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

Atlanta Braves

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

Click prospect for player report

Prospect Lists

Best Tools

Top Prospects of the Decade
(Listed with 2022 organization)

Top Draft Picks of the Decade
(Listed with 2022 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: .289/.347/.481 | 4 HR | 10 SB | 135 AB

    BA Grade: 60/High

    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.

    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.

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

  2. 2. 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: 2-2 | 3.69 ERA | 44 SO | 11 BB | 32 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

  3. 3. 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.

    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

  4. 4. 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: 0-0 | 6.55 ERA | 8 SO | 4 BB | 11 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

  5. 5. 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: .310/.341/.548 | 3 HR | 0 SB | 42 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.

  6. 6. 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: .307/.360/.436 | 2 HR | 4 SB | 101 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.

  7. 7. 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: .236/.333/.400 | 2 HR | 2 SB | 55 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.

  8. 8. Vaughn Grissom | SS
    Vaughn Grissom
    Born: Jan 5, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Oviedo, Fla., 2019 (11th round).
    Signed By: Jon Bunnell.
    Minors: .302/.409/.440 | 3 HR | 5 SB | 116 AB

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: The Braves liked Grissom’s bat enough to sign him for $347,500 in the 11th round in 2019 and he just had one of the better offensive seasons in Atlanta’s system, posting a 143 wRC+ between Low-A and High-A.

    Scouting Report:Grissom has showcased impressive contact ability since he joined pro ball, and that continued in 2021. He pairs that natural bat-to-ball ability with a solid understanding of the strike zone, and his walk-to-strikeout rate was one of the best marks in the system. While Grissom possesses solid foundational hitting skills, scouts have been wanting to see him drive the ball for more impact and home run production. He has raw power that shows up more in batting practice, and his top-end exit velocities stack up with some of the better sluggers in the system (113.2 max EV) but some evaluators believe he’ll always hit for more average than power. His slugging numbers progressed as the year went on and he has room to add weight to his frame still, but some scouts note a lack of freedom in his swing that could limit his impact. He’s stretched at shortstop due to limited range and athleticism. He has the arm strength for third and the hands to handle second.

    The Future: Grissom should get his first test against upper-level minor league arms in 2022 where he’ll look to hit for more impact. For now he profiles as a contact-oriented utility infielder.

  9. 9. Jared Shuster | LHP
    Jared Shuster
    Born: Aug 3, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 210
    Drafted/Signed: Wake Forest, 2020 (1st round).
    Signed By: Billy Best.
    Minors: 2-2 | 1.53 ERA | 38 SO | 6 BB | 36 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: The Braves made Shuster their first-round pick in 2020 after the southpaw saw a significant uptick in velocity during the shortened 2020 season, signing him for just under $2.2 million. That velocity didn’t hold up in his first taste of pro ball this year, and while he pushed to Double-A, Shuster is still adjusting to the rigors of pro ball.

    Scouting Report:Shuster stands out for his pitching ability and a devastating changeup that multiple Braves officials have said is better than righthander Ian Anderson’s. The pitch is an easy plus offering that generates ugly swings and is thrown with confidence and 12 mph separation from his fastball. While that velocity gap is solid, Shuster sat with a fastball in the 88-92 mph range, touching 94. The shape of the pitch is solid, but so far it looks like his draft-year spike in velocity was more of a flash in the pan than a sign of a new normal. Shuster’s slider is a low-80s breaking ball that generated whiffs at a decent clip this year, but scouts think it’s more of an average offering at best. Shuster looked like he was still acclimating to the pro schedule, and he got hit around over three starts in Double-A (11.7 H/9), though he has continued to throw quality strikes.

    The Future: Shuster’s ceiling is somewhat limited given his velocity, though an out-pitch changeup and above-average control give him a chance to be a back-end starter.

  10. 10. Freddy Tarnok | RHP
    Freddy Tarnok
    Born: Nov 24, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Riverview, Fla., 2017 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Justin Clark.
    Minors: 1-0 | 3.55 ERA | 26 SO | 13 BB | 26 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: A two-way player out of high school in Florida, the Braves drafted Tarnok in the third round as a pitcher and signed him for $1.4 million. His development was slow going for his first four years, but in 2021 Tarnok took a step forward and reached Double-A Mississippi, where he dominated and posted a 2.60 ERA.

    Scouting Report:Tarnok has come into his own physically and as a pitcher this year, and now gets his fastball up into the 95-98 mph range at times, with one of the best true curveballs in the system—a 12-to-6 downer that gets plus grades. Tarnok added strength, velocity and more comfort with his delivery during the 2020 covid season. He primarily pitched off that fastball/curveball combination in 2021, but as the year progressed, he worked in a slider and a changeup. Both pitches need more work to get consistent above-average grades, but Braves officials were happy with how comfortable he seemed with both by the end of the year. Previously, Tarnok’s changeup was viewed as one of the best in the system, but it regressed this year while his curve improved. Among Braves minor leaguers with at least 10 starts, only Spencer Strider posted a better strikeout percentage than Tarnok (36.5%).

    The Future: Tarnok is now close to or inside the top tier of Braves pitching prospects after showing the best bat-missing stuff of his pro career. He’s got plenty of positive indicators between his size, deep pitch mix and command. Now he needs to do the same against more advanced hitters. Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 60. Slider: 50. Changeup: 55. Control: 55

  11. 11. AJ Smith-Shawver | RHP
    AJ Smith-Shawver
    Born: Nov 20, 2002
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Trey McNickle
    Minors: 0-1 | 4.40 ERA | 49 SO | 19 BB | 29 IP

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: A twitchy, multi-sport athlete out of high school, the Braves took a chance on Smith-Shawver’s explosive arm speed, signing him to just under $1 million in the 7th round.

    Scouting Report:Given Smith-Shawver’s current stuff, athleticism and arm speed, there are officials in Braves camp who think the 6-foot-3 righthander could be one of the top prospects in the system in a few years. There’s some refinement that needs to happen—particularly with his command—before that, and he did struggle in a brief pro debut but the toolset is tantalizing. Smith-Shawver touched 94-95 during the spring but with Atlanta he’s been sitting in that range, getting up to 97 mph with solid vertical life. The spin on both his breaking balls is impressive as well. He threw a mid-80s gyro slider more frequently this summer than a 7 o’clock tilt, downer curve in the upper-70s—but both pitches have a chance to be above-average. On top of that, Smith-Shawver showed feel for a mid-80s changeup that was well beyond his years and experience level on the mound, forcing hitters well beyond his level to ground out on ugly swings in live at-bats.

    The Future: Smith-Shawver was a prep quarterback and hasn’t spent much time focusing on pitching, but Braves officials rave about his early progress and believe he is a potential breakout candidate.

  12. 12. Tucker Davidson | LHP
    Tucker Davidson
    Born: Mar 25, 1996
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Midland (Texas) JC, 2016 (19th round).
    Signed By: Nate Dion.
    Minors: 1-1 | 4.44 ERA | 34 SO | 9 BB | 27 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Davidson became the first Midland (Texas) JC draftee to make the majors when he debuted in 2020, and he threw 20 innings in 2021 before a forearm strain sidelined him for most of the season. Davidson did come back for the postseason and made a spot start in game five of the World Series, though he allowed four runs in two innings.

    Scouting Report:While healthy, Davidson showed a better ability to attack the strike zone at the major league level this year. Establishing his 93 mph fastball allowed his secondary stuff to play up. It’s a low-spin fastball, but Davidson pairs that with a firm slider in the upper 80s. The slider is now his go-to breaking ball, with above-average potential and his curveball features solid vertical depth that could give him a third average offering. He largely scrapped a mid-80s changeup (1% usage) in 2021 and the pitch is a distant fourth offering compared to his fastball and breaking pitches. Previously, Davidson’s control has led opposing scouts to view him as a reliever, but the Braves have stuck with him as a starter and he looked to take a step forward in his control this year, albeit in a brief sample.

    The Future: Davidson’s playoff start suggests the Braves trust him, and he should be back in the mix for the team’s pitching plans in 2022.

  13. 13. Darius Vines | RHP
    Darius Vines
    Born: Apr 30, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 190
    Signed By: Kevin Martin
    Minors: 2-2 | 4.84 ERA | 43 SO | 13 BB | 36 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Vines was drafted twice (by the Astros out of high school and Cubs out of junior college) before the Braves eventually signed him as a seventh rounder in 2019. After struggling in rookie ball, Vines took a step forward in 2021.

    Scouting Report:Vines was older than his competition to start the year, and overwhelmed hitters with an ability to land his quality secondary offerings for strikes. His fastball averages 92 mph and has touched 95-96, but is average at best. He shines with secondary stuff and took a big step forward with a low-80s changeup that looks like an above-average offering. Vines has excellent feel to spin the ball and throws both a low-80s slider and a downer, mid-70s curveball with plenty of depth that was his calling card as an amateur. He has feel for both offerings, but went to the slider more frequently in 2021 and lands it in the zone consistently. Vines was a high school quarterback and is a good athlete who has shown strong ability to throw strikes with his entire arsenal.

    The Future: How Vines’ stuff plays against hitters in the upper minors will add more clarity to his future role, but for now he seems like a depth arm who could be a back-end starter or pitch in the pen.

  14. 14. Spencer Schwellenbach | RHP
    Spencer Schwellenbach
    Born: May 31, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Signed By: JD French

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: Schwellenbach was one of the best two-way prospects in the 2021 class. A shortstop and righthander, he strolled to the mound as a reliever for Nebraska—with little to no pitching prep—and put 99 mph fastballs and solid secondaries over the plate. Atlanta’s scouting staff drooled over his upside and signed him for $997,500.

    Scouting Report:Schwellenbach is one of the better pure athletes in Atlanta’s system, with incredible natural arm talent. However, he needed Tommy John surgery after the draft and has few innings under his belt. The 6-foot-1 righty has a chance to throw 100 mph in the future, and despite how little time he’s spent honing his craft, showed impressive command of his fastball and a slider and changeup. Amateur scouts saw the secondary offerings as average or above-average pitches, while Braves officials think both pitches have a chance to be plus. The Braves are planning to stretch him out as a starter, where his athleticism and easy operation could serve him well.

    The Future: Schwellenbach’s surgery means he might not get into games until 2023 and there might not be a player in the system with higher variance. The Braves will try to continue adding to their reputation for developing arms and identifying two-way talents with the Nebraska product.

  15. 15. Diego Benitez | SS
    Diego Benitez
    Born: Nov 19, 2004
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 183

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: Benitez was one of the top offensive threats out of Venezuela in the 2021-22 class, with the Braves making him the centerpiece player of their group when the signing period opened on Jan. 15, 2022.

    Scouting Report:With a wide back on a strong frame, Benitez has excellent bat speed on a smooth swing thats stays on plane through the hitting zone for a long time. He’s a patient hitter who will take his walks, typically swinging at good pitches with the plate coverage to square up pitches throughout the zone. Benitez has gap power now, with the bat speed and strength projection to grow into average or better power, with some of it already starting to show up now more as he has learned to get his legs more engaged in his swing. He’s an above-average runner, though with his body type he might slow down as he packs on more weight. He’s a sound enough defender to handle shortstop now with the arm for the left side of the infield, but with his range and size he might slide over to third base.

    The Future: Benitez is the most advanced offensive player the Braves have signed out of Latin America in several years. He should make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.

  16. 16. Royber Salinas | RHP
    Royber Salinas
    Born: Apr 10, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Carlos Sequera
    Minors: 1-2 | 2.45 ERA | 63 SO | 16 BB | 30 IP

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    May Update: Armed with a mid-to-high-90s fastball with plus vertical ride, Salinas overwhelmed Low-A competition over the first month of the season. His pair of distinctly different breaking balls in his tight mid-80s slider and a hammer curveball at 79-82 mph both miss bats at an elite rate. His ability to play the two pitches off of his fastball paired with his deceptive operation make him one of the more uncomfortable at-bats in the lower minors. Still refining his command, Salinas will lose his release point and fight bouts of poor command. Salinas turned 21 years old in April and should spend the majority of the season at High-A Rome. While he’s likely to end up in a pen should his command not improve, Salinas will be given every chance to start as he moves up the ladder.

  17. 17. Daysbel Hernandez | RHP
    Daysbel Hernandez
    Born: Sep 15, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 220
    Drafted/Signed: Cuba, 2017.
    Signed By: Rolando Petit.

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: After spending two years in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Hernandez signed for $190,000 in 2017 and took a big step forward in High-A in 2019. The Braves challenged Hernandez this year and assigned him to Triple-A, where he struggled initially before rebounding with Double-A Mississippi and finding more success in a return to Triple-A.

    Scouting Report:Hernandez has never started a professional game and works with a hard two-pitch mix. His fastball sits with plus velocity for a reliever in the 96-99 mph range and he gets to 100 mph at peak. The pitch comes from a flat approach angle thanks in part to his 5-foot-10 frame and has impressive vertical life. He pairs the fastball with a hard slider that sits in the 87-89 mph range and will get into the low 90s, with sharp downward bite. The breaking ball is also a plus offering and he used both to rack up plenty of whiffs. What has held Hernandez back is his control. He’s walked 11.3% of batters in the minors and that rate was worse in Double-A and Triple-A this season.

    The Future: Hernandez has the two-pitch mix to be a middle-leverage reliever, but he’ll need to sharpen his control to step into that role. If he’s throwing strikes, he could debut in 2022.

  18. 18. Brooks Wilson | RHP
    Brooks Wilson
    Born: Mar 15, 1996
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Justin Clark

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Wilson was a two-way player at Stetson—where he was teammates with Mariners first rounder Logan Gilbert—and signed for just $80,000 as a seventh-round senior sign. His first two years in pro ball were sound, but he was outstanding in 2021, so much so that the Braves placed him on the 40-man roster after the season.

    Scouting Report:Among Braves minor leaguers, only Indigo Diaz managed a better strikeout rate than Wilson’s 41.4% mark in Double-A and Triple-A. Wilson throws from a high, three-quarter slot and has a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 96, a low-80s split-change and an upper-70s curveball he uses as a get-me-over pitch. The splitter is Wilson’s bread-and-butter, a pitch that racked up tons of whiffs this year and falls out of the bottom of the zone. That pitch was the primary reason he was able to set career-bests in strikeout rates against upper-level minor league hitters. He struck out more than 40% of batters at both levels.

    The Future: Braves officials have lauded Wilson’s competitiveness, and given his performance, three-pitch mix and strike throwing, think he can be a multi-inning or low-leverage reliever.

  19. 19. Victor Vodnik | RHP
    Victor Vodnik
    Born: Oct 9, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 200
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Rialto, Calif., 2018 (4th round).
    Signed By: Kevin Martin.
    Minors: 0-0 | 0.00 ERA | 14 SO | 3 BB | 7 IP

    BA Grade: 45/Extreme

    Track Record: The Braves took a shot on Vodnik’s natural arm strength out of high school, despite plenty of rawness to his game, and signed him for $200,000 in the 14th round. He pitched well in his first full season in 2019, but struggled with Double-A Mississippi this year, and also dealt with a forearm strain and blisters that limited him to 33.2 innings.

    Scouting Report:While Vodnik had some bright spots in the Arizona Fall League, his struggles largely carried over in his 23.2 innings there as well. Vodnik is a short righthander with a three-pitch mix led by an easy plus fastball that sat 95-96 and has been up to 100 mph. He also throws a firm changeup in the upper 80s and a slurvy slider in the low 80s. The former looked like his best secondary this season and features plenty of arm-side running action. The breaking ball has been crude going back to his prep days and is a question mark moving forward. After showing solid control during his first two years, Vodnik walked 14.7% of the batters he faced this year.

    The Future: Vodnik will look to get back on track next year, where scouts will look to see if his regression in control was health-related or an accurate reflection of his skill in putting the ball over the plate. He projects as a reliever moving forward.

  20. 20. Brandol Mezquita | OF
    Brandol Mezquita
    Born: Jul 14, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 170
    Signed By: Jonathan Cruz
    Minors: .333/.419/.463 | 2 HR | 4 SB | 108 AB

    BA Grade:45/Extreme

    May Update: With above-average raw power and plus speed, Mezquita is a tooled-up player with breakout potential. Early in 2022 the 20-year-old is holding his own through his first taste of full-season ball. While his approach remains aggressive and there is some swing and miss to his game, he does a good job of getting flush barrel contact with the plus bat speed to do damage. Slight improvements to his bat to ball skills and swing decisions could see Mezquita take a step into projected everyday regular status. For now he’s a toolsy outfielder with upside and early signs of progress at a more advanced level.

    Track Record: Mezquita signed with the Braves in 2017, a year after the class that had 13 players’ contracts voided and resulted in former general manager John Coppolella being banned for life. Mezquita has been one of the only bright spots on the international front for the organization over the last few years.

    Scouting Report: Mezquita impressed Atlanta hitting coaches with his power potential and gap-to-gap hitting ability. He currently has an aggressive approach that features some swing-and-miss (29% strikeouts) but he has posted impressive top-end exit velocity numbers which should continue to improve and translate into more game power. A plus runner, Mezquita has played all three outfield positions but has increasingly logged more time in left and right over the years. He has an above-average arm. Braves officials are impressed with his cultural adjustment and English skills, and believe he has the mental acumen to make the necessary adjustments as he climbs the minor league ladder.

    The Future: After spending a few years in rookie ball, Mezquita should begin the 2022 season in Low-A Augusta. He is one of the organization’s more intriguing, lower-level hitting prospects.

  21. 21. Cal Conley | SS
    Cal Conley
    Born: Jul 17, 1999
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 185
    Signed By: Trey McNickle
    Minors: .220/.281/.394 | 5 HR | 13 SB | 127 AB

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: Conley is the son of former professional player and coach Brian Conley and was the sparkplug of Texas Tech’s lineup and the anchor of the team’s defense this spring. The Braves signed him for $422,500 in the fourth round and assigned him to Low-A Augusta, where he struggled with the bat while playing shortstop and second.

    Scouting Report:A tough, but smaller switch-hitting infielder, Conley stands out more for a collection of average-ish tools than any individual carrying tool. He’s shown consistent contact ability and some pop from both sides in the past, though in his debut he swung and missed at an average rate and scouts don’t believe his 15-home run power in college will translate to a wood bat. His top end exit velocity numbers this summer don’t suggest average power production, though Conley should stick at a middle infield position where that’s less of an issue. He’s a solid runner with reliable hands and the Braves were happy with how he handled shortstop, though his arm strength and range fit better at second base. He has solid instincts and a good internal clock.

    The Future: Conley will need to add more power to profile as anything more than a utility infield-type player who looks stretched as an everyday shortstop.

  22. 22. Indigo Diaz | RHP
    Indigo Diaz
    Born: Oct 14, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 250
    Signed By: Freddy Perez
    Minors: 0-3 | 4.97 ERA | 16 SO | 12 BB | 13 IP

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: A 27th-round pick in the 2019 draft, Diaz had a strong—albeit brief—pro debut in Rookie ball. In his first full season in 2021 he was one of the best pitchers in the Braves’ system. His 47.4% strikeout rate led all minor league pitchers with at least 40 innings.

    Scouting Report:A big, physical reliever, Diaz put in plenty of work over the offseason to get stronger and that resulted in louder pure stuff. The Braves always liked the carry on his fastball and now he’s throwing the pitch in the 93-94 mph range and touching 97. That velocity doesn’t stand out among relievers, but the traits of the pitch are solid and he does a nice job living in the top of the zone where he generates a ton of whiffs. His secondary offering is an 83-84 mph vertical slider that gets slurvy at times, but at its best plays off his fastball nicely at the bottom of the zone. He’ll need to continue sharpening the breaking ball, because he isn’t the sort of flamethrower one typically sees in big league bullpens and he tended to get fastball-reliant in 2021.

    The Future: It’ll be hard to replicate the season Diaz just had as he starts to face upper-level bats, but he has a chance to become a medium-leverage reliever with continued progress.

  23. 23. William Woods | RHP
    William Woods
    Born: Dec 29, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 200
    Drafted/Signed: Dyersburg (Tenn.) JC, 2018 (23rd round).
    Signed By: JD French.
    Minors: 0-1 | 6.23 ERA | 15 SO | 2 BB | 9 IP

    BA Grade: 45/Extreme

    Track Record: Woods was one of the most anticipated lower-level prospects in Atlanta’s system after improving his stuff in 2020. A forearm injury in 2021 sidelined him until mid-August and he threw 31.2 innings on the year.

    Scouting Report:Woods has explosive pure stuff, headlined by a fastball that has consistently ticked up over the years and is now touching 99-100 mph and sitting in the mid-90s. In a bullpen role, Woods has the sort of arm strength to regularly throw in the 97-100 mph range in one-inning stints. He’s gotten above-average grades on a mid-80s slider in the past, and that was his most frequently used secondary in his limited time in 2021. He also throws a firm changeup around 90 mph that could use more separation from his fastball but has looked like a promising third offering. Woods has shown scattered control at times, though he is athletic enough to improve in this area given more innings.

    The Future: Woods is difficult to project given his injuries, lack of innings this year and with the lost 2020 season. Scouts haven’t seen much of him at full strength and he’s an entirely different pitcher today than he was in 2019. He has a chance to start, and the Braves continue to develop him in that role but might fit best as a power-armed reliever.

  24. 24. Greyson Jenista | 1B/OF
    Greyson Jenista
    Born: Dec 7, 1996
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 210
    Drafted/Signed: Wichita State, 2018 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Nate Dion.
    Minors: .274/.367/.464 | 4 HR | 0 SB | 84 AB

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: Jenista was a standout hitter at Wichita State and was named MVP in the Cape Cod League prior to being drafted for $1.2 million in the second round. Amateur scouts wondered if Jenista would ever tap into his impressive raw power in games. After struggling to do so in 2018 and 2019, he broke out with 19 home runs in Double-A in 2021.

    Scouting Report:The physical, 6-foot-4 lefthanded slugger has standout raw power and posted some of the better top-end exit velocities in the organization. Jenista does plenty of damage on contact, but he whiffs at a high clip and is susceptible to big velocity. Fortunately, Jenista’s swing decisions seem to be good ones and he used a career-best 15.5% walk rate to get on base at a .343 clip despite a .216 average. He struck out at a career-high rate as well, but those extra whiffs came with the best HR/FB ratio (26.8%) he’s posted in full-season ball and a more pull-heavy approach. Jenista is a fine defender in a corner outfield spot with arm strength for right but with few first base prospects in the system, he played most of his innings in the infield this year.

    The Future: Accessing his raw power more frequently was a step forward for Jenista. He now looks like a three-true-outcomes (57%) slugger who could be a power bench bat or platoon corner option.

  25. 25. Alan Rangel | RHP
    Alan Rangel
    Born: Aug 21, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 170
    Signed By: Manuel Samaniego
    Minors: 1-1 | 5.40 ERA | 31 SO | 15 BB | 22 IP

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: Rangel signed with the Braves out of Mexico in 2014 and has largely been an unnoticed, under-the-radar arm who took his time progressing through the system. He repeated Low-A Rome three consecutive years from 2017-2019 but broke out in 2021 with more strikeouts and pushing to Double-A Mississippi in his age-23 season.

    Scouting Report:Braves pitching coaches worked with Rangel to trust his stuff more, and that paid off with career high strikeout rates, topping 30% in both High-A and Double-A. He has a three-pitch mix featuring a fastball, changeup and curveball. His fastball ranges from 92-95 mph and touches 96, but the pitch has solid vertical life and some arm-side run. His best secondary is a low-80s changeup with good fastball separation. The pitch earned above-average grades and allowed him to dominate hitters and rack up whiffs. Rangel also throws a 12-to-6 curveball in the mid 70s that draws solid-average grades. Rangel has been an above-average strike thrower over his minor league career and his 6.1% walk rate in 2021 was one of the best marks in Atlanta’s system.

    The Future: Rangel’s season was loud enough for the Braves to place him on the 40-man roster. He’ll try to keep missing Triple-A bats in 2022, with a chance to be a big-league depth starter option.

  26. 26. Tyler Collins | OF
    Tyler Collins
    Born: Mar 6, 2003
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 180
    Signed By: Trey McNickle

    BA Grade: 45/Extreme

    Track Record: A speedy, up-the-middle player out of McKinney Boyd High in McKinney, Texas, Collins signed for $447,500 in the eighth round. He was assigned to the Florida Complex League, where he was one of the more impressive 2021 draftee hitters.

    Scouting Report:Speed is Collins’ carrying tool at present. He’s a double-plus runner who can cover plenty of ground in the outfield and turn lightly hit balls into the gaps into extra base hits. His production this summer was likely buoyed in part because of that standout running ability, and his .500 BABIP is unsustainable moving forward. He’s a contact hitter who can spray the ball around the field, but at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds he lacks strength and power. His speed should allow him to play center field with improvement in his reads, but he also played shortstop in high school and could get some time at second base as a professional. His arm is a bit light. At either corner he would need to add significantly more power to profile as an everyday bat.

    The Future: Collins has a carrying tool with his running ability, but scouts will get a better idea of his overall offensive profile in 2022 during full-season ball.

  27. 27. Jasseel De La Cruz | RHP
    Jasseel De La Cruz
    Born: Jun 26, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
    Signed By: Matias Laureano.
    Minors: 0-2 | 8.03 ERA | 11 SO | 7 BB | 13 IP

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: De la Cruz was a low-profile signing who Atlanta signed to a $55,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic, but as he progressed through the system his stuff took big steps forward. He showed an ability to start with effectiveness against Double-A pitching in 2019, but his control regressed significantly in 2021, where he struggled against Triple-A hitters.

    Scouting Report:De la Cruz looked great in May when he threw strikes 65% of the time but fell off significantly after that and split time as a starter and reliever, with better results out of the bullpen. He has a firm fastball in the 94-96 mph range that gets to the upper 90s and has touched 100 mph in the past. The pitch has ordinary life, however, and missed a below-average number of bats. His slider is his go-to secondary, a mid-80s breaker that receives above-average and plus grades at times and has been up to 92 mph with big spin in the 2,700 rpm range. De la Cruz rarely uses a firm changeup that doesn’t have much separation from his fastball and is predominantly a two-pitch righty. After improving his control in 2019, he walked a career-high 12.5% in 2021.

    The Future: Without a consistent third offering and below-average control, De la Cruz profiles best out of the bullpen, where perhaps his fastball/slider combination can play better.

  28. 28. Ambioris Tavarez | SS
    Ambioris Tavarez
    Born: Nov 12, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 175
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2021.

    BA Grade: 45/Extreme

    Track Record: Tavarez is the first prominent international signing the Braves have made since their international sanctions, and there will be pressure on him given his $1.5 million price tag. Tavarez has yet to make his pro debut, but he did go to instructional league.

    Scouting Report:Tavarez is one of the bigger question marks in the system given his lack of playing time, but international scouts were excited about his power potential from the right side. He has lots of strength in his arms and wrists, with bat speed that should allow him to develop plus power in the future as he fills out a projectable frame. Tavarez hasn’t had much in-depth hitting instruction and will need to make improvements with his lower half and get a better understanding of the foundation of his swing. However, his hands work well and the swing is loose and easy. Tavarez will likely begin his career at shortstop, and he’s got more than enough arm strength, but some evaluators think his actions and limited range fit at third base.

    The Future: Tavarez should make his pro debut in 202. He’s a high-upside bat.

  29. 29. Luke Waddell | 2B
    Luke Waddell
    Born: Jul 13, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'9" Wt.: 180
    Minors: .303/.398/.431 | 2 HR | 2 SB | 109 AB

    BA Grade: 40/High

    Track Record: A four-year starter at Georgia Tech, Waddell was the first Yellow Jacket to make the U.S Collegiate National Team since Derek Dietrich in 2008. Draft-eligible in three consecutive years, Waddell was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft but returned to school for his junior season in 2020. After a hot start that spring, Waddell saw his season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. He went undrafted in the five-round 2020 draft, and returned to Georgia Tech for his fourth season. Waddell started 56 games at shortstop for the Yellow Jackets and showed increased power, hitting .309/.402/.474 with eight home runs. Selected in the fifth round by Atlanta in 2021, Waddell signed for an under-slot bonus of $247,500. He debuted with High-A Rome, before seeing a brief eight-game stint with Double-A Mississippi.

    Scouting Report:A classic utility profile, Waddell does a lot of things well but lacks loud physical tools. He’s undersized with a physically mature frame, with boxy shoulders and little to no projection. Despite a lack of physical gifts Waddell is a heady player with innate bat-to-ball skills and a keen eye at the plate. He spits on chase pitches, adjusts to pitch heights and locations and shows the ability to fight off strikes on the edges of the zone with relative ease. He added length and loft to his swing entering his fourth and final season at Georgia Tech and it translated to more game power as he doubled his previous collegiate home run total during the 2021 season. He continued to show power in his professional debut, hitting six home runs with Rome. He’s still at his best when he’s looking to make contact and use the whole field, but the improved impact is a welcome development. Defensively, Waddell has the actions and internal clock to handle several spots on the infield. He’s likely limited by his range at shortstop but has a good first step and has enough arm to make all the necessary throws on the left side of the infield. Waddell is an average runner now but that is likely to regress as he ages.

    The Future: Waddell fits the mold of a utility infielder with the ability to give you a good at-bat off the bench and fill in at a variety of positions on the dirt. He fits best at second base in a full-time role, where his infield actions will prove valuable but his limited range won’t be as exposed as it is at shortstop. The development of some in-game power is welcomed, as Waddell has top-of-the-scale contact rate and rarely strikes out. Whether he hits for enough impact against upper-level pitching is the make-or-break question for Waddell.

  30. 30. Justyn-Henry Malloy | 3B
    Justyn-Henry Malloy
    Born: Feb 19, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 212
    Minors: .324/.423/.486 | 3 HR | 0 SB | 105 AB

    BA Grade: 40/High

    May Update: Drafted out of Georgia Tech in the sixth round of last July’s draft, Malloy hit .270/.388/.434 at Low-A Augusta out of the draft. Assigned to High-A Rome this spring, Malloy is picking up where he left off, showing impressive plate skills. It’s a hit-over-power profile, with plus on-base abilities, as he rarely chases or whiffs on pitches in the zone. At times it’s almost to an extreme as he avoids selling out for power, despite possessing average or better raw juice. It’s not unreasonable to think Malloy could unlock another level of power in the coming years, but it’s not a big part of his current approach. Defensively Malloy has spent his time at third base where as an amateur he showed solid actions and an above-average throwing arm, but his instincts were often put to the test. Malloy is a player with a strong foundation of offensive skills with room for growth on both sides of the ball.

View Players 11-30

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