Drake Baldwin Excites Braves With Early Power

The Braves have produced a number of hard-hitting catchers over the years. Perhaps 22-year-old Drake Baldwin can work his way into becoming another one.

Baldwin, a third-round pick last July out of Missouri State, possesses legitimate power. After not homering in 24 pro games last year, seven of his first 25 hits this season left the park, and six more resulted in doubles during his full-season debut at High-A Rome.

Offense was Baldwin’s appeal coming out of college. He broke out during his junior campaign, making himself an intriguing prospect after hitting .314 with 19 homers and a .647 slugging percentage in 60 games.

The Braves drafted him 96th overall, the fifth catcher selected.

Baldwin’s defense is a work in progress—he played hockey in high school—though he is a solid athlete and has shown improvement. His game management has drawn good reviews.

“We feel like he has got some work to do defensively,” former Braves scouting director Dana Brown said after drafting Baldwin. “But he can really throw and has big lefthanded power to all fields. It’s very difficult to find catchers with that kind of power, especially from the left side.”

Baldwin routinely makes hard contact. While it didn’t translate to homers in the small sample last summer, it was encouraging that he saw results this spring, showing the same traits that led the Braves to select him.

Through 30 games he hit .225/.370/.469 with 23 walks and 30 strikeouts. So in addition to power he also has a discerning batting eye.

Baldwin has the profile of a player who could eventually hang around in the majors, but that will be determined by whether he can continue producing power and developing defensively.



— Returning from Tommy John surgery, righthander Spencer Schwellenbach had impressed for Low-A Augusta. He had a 1.93 ERA over eight starts and 23.1 innings, striking out 20 and walking nine.

— The Braves lost budding righthander JR Ritchie for at least a year after he had Tommy John surgery to address a Grade 2 tear in his elbow ligament. The 19-year-old, a supplemental first-round pick last year,had been building excitement with his strikeout prowess. He’s struck out 39 hitters in his first 27.2 innings as a professional.



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