I’ve not completed a Braves Top 30 prospects piece this year. Sorry. I assure you I’m not slacking… I just have no idea how to rank anyone outside of the top-10. And even in the top-10, there’s so much unknown due to lack of a true sample that it’s still tough. While I think MLB’s list of the top 30 lacks the quality of other outlets, it’s the easiest to access and therefore easiest to critique. I’ve discussed several times in the past few years, but I think it’s time for our prospect lists to grow with the game. These lists are too stationary throughout the year and should be fluid and updated monthly. Sure, SSS still comes in play and in no way would I want to see a player moved up because of a hot month of which a hitter had a .543 BABIP and 12 infield singles. However, there’s true data out there now and adjustments can come hard and fast in this game. In the offseason, we see a new top-100 prospects list, but what I’d like to see is a new list every 2 months, especially when a nearly unknown can make himself into a prospect overnight due to advanced training methods occurring in the offseason.
So…this is how I’m going to approach much of this Braves prospects list. In today’s piece, I will look at the Braves MILB players ranked in the top-30 and discuss what I’ve seen. I’m the judge and the juror and here I’ll declare my 4 decisions on the rankings:
- Justfied: Player has done nothing to make his prospect position worse or better
- Demoted: Broke down more than a 1998 Ford Focus
- Promoted: Smile kid…you got better.
- Booted: Congrats! You’re old or just kinda stink.
*I hope it’s clear that I’m talking about prospect rankings, not promoted to the big leagues.
Braves Top 30 Prospects, 30-21
- 30: Allan Winans: Nitpicking here, but Winans is 28 and shouldn’t be on this list at all. Winans is fine and went 1 for 2 in starts for the Braves and that’s better than most quick call-ups, but he’s not a prospect. Most lists have age cut-offs and/or service time cutoffs. My decision: Booted
- 29: Lucas Braun: 6th Round pick in this year’s draft, Braun has been impressive and even received a promotion to A+. His stat-line on the year shows that Low-A was likely the wrong starting point and High-A challenged him. His ability to pile up Ks and minimize BBs likely provides him with an opportunity to move through the system quickly. My decision: Promoted
- 28: Drake Baldwin: The biggest question for Drake is whether or not he’ll stick at catcher and I think the Braves have every intention of keeping him there as they value his leadership (rumor is that’s why they drafted him). My decision: Promoted
- 27: Tyler Owens: At one point, it looked like Owens could be the closer of the future, but there hasn’t been much progress, but there have been promotions. Unfortunately, Owens doesn’t seem to be getting any worse or any better, but he does age like everyone else. My decision: Justified
- 26: Seth Keller: Keller was killer in the beginning of the year. After 7 games and 25 innings, his stat-line was as impressive as I’ve seen in a 19 y/o: 1.08 ERA, 16H, 23K, 3BB. The next 9 tell a different story. While the answer lies somewhere in between, a 19 y/o with a 95 MPH FB is definitely worth keeping an eye on. My decision: Justified.
- 25: Geraldo Quintero: With promotions to the next level, one would expect some regression and Quintero met those expectations. He’s relied on a high BABIP to get results and that’s like relying on McDonalds for your nutritional needs. When I look at his skillset, I don’t see a Major Leaguer and, truthfully, don’t see him making it past AA. My decision: Booted.
- 24: Diego Benitez: 19 y/o that improved his overall numbers a level up. They’re still not great, but worth keeping an eye on. He stayed at SS this year and that’s always a plus. My decision: Promoted.
- 23: Isaiah Drake: 17 y/o that underperformed at the FCL but that’s no diss on him. He’s 17. He should underperform. I like his skillset and now he just needs to add some muscle. My decision: Justified.
- 22: Jesse Franklin IV: Will Franklin stick in CF? The answer is likely no. Will he be a big leaguer? Maybe. He carried a .753 OPS this year, but there was a HUGE downside for AA hitters in 2023 and that was the ball. ICYMI, AA was the league that tested out the new stickier ball and offensive numbers across the league were down. Frankin can hit. He can also run. And while he might not be a CFer long term, he can field too. It’s about this time that splits start to show and Franklin’s were apparent: .831 OPS vs. RHP and .587 vs. LHP. Knowing all there is to know about AA and Franklin’s numbers, I think he’ll make it to the bigs at some point. My decision: Promoted.
- 21: Cal Conley: No player in the Braves system has had a more disappointing year than Cal Conley. At a .602 OPS, Cal has taken his name out of the minds of the Braves front office and, at 23, could be cut this offseason. It’s a shame that Conley fell so low as I thought he had real potential to stick as a super-utility. My decision: Booted.
Booted: Winans, Quintero, Conley
Justified: Owens, Keller, Drake
Promoted: Braun, Baldwin, Benitez, Franklin
Looks like I get to add 4 to the final list!
Come join in! It’s a new bar!