping the Wolverines reach the College World Series championship.

“We like the makeup, the strength, the body, the swing,” former Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown said at the time of the 2020 draft.



— The Braves promoted top pitching prospect AJ Smith-Shawver from High-A to Double-A Mississippi in early May. Smith-Shawver struck out 23 in 14 innings for Rome. He’s comfortably the team’s most exciting prospect early in the 2023 campaign.

— After hitting .329 over 55 games for High-A Rome last season, little-known second baseman Cody Milligan has started strong with Double-A Mississippi. The 24-year-old Milligan hit .333 with a .988 OPS through his first 13 games, while also seeing time in center field.



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