BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

Atlanta Braves

Prospects Overview

Top 10 Prospects

Click prospect for player report

Prospect Lists

Best Tools

Top Prospects of the Decade
(Listed with 2021 organization)

Top Draft Picks of the Decade
(Listed with 2021 organization)

Player Reports

  1. 1. Michael Harris | OF
    Michael Harris
    Born: Mar 7, 2001
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: HS-- Stockbridge, Ga., 2019 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Kirk Fredriksson.
    Minors: .294/.362/.436 | 7 HR | 27 SB | 374 AB

    BA Grade: 60/High

    The Future: With above-average or better tools across the board, Harris has a chance to be an impact, everyday big leaguer. He should move to Double-A Mississippi in 2022, where the Braves would like to see him continue to mature as a hitter.

    Track Record: Most of the amateur scouting industry seemed to prefer Harris as a lefthanded pitcher out of high school in 2019. He touched 93 mph with his fastball and showed feel to spin a big curveball. Harris preferred hitting, though, and the Braves liked his upside enough as a position player to give him a chance with the bat and ultimately signed him for $547,500 as an outfielder in the third round. After flashing solid tools in 53 games in 2019, Harris impressed Braves officials in 2020 with quality at-bats against many of the team’s top pitching prospects at the alternate site before putting together a strong all-around campaign at High-A Rome in his first full season in 2021.

    Scouting Report: At this point, scouts inside and outside of Atlanta’s organization view Harris as the best pure hitter in the system. Officially listed as a switch-hitter, Harris took all his swings from the left side this year, but shows impressive feel to hit with loose wrists, easy hands and impressive plate coverage. Harris’s plate coverage is so good that he can give away at-bats at times by being overly aggressive and chasing out over the plate, above it or on the inner half. Harris identifies pitches well, however, and when he focused on eliminating his inside chases during the second half of the season, saw his on-base percentage shoot up to .400 over the final two months. There’s plenty of strength in his filled-out frame, and scouts note that he drops the bat head with force throughout the zone. He’s produced exit velocities routinely in the 110-114 mph range, and while he hit just seven home runs this year, he played his home games at one of the most depressing offensive environments in minor league baseball. All of his seven home runs came on the road and his home (.282/.361/.363) and road (.305/.363/.498) splits suggest more power than his overall numbers might indicate. Scouts believe he could be a 25-30 home run hitter in the future. He’s not just a hitter, though, as managers voted Harris as the best defensive outfielder in High-A East. Internal and external scouts alike praise Harris’s instincts and ability in the middle of the outfield now and he could be an above-average or plus defender at the position if he can continue showing a plus run tool moving forward. Some scouts think that because of his thicker lower half and filled out frame, Harris will slow down in the future, but he does have plus arm strength that should allow him to handle any outfield position if necessary. Harris is an aggressive base runner who stole 27 bags at an 87% clip.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 55. Speed: 55. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60.

  2. 2. Shea Langeliers | C
    Shea Langeliers
    Born: Nov 18, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 205
    Drafted/Signed: Baylor, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Darin Vaughan.
    Minors: .256/.339/.494 | 22 HR | 1 SB | 340 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: Langeliers was the top defensive catcher in the 2019 draft class and the Braves drafted him ninth overall for an under-slot $3.9 million bonus. After debuting in Rome for a partial 2019 season, Langeliers impressed at the alternate site in 2020 and ranked as the top prospect in Double-A South in 2021 thanks to standout defensive and power production.

    Scouting Report: Langeliers’ defensive ability is his calling card, and more specifically it’s his 70-grade throwing arm that allowed him to throw out 42% of base stealers, a clip significantly above the 31% league average rate. He routinely pops in the 1.90-second range and managers rave about how his throws always seem to be right on the bag. Pitchers also seem to love throwing to Langeliers, and he has the makeup and baseball IQ to manage a staff well, though scouts note he could still improve as a pitch framer and with his mobility to get to a true plus defender. Langeliers has continued to show impressive in-game power as he’s gotten further away from a college hamate injury, and his 22 home runs are more impressive when you consider Mississippi is among minor league baseball’s least favorable hitter’s parks. Langeliers will have to work to avoid creating holes in his swing—notably with high fastballs and sliders away currently—but he uses the entire field well. Atlanta player development officials have praised his ability to adjust.

    The Future: After reaching Triple-A in his second pro season, Langeliers has a chance to make his big-league debut in 2022. If he reaches his offensive ceiling he could be an above-average regular.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 55. Speed: 40. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70.

  3. 3. Cristian Pache | OF
    Cristian Pache
    Born: Nov 19, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
    Signed By: Matias Laureano.
    Minors: .265/.330/.414 | 11 HR | 9 SB | 321 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: The Braves signed Pache for $1.4 million as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic and the lanky outfielder immediately stood out for his defensive prowess in the outfield and bat-to-ball skills in the box. Over the years, Pache filled out, added strength and became one of the most electric defensive prospects in all of baseball, but his offensive development has stalled a bit at the upper levels.

    Scouting Report: The Braves opened the 2021 season with Pache as their opening day center fielder, but a hamstring injury and offensive futility limited him to just 22 games. He instead spent most of his time at Triple-A Gwinnett where he was around a league average hitter overall but one who continued to show issues with a pull-heavy approach and the highest strikeout rate (27.5%) of his minor league career. Pache has timing issues at the plate and will often have to decide whether he’s sitting on fastballs or breaking stuff, which creates inconsistencies. He’s gone back and forth with various handsets that Atlanta has tried to incorporate to get him in better position more consistently. He remains the same elite defensive center fielder he’s become known for and will save plenty of runs with his top-of-the-scale glove work and double-plus speed and arm strength.

    The Future: Pache’s defensive acumen should allow him to be a valuable member of a first division team but barring a step forward with his approach at the plate, he now seems more like a solid regular as a defensive specialist at the bottom of the lineup than the potential All-Star prospect he looked like in years past.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 40. Power: 50. Speed: 70. Fielding: 80. Arm: 70.

  4. 4. Kyle Muller | LHP
    Kyle Muller
    Born: Oct 7, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 250
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Dallas, 2016 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Nate Dion.
    Minors: 5-4 | 3.39 ERA | 93 SO | 42 BB | 80 IP

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: Muller’s stuff has steadily progressed since 2016, when the Braves drafted him out of high school, and he sat in the upper-80s with his fastball. Five years later and after filling out a 6-foot-7 frame, Muller has some of the best pure stuff in the system—now he just needs to harness it.

    Scouting Report: Muller has a fastball that sits around 94 mph and routinely gets up into the upper 90s, with standout spin metrics and extension that allows the pitch to generate tons of whiffs up in the zone. After flashing impressive breaking stuff in the past, Muller had scouts put plus grades on his mid-80s slider and above-average grades on his 80 mph curve this year, while some also said his firm changeup was a solid pitch as well. What’s held Muller back is his control. After walking 14.5% of batters in 2019 in Double-A, Muller improved a bit between the majors and minors in 2021, but still walked more than 12% at both levels. He stopped going over the top of his head in his windup this year to simplify and become more consistent with his strikes.

    The Future: Given his pure stuff and handedness, Muller has some of the best pitching upside in the system. The Braves have committed to developing him as a starter, but if his control doesn’t make strides, he has the sort of stuff to be a big league closer. He’ll have a big-league role in some capacity, but his command will determine what exactly that role is. He has two options remaining, so there’s still plenty of time to sort out his exact role.

    Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 55. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 40

  5. 5. Spencer Strider | RHP
    Spencer Strider
    Born: Oct 28, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: Clemson, 2020 (4th round).
    Signed By: Billy Best.
    Minors: 3-7 | 3.64 ERA | 153 SO | 40 BB | 94 IP

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: Strider was a high-profile pitching prospect out of high school and pitched well when healthy with Clemson in college. But his college career was limited by Tommy John surgery and the covid-shortened 2020 season. The Braves were extremely high on both his pure stuff and aptitude. He went from low-A Augusta to the big leagues in just one year, pitching at five different levels.

    Scouting Report: Far and away the biggest riser in Atlanta’s system this year, Strider used an upper-90s fastball to overwhelm his competition at every step of the minor league ladder. The Braves had him largely shelve his changeup and scrap his curveball and wanted him to focus on throwing four-seam fastballs up in the zone paired with a vertical slider down in the zone. It worked to great effect and helped Strider strike out 39.3% of batters—the second-best mark of Atlanta pitchers with 50 or more innings. Strider’s slider improved this year with the focus on the pitch and looks like a future above-average offering with a bit more consistency that should pair nicely with a fastball that has great riding life up in the zone. He began re-working the changeup into his arsenal in the second half of the season but remains a distant third pitch at this point.

    The Future: Because of a primary two-pitch mix, external evaluators see Strider as a bullpen piece in the future. Atlanta still views Strider as a starter and will develop him as such next year, where he’ll likely be in the Triple-A Gwinnett rotation looking to round out his arsenal and develop into a mid or back of the rotation arm.

    Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Slider: 55. Changeup: 45. Control: 50

  6. 6. Drew Waters | OF
    Drew Waters
    Born: Dec 30, 1998
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Woodstock, Ga., 2017 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Dustin Evans.
    Minors: .240/.329/.381 | 11 HR | 28 SB | 404 AB

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: Waters was a local Georgia prospect who the Braves signed in the second round in 2017 for $1.5 million. He progressed through the minors and was named the Double-A Southern League MVP in 2019, but the lost 2020 covid season hampered his offensive development.

    Scouting Report: Waters needed as many upper-level at-bats as he could get and this year repeated Triple-A after struggling at the level in 26 games during 2019. Overall, Waters made marginal improvements offensively, but was still a below league-average hitter in Triple-A, per wRC+ (94). A 6-foot-2 switch hitter with long levers, Waters has struck out 30% or more in 129 games with Gwinnett, though he went from a 36.1% strikeout rate in 2019 to 30.9% in 2021, and in the final month of the season, saw that clip drop to 21.9%. The Braves want Waters to improve his mental approach at the plate and gain a better understanding of the pitches he can and cannot do damage with. His toolset is still quite loud, with plus speed, defensive ability and arm strength that will allow him to play center field well and either left or right exceptionally with average in-game power potential to go along with it.

    The Future: For Waters, his role will rely on the mental adjustments he’s able to make at the plate. His toolset suggests an above-average regular, but if his strikeout rate prevents him from being a fringy or average hitter with solid power, well, Atlanta’s outfield room is getting more crowded with Michael Harris coming up behind him. Waters is still young and will enter his age-23 season in 2022.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 50. Speed: 60. Fielding: 60. Arm: 60.

  7. 7. Braden Shewmake | SS
    Braden Shewmake
    Born: Nov 19, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: Texas A&M, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Darin Vaughan.
    Minors: .228/.271/.401 | 12 HR | 4 SB | 324 AB

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: Shewmake was the second first round pick the Braves made in the 2019 draft, taking him No. 21 overall after selecting Shea Langeliers with the ninth pick. He was a standout hitter at Texas A&M and the Braves pushed him aggressively to Double-A in his pro debut after tearing up Low-A Rome.

    Scouting Report: Shewmake’s first full back with Mississippi got off to an abysmal start, as Shewmake hit just .099/.158/.183 in May, which was poor to tank his season long line. While there’s no getting around his struggles early, the Braves were happy with Shewmake’s adjustment after the fact, and he hit a solid .265/.303/.462 with 11 home runs and a 110 wRC+ from June to the end of the season. He hit velocity well, showed contact skills and ability to shoot the ball the other way. Shewmake is a lean player who needs to add more weight to increase his power production and to better handle the rigors of a full professional season, though he struggled to add weight going back to his college career. The biggest bright spot of Shewmake’s season was on the defensive side. He drew rave reviews from scouts and managers for his play at shortstop. He has the physical tools and instincts to be a potential 55 defender, with good body control, an advanced internal clock and enough arm strength to make all the necessary throws.

    The Future: Shewmake is likely slated to begin 2022 back in Double-A, where he will try to put together a complete offensive season and show strength gains. He’s now one of the only pure shortstop prospects in the system.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 45. Speed: 60. Fielding: 55. Arm: 50.

  8. 8. Bryce Elder | RHP
    Bryce Elder
    Born: May 19, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 220
    Drafted/Signed: Texas, 2020 (5th round).
    Signed By: Darin Vaughan.
    Minors: 11-5 | 2.75 ERA | 155 SO | 57 BB | 138 IP

    BA Grade: 45/Medium

    Track Record: The Braves drafted Elder in the fifth round of the 2020 draft, signing him for an over slot $847,500 bonus after he posted a 2.08 ERA in four starts and 26 innings during the covid shortened season. In his first full pro season, Elder led all minor league pitchers with 137.2 innings, went from High-A to Triple-A and was named Atlanta’s minor league pitcher of the year.

    Scouting Report: While Atlanta has no shortage of elite fastball arms, Elder is a different sort of pitcher, with a five-pitch mix and perhaps the best pitchability in the organization. Braves officials think Elder is at another level in terms of preparation, an understanding of what he does well and how best to attack opposing hitters. He primarily uses a 90-94 mph sinker, mid-80s slider that features standout depth and an above-average changeup that he is comfortable using in any count and in any situation. He also throws a four-seam fastball and curveball. Elder induces plenty of ground balls (56.9% ground ball rate) but has the secondary stuff to miss bats as well. He walked 10.2% of batters and is still adjusting his game to the pro strike zone, which doesn’t allow him to work as much side-to-side like he did in college.

    The Future: There are higher-upside arms with better stuff in Atlanta’s system, but Elder is the safest bet to start, with quality off-speed that should keep him off enough bats at the next level. He showed an ability to work deep and efficiently in games, throwing seven innings six times and never threw more than 99 pitches in a game.

    Tool Grades: Fastball: 50. Curveball: 50. Slider: 60. Changeup: 55. Control: 55

  9. 9. Ryan Cusick | RHP
    Ryan Cusick
    Born: Nov 12, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 235
    Signed By: Billy Best.
    Minors: 0-1 | 2.76 ERA | 34 SO | 4 BB | 17 IP

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: The Braves went back to the Wake Forest pitching lab in 2021 after drafting lefthander Jared Shuster in the first round in 2020, signing the flame throwing righthander for $2.7 million as the 24th overall pick.

    Scouting Report: Cusick is a massive, 6-foot-6, 235-pound righthander who has thrown hard going back to his prep days in Connecticut and owned arguably the top fastball in the 2021 draft class, an upper-90s pitch that has touched 102 and grades out well in terms of life and swing-and-miss results in the zone. That pitch allowed him to strike out a ridiculous 50.7% of hitters in his short, 16.1 inning pro debut at Low-A Augusta. While Cusick’s command was criticized by amateur scouts, the Braves like his ability to throw the fastball for strikes and believe the pitch is overpowering enough to dominate hitters without pinpoint accuracy. He’s thrown both a curveball and slider in the past, but the Braves have implemented hard vertical sliders with several of their pitching prospects, and that breaking ball was the focus for him after signing. He’ll likely continue to pitch primarily off the fastball and slider early next year, with a curveball or firm, upper-80s changeup he flashed in college as potential third pitch options for him in the future. Cusick walked batters at a 4.5 per nine clip over his college career, but with a simplified approach in pro ball cut that down to 2.2 per nine with Augusta.

    The Future: Cusick should start in High-A Rome or better next year and has mid-rotation upside with impact reliever fallback potential given his natural arm talent.

    Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 50. Slider: 55. Changeup: 40. Control: 50

  10. 10. Jesse Franklin | OF
    Jesse Franklin
    Born: Dec 1, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Michigan, 2020 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Jeremy Gordon.
    Minors: .244/.320/.522 | 24 HR | 19 SB | 360 AB

    BA Grade: 45/Medium

    Track Record: After two solid seasons at Michigan that included a 2019 trip to the College World Series, Franklin didn’t get to play as a junior in 2020 thanks to a broken collarbone. The Braves still drafted him in the third round and he paid off that faith with an excellent 2021 debut.

    Scouting Report: Franklin started the season slow, hitting just .200/.228/.253 in 19 games during May at High-A Rome. The Braves got him a bit more upright and let him adopt a more power and pull-oriented approach, which yielded a .256/.343/.593 line with 24 home runs and 20 doubles from June through the end of the season. Franklin had shown a professional, contact-oriented, all-fields approach in the past, but Atlanta wanted to let him cut loose and see how hard he could drive the ball this year. Turns out he can drive the ball quite far, and is now the best power hitting prospect in the system, with 65-grade raw power. That power-oriented approach resulted in more chases and a 28.3% strikeout rate, but Franklin also posted the 13th-best isolated slugging among qualified minor leaguers 22 or younger and led the Braves system in homers. Franklin is an instinctual defender who can fill in as a center fielder if necessary thanks to an impressive first step and route running, but his pure speed and arm strength make him a better fit for left. Despite being an average or a tick better runner, he steals bases with efficiency (19-for-23, 82.6%).

    The Future: The Braves want to see Franklin continue showing this sort of power, while improving his contact and walk rates at the next level. His best case scenario is as an everyday left fielder, but his most likely future role is a lefty-hitting platoon power bat.

    Tool Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 60. Speed: 50. Fielding: 55. Arm: 45.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  


Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining