Today weâ€™re going to keep the series rolling with the second installment. On Monday I looked at the back-ten of my Braves Top 30, so now itâ€™s time for the middle-ten â€“ nos. 20-11. This is probably my favorite group of prospects given it features several of the more-recently drafted pitchers as well as some really exciting hitters. Letâ€™s get startedâ€¦
*All stats mentioned below cover only games played in July
20. Ricky DeVito, RHP
*dealt to Pirates in Richard Rodriguez trade
Like Kasey Kalich in the previous installment, DeVito was more of a mid-tier prospect pitcher that the Braves cashed in on for big league help at the MLB trade deadline last Friday. The 22-year-old DeVito (along with righty Bryse Wilson) was sent to the Pirates in exchange for righty reliever Richard Rodriguez, who will likely become Atlantaâ€™s regular set-up guy for remainder of the season. I always liked DeVito and was probably a bit higher on him than most, but his numbers were pretty damn impressive this season, even though he rarely reached even 70 pitches in each of his five starts with High-A Rome. The Braves definitely lost a solid prospect armâ€¦ but the trade was necessary for the teamâ€™s stretch run.
19. Jesse Franklin V, OF â†‘
A+ — Rome
Franklin made amazing strides in the month of June, drastically slashing his K rate to go with a .338 AVG, 1.169 OPS and eight home runs in 22 games. It was going to be difficult to top that, but the 22-year-old at least kept the power stroke going on into July as he slugged another 11 homers this past month and posted a .968 OPS, despite creeping back up to a 31.6% K rate. As of Monday, Franklin ranks second in the league in total home runs this season with 19, and he has basically flipped the early-season narrative that heâ€™s incapable versus left-handed pitchers. The swing-and-miss is a bit of an issue, but right now it appears Franklin has plenty of pop to make his whiffs worth it.
18. Spencer Strider, RHP â†“
AA â€“ Mississippi
So this is how I ended my excerpt on Strider last month, talking about his performance from June: â€œSure, the numbers are bound to regress some now that heâ€™s actually pitching at a more competitive level, but I still expect Strider to keep most of this upâ€. I was correct about half of that statement as the Double-A competition has in fact caused Strider to regress, but unfortunately, he hasnâ€™t gotten over the hump as of yet. The 22-year-oldâ€™s last two outings were especially rough, featuring nine runs (two homers) from nine hits over 8.2 innings and an opponent OPS of .940. This was a dangerous man in High-A, but Double-A has been a very different animal for Strider. Hopefully he finds his way soon.
17. CJ Alexander, 3B â†“
AA â€“ Mississippi
Alexander just snapped a nine-game hitless streak this past Sunday, which featured a dreadful stretch that saw him go 0 for 28 at the plate. The rest of the month of July wasnâ€™t much better either as he only managed a .441 OPS in those 20 games, thanks to a K rate over 33%. Overall itâ€™s just been a rough season for Alexander, and now at 25-years-old, his time is running out as a prospect in the Braves system. That 52-game stretch from 2018 seems like forever ago, when he managed to hit .352 across both the rookie level and High-A. Iâ€™m afraid this is no longer a top-20 prospect. Hell, it may be time to move Alexander outside the top-30 altogether.
16. Freddy Tarnok, RHP â†‘
AA — Mississippi
Tarnok got a late start to the 2021 season, making his first appearance on the mound in early June. The righty began the year with Rome, where he compiled a 4.76 ERA in 28.1 innings and struck out 48 batters. But by the middle of last month the Braves felt he was ready for more of a challenge and ever since heâ€™s been dominating the Double-A ranks, where heâ€™s already punched out 21 in just 10.1 frames, spanning two outings so far. Tarnokâ€™s most-recent start featured a dozen strikeouts in five innings as it appears heâ€™s at his best as a pro pitcher. I canâ€™t wait to see what this kid develops into.
15. Daysbel Hernandez, RHP â†‘
AA â€“ Mississippi
Heâ€™s baaaackâ€¦ After struggling mightily last month, allowing seven runs from nine hits in seven innings of work with the M-Braves, in July Hernandez reverted back to his dominant ways as he struck out 17 batters in 11 innings, ending the month with a solid 1.64 ERA. Iâ€™m a HUGE fan of this kid and was even ready to rank him as a prospect when he was mowing down opposing batters in the Florida State League (High-A) back in 2019. Part of me wishes the Braves didnâ€™t give Hernandez a Triple-A assignment to start the season (where he seemed very uncomfortable) because now his second stint there could come with some added pressure to deliver. We’ll probably find out soon enough.
14. Bryce Ball, 1B/DH
*dealt to the Cubs in the Joc Pederson trade
Even though he never really had much of a path to Atlanta (save for as a designated-hitter) Ball was such an exciting prospect in the Braves system. His size and power at the plate, plus the fact that he absolutely demolished everything in sight when he debuted as pro back in 2019, instantly made him a fan favorite. However, the Braves had to be realistic about Ballâ€™s future in the organization, and given he had been struggling to hit High-A pitching this year, there really wasnâ€™t a reason to hold onto the former 24th-round pick. Atlanta moved Ball to the Cubs in mid-July in exchange for outfielder Joc Pederson, who appears to have fit in nicely with the big league team. Iâ€™ll always wonder what couldâ€™ve been when it comes to Ball, but getting Pederson for the rest of this season and most likely the next (he has a $10-million mutual option for the 2022 campaign) just seems like a better route to take.
13. Victor Vodnik, RHP â†“
AA â€“ Mississippi
Around this time last month, Vodnik was on the injured list following what had been a very strong start to the 2021 season. Before he was hurt, the young righty had pitched to a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings spanning across most of May and it looked as if he was plenty capable of handling Double-A batters. Fast-forward to July 9 — his first appearance since coming off the IL — and Vodnik struggled to find his footing again. In a July 15 outing, the 21-year-old allowed four runs in just 0.2 innings of work, and over his last four appearances, Vodnik has posted an 18.41 ERA as opposing batters have hit .474 against him. He was out for a while with that aforementioned injury, so perhaps itâ€™s just going to take him some time to get back to his early-season self.
12. Jared Shuster, LHP â†‘
A+ — Rome
The Braves are still being very careful with Shuster as he still has yet to total 70 pitches in a single start in 2021, with his season-high at 66 back on July 2. But you canâ€™t knock the kid just because heâ€™s operating on a short leash. In fact, Shuster turned in his best month of the year in July, posting a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings that spanned five starts for Rome. This was Atlantaâ€™s top pick in 2020 so the expectations are certainly high. At 23-years-old, I still believe heâ€™ll wind up in Mississippi before seasonâ€™s end.
11. Trey Harris, OF â†”
AA â€“ Mississippi
Harris broke out with the power stroke in July, swatting a season-high five homers and four doubles in 23 games. He hasnâ€™t quite performed like he did back in 2019 when he won Player of the Year, but the 25-year-old has been a solid Double-A hitter nonetheless. Unfortunately for Harris, heâ€™s part of an ultra-deep group of prospect outfielders in the Braves system, so his path to the majors is still pretty questionable. Now into the first week of August, Harris is sporting an underwhelming 89 wRC+ overall this season, which if the campaign ended today, would be his first under-100 wRC+ season as a pro.
Thanks Clint. It’s tough to put a positive spin on prospects outside the top 15 or so in a non-elite farm system, so great work.
Hope Shuster makes it to AA before the end of the year. I guess I’m still not used to seeing a 23-year old college pitcher who was drafted last year be babied with 3-inning spurts at high-A.
Excited for Harris. If he rakes, he’ll play. I like him better than Jordan Shafer 2.0, Drew Waters.
I know the minor league seasons are winding down, but I WANT PROSPECT DATA. I feel like it’s been two years since we’ve been able to evaluate prospects. Oh wait, it has.
Happ looks extremely hittable. Umpire looks extremely blind. 3 balls called strikes so far
1 — I’m guessing you mean Michael Harris, not Trey.
Tonight’s game is also on ESPN so you can listen to UnChip.
It’s always interesting to see how the different places rank the prospects. David Lee now has Vaughn Grissom in the top 10 and Spencer Strider above Shuster. I think he is the first to officially list Michael Harris as the #1 prospect. Keith Law is still extremely high on Pache and hasn’t dropped him on his top prospects list.
At least I can go to bed early. Thanks Drew
Welp. I guess it doesn’t matter how bad the opposing pitcher is. We just ain’t gonna win consecutive games.
One of the many things I detest about Kranitz is that he never visits struggling pitchers
Smyly not only looks extremely hittable, he’s getting knocked around. I would suggest he ditch his hanging curve ball.
I laugh, what else can I do?
Watching water polo, U S vs Spain.
No Peterson .. ?? He needs to play everyday..
I don’t care what happens tonight. The 2 additions the Cardinals made to their starting pitching were equivalent to us trading for 2 relief pitchers with a ceiling of Josh Tomlin.
Well, they are scheduled to lose tonight, so…
Yeah, those trades for the cards didn’t make sense.
It just seems like we have no game plan again day Happ. Just flail away
I’m liking Soler’s addition to the team more and more
Chip calling this a high leverage situation …..hmmmm….
@15 liking Duvall too…big swing right there
Rodriguez in the 5th inning ???
This lineup is better. Soler, Duvall, and Rodriguez all making positive contributions and preventing Snitker from having to keep relying on vastly worse options.
Good call for Rodriguez in the 5th. Time for a sense of urgency in these games.
@17 Let’s just say I like all these acquisitions today!
Getting TDA back only pushes the lineup out further too. Suddenly Heredia becomes your 8 hitter until Rosario comes off the IL and then maybe Dansby hits 8th?
Just because we took the lead doesn’t mean hibernation mode should be automatic. That sure was a punch less inning
Chris Martin is now just a taller version of Josh Tomlin but somehow less effective. Hell, he should be a DFA candidate
Chris Martin’s K rates are way down this year. Not a good thing for a flyball pitcher (or anyone for that matter.)
That double steal was a little league type play by Martin. He doesn’t look at the runner at second at all… He is completely oblivious
And he is again paying no attention to Edman at 2nd base. Not even looking at him.
Gallegos has a painfully slow pace.
I’m sure Braves Nation is screaming for Vogt to be pinch hit for here, but the pitcher’s spot is next and Pederson is the only actual hitter left on the bench. (Kevan doesn’t count)
Vogt got the job done.
Lol…that was classic. So glad that happened to the Cards
Worlds best baseball fans getting to watch Cardinals butcher fundamentals to fall behind the Braves. Classic
Ninth Inning Smith Space?
Well, I’ll be damned. Who’d have thunked it?
.500 finally. Hopefully Touki can get us over the hump tomorrow.
This has not been a particularly fun team to root for this year. But it’s been a fun team to root for the last couple of nights.
Well, that would have gone much differently last week.
With all of the 1-run/2-run losses – this Braves team was only a couple tweaks away from being contenders again. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new type of streak.
Also – never bet against the Braves when Smyly is on the mound.
No doubt, had them all the way. Congratulations Atlanta.
I must give them credit.
Wrong pitcher gets the win. When will that moronic rule be changed?
Men’s water polo team lost.