Justyn-Henry Malloy Is Another Braves Development Success
Justyn-Henry Malloy quietly was the Braves’ breakout prospect of the year.
The 22-year-old outfielder hit .289/.408/.454 across three levels, ascending from High-A Rome to Triple-A Gwinnett. He hit 17 home runs in 133 games. His 97 walks ranked seventh in the minors.
Drafted in the sixth round in 2021 out of Georgia Tech, Malloy was ready for Triple-A in his first full season. He hit .280 with an .864 OPS in eight International League games, then reported to the Arizona Fall League.
Malloy spent his first two collegiate seasons at Vanderbilt, playing just 26 games, before finding his stride with consistent playing time for the Yellow Jackets.
He could be the latest find for Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown, who struck gold in the 2019 draft via third-rounder Michael Harris II and 11th-rounder Vaughn Grissom and in the 2020 draft with fourth-rounder Spencer Strider.
The righthanded-hitting Malloy is disciplined, with a .404 on-base percentage in pro ball. The question he faces is positional fit. Drafted as a third baseman, Malloy has played exclusively left field since advancing to Double-A.
“A lot of credit to Dana and our scouting group for identifying Malloy,” Braves farm director Ben Sestanovich said. “. . . He manages at-bats really well. He’s got a great eye at the plate, good plate discipline. He’s grown into his power. Seeing him develop as a hitter over the past year has been fun to watch.”
If Malloy keeps hitting, the Braves will eventually find a place for him. Even with a weakened farm system, the 101-win Braves could soon get richer with another young bat to add to 2022 MLB debuts Harris and Grissom.
“The two of them (Malloy and Grissom) have probably had the most impressive offensive years of any two hitters in our system,” Sestanovich said.
Keeping with the Braves’ theme of development success stories and local products, Malloy emphatically put himself on the radar over the past season. Now, he could crack the big leagues as early as 2023.
— Rookie Vaughn Grissom's immediate future is intriguing. After a hot start in the majors, he limped to the finish line. Veteran Orlando Arcia supplanted him at second base. Grissom’s long-term defensive position is a common question for everybody, including those in the organization. It’s unclear whether he can handle left field, and despite shortstop being his main position, there are doubts he fits there long term.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Grissom open next season with Triple-A Gwinnett, especially with Ozzie Albies back healthy at second base. Grissom hit .324/.405/.494 with 14 home runs and 27 stolen bases across 96 minor league games in 2022.
— Despite being a first-round selection out of Wake Forest in 2020, lefthander Jared Shuster has been overshadowed since he arrived in the system. He shined at Double-A Mississippi, posting a 2.78 ERA over 17 games that earned him a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett. Shuster struggled to a 4.25 ERA in 10 games the and probably will begin 2023 with Gwinnett, putting him on the precipice of his own MLB debut.
The Braves’ big league pitching depth remains enviable. Beyond their four rotation locks—Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider—they’ll have youngsters Bryce Elder, Freddy Tarnok, Kyle Muller and Shuster as options. In the mix are 24-year-old righthander Ian Anderson and 25-year-old righthander Mike Soroka, both of whom have previously had sustained MLB success.