Braves Preliminary Prospect List

For the 3rd straight year (that it’s been available), I’ve subscribed to MiLB.TV. I’ve always had a passion for prospects, but felt as though I was just scouting a stat-line. While I’m hardly David Lee, I have been able to differentiate between tools and performance and it’s provided me a newfound experience to watching Minor League Baseball.

For pitchers, I care less about ERA and more about K/BB ratio. I’ve also learned to also give pitchers a little grace when it’s apparent that they’re working on something specific (which is why ERA can be so misleading). Also, David Lee has been an inspiration for me to see between command and control and that’s helped my pitching eye. It’s the driving force behind why I’ve been so much higher on Tucker Davidson than Kyle Muller. Commanding the zone is so much more important than just throwing strikes and Tucker does both better than Muller which is why one projects as a starter and the other, reliever.

For young hitters, I’ve realized what a detriment a high-k total can be in their path to the bigs and have really looked for hard, consistent contact out of budding players. Years ago, I was a HUGE Matt Young fan and likely came on Braves Journal once/weekly begging for his promotion. He was a leadoff guy with a high OBP and stole a whole lot of bases. I cannot recall who it was, but one of the guys writing about Braves prospects told me straight up that he’d never hit in the bigs and his bat would be knocked out of his hands on a nightly basis. It happened within his first 10 plate appearances in the Majors.

For catchers, it’s truly about listening to the pitchers that throw to them. Never ignore rave reviews of a catcher that come for a handful of pitchers. When Christian Bethancourt was coming up through the org, the org raved about his athleticism, but looking back on it, the pitchers that he received? Mostly crickets. Also, it’s common sense I know, but the bat is likely going to be slow to develop so look for hit tools rather than polish. A mistake I made with Alex Jackson was the lack of understanding raw power vs. in-game power. As his stats stand today at AAA, he’s only got 6 Ks in 30 PAs, so maybe there’s still chance for him. I’ll always land on the side of optimism as it just fits my personality.

Today’s post will be a narrow-down of sorts for the Top-30 list that will be coming midyear. This is normally something that goes on behind the scenes, but I thought I’d bring this thought exercise out in the open considering we hadn’t had much to chat about in terms of prospects and I’m just so damned excited!

The Graduates

Our last Top-30 prospect list finished up on December 26, 2019, about a year and a half ago. Many of those names have now graduated (or will have graduated) from prospect status by the time the midseason list comes out. Others have been traded and are now on other team’s prospect lists. Those are:

  1. Ian Anderson (was ranked #2)
  2. Kyle Wright (was ranked #4)
  3. Bryse Wilson (was ranked #5)
  4. William Contreras (was ranked #9)
  5. Huascar Ynoa (was ranked #14)
  6. Patrick Weigel (was ranked #19)
  7. Jeremy Walker (was ranked #26)
  8. Phil Pfeifer (was ranked #27)

The Usual Suspects

These guys have shown up on the prospect list for a few years and will be , at the least, considered for a return, some hopefully for the last year.

  1. Cristian Pache
  2. Drew Waters
  3. Kyle Muller
  4. Shea Langeliers
  5. Tucker Davidson
  6. Braden Shewmake
  7. Jasseel De La Cruz
  8. Trey Harris
  9. Michael Harris
  10. Bryce Ball
  11. Daysbel Hernandez
  12. Freddy Tarnok
  13. Mahki Backstrom
  14. Greyson Jenista
  15. Justin Dean
  16. C.J. Alexander
  17. Victor Vodnik
  18. Vaughn Grissom
  19. Trey Riley
  20. Nolan Kingham
  21. Beau Philip

The Noobs

There’s been 1 draft, some international prospects signed, and some late bloomers to consider. These are not in any specific order, merely a list.

  1. Jared Shuster
  2. Tyler Owens
  3. Bryce Elder
  4. Jesse Franklin
  5. Joey Estes
  6. Stephen Paolini
  7. Hayden Deal
  8. William Woods
  9. Ricky DeVito
  10. Spencer Strider
  11. Ty Tice
  12. Troy Bacon
  13. Kurt Hoekstra
  14. A.J. Puckett
  15. Indigo Diaz
  16. Kasey Kalich
  17. Riley Unroe
  18. Andrew Moritz
  19. Roddery Munoz
  20. Darius Vines
  21. Willie Carter
  22. Ambioris Tavarez

Moving on UP

Of the 43 players listed above, there are several big time movers here and, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know the names. Whether it be they came from nowhere because of an absent 2020, or have just taken the world by storm in 2021 after solid production in the past, these are guys that will be moving several spots up on our prospect list.

  1. Michael Harris
  2. Shea Langeliers
  3. Victor Vodnik
  4. Bryce Elder
  5. Spencer Strider
  6. Indigo Diaz
  7. Roddery Munoz

It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Timber

And the not so fun part of this exercise…when a player is simply not producing, even in a small sample, their prospect status takes a hit. Depending on the extent of the sample and age, it could be a small or large decline. Those unfortunate souls are:

  1. Trey Harris
  2. Greyson Jenista
  3. Braden Shewmake
  4. C.J. Alexander
  5. Nolan Kingham
  6. Beau Philip

That’s a Wrap

43. For now, that’s the number we’ll start with when determining our prospect list. Sure, if we’re doing a 3-party system again this year, they’ll likely be more additions before then, based on performance and/or individual preference, but you get the picture. In looking at this list, I’m still of the belief that this system isn’t near as top heavy as many would assume and there’s talent all through the system.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

33 thoughts on “Braves Preliminary Prospect List”

  1. I think there’s a solid chance that Cristian Pache will be a bust. For all we heard about how good his defense was, the eye test for me was so-so and he did not grade well per Fangraphs dWAR. And everyone saw him completely overwhelmed by big league pitching.

    If the Braves used him as a big trade chip I would be fine depending on the return.

  2. @1 Agreed. I was also underwhelmed with his defense in relation to his reputation on defense.

  3. Y’all gotta stop with the bust talk. The kid has had 72 PAs in the bigs and 168.1 innings in the OF. While the bat might not become great, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of scouts that saw him play CF in 100s of his 3144 innings and saw the same thing. As Charlie Brown would say…Good Grief.

  4. Pache is 22 and basically got zero at bats at any level in all of 2020. He doesn’t project to be a great hitter yet, but I think a season at AAA will be great for him.

  5. @5 That’s not what I said, and you know it. But if you’re so infuuuuriated, then you can pg the eff dn, brother man.

  6. I think what Rob said last thread was actually fairly factual and it’s happened before. If Ozuna goes to jail, it’ll cost his wife a whole lot of $. I say put the scumbag away, but I’m not her.

    The twist in the plot are the cops.

  7. sansho, to be crystal clear, as I said last thread, I think Marcell Ozuna should never play baseball ever again, and what he did to his wife is morally reprehensible. She did not deserve that, she would not “cost” him anything by sending him to jail and ruining his career, and she deserves no blame for anything that happens here going forward. I’ve never defended a domestic abuser and never will. My dad is one of those people, and if I had my choice, he’d have been in the same place Ozuna should be right now. And maybe they’ll both be in the same place one day, ifyacatchmydrift.

    But she already didn’t send him to jail. That’s a fact. My concern — simply that, a concern — is that she protects herself, lets him make his money, she gets some of that money, Liberty Media doesn’t replenish the middle-of-the-order bat we just lost, and the fans suffer. I am not the only person who, when hearing about all this, had a fear that Ozuna will make his money and everyone else is hurt by it. How you clearly read something different than what I actually wrote is… interesting.

  8. Sansho, more to the point, I don’t think Rob was being derogatory to women, merely bringing up what has happened historically in professional sports. Unfortunately, we already have 2 samples in the Braves org.

  9. If I had to live with a series of Garret Andersons for the next five years so that Mrs. Ozuna has the money to pay for the bodyguards she’s going to need — because he’s not done with her (they never are) — then I’m OK with it.

  10. @14 Without a doubt. But she didn’t send him to jail, so she probably thinks differently.

  11. My first huge red flag for Pache was when he didn’t hit a professional HR for like two seasons. I’m not a fan of ‘developing power’. I don’t really believe in it to the extent that some or most do.

    A professional baseball player worth his salt, shouldn’t go 600 ABs without hitting a HR and when they do, its a red flag. When players like Joey Gathright and others historically literally never hit a HR, its instructive.

    Pache is also not very fast, not fluid and his defense looked about average to me. He’s not athletic and his muscles and general mechanics seem robotic and stiff to me. It will be interesting to see how much has been nerves/anxiety and how much sticks.

    He will likely never be a good hitter at the MLB level. Whether or not he even hits enough to not be a AAAA player is yet to be seen but I’m skeptical.

    I also never believed in Shewmake or Jenista. Jenista is already 24 so time is running out.

  12. I don’t think many vividly remember Andruw Jones’ first couple seasons, but I’m sure there were some highlight reel plays, some balls he got to that other people couldn’t, throws made, etc., and there just wasn’t anything really like that in the 22 games Pache played. Was that enough time? Not sure, but if you’re not playing visually elite defense, and then you have a .358 OPS, then it really makes it difficult to determine what to do next. If he’s a .750 OPS at AAA, then all of our AAAA guys (Heredia, Almonte, Demeritte, Adrianza) would have to turn into pumpkins for the Braves to bring him back up.

  13. I’m definitely there with you on Jenista, but it’s more because if his lack of positional flexibility. He’s a big dude and is going to really have to hit in order to make it to the majors. He hasn’t. Shewmake has a lot of potential as a super utility guy but those guys really suffer when the DH comes to the NL.

    I whole-heartedly disagree on Pache and have watched enough games to see his elite defense and arm. When coming through the system, he was small…like “boy” small. It can’t be emphasized enough how much he’s filled his body out in the last 2 years. I still see a league average hitter with potential for more if he can stay mechanically sound, which has been the biggest struggle for him this last year. His lower body gets messy quick when he gets in a funk.

  14. This video has some defensive highlights, which restores some confidence, but it’s weirdly disproportionate to showing his home runs.

  15. Ender Inciarte hit 0 HR in 260 PA at 17, hit 5HR in his first 5 U.S. minor league seasons, and had major league seasons of 10 and 11 HR. Odubel Herrera hit 0 HR in his first 2 U.S. minor league seasons and has had major league seasons of 14, 15, and 22 HR (about 40% on the road). Manuel Margot hit 1 HR in 216 PA at 18 and has had MLB seasons of 12 and 13. I’m sure there are lots of other 0 HR at 17 guys who didn’t develop any power, but it’s not uncommon for that sort of kid to develop enough power to have value if he plays a good CF. Even the guys I checked who had real MLB power (Acuna, Ozuna, Andruw, a couple of others) seemed to average around 5-12 HR/600 PA at 17, but they also developed a lot more power than they showed at 17.

    For what it’s worth, one of the Fangraphs writers who follows prospects closely wrote this spring that Pache had already lost some speed.

  16. @17 Anyone who was watching the Braves in 1996 should vividly remember the arrival of Andruw Jones. There were line drives in foul territory that 99% of major league outfielders would have given up on that Andruw Jones was making diving grabs to get. Jones had a very natural aptitude for making plays on stuff no one would normally be anywhere near.

    I don’t like writing off any prospect, but if Pache is still a top 20 prospect on other team’s lists we should finally trade a prospect. We can eat this loss. I feel good about it.

  17. I’m too much of a youngen, I guess. I probably need to watch a YouTube video or two.

  18. @19 They literally showed every home run he hit at AA. One of those high lights was a single! Not sure why they don’t showcase more of the glove…

  19. I don’t think anyone did him any favors comparing Pache to Andruw Jones. That’s not really fair. So far the only thing he has done like Andruw is whiff on curveballs

  20. @26 You’re right. The more I look back at Andruw Jones early in his career, the more I marvel. At age 19, Andruw Jones hit 39 home runs across 4 leagues (including the majors).

    Pache is Pache. I’d like to see us trade him for something good, but knowing how CF has been a challenge for us to fill it’s hard to conceive that we would when we can just roll the dice for free on Pache and Waters.

  21. Yeah, not ready to write Pache off just yet. Give him this year in AAA and see where we go. I’d take the gamble and keep him in the organization for at least a couple more years.

  22. The best thing about the discussion of Pache is that we’ve found common ground between Rob and Chief. Lions, lambs, and all that.

    FWIW, IMO (see, even an old guy like me can speak internets),it’s far to early to form reliable opinions about prospects such as Pache and Contreras. There are more top 100 prospects who fail to be come quality big league players than there are those who become stars. But some of them do!

    For now, I’m going to trust the scouting reports that Pache’s defense is stellar (even if not Andruw level–no one is), and hold out hope that he can figure out how to hit major league pitching. Contreras will hit, and his defense is not as bad as he showed in the Fried start before the last one. Both are very much still works in progress.

  23. @29 – Contreras is another example of someone who got essentially zero at bats last year.

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