In 2021, the Braves drafted a AJ Smith-Shawver in the 7th round and it was believed that he wouldn’t sign as the slot was only valued at ~$200K. But the Braves had no intention of offering him slot $. They had a plan and they utilized some early below slot signings to offer A.S.S. right under a mil and he accepted. He was set to join Texas Tech as a 2-sport phenom, playing both baseball as a pitcher and football as a quarterback, but instead reported to Orlando, then joined the FCL.

In 2021, Smith-Shawver, 18 years old at the time, only saw 8.1 innings of professional baseball and he either struck out everyone or walked everyone. In those 8.1 innings, he struck out an astonishing 16 batters, but also walked 10. However, make no mistake, even with the walks, Smith-Shawver definitely caught the eyes of the Braves scouts.

In 2022, the ERA was high but the results were better: 68.2 IP, 5.1 BB/9, 13.5 K/9. Like with many prospects, Smith-Shawver had a small injury and was shut down for the rest of the 2022 season.

Now at 20 years old, Smith-Shawver looks to be breaking out in a big way can could be the next big “under the radar” prospect that impacts the MLB club within a few years.

AJ Smith-Shawver Scouting Report and 2023 Results

Smith-Shawver started the year in Rome, the Braves High-A affiliate, and has looked remarkable in a small sample. His FB sits mid-90s and can get to 97-98 in early innings and it should only get faster considering his age. His arsenal is developing and while the fastball is sharp, his offspeed still needs work. However, if Spencer Strider is the new prototype, developing an equally devastating offspeed pitch, and have a 3rd that’s just average would work considering the quality of the fastball.

In 2023, Smith-Shawver has pitched in 14 innings, has yet to allow a run, has given up 6H, and carries a 14.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. I’ve discussed this before, but when something clicks, the Braves seem to move fast. If Smith-Shawver continues to impress at High-A over these next 4-5 starts, he could get the call to AA and would likely stay there through the rest of the 2023 season. However, come 2024, all systems could be a go and that would be a lot of fun to watch.

Some A.S.S. Candy (sounds disgusting, but it’s not)

Another that shows more of his arsenal:

There aren’t many players in this system that’s shown the ability to be an MLB impact player quite yet, but Smith-Shawver is exploding with talent and likely deserves that nod and the nod as the Braves best prospect.

Thanks for reading. If you missed it, check out the latest update on the Braves Low-A MILB Top Performers and if you want more Smith-Shawver news, check out this podcast from “Locked on Braves”.

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