Drew Waters Turns Season Around
It started out as a trying season for 22-year-old outfielder Drew Waters, but a scorching hot July with Triple-A Gwinnett turned his campaign around.
Waters hit .301/.351/.573 with five home runs and 11 doubles across 24 games in July. Those numbers follow a June in which he hit .188 with two doubles and no homers.
The 2017 second-rounder from Etowah High in Woodstock, Ga., reminded the baseball world why he ranks among the Braves’ best position prospects.
“I think I would assess (my season) a little differently than most,” Waters told Baseball America before the Futures Game in Denver in July. “I would say this: Coming off the pandemic last year, I feel like I got off to a little slower start than usual.
"But really, it’s been my best season from the standpoint of, I’ve always been one to go out there and do my thing, but I never really knew how. And so I slumped for a little bit at the beginning, but it really forced me to still make an impact throughout the game (in other ways).
“I was trying to make an impact on defense, on the bases whenever I got the opportunity to. Now, I feel like I’m finally getting to that point where I’m back to being Drew Waters. I think struggles are good because they teach you a lot. Now I know what I need to do to be successful.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Waters is a work in progress. Through 64 games he hit .255/.349/.424 with eight homers and 17 stolen bases. His strikeout rate remained high—32%—and plate discipline has been the largest knock on his young career.
But Waters’ profile remains intriguing. He’s a switch-hitter with plus speed and projects as a solid defender.
It’s a well-rounded skill set that should make Waters a long-time major leaguer. What he’ll look like in his prime will be determined by his growth at the plate.
— The Braves made six trades in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, acquiring outfielders Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall, along with catcher Stephen Vogt and reliever Richard Rodriguez.
In those deals, the Braves parted with several young players, though none were among their most prized prospects. The players traded were righthanders Bryse Wilson, Ricky DeVito and Kasey Kalich; catcher Alex Jackson and first basemen Bryce Ball and Mason Berne.
— Catcher William Contreras played exceptionally well after being sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 8. Contreras’ progress is a story to follow entering the offseason. Veteran backstop Travis d’Arnaud is a free agent, and how the Braves feel about Contreras’ readiness could affect whether they re-sign d’Arnaud or acquire another catcher.