Last Friday, I looked at how the Braves nos. 30-21 prospects had performed during the month of June. Now it’s time to examine the middle group of ten, nos. 20-11. Let’s get right down to it…
20. Rickey DeVito, RHP â†‘
A+ — Rome (7-day IL)
I really hadn’t noticed until recently, but DeVito is actually on the injured list, which explains why he only pitched three innings for Rome last month. With such little attention paid towards minor league transactions, some of these players can fall through the cracks. Given his track record from two seasons ago and the fact he has had another strong year in 2021, I’m keeping the “up” symbol on him. DeVito sports a 2.66 ERA so far this season, to go with 12 strikeouts per nine in 20.1 innings.
19. Jesse Franklin V, OF â†‘
A+ — Rome
The strides Franklin has made at the plate this past month were pretty incredible as he’s become one of the big bats in the Rome lineup. Just consider his May/June splits…
May – 79 PA, .200 AVG, .481 OPS, 4 XBH, 2.5 BB%
June – 85 PA, .338 AVG, 1.169 OPS, 14 XBH, 10.5 BB%
Any time you can raise your OPS by nearly 700 points, you’re bound to have great results. Franklin is still less of a threat when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage, as his season AVG versus southpaws sits at .231. However, it appears in June he began adjusting his approach against lefties and started drawing more walks. Regardless, Franklin’s bat is better than we initially thought, and if he keeps this up he’ll be in Mississippi before too long.
18. Spencer Strider, RHP â†‘
AA — Mississippi
Strider has been a fast riser in the Braves system, and just like his promotions this season, he’ll probably see a nice jump in the rankings whenever I update the Top 30 later this year. The kid has done nothing but dominate ever since becoming a pro, turning in a 0.59 ERA with Augusta back in May and then a 3.52 ERA just this past month. Sure, the numbers are bound to regress some now that he’s actually pitching at a more competitive level, but I still expect Strider to keep most of this up. He’s the real deal and really doesn’t belong at no. 18.
17. CJ Alexander, 3B â†“
AA — Mississippi
Sometimes I wonder if Alexander is even ready for Double-A pitching. I mean, he has had nearly 250 PA at the level and his career numbers there are pretty underwhelming: 244 PA, .135 AVG, .469 OPS, 7.3 BB%, 34 K%.
At least this season he has displayed some more power, having hit five home runs and six doubles. However, he’s only getting on base at a .222 clip in 2021. It’s just a tough situation, because at nearly 25-years-old Alexander can’t afford to move down. I really like this kid, but his numbers are concerning, and it didn’t help that he had an even worse month at the plate in June.
16. Freddy Tarnok, RHP â†‘
A+ — Rome
I, of course, didn’t love the three homers Tarnok surrendered in his most-recent start on Independence Day. But even with the trio of long balls, the 22-year-old still wound up with the win as he struck out five in five innings of work (the three homers made up for all but one of his four hits allowed overall). With the late start to the 2021 season (June 9 was his first appearance with Rome), I’m willing to give Tarnok a little more margin for error, so I’m okay with his performance thus far. A .186 AVG allowed is just fine considering he’s made a total of three starts all year.
15. Daysbel HernÃ¡ndez, RHP â†“
AA — Mississippi
Somehow, despite generating ground balls at a 68% clip in the month of June (per Baseball Reference), HernÃ¡ndez still allowed a .290 AVG from opposing batters. Anyways, he certainly didn’t look himself when I was in town for an M-Braves game back on June 10 versus Biloxi, in which he allowed two runs from two hits in a 28-pitch eighth-inning. HernÃ¡ndez blew that game, but thankfully, outfielder Jefrey Ramos walked it off in the ninth with a homer to win. It was obvious he wasn’t ready for the Triple-A level to start the 2021 season, but with him nearly 25-years-old, he’ll need to start showing results in Double-A. I think he will eventually.
14. Bryce Ball, 1B/OF â†“
A+ — Rome
Ball is definitely seeing the ball just fine as he leads High-A’s East League with 33 walks so far this season, a walk-rate of 18%. However, Ball is expected to do a little more than simply draw walks, especially after he demolished the ball in his debut year in 2019. The results just haven’t come for Ball. Following a .212 AVG in May, the burly slugger posted just a .186 AVG in June, and so far, he’s just 2 for 11 in July. We know Ball is capable of putting up huge numbers, so surely he’ll come around soon.
13. Victor Vodnik, RHP â‡”
AA — Mississippi (7-day IL)
It’s difficult to find out much about an injured minor leaguer, but boy it sure would be nice to know what the hell is keeping Vodnik off the mound as the righty has been on the injured list since May 27. A month of no pitching is tough to come back from, and his absence is sure to impact his development the rest of the season. Hopefully, the Braves are just being cautious and planning on a return following the All Star break. Regardless, when active, Vodnik has been dominant as usual in 2021.
12. Jared Shuster, LHP â†‘
A+ — Rome
Back in May the Braves sort of shut down Shuster to reportedly get his mechanics straightened out, so his 3.00 ERA and 10.5 K/9 came in just six innings for the month. In June, the southpaw received a full month’s worth of innings, so Shuster’s three starts and one relief appearance gave us a much better look as to what kind of prospect he really is. Everything appears just right: in 13 innings last month, Shuster struck out 19, walked only four and allowed six runs from 12 hits — a strong ERA of 4.15. The Braves will most likely baby its 25th overall pick from 2020, so there’s no rush for the 22-year-old.
11. Trey Harris, OF â‡”
AA — Mississippi
Harris had a better month of June, but overall, his 2021 campaign has been a little underwhelming, especially compared to his huge 2019 season when he won Minor League Player of the Year in the Braves system. Other than some situational struggles, like with two outs and RISP (.185 AVG), there’s nothing that really stands out. Harris could walk a little more as he’s at 6.7% so far this year, and it would be nice if there was a little more power in his swing (just seven XBH in 192 PA). However, there’s not too much to complain about regarding the former 32nd round pick.
Love the write up on the minor leaguers Clint. It looks like about half are trending up and the other half are struggling.
On another note, I was thinking we sure could have used O’Day in the bullpen this year. Looking it up, the Yankees are saying the same thing. He’s managed 10.2 innings between 3 stints on the IL. He was activated on June 29 and placed on the 10 day IL on July 6 with a hamstring strain. Maybe not signing him wasn’t such a bad idea.
Crazy game in SD. Nats up 8-0 after 3. Scherzer gave up a grand slam to a relief pitcher who had just been called up before the game apparently – and the Nats lost 8-9.
What do we think Shuster’s ceiling/floor is?
Ceiling 5th starter, floor AAAA organizational SP filler?
I’m legitimately asking.
Kiley McDaniel, now at ESPN, had Shuster in the Braves’ top 10 prospects:
McDaniel only gave him a 40+ FV. A good minor league season could obviously change that, but his ceiling as 5th starter is probably apt.
Also, our minor league system has really thinned out. Fangraphs currently has it pre-draft at 17th, so it’s sure to go down from there after the draft.
I think Shuster’s ceiling is heavily based on how far along his slider can develop. Right now his fastball/change is filthy enough to make him pretty dangerous, and he’s been nearly unhittable versus lefty-batters. I think he’s a legit starting pitcher prospect. We’ll see how that evolves as he logs more pro innings.
Touissant was dominant for the Stripers last night. Two hits, 1 walk, and 11 strikeouts with no runs over 6 innings. I know my Bama bias is showing through, but I would like to see Thomas Burrows get a shot soon. His prospect days are past him at almost 27 and a 3.13 ERA doesn’t look impressive, but a 1.09 WHIP and 33 Ks in 23 innings tell me he’s fooling some people. I don’t see how he could do worse than several of our bullpen arms.
@7 I could see a Matzek DFA and his spot going to Burrows.
It’s been said on this blog for years that most relievers are fungible, and I feel like that’s been more true this year than most. Last year Luke was terrible; this year he’s great. Opposite for Matzek. Minter’s FIP is solid, but he’s had some regression. Tomlin has gone from being at least adequate in his role to being completely done. Enough said about Shane Greene so far. Add on to this the crackdown on substances, and it really makes the manager’s job difficult having a mediocre bullpen but knowing who’s reliable and who’s not when literally the rules for how they pitch changed at a moment’s notice.
Baseball. Rule change in the middle of the season. DH in one league not the other.
7 innings, second base, three batter requirement. Sweat pea, this is not baseball. This is what you do in the backyard. An embarrassment to me.
Counterpoint: It wasn’t actually a rule change. They just bothered to actually start enforcing a rule that was already on the books and which they were ignoring to the severe detriment of offense…in a season which was shaping up to be the worst offensive season since a legendarily bad one that resulted in the freaking pitcher’s mound being lowered.
So you can argue that they should’ve waited until the offseason to start enforcing it, and I can see where that argument is coming from and probably even approve it. But cracking down on the brazen cheating of pitchers is not a bad thing, and was, in fact, necessary. And I have no sympathy for the pitchers in this regard.
They should also be forced to pitch on a pitch clock next season, for the record. All the traditionalists would go nuts, but it would legitimately improve the game.
“Rule change” vs. “enforcing the rules on the books” is semantics when, functionally speaking, the league came in and essentially told lots of pitchers to significantly change how they were operating. The end result was the same: lots of changes.
@8 – The truncated 2020 season sure didn’t help anything as far as evaluating relievers either. I thought Matzek, Minter, Martin, and Smith was a plenty deep enough bullpen.
Then I look back, and see I’m evaluating on 29, 22, 18, and 16(!) innings pitched respectively for the whole season.
Most of the reason reliever’s performances vary so much from season to season is that they are used so sparingly in each year. Except for real workhorses, there is really nothing but small sample sizes in relievers. The short season cut those already small sample sizes by 5/8ths. Add Kahneman and Tversky’s Law of Small Numbers https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1972-01934-001, and you’ve got a perfect storm of horrible inference.
@10, why don’t you like the three-batter requirement? Unlike some of the other changes, it’s almost invisible, and it seems like it returns baseball closer to what it was decades ago. You can still bring in a reliever with two out and a runner on, or one out and two on, etc., to bail out the pitcher who started the half-inning. It just cuts down on the number of half-innings with three or four pitchers, which to me isn’t baseball but “matchupball.”
I suppose another way to address the same problem would have been to only allow two pitchers in a half-inning except in case of injury and require the “injured” pitcher to go on the 10-day IL.
To generalize, I usually don’t like changes that lead to more specialization (e.g., the DH, though with most pitchers being such wretched hitters now, I’m coming around) and am more likely to favor changes that reduce specialization (e.g., the three-batter rule).
@14 – Yeah, I knew better, but here we are.
New thread and will serve as game thread. I appreciate Clint carrying the load as I’ve traveled from St Louis to CO Springs in a car these last 2 days…with a 3 and 5 year old. Heaven help me.