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 2022 organization)

Top Draft Picks of the Decade
(Listed with 2022 organization)

Player Reports

  1. 1. 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: 6-8 | 3.41 ERA | 159 SO | 40 BB | 135 IP

    Track Record: The Braves have had plenty of success developing former two-way players, and like graduated homegrown prospects Austin Riley and Michael Harris II, Muller was a standout two-way prospect in high school. Muller showed improved velocity during his 2016 draft year and leapt up draft boards after he struck out 24 straight batters over two starts in a competitive Dallas region. The Braves eventually signed Muller for $2.5 million in the second round of the 2016 draft and watched him continue to improve his stuff--to the point where he had some of the best pure arm talent in the system. Harnessing that stuff has always held Muller back, though with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022 he posted his lowest walk rate (7.4%) since the 2018 season and pitched well in two of his three big league starts.

    Scouting Report: Muller has a four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball that sits in the 93-95 mph range and tops out around 97-98. While the pitch has ordinary life and shape, it does play up a bit thanks to his extension--a product of an extra-large, 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame. The Braves have encouraged Muller to attack the zone aggressively with his fastball, both to get ahead in counts and to make hitters swing. He did just that in the minors, throwing his fastball for strikes more than 70% of the time, which should allow him to use his secondaries more effectively to get hitters to chase. Muller throws a firm, upper-80s slider that averaged nearly 87 mph in the majors and put him among the top 25 hardest-thrown lefthanded sliders. The pitch is his go-to secondary offering, and analytically it is his best pitch overall, with impressive chase rates and a whiff rate around 40% in the minors. Muller's slider has earned plus scouting grades, while his low-80s curveball is another quality breaking pitch with horizontal and vertical bite. His curve spin rate is in the 2,400 rpm range, though he threw the pitch in the zone less frequently than any of his offerings. Muller's firm, upper-80s changeup is his fourth pitch and was exclusively used against righthanded hitters in his major league time. It's a non-fastball to use against opposite-hand hitters for Muller in a starting role, though the movement and velocity separation on his changeup don't suggest it'll be anything more than a fourth offering.

    The Future: Muller has one more minor league option remaining, and he graduates from prospect eligibility with just four more outs. He took a solid step forward with his fastball command at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022. While Muller has been developed as a starter, the Braves have plenty of rotation options, and scouts have long believed his pure stuff could play up in the bullpen, where he could pitch in a high-leverage capacity and scrap his changeup. Entering his age-25 season, Muller doesn't have much left to prove. He just needs MLB opportunity.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 60. Changeup: 40. Control: 45

  2. 2. 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: 3-4 | 5.11 ERA | 103 SO | 39 BB | 69 IP

    Track Record: Smith-Shawver was a quick-twitch, multi-sport athlete in high school who was a college prospect as a hitter and pitcher, but the Braves loved his arm enough to sign him for just under $1 million in the seventh round in 2021. Smith-Shawver spent 2022 with Low-A Augusta, where he showed perhaps the highest upside in Atlanta's farm system.

    Scouting Report: Smith-Shawver is a powerful and athletic righthander who has shown legitimate frontline starter stuff, according to scouts both inside and outside the organization. It all starts with his four-seam fastball, a beast of a pitch that averaged nearly 95 mph and peaked at 98. It has excellent life, with 20 inches of induced vertical break and both cutting and running action at times. He's still developing his command of the pitch, but when he's hitting the zone, it can be overpowering. Similarly, Smith-Shawver's slider has the potential to be a wipeout offering. It's an upper-80s pitch with short and hard biting action that disappears at the bottom of the strike zone when it's on. Smith-Shawver throws a changeup in the same velocity range that remains a work in progress. The pitch flashes solid fading life, but he has below-average feel for it presently. Smith-Shawver has reduced the violence of his delivery since high school, but there are still needed refinements. His arm speed is electric, but it's such that he's not often synced up, and he also features plenty of cross-fire action and a heavy fall-off to the first base side--all of which will limit his control and command.

    The Future: The Braves will likely take the Spencer Strider approach with Smith-Shawver, prioritizing fastball command and slider consistency. If his command doesn't improve, his stuff could play in a big league bullpen.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70. Slider: 70. Changeup: 45. Control: 50

  3. 3. Owen Murphy | RHP
    Owen Murphy
    Born: Sep 27, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Signed By: Jeremy Gordon
    Minors: 0-1 | 4.50 ERA | 17 SO | 6 BB | 12 IP

    Track Record: Murphy ranked as the No. 45 prospect in the 2022 draft class thanks to his impressive pure stuff and natural athleticism. He was also a star football player and legitimate prospect as a shortstop. The Braves drafted Murphy 20th overall and signed him to a bonus just over $2.5 million--hoping he would follow in their long line of successfully developed former two-way players. Murphy pitched in Rookie ball and with Low-A Augusta for 12 combined innings after signing.

    Scouting Report: A 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthander, Murphy has a strong foundation as a strike-thrower and a four-pitch mix, though the Braves will likely have him focus on his fastball, curveball and slider during his first full season as a pitcher. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94-95 mph at peak velocity, with high spin rates of 2,500-2,600 rpm and impressive carry. He had more than 19 inches of induced vertical break on the pitch in his brief pro debut. Murphy throws a hammer curveball in the upper 70s that earned plus grades from amateur scouts, and he also threw a hard, slider/cutter in high school in the mid 80s. The Braves are turning that slider into more of a gyro-slider--the same slider Spencer Strider employed to great effect--and will have him scrap an infrequently used but promising 80 mph changeup, at least initially. Atlanta has praised Murphy's makeup and control, and believe he has a good chance to profile as a starter.

    The Future: Murphy will likely begin the 2023 season at Low-A Augusta, where he will work on getting adjusted to the rigors of a pro schedule and full-time pitching role. He has the stuff and polish to move relatively quickly--particularly given his multi-sport and two-way background--and has No. 3 or 4 starter upside.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 60. Slider: 50. Changeup: 45. Control: 55

  4. 4. 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: 7-10 | 3.29 ERA | 145 SO | 38 BB | 140 IP

    Track Record: The shortened 2020 draft has proved to be an exceptional one for the Braves, who drafted Shuster in the first round at No. 25 overall as well as Jesse Franklin, Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder. Strider and Elder have already established themselves as big leaguers just two years later. Shuster could be knocking on the door after a strong overall season in the upper minors.

    Scouting Report: Shuster has impressive feel for a solid three-pitch mix, which includes a fastball, changeup and slider. During his final college season at Wake Forest, Shuster showed improved fastball velocity and was touching 96-97 mph, but that velocity has never fully carried over to pro ball. In 2022, Shuster sat around 90-92 mph with solid carry and cut, with a max velocity around 94-95. His changeup remains his best offering and his go-to secondary, a plus pitch that averages around 80 mph. The pitch continues to generate whiffs at a high rate, as well as ugly swings as it falls below the zone. Shuster's changeup features double-digit velocity separation from his fastball. Shuster tried throwing his slider harder during the 2022 season, and Braves officials were happy with the progress of the pitch--which sat in the 82-87 mph range--though external scouts view it as a fringy pitch that will play up with good command. Shuster is an above-average strike-thrower with a career minor league walk rate of 6.8%. In 2022 he threw all three of his pitches for strikes more than 64% of the time.

    The Future: Shuster's upside and ceiling are limited if he cannot rediscover the power he showed in flashes as an amateur, but he's also one of the most probable big leaguers in the system, with back-end starter or middle reliever upside.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50. Slider: 45. Changeup: 60. Control: 55

  5. 5. JR Ritchie | RHP
    JR Ritchie
    Born: Jun 26, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 185
    Signed By: Cody Martin
    Minors: 0-0 | 1.88 ERA | 14 SO | 5 BB | 15 IP

    Track Record: A polished high school pitcher out of the Northwest, Ritchie was the back-to-back Washington Gatorade Player of the Year and worked with the same pitching coach as 2021 Phillies first-rounder Mick Abel. Ritchie ranked as the No. 52 prospect in the 2022 draft and signed with the Braves for $2.4 million in the supplemental first round. Atlanta acquired the 35th overall pick when it traded Drew Waters, Andrew Hoffmann and CJ Alexander to the Royals about a week before the 2022 draft.

    Scouting Report: Ritchie is nearly physically maxed out at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, but he requires less projection than most prep pitching prospects thanks to an advanced three-pitch mix and solid command. Ritchie sits in the low 90s with his fastball but touched 97-98 mph during the spring and got into the mid 90s during his pro debut, which culminated in three starts for Low-A Augusta. His fastball has just modest life and carry, though he has shown an ability to locate the pitch to both sides of the plate and change eye levels. Ritchie's secondaries are a low-to-mid 80s slider and a changeup in the same velocity band. Both are at least solid-average pitches that--like his fastball--he's shown impressive feel for. His slider has flashed above-average or plus potential in the past, though the shape of the pitch has come and gone depending on the start. Ritchie's slider generated a ton of whiffs in his brief pro debut and will likely be his most reliable out pitch moving forward.

    The Future: The Braves rave about Ritchie's advanced pitchability and mentality. He could start the 2023 season in either Low-A or High-A and it wouldn't be surprising to see him push to Double-A quickly in his age-20 season. Ritchie has back-of-the-rotation upside and a clear path as a starter.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 Slider: 55 Changeup: 50 Control: 55

  6. 6. Justyn-Henry Malloy | OF
    Justyn-Henry Malloy
    Born: Feb 19, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 212
    Signed By: Chris Lionetti
    Minors: .289/.408/.454 | 17 HR | 5 SB | 478 AB

    Track Record: Malloy ranked as the No. 214 prospect in the 2021 draft class out of Georgia Tech, where he showed impressive on-base skills and developing power. The Braves signed him for $300,000 in the sixth round, and he had a solid 2021 pro debut before breaking out in 2022 and pushing himself to Triple-A Gwinnett and then the Arizona Fall League.

    Scouting Report: Malloy is a strong and physical corner infielder and outfielder who homered 17 times between three minor league levels in 2022. He played in pitcher-friendly home parks, making the total more impressive. While Malloy might have above-average raw power, his strike-zone discipline and contact ability drive his value as a prospect. Malloy has one of the keenest batting eyes in Atlanta's system and chased just 18% of the time while also showing quick hands and good bat-to-ball skills. He has a chance to be an above-average hitter who walks at a high rate, though scouts are mixed on his true power potential. His exit velocity numbers are modest, but he has flashed impressive pop to the pull side. Of note, his power numbers trended down as he moved up levels. A well below-average runner, Malloy will be limited to a corner and his most likely defensive home is left field. He played third base at High-A Rome and flashed plus arm strength but had trouble with throwing accuracy and needs much more work on his hands and footwork at the position. Malloy exclusively played left field and DH at Double-A and Triple-A and fits best at that position.

    The Future: Malloy's defensive limitations could cap his upside as an everyday player, though his pure hitting ability and zone control could make him a quality platoon option. More power could increase his potential role as well.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 55. Power: 45. Speed: 30. Fielding: 40. Arm: 55

  7. 7. Royber Salinas | RHP
    Royber Salinas
    Born: Apr 10, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Carlos Sequera
    Minors: 5-8 | 3.55 ERA | 175 SO | 63 BB | 109 IP

    Track Record: Salinas was an under-the-radar signing out of Venezuela in 2018, but he flashed bat-missing potential in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 and in domestic leagues in 2021, when he whiffed 67 batters in 39.1 innings. He fully broke out in 2022 at Low-A Augusta and High-A Rome by striking out 175 batters in 109 innings. It was the most strikeouts in the Braves system and fourth-most among all minor league pitchers.

    Scouting Report: Salinas is a big-bodied righthander listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, though he's quite a bit heavier than that listed weight. He attacks hitters with a powerful three-pitch mix headlined by one of the best fastballs in the system. Salinas sat 93-95 mph with his four-seam fastball and touched 98 in 2022. The pitch has plus carry in the top of the zone, with high spin (2,400 rpm) and more than 18 inches of induced vertical break. He pairs his fastball up with multiple breaking balls that have improved significantly during the 2022 season. Salinas previously threw his slider and curveball with slower, loopier shape. By the end of the season, he was throwing a gyro slider around 87 mph that touched 90 as well as a hammer, downer curveball in the 80-82 mph range. Scouts are mixed on which breaking pitch they prefer, though both were bat-missing pitches at a high level. Salinas' slider was thrown for a strike more frequently and was used more often, while his curve could pair nicely as a north-south complement to his fastball, with more velo separation. Salinas currently has below-average control.

    The Future: Salinas has mid-rotation stuff, but scouts wonder if his control will limit him to a high-leverage bullpen role. They also note that he will need to stay on top of maintaining his body moving forward.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65. Curveball: 60. Slider: 60. Control: 40

  8. 8. Darius Vines | RHP
    Darius Vines
    Born: Apr 30, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 190
    Signed By: Kevin Martin
    Minors: 8-4 | 3.77 ERA | 156 SO | 44 BB | 141 IP

    Track Record: The Braves signed Vines for $130,000 in the seventh round of the 2019 draft after he transferred from junior college and established himself as one of the best pitchers in the Western Athletic Conference with Cal State Bakersfield. Vines impressed with his feel for secondary stuff in 2021 and continued to perform while testing himself against upper-minors competition in 2022.

    Scouting Report: Vines isn't a hard-thrower, but he has excellent feel for a pitch mix that previously included four different options and is now down to three. The Braves had Vines remove a curveball from his arsenal in 2022 to focus on his fastball, changeup and slider. He pitches off a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 94 with above-average carry, but his go-to secondary is a low-80s changeup that has developed into the best such pitch in the system. While Vines' curveball was his bread-and-butter offering as an amateur, he didn't throw it much for strikes in pro ball. The opposite is true of his changeup. He has exceptional command of the pitch and threw it for strikes more than 70% of the time in 2022, with excellent whiff rates, chase rates and analytical and traditional scouting grades. Vines' changeup is at least a plus offering, and some scouts have put 70-grade evaluations on the pitch. He also throws a slider in the low-to-mid 80s with solid spin that should be an average breaking ball. Vines has consistently been a good strike-thrower as a pro and his exceptional feel to land his changeup indicates above-average or better control moving forward.

    The Future: Scouts previously wondered if Vines had the sort of stuff to miss upper-level bats. He proved he could in 2022. He profiles as a back-end starter given his command of three pitches.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 65. Control: 55

  9. 9. 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: 4-3 | 4.05 ERA | 124 SO | 44 BB | 107 IP

    Track Record: Tarnok was a two-way player in high school in Florida, but the Braves signed him for $1.4 million as a pitcher in the 2017 third round after taking Kyle Wright in the first and Drew Waters in the second. Tarnok's progress was slow initially, before a breakout 2021 season when he reached the upper minors. In 2022, Tarnok made his MLB debut by pitching two-thirds of an inning in relief on Aug. 17 against the Mets.

    Scouting Report: In his age-23 season, Tarnok mostly pitched between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he showed flashes of dominance and periods of inconsistency. Tarnok has a four-pitch mix, headlined by a four-seam fastball that sits 93-95 mph and touches 98 with good spin (2,400 rpm) and carry (18 inches of induced vertical break). His go-to secondary is a 12-to-6 curveball in the upper 70s that was previously the best such pitch in the system, but evaluators inside and outside the system noted it took a step backward in 2022. Tarnok showed some progress with a mid-80s changeup, and the Braves have continued to try to help him develop a low-80s slider, though it has been slow going. External evaluators view his changeup and slider as fringe-average offerings. At times, Tarnok showed the ability to dominate with his fastball, but he has also struggled to sync his delivery and navigate a lineup multiple times with consistency.

    The Future: The Braves have committed to developing Tarnok as a starter, but plenty of scouts think he could excel in shorter stints as a reliever where he can focus on dominating with his fastball and using just one or two secondary pitches. He has two minor league options remaining.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 45. Changeup: 45. Control: 45

  10. 10. Dylan Dodd | LHP
    Dylan Dodd
    Born: Jun 6, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 210
    Signed By: JD French
    Minors: 12-9 | 3.36 ERA | 153 SO | 31 BB | 142 IP

    Track Record: The Braves signed Dodd to an under-slot bonus of $125,000 in the third round of the 2021 draft, using the savings there to go over slot to sign players such as seventh-rounder AJ Smith-Shawver and 11th-rounder Adam Shoemaker. The organization liked Dodd's talent, and he moved from High-A Rome to Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022, while posting a 5.4% walk rate. That was the third-best in the system among pitchers with at least 50 innings. His 142 innings ranked top 20 in the minors and speaks to his efficiency.

    Scouting Report: Dodd is regarded more for his pitchability than pure stuff, but his standout command of four-seam and two-seam fastballs sets up the rest of his arsenal. Dodd throws in the 91-92 mph range with his fastball and touches 95, with modest four-seam carry, but he threw each variant of his fastball for strikes more than 73% of the time in 2022. He uses his fastball to set up a slider and a changeup that are both in the low-to-mid 80s. Both pitches flash solid-average to above-average grades, though scouts think the slider is more of a gradual breaking pitch that will play up thanks to his ability to command it and mix it in with his other offerings. Dodd's changeup could be a tick ahead, though he throws the slider for strikes more often. If he can add more power to his breaking pitch, Dodd could improve his upside. But his stuff was good enough to miss bats even as he progressed to higher levels of the minors where he was more age-appropriate as a prospect.

    The Future: Dodd has pitched just 53 innings in the upper levels of the minors, but he's entering his age-25 season and could make his MLB debut in 2023. He has the command and stuff to serve as a swingman or middle reliever. If he develops more power, he could be more than that.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 60

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