MiLB recap for 2022

Braves 2022 Minor League Recap

DSL 34-26, 2nd in division

Let’s cut to the chase: I know virtually nothing about these kids and neither do you. What I do know is which ones got paid, so we will concentrate on them. Remember these are tiny sample sizes so scouts’ opinions are far more important than results at this point.

Diego Benitez was our big money signing ($2.5M) out of Venezuela. A shortstop, he is expected to outgrow the position. He did OK, hitting for a 90 ops+ with plus fielding. He was among the youngest players in the league.

Douglas Glod was the “other” big money Venezuelan at $1.3. He’s an outfielder who will likely develop as a right fielder although he was in center this season. He put up an average ops while striking out 28% of the time. Scouts still rave about the power and wonder about the hit tool.

Other guys: Maximo Ramirez is a rangy kid who got to more balls than Glod while hitting at a 110 ops+ clip. Didier Fuentes is a righty who put up a 5.0 k/bb ratio and kept his whip around 1.

Florida Rookie League 20-35

Once again, small sample sizes rule. Under first Coppy and now AA, the braves have had an organizational philosophy to quickly push prospects to Low A rather than leave them in Rookie-ball for very long. As a result, the players who actually have enough appearances to draw any conclusions are usually marginal at best. This also means the team is usually one of the worst in the league. First the actual prospects.

Ambioris Tavarez is a rail thin shortstop with a cannon arm. His defensive numbers are excellent. On the other side of the ball he somehow put up a 97 ops+ despite striking out over 40% of the time. Scouts still like him anyway. On the plus side he was 2 years younger than average for the league. Still in my top 30!

Jair Casanova is another 18-year old beanpole who is a plus centerfielder. Offensively his wagon is hitched to a 15% bb rate. He will need to show more power going forward.

On the pitching side, none of the prospects threw many innings as the ones who were good quickly moved up the ladder.

One non-prospect of note who did spend substantial time in Florida was undrafted free agent Ethan Workinger. He was a victim of the 5 round 2020 draft where he otherwise would have been the platonic ideal of an 11th round pick (high school guy, some plus tools, has leverage because he is a good student and can go the college route). He has a quick bat and decent pop but currently hits everything on the ground. Had his arm been as good as, say, Marcel Ozuna’s… he would have been a 3rd rounder. He was moved to Augusta mid year and excelled there too.

Low A Augusta 69-62, 3rd in Carolina League South Division

One of the better teams in the league during the first half, call ups and injuries made for a disappointing finish. On to the interesting guys.

Ignacio Alvarez started at rookie level and came up midseason. Officially a shortstop, he converted to (bad) third base on the fly. Fortunately, he gets to hit too! He ran a 22/15 bb/so while hitting about 300. The kid can fly so maybe a change to cf is in order. Now the warts: he has no power at all and scouts are unanimous that it will be subpar if it ever develops.

At 23 years old, Brandon Parker is too old for the league but went ham on the league and needs appreciation. While limited to left, he managed to put up a 10% extra base hit rate which is really good for this league.

Brandol Mezquita put on a first half show by batting close to .400 through mid June. He came back to earth and finished at .281. As a small bat-to-ball type he likely has a AA ceiling but I will be rooting for him.

Cal Conley was our 2021 4th rounder out of Texas Tech. He had a miserable first half on both sides of the ball but put up a 900 ops in the second half with good D at second base. Coaches rave about the work ethic and he might grow into a good super utility guy.

J.J. Niekro is an old pitcher at 24 but that never stopped anyone in his family (he is Joe’s son). Being an undrafted free agent explains the age thing. He put together an incredible first half stretch despite a pedestrian fastball and (gasp!) no change of pace to speak of. He got hammered after moving to Rome although that was expected given his heavy workload. We’ll see going forward!

Scouts see A.J. Smith Shawver as the organization’s next great pitching prospect. When the walks were under control he was well neigh unhittable, when they weren’t, well… Scouts compare his mechanics to Smoltz who I recall took a few years to get it all together as well. BTW I have no idea how it is pronounced either so don’t ask.

High A Rome 74-54, First Half Champions, lost playoff

Rome came out flying thanks to the bats of Vaughn Grissom (you’ve heard of him), Justyn Henry Malloy (you will!), Cody Milligan and Landon Stephens along with the deepest rotation in the Sally League. Deserved promotions made for a weaker team in the second half and playoff disappointment.

Cody Milligan is an older 2nd baseman with a plus hit tool but little power and a noodle arm. AA is his likely ceiling. A 131 ops+ for Rome (89 ops+ at Mississippi) is likely as good as it gets for him.

Landon Stephens is another older guy with a AA ceiling, but his 17 first half homers went a long way towards winning the title. If he could just make contact above the belt he could have a career.

The entire Rome rotation are good prospects but the best two are Roddery Munoz and Royber Salinas. Munoz is a well built kid whose fastball is electric up in the zone and possesses a slider that tantalizes with its potential. Likely a bullpen arm in the future. Salinas has perhaps the best fastball in the minor league system striking out over 14 guys per 9 innings. He will likely stay a starter as his offspeed pitches are coming along.

Double A Mississippi 62-74, last in Southern League South

A tale of 2 halves for Mississippi. In the first half, first Michael Harris II and later Vaughn Grissom powered the team to .500 despite having no other hitters of note on the roster. After their promotions the team scuffled to score runs and faded. The pitching was solid but not good enough to overcome the lack of run support.

The only position prospects of note at the end of the season are the previously mentioned Malloy and Cade Bunnell. Malloy was a bad 3rd baseman who was moved to left field where he was passable for a third baseman playing left field. While he has decent power (and scouts say there is plenty more to come) his calling card is a high on base %. In baseball obp is life and Malloy displays it everywhere he plays. He will appear in the majors next season so be prepared to amaze your friends with your knowledge.

Bunnell is a pretty good, older (25) 2nd baseman who the scouts hate as his one big flaw is a slow turn on the deuce. He split time at first this season sort of like Max Muncy during his high minor league years. The good news is he also hits like Max Muncy so everything parallels, including the age.

On the pitching side, TrustmarkPark is one of the 3 best MiLB parks for pitchers as it ups strikeouts and is where homers go to die. Still, some of these guys can play.

Jered Schuster was our 2020 first rounder back when he was hitting 97 with his fastball. This season he sat 89-92 with a great change which was good enough for 10+ k’s per nine and a stingy 6.5 hits per. He will need to either get some velocity back or get better command to justify his draft pick.

Darius Vines is an undersized control artist who reminds me of Oil Can Boyd. He has the same jerky almost over the top motion from a string bean frame. He got good results this year with a 94mph fastball, a sneaky change, and a decent breaker.

AAA Gwinnett, 69-79, 8th (of 10) West Division, International League

The Braves do not keep position player prospects at AAA any more. As a result, the roster is littered with older AAAA types who make sporadic appearances for the MLB team and then claimed off waivers after being outrighted back to Gwinnett. The result is a bad team with a terrific pitching staff. We shall eschew position player prospects because they don’t exist.

I would like to highlight 2 pitchers who weren’t on the major league shuttle but have serious potential. Firstly, Nolan Kingham doesn’t strike out many guys but also has among the lowest walk % in all baseball. He has a great sinker that generates ridiculous ground ball rates and can work at any level providing he has good infield defense behind him: he has not had those defenders during his Braves career! I can see Kingham as our garbage time reliever for several years, much like the Lisp or the late Anthony Varvarro.

The other, Freddie Tarnok has a great fastball (96-98 with plus plus movement) and workable offspeed stuff. Thus far the Braves are wasting his time as a starter while I believe he could be a late inning reliever as soon as now. Do it AA!

Overall System 328 – 330
This is the closest to .500 the Braves system has managed in many years. The team does not prioritize winning in the minors because they understand the point of the system is to produce players for the big league team. The Braves go even further than most teams and prioritize the development of stars and the hell with depth pieces. Given that the best system wide winning percentage of the last decade belongs to the Pirates and the Marlins I believe we are doing it right. (Yes, I know the Dodgers and Redbirds are 3 and 4 on the list but they don’t support my point, now, do they!)

31 thoughts on “MiLB recap for 2022”

  1. That Ozuna link went to a picture of boxing gloves but seems to go elsewhere now. Apologies

  2. The posted elbow to the back video from the last thread is another way the Mets look like idiots this series. I thought Showalter was supposed to make that team professional?

    The Phillies, on the other hand, have been doing and saying all the right things.

  3. Also, this system is just crazy pitching heavy right now to the point where at least 8 of the top-10 guys — and potentially all 10 of my top-10 guys — are going to be pitchers.

    Also the ranking lists are going to be brutal on our farm this offseason. This ignores two factors:
    1) the system graduated Harris, Strider, Grissom, Elder and Davidson this season. Damn!
    2) while a bit light on depth, the system still has numerous prospects who might turn into stars. We also have proof in front of us that the development staff is currently doing god’s own work. This is a good combination.

  4. Where are people going to park during mid-week day games? I hate Manfred and the MLB. Just play all games at the same time and let people watch who they want to watch. Casual viewers aren’t tuning in for a 1:07pm start time anyways. Why punish the actual fans of the teams involved?

  5. I missed the previous thread, but I don’t think too many people are complaining about the lack of the ghost runner in the playoffs. I’d be much happier if they instigated it later in games, like the 12 inning onwards in the regular season. But never in the post-season, MLB has that right. That TB-Cle game was tense, the ghost-runner would’ve ruined it.

    If Strider were fit, I’d feel really confident. Bowman suggests Strider may only pitch 2-3 innings, if at all, hence Odorizzi will get some innings. That should be fun.

    Oh, and the Padres certainly look alot better than I thought. Musgrove, Darvish and Snell is a formidable playoff rotation. It sure would be nice if they could cut down the Dodgers.

  6. Given recent history, you’ve got to believe the organization will hit on a few of these prospects. Thanks for the summary.

    About last night . . . Wow: the LOL Mets returned, with a vengeance. You hate to see it.

    Here are my predictions for the rest of the playoffs:
    NLDS: Phillies over Braves in 4, Padres over Dodgers in 5
    ALDS: Yankees over Guardians in 4; Mariners over Astros in 5
    NLCS: Padres over Phillies in 6; Yankees over Mariners in 7
    WS: Yankees over Padres in 7

    I hope I’m wrong, obviously. . .

  7. Very nice, Karl.

    The nice thing about having people’s comments insulting you that get JC’d is that you don’t have to respond to them.

  8. Just found out that MLB has blackout all international markets from watchiztge postseason live. This is truly sad and unbelievable. After years and years of watching, for the first time I cannot watch the Braves in the playoffs. Unbelievable.

    I am not a swearer but to say I am disappointed is a fckn understatement.

  9. @14: That’s horrible! Can’t you use a VPN?

    Also, the article I read said that’s because of contract they signed with European broadcast networks… Can’t you get one of those? If you can’t use a VPN, you can also get a refund of, apparently

  10. @13 wow! I am happy to have Strider locked in, but this is definitely relatively more expensive / risky than MHII’s deal. Strider would not have been an FA until 2028 and this this deal pays him $22M that year then $22M club option or $5M buyout for 2029.

    On one hand, Strider’s profile as a potential #1 with tons of strikeouts means that (if healthy) he would have been looking at some really sweet arbitration numbers down the line… but he’s also a pitcher who throws 100+ MPH and those kind of guys break down pretty often. Going year-to-year means assuming less risk from a team perspective and consequently it makes sense for the team to ask for a discount from a pitcher asking the team to absorb that injury risk by guaranteeing a longer-term deal.

  11. Imagine being so gifted physically that you can turn six months of work into generational wealth. What a flex.

  12. Appreciate the help, JonathanF. Thank you. I tried VPN and looks like they recognize it now, they didn’t used to. But when using a VPN, there are “technical problems” shown instead of the game. It’s disappointing. Already contacted them.

  13. We also have proof in front of us that the development staff is currently doing god’s own work.

    This is actually something I’d love to see more research on. JonathanF, or others, have you seen any good pieces on player development staffs and what contributes to success there?

    I’m sure that it’s messy and noisy and hard to isolate the causal chain that leads to Prospect A succeeding in the majors while Prospect B flames out in Quad-A. On the other hand, there’s should be a pretty simple null hypothesis to test: the Braves think that they have an organizational secret sauce that makes them good at developing pitching prospects. As recently as a few years ago, when Kyle Wright was struggling and the pitching-centric rebuild was still looking tenuous, this assertion seemed demonstrably false. Now, it looks highly possible.

    Are the Braves good at developing pitching prospects, or hitters, for that matter? If you took a basket of prospects in the BA top 200 and you randomized the organization they were assigned to, would they have a better chance of a good ML career in the Braves organization than in another organization?

    Also, good Lord am I stoked about this Strider contract. Hot DAMN.

    @17, I think your caution is highly valid, but given his performance as a rookie, I actually think this contract isn’t necessarily paying that much of a surplus over what he’d get in arbitration, even if he makes a DeGrom-like 15-25 starts a year, especially given the new bonuses paid to Super Twos and award-getters.

    (Postscript to the baseball gods: I am not saying Strider is DeGrom! I’m only saying that he’s incredibly effective by rate stats so even if his counting stats lag, his dominance in his innings pitched would still result in a hefty arb payday.)

  14. Here’s what pitching prospects in the Braves system should do:

    Workout with Strider in the offseason, or at least mimic everything he does in the offseason. The control of his lower half drives all of his success. Such a specimen.

    Mark Zinno, ladies and gents (and my response)…

  15. An underrated aspect of this deal: Strider stays “cheap” through 2025 ($1M, $1M, $4M). This would seem to leave room in the payroll for a big 2-3 year contract.

  16. I agree with the skepticism on the Strider deal. I think he’s the first rookie pitcher that AA has locked up. All the others have been position players. I also agree that the next three years are good to have locked in at low rates. I’m also surprised the Braves locked in Strider before Max. I wonder if Max will insist on testing the FA market. Apparently, Strider is more of a prize than Wright.

    Also, deGrom seems more and more likely to stay with the Mets.

  17. @21, something I wonder about is how organizations try to learn from other organizations. If I were in a management role, every time the Braves brought Jesse Chavez back, I would have a formal debriefing meeting to ask him how his previous team did things, if there was anything they did that we might consider adopting, and if he had any thoughts about players we might target in trades or free agency. Or ask Adrianza what Juan Soto was like as a teammate, for example. The Braves seem to want players that are good in the clubhouse, and other players may be good sources of information about that. I believe I read a long time ago a story about Bill Veeck finding out from a player that a former teammate had pitched poorly the previous year because he had been hiding a sore arm from his manager, but that it had cleared up near the end of the year, which prompted Veeck to trade for him. With so much player churn during the season, the roster probably has players who have played for most of the other organizations in the last year or two. Seems like all teams should be doing that sort of thing; maybe they are, but I haven’t heard of it. Now that I think about it, it would’ve been good to ask Kevin Goldstein (former Astros front office employee) that sort of thing while he was doing chats at FanGraphs.

  18. @24 Thank you, Nick. Living in Switzerland now but will definitely look into it. This is super helpful. Really appreciate you posting it.

  19. Following up on my own @27, players who were on the team this year had played either last year or earlier this year for 17 of the 29 other teams. Four of them played for the Giants.

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