In our first installment of this series, we covered the Braves lower MILB affiliates, the Augusta Greenjackets and the Rome Braves. Today, our journey leads to the show as the Braves have been known to promote to MLB straight from Double-A and utilize AAA as a Quad-A type stop for quick call-ups and/or trials, the latest of which was Ben Heller who looked stellar. Of the current Stripers roster, Ian Anderson, Dylan Dodd, Lucas Luetge, Dereck Rodriguez, Michael Soroka, Danny Young, Chadwick Tromp, Vaughn Grissom, Braden Shewmake, Roddery Munoz and Eli White have all made appearances at MLB, both Charlie Culberson and Nick Solak came up for a bit but was DFA’d. That makes an astonishing 14 players that have appeared at the MLB level from the Braves AAA affiliate. The Braves only utilize this method of quick callups at the AAA level, and when they promote from Mississippi, it’s seemingly more permanent (see Spencer Strider, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Michael Harris II). In today’s piece, we will look at the players on the Braves Farm would AA & AAA to determine who’s showing they’re ready for the next big step.

Braves Farm: Mississippi Braves

Drew Lugbauer: We all know him at this point. And yes, in all likelihood, SLugbauer is probably Quad-A material, but good heavens, he can mash a baseball and is incredibly patient. He’s a patented 3 outcomes player: 14.7% BB-rate, 36.4% K-rate, and he hits a dinger about every 13 ABs.

Luke Waddell: I’ve talked about Luke a lot and love what he could bring to the table at the MLB level. While he flopped in his short time at AAA, he’s killing it at Mississippi and that’s a place where offense goes to die. He can play all positions in the infield and is carrying a .399 OBP for the 2023 season.

Javier Valdes: Valdes has now been a part of the Braves org for 5 years and has developed a strong hit tool over the course of his career. This year, he has an .865 OPS and a strong .388 OBP and he’s only been utilized as catcher his entire time in the org, which shows what the Braves think of his skillset.

Alec Barger: Barger is breaking out in a big way in Pearl. While he’s always had strikeout stuff, he’s been able to keep the ball in the park this year, but that’s fairly easy to do in Pearl. At 25 years of age, he needs the AAA test as he’ll be Rule-5 eligible this offseason.

Kyle Wilcox: Wilcox has always been able to strike ’em out, but he’s also shown a remarkable talent for walking the room. He’s harnessed control this year at Pearl and the Braves need to see if he’s fixed or if he’s fluked.

Braves Farm: Gwinnett Stripers

Joe Dunand: After the Athletic article that came out about Orlando Arcia, and the obvious swing change when watching him in AAA a few years back, I got to thinking about the Braves analytical team and how many swings they have fixed over the years and that brought me to Dunand. The Braves acquired him back in 2022, DFA’d him, but was able to retain him at AAA and he was the opposite of good and ended the year with a .619 OPS. This year, Dunand is carrying a 1.119 OPS and is averaging a HR every 10 ABs. While he’s only played 1B and 3B at AAA this year, he has the ability to play all over the infield, but SS likely “break glass in case of emergency”. Did the Braves fix him? If he gets re-added to the 40-man this offseason, we will get out answer.

Joe Hudson: Joe signed with the Braves probably knowing full well he’d never see the bigs. However, he’s shown that he’s fully capable of filling in as a backup should the Braves need him. While he’s deserving, there’s just not a spot for him.

Grant Holmes: A full-time move to the bullpen has made all the difference for Holmes and the former 1st round pick looks set up to make his big league debut either in 2023 or 2024. My guess is that it’ll be 2024 and Holmes will get added to the Braves 40-man roster this offseason.

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