Over the course of the next 2 weeks, we will be discussing the new look to the Atlanta Braves Top-30 Prospects of 2020. The list is a fairly large shakeup from 2019 with graduations, trades, and some unforeseen releases. Let’s take a look at who’s no longer in the organization that made last year’s top-30.
Travis Demeritte – Traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Shane Greene deal, and was immediately promoted. Had a productive beginning with Detroit, but faded hard and really started racking up the strikeouts.
Luiz Gohara – was released by the Braves after another lost season and was picked up by the Angels, who have a habit of grabbing former Braves. Didn’t pitch at all in 2019 after shoulder surgery.
Three guys with extensive prospect knowledge in the Braves system, Karl Ehrsam (affectionately known as Snowshine), Matt Pocza (@Braves_Rumors), and Ryan Cothran (@baldheaded1der) created individual 2020 Top-30 Braves Prospects lists. From there, the lists were accumulated, math was applied, and everyone rejoiced. Through a point system, we developed a cumulative list that reflects the average rankings for each player. We will be releasing the lists in a series of 7 pieces:
- Piece 1: Those Who Just Missed (Today’s piece)
- Piece 2: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #30-26
- Piece 3: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #25-21
- Piece 4: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #20-16
- Piece 5: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #15-11
- Piece 6: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #10-6
- Piece 7: 2020 Atlanta Braves Prospects #5-1
There were players that might have made our own list, but didn’t make the cumulative list and/or guys that we really liked but just couldn’t crack the top-30. Today, we will pour some love on those guys as these are the guys that could be next in line when a trade goes down.
Snowshine’s Just Missed Players
Stephen Paolini, RF
Our out-of-the-blue 5th round pick this year. An outfielder from a small school in CT, Paolini has 5 plus tools and a prototypical RF body. The Braves not only drafted him earlier than anyone expected, they also gave him an overslot bonus so it’s apparent they love the kid. Was somewhat overmatched in the GCL but that was to be expected at his age.
Tyler Owens, RHP
Got the largest bonus of any day-3 signing in this year’s draft. Owens is a short right hander from a Florida highschool with a big, big fastball and a decent breaker. The change will determine his future as a starter or reliever. He started in rookie ball and put up excellent numbers including a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Were he 4 inches taller he would have been second round material. I’m excited.
Darling Florentino, (3B)
Just 18, he started the year with an assignment to Rome because the Braves don’t put enough emphasis on getting some average guys to fill out a competitive lineup for all of our minor league teams. This went as horribly as you might suspect. Once he got back to the appropriate level in the GCL he began showing the power that has the scouts excited. Has all the tools except hit. While scouts have mixed opinions if he will ever make consistent contact, at least some of them believe.
Ryan’s Just Missed Players
Riley Unroe, MI
.281/.361/.403, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 9 HRs in 513 PAs
The Braves got Unroe in the MiLB portion of the Rule 5 draft last winter and he had a a breakout with the bat, playing for 3 levels in the Braves MiLB system and ending his season at Gwinnett. He’s a switch-hitting plug-n-play infielder with great hands and a good arm. Although not battle-tested, Unroe could likely handle outfield in the way Charlie Culberson handles outfield. He feels like a Culberson or Phil Gosselin type that could be a solid 25th man on an MLB team. In his last few years, he’s carried extreme splits that show he’s well above average from the left side, but putrid from the right side. Maybe he sticks to the left side in 2020? He’ll be Rule 5 eligible again, but in the AAA version. Still, he’s got pedigree (former 60th overall pick) and he could be somebody else’s dream come September. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see a big breakout from him in 2020.
Kurt Hoekstra, RP
I normally apply the rule of Tommy Poe when discussing prospects and no one over 25 can be considered a prospect, but I’ll make an exception for a position player turned reliever. Hoekstra had pitched 9 innings of professional ball in his 4 year career before converting to a pitcher in 2019 after failed attempts to break through as a corner infielder. Hoekstra possesses a mid-90s fastball and a slurve and both are already good pitches that induce a TON of groundballs. New to this pitching thing, Hoekstra is still walking too many, but he has the chance to be the 2020 version of good Chad Sobotka. He’s rule-5 eligible too, but I can’t imagine he’d get scooped up being so raw.
Matt P’s Just Missed Players
Kasey Kalich, RP
Kalich was the Braves 4th round pick in 2019 after a great season at Texas A&M. Kalich notched 12 saves for the Aggies along with 13.5 K/9. Kalich had a 1.25 ERA in 21.2 innings after being drafted. He is a powerful reliever with a fastball that currently tops out at 98. He complements his fastball with a deadly slider. Both pitches have above average spin, but his control needs some improvement. Kalich has high upside with a strong arm and the potential to be a setup man or closer in the big leagues.
Logan Brown, C
Drafted in the 35th round of the 2018 draft, Brown didn’t garner much attention at first. After a red-hot start in his first full season for the Braves, Brown hit .272/.313/.334 across 99 games behind the plate. He struck out 21% of his at bats last season, but he is more of a contact hitter and the strikeouts are expected to decrease next year (he struck out 10% of his Abs in college and 12% in his 37 rookie league games in 2018). The best-case scenario is likely as a backup catcher in the MLB, but that’s something you hope for from a guy taken in the 35th round.
Stick around for the series! It’s going to be a ton of fun talking about some new and old faces!
Thanks for reading!
Long live Braves Journal!
If you liked this piece, take a look at a former top prospect’s 2019 Player Review!