The Mississippi Braves finished the season with a 62-75 record. Unlike Gwinnett, many on this team were still in the realm of prospect status and had strong years that keep the dream alive. When a franchise like the Braves has a strong core with little real need at the MLB level, AAA becomes the fast food for quick call-ups while Mississippi is home to a true dining experience of talent. Still, the system is thin, but there are several players at AA that could prove worthy of the show. Today, we will not focus on the many, but the few. Let’s get to it! The Mississippi Braves MVP Selections.
Mississippi Braves MVP, Offense: Luke Waddell
Luke Waddell was the 5th round draft pick out of Georgia Tech back in the 2019 draft. At only 5’7, Waddell will likely never be a star in the bigs, but the Braves big league club would likely enjoy his versatility. While he’s capable of playing 3 IF positions, he’s a strong shortstop with an outstanding quick twitch and a Martin Prado-like baseball IQ. He had a .798 OPS in AA that was heavily aided by a patient approach that saw him walk 65 times in 446 PA (.403 OBP). And while that’s impressive, the most impressive part about his game could be that he only struck out 57 times. Luke is 25 and between college and the minors, has 7 years of strong experience in the game and my guess is that he’s going to be in Gwinnett next year, but see plenty of call-ups to Atlanta when AA needs a fill-in.
Mississippi Braves MVP, Pitching: Luis De Avila
Luis De Avila is a LH SP that the Braves picked up in the MILB portion of the Rule 5 draft. AT 5’9, he’s not big, but can still push a FB to 95. However, his out-pitch has become a hard curve that he developed fairly recently. In order to keep him around the Braves will have to protect him by placing him on the 40 man roster because he is Rule-5 eligible. I believe they will protect him. In AA, De Avila started 25 games (123.1 IP) and carried a 3.28 ERA. His walks were elevated which spiked his WHIP a bit (1.27) but the org really likes where he’s headed.
Mississippi Braves LVP, Offense: Cal Conley
Before the MiLB season started, I had Cal Conley ahead of Luke Waddell and Cade Bunnell, who are both similar players. Waddell showed real promise that he still has a chance at the bigs. Bunnell hit for power but couldn’t make contact, striking out 179 times in in 399 PAs. Unfortunately, Conley outdie Bunnell and not in a good way. As the regular SS for most of the season, Conley carried a sub-600 OPS in 535 PAs. While his glove is solid, there’s not much room at the inn for a guy that can’t hit a lick. Conley has pedigree as he was the Braves 4th round pick back in 2021, but it’s a long road back.
Mississippi Braves LVP, Pitching: Alan Rangel
At one point in time, Rangel was liked by the brass so much that he was added to the Braves 40-man. Unfortunately for him. that didn’t last long and it’s been a downhill journey since. Rangel was 3-15 this year at Pearl with a 4.66 ERA. The plus side is that Rangel struck out 128 in 112 innings, so there could be light at the end of the tunnel if he were to convert full-time to relief.
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