I’m no David Lee. I’m no JJ Cooper. I’m really not anyone other than a dude that runs a Braves blog and watches a lot of baseball. However, every year when MLB releases their Top-30 prospects list, I cannot help but shake my head. It just feels…safe. Never have I looked at their list and left surprised and/or intrigued that they’ve taken a risk on a player with high upside over someone that “could” be a Major Leaguer.
This year was no different. Truthfully, I think that prospect lists should’ve been put on halt for the 2020 season, as no one really knew what work was or wasn’t going on behind the scenes. I do realize the reasoning to put them out as it gives people something to look forward to (and provides a lot of hits for sites), but it felt disingenuous.
Let’s take Trey Harris, a personal favorite of mine, for example. For some odd reason, the Braves did not invite Trey to the alt-site for the 2020 season, therefore Trey had to either train on his own or find some income to offset the loss of a near-poverty MiLB wage. What did Trey do this offseason? Honestly, I have no idea and likely no one outside of his small circle knows. So, how does someone move Trey up or down for the 2020 season? I have no clue.
Today, I want to go through MLB.com’s Top-30 list, discuss some issues I had with the list when it dropped, some changes that will (or should) happen midseason, and some additions that could come fast and hard if there’s continued progress.
MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Atlanta Braves
- Cristian Pache
- Drew Waters
- Shea Langeliers
- Braden Shewmake
- Kyle Muller
- William Contreras
- Jared Shuster
- Tucker Davidson
- Jasseel De La Cruz
- Michael Harris
- Freddy Tarnok
- Bryce Elder
- Bryce Ball
- Trey Harris
- Victor Vodnik
- Jesse Franklin
- Daysbel Hernandez
- Vaughn Grissom
- Greyson Jenista
- CJ Alexander
- Spencer Strider
- Thomas Burrows
- Kasey Kalich
- Tyler Owens
- Logan Brown
- Justin Dean
- William Woods
- Mahki Backstrom
- Stephen Paolini
- Jared Johnson
Shea Over Contreras?
We can get nitpicky with Shea Langeliers at 3rd overall and William Contreras 6th, but I’m not. While I do believe Contreras should’ve been at least 5th on this list, I don’t think it’s that out of line to believe there’s more polish on Langeliers.
Muller it Over?
Muller is a physical specimen, but has yet to show any ability to command the zone. All the while, Davidson has spent the last 2 offseasons perfecting his craft and turning himself into a real prospect after being a 19th round afterthought in the 2016 draft. He showed that polish in his 2021 debut and hopefully we’ll see him again soon. Enough already. Tucker’s the better prospect.
DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO MICHAEL HARRIS IS?!
I’m not here to tell you what to believe, but I believe in Michael Harris and his abilities. If this were my list, Michael Harris might be at the number 1 slot and many would think that hasty. I’ve said it several times…when the greats start talking, we should listen. When Chipper Jones throws the comp “Left-handed Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr” and a 20 year is the talk of spring training, it’s enough to catapult a player into top prospect discussions. Harris is destroying the ball at High-A and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the bigs come May of 2022. He’s 10th on this list…he should be in the Top-5…and he could very well be my number 1 by midseason.
Give me a Shot of Vodnik
I love Trey Harris. He’s an easy dude to root for and could end up making it to the show as a 4th OFer/platoon player, but it’s criminal that Victor Vodnik is ranked behind him. Vodnik is currently at AA carrying a 2.57 ERA with a 12.2 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 14 innings. Trey’s struggling out the gate at Mississippi and while he deserves prospect consideration, it’s likely in the 20ish range.
Thomas Burrows, CJ Alexander and Logan Brown? You Serious, Clark?
Burrows is 26 years old. Alexander is 24. Logan Brown is 24. How about we actually try filling out the back of this list with older guys that are actually performing?
The Dean’s List
Hey, look. A performing 24 year old. Not only is Justin Dean a performing 24 year old, but he’s a career .280/.385/.421 player with 68 SBs to 20 CS and budding power. Seriously…stop looking over this man. He’s should be in the top 20 and the only reason he’s not is because of his size. Ozzie Albies would like a word on that subject…
Tidbits on Early Favorites to Break In at Midseason
- Joey Estes-16th round pick in 2019 pumping mid-90s heat as a starter with a 12.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. At Augusta and only 19.
- Roddery Munoz-The talk of the town after his first outing stateside. He’s young, raw, and can touch triple digits. “Munoz is 96-98 early. Lively up. Tends to flatten out at the thighs. Upper-80s SL has good tilt and is consistently tight so far.” ~David Lee
- Riley Unroe– A baseball rat and can do a lot of things well. Should get more recognition.
- Indigo Diaz– A serious stud of a RP catching a lot of eyes in the first. Keep tabs on this one. His line thus far: 6 G, 9.1 IP, 2 H, 0.96 ERA, 3 BB, 19 K, .065 BAA, 18.3 K/9
- Ricky DeVito– Hitting as high as 97 on the radar and carrying a 2.0 BB/9, 10.8 K/9 and a 1.35 ERA, DeVito could be a fast mover through the sysem.
- Trey Riley– Was disastrous in 2019 and is rewriting his future one pitch at a time. Now a full-time multi-inning reliever, Riley can focus on the upper 90s fastball and wipeout slider and putting opponents in bodybags. He’s currently carrying a 3.75 ERA with 13 Ks in 12 innings.
- Others worthy of tabbing: Beau Philip, Cody Milligan, Alec Barger, Darius Vines, Willie Carter, and Carter Linton
Also…Mahki Backstrom is going to be a monster and Willie Carter is a late blooming masher to keep tabs on.
Now let’s end this piece with a series of tweets talking about our prospects. Follow these guys if you have a Twitter account.
Good job, Ryan.
I have often thought that one of the few minor league statline things that worked is Minor League pitchers K / BB ratio. You identified several. I remember starting to follow thi potentially great pitcher named Johnny Venters because of this. I think it was at AA he had 55 K’s and 5 BB’s in 59 innings. If they don’t walk people and they don’t let them put the ball in play, they might be good. “Old for level” can throw that off as can “great change up at Low A, but not much else.”
It sounds like Michael Harris and Vodnik won’t be at their levels for very long. Who do you think is moved up a level by mid-season?
Ozuna out 5-6 weeks
Our old buddy John Gant is having a strange but successful season:
1.81 ERA in six games starting with almost as many walks as strikeouts.
Bummer for Ozuna.
So who comes up? I like the Arcia to left idea…hope it isn’t an Ender/johan/Pache solution
Man, right as Ozuna got going, boom.
But there are many guys raking in AAA. Someone should be able to do the job and at least be as below average on defense as Ozuna is.
Demeritte is not in Gwinnett’s lineup
tonight. He makes a ton of sense. Serious power potential that can be DFA’d if he flops his first 6-7 games.
Bowman says Abraham Almonte is the most likely option to replace Ozuna???? The guy is 31, has over 1000 MLB at bats with 5 different teams, and has a .668 career OPS. I didn’t even know he was in the Braves’ organization. I can only think of about 20 better options, including about half the people who post on this blog.
@8 true story
@1, I was impressed that Buddy Carlyle had such great minor league K/BB ratios as a random Braves pickup and disappointed that he didn’t do well as a starter the one year he got a chance. Over 2007-09, his K and BB numbers in the Braves’ system (almost all AAA) were 56-9, 7-3, and 24-1. He was definitely old for the minors, though. Did have two decent MLB years as a reliever – 2-0, 3.59 in 62 innings with the Braves in 2008 and 1-1, 1.45, 28-5 K/BB for the Mets in 31 innings in 2014, though he was slightly below replacement-level (bWAR) for his career.
OK this sucks about Ozuna.
Remember a few years back when Cory Seager went down for the Dodgers? And they responded to losing their all-star by trading for Manny Fucking Machado in-season? Remember what a flex that was? Even if you hate the Dodgers, you gotta admit that was an awesome move.
What if – hear me out – what if the Braves trade for a big OF bat while Ozuna is out? Do it AA! Go big!
The four pitch walk was a great job by Smyly. An 0-2 hanger to a lefty…he might make the all star game to pitch in the HR Derby
@12 – The problem with that is they need the Derby to end before midnight.
Well done. Excellent! Woohoo!!
Good thing nobody is up in the pen. I mean, what could go wrong the third time through the lineup for Smyly?
Dude is a long reliever.
Why is Snit challenging? What a waste
@16 what a waste of cash
Snit always caught off guard. Has he not watched this dude pitch this year? He gets lit up the third time through every time. How many games has Zombie Snit cost us this year with his slow or curious moves?
Luke sticks the double Grybo without giving up any of his own.
I like it. All Smyly’s runs. That clowns ERA is now 5.95 heading into June. Get him in a long relief role and give Davidson this rotation spot. Hell, I would rather try Newk or Wright before Smyly again.
I’m not sure Luke Jackson would be the first option from a rested ‘pen in a high-leverage situation.
There are 11 million reasons why they are going to keep running Smyly out there.
Serious question… shouldn’t the dugout have an idea the weather was coming in? Like to the point maybe you bring in Matzek or Minter in the 6th to keep the lead with the likelihood that the rain was coming?
@22 sunk cost. Why let it continue to damage the team? Pride over practicality
@23 – Fair point.
It seems the Braves ended up with the lesser of the Garcia brothers. Adonis’s little bro Adolis, at 2.4 bWAR and 16 HR, looks like the AL ROY frontrunner.
Recapped, for good and for bad