Atlanta Braves 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Cristian Pache, Spring Training vs. Boston, March 16, 2019. Photo credit Bryan Green on Flickr

The Atlanta Braves went into full rebuild mode after a losing season in 2014 and at several points in recent years have had what most would consider one of the top farm systems in baseball. While the big league club is back on track, winning at least 90 games and two division titles in the last two years, the farm is still strong. With that being said, we are here to see the big league club win championships and whether it is graduations or trades, I expect this list to be much different post trade deadline.

The Braves have done a lot to shore up the big league roster this offseason as Alex Anthopoulos has put together arguably the National League’s best bullpen and added a power bat in the middle of the order with Marcell Ozuna. I know many Braves fans want more firepower in the lineup, but the club has plenty of ammunition left.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1

1. Cristian Pache, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #1)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: .277/.340/.462, 12 HR, 8 SB

While you can find some varying opinions on Pache’s dynasty prowess across Twitter, there is no arguing that the 21 year old is one of the top OF prospects in the game. A late bloomer in terms of his power (he says jokingly as we discuss a 21 year old), Pache is very close to being considered above average in every category. We know the hit tool and run game are going to be his fantasy calling card and even though the power is coming along, there is still some concern about his batted ball data. First off, Pache is an extremely pull heavy hitter. In fact he hasn’t had a pull % under 50%  at any stop since 2016 in Rookie ball. Factor in a ground ball rate that has lived in the high 40, low 50% range and you know we don’t have a perfect offensive skillset, but it is certainly getting closer. It is also worth mentioning that while he has wheels, he hasn’t been an efficient base stealer yet in pro ball and he could lose another step if he continues adding size. With that being said, if the Braves top prospect makes some adjustments to the swing and the power he flashes becomes consistent,  the divide among the prospect industry will narrow.

2. Drew Waters, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #3)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: .309/.360/.459, 7 HR, 16 SB

I originally wrote that Pache was the clear number one, then almost went Waters at one, then almost did a 1.A, 1.B situation. My mind is racing on this. The fact of the matter is this is a fantasy list. I know Waters strikes out a lot and his aggressive approach can get him into trouble at times, but he also has a great knack for making hard contact and the wheels to take an extra base. So here we are. I’m sitting with Waters at two and could very realistically see him being more of a contributor in roto than Pache. Onto Waters. The Georgia native, along with Pache and the soon to be mentioned Anderson, made it all the way to Triple-A in 2019 where he was nearly 7 years younger than the average player at that level. Waters held his own in that small sample size collecting 29 hits in 26 games with two homers while going three for three on stolen base attempts. Waters value lies is in his hit tool, but I could realistically see 15/25 seasons out of him on a consistent basis. He has the skillset to be a table setter at the top of the order and be an extra base hit machine.

Tier 2

3. Ian Anderson, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #2)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: 3.38 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 172 K, 65 BB

We do have a clear cut top pitching prospect in the system. Armed with three above average offerings, Anderson dominated Double-A before struggling a little bit with his command late in 2019 in Triple-A. He also had a hard time keeping the ball in the park as he allowed five homers in five Triple-A starts. I don’t think that is what we can anticipate from the former third overall pick moving forward though as he has historically posted good strikeout and ground ball rates. An adjustment to the Triple-A ball was likely needed and I think it is fair to assume we won’t have such a hitter friendly ball moving forward as MLB will look to neutralize it slightly. 

4. Kyle Wright, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #4)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 MLB Stats: 8.69 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 18 K, 13 BB

It has been ugly so far in Wright’s brief 25 MLB innings, but I’m not ready to write off the Vandy product. One thing we can rely on from Wright is the repertoire. The mid 90’s FB is made better by two plus breaking balls and that outstanding CH I love to see. It is no secret the problem is his ability to harness the command. I am of the opinion you let Wright start the season as the fifth starter and give him a true consistent assignment to see if he can piece things together at the big league level. A lot of focus from Rick Kranitz and company needs to be placed on the development of Wright this Spring Training. 

Photo credit – Bryan Green, March 16, 2019, Spring Training vs. Boston


Tier 3

5. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #6)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: 3.25 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 121 K, 49 BB

After looking like he may not touch Double-A until age 24 thanks to injury, De La Cruz flew through the minors in 2019, but not after spending his first three professional seasons in rookie ball and his fourth in Single-A. The Braves didn’t seem concerned about the injury history this year with De La Cruz as he tossed 133 innings, the majority of which came with Mississippi. I am infatuated with De La Cruz mainly because he has the perfect repertoire to miss barrels. The mid 90’s FB has some great run to it and it makes it even more devastating when you consider there is a 60 grade slider coupled with it. Once De La Cruz shows the ability to command his CH, which I am confident he will do because of how he has improved with his other pitches, we are looking at a consistent mid-rotation piece. 

6. Bryse Wilson, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #5)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 MLB Stats: 7.20 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 16 K, 10 BB

Wilson is a hard player for me to rank. Honestly, he and Wright are in similar boats to me with their current situations, but I could see the finished products going two very different ways. They both have solid repertoires, although I like Wright’s stuff a little more hence the higher ranking, and they both have had trouble hitting their spots in the majors. Realistically I see Wilson filling a long relief and spot starter role for the time being before moving into more high leverage situations as his career progresses. Wilson’s high 90’s FB and CB combo would play up even more in shorter appearances, but with how crowded the current pen situation is, I think Wilson spends the majority of his 2020 in Gwinnett. 

7. Braden Shewmake, SS (2019 Midseason Rank #7)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .300/.371/.425, 3 HR, 13 SB

Shewmake has one of the higher floors in the system thanks in part to the fact that he possesses a couple of things you can’t coach; instincts and frame. If you have one as a prospect people take notice. If you have both, there is a lot of promise in that player. As a 6’4 shortstop with a high baseball IQ, I dream on what Shewmake may turn into one day down the road, but his floor is what gives him such a high ranking. The Texas A&M product handles the bat well and was already considered the cliche “professional hitter” before he even touched pro ball. Shewmake is able to recognize pitches well and make contact on a consistent basis. His swing already presents some great leverage and the frame leads to even more power potential to dream on. Throw in the fact that he is a great baserunner and the defensive ability adds to the floor, it makes me wonder why Shewmake isn’t higher on some peoples lists.

8. Shea Langeliers, C (2019 Midseason Rank #10)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: .255/.310/.343, 2 HR

How about some more floor? People who play in deep leagues have to factor defense into their evaluations. There is nothing worse than having the short end of a platoon in one of your starting spots, but this is a conversation for another day. Langeliers doesn’t show up high in many rankings because of his offense, although I tend to disagree with most evaluators on this as well, but we will get to that in a moment. At the very least he should get a bump for the potential to be one of the best defensive catchers in the league at a position that saw only four players eclipse 500 plate appearances in 2019. To put it simply, playing time is important. With that being said, I am a bigger fan of the offensive toolset than most. For starters, the Baylor product is simply a strong kid who can make consistent contact at the plate. I think as he gets some pro reps under his belt, the raw power will begin to transition to in game over the fence power resulting in 20ish homers a season which is extremely valuable at the position.

9. Tucker Davidson, LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #20)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: 2.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 134 K, 54 BB

I was a little late to the party on Davidson, but that is mainly because he seemed all but certain to be a reliever.  Now the Driveliner is pumping in high 90’s FB with a devastating punchout CB. With another season like 2019 I could easily see Davidson as a top five prospect in the system come midseason. 

10. William Contreras, C (2019 Midseason Rank #15)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .255/.315/.354, 6 HR

Contreras hasn’t been great at the plate since moving to High-A and then eventually Double-A, but there is no question there is some raw power there. The 22 year old has pretty good plate discipline and is able to draw a walk from time to time, but he isn’t the poster boy for barreling balls. I will say when he does get a hold of one it can fly, he just needs to get a little more consistent in that department. I placed Contreras in Tier 3 because I believe his skillset is enough to have him be a big leaguer down the road and share time with Langeliers after the Travis d’Arnaud experiment. 


Tier 4

11. Trey Harris, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #15)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .323/.389/.498, 14 HR, 8 SB

I started the Trey Harris hype in the middle of his draft year and many people claimed his production was simply a product of the low level of competition. Here he is touching three levels and continuing to rake in his first full season. He gets the bat to the ball at an unbelievable rate, can draw a walk, can run, and has even shown home run power. I don’t think Harris is going to be a perennial all star, but I do think he shows up so low on lists because evaluations were so off on him from the jump. 

12. Kyle Muller LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #13)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: 3.14 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 120 K, 68 BB

Braves twitter loves themselves some Kyle Muller. I love the guy too, how could you not love a 6’6 lefty, but I just don’t love him as much as the typical Braves fan reading this does. I saw Muller pitch more than any other Braves farmhand in 2019 and I just can’t get how unbelievably wild he was in those showings out of my head. Muller has one of the biggest gaps between floor and ceiling among arms in this system and I tend to land right in the middle. I think he can be a number five starter if his stuff stays where it is today and he can find the zone a little more, maybe a number four if he can continue to develop the changeup. One thing is for sure, the Driveline participant works hard year round to continue to get better. 

13. Huascar Ynoa, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #16)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 MLB Stats: 3 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 1 HR

I think Ynoa is destined for a bullpen assignment though many scouts see him continuing to improve. The 21 year old has a solid FB and breaker so if he can harness the command, chances are he could prove me wrong.

14. Patrick Weigel, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #20)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 55 K, 32 BB

The oft-injured right hander did earn an MLB call up in 2019, though he didn’t get an opportunity to make his debut. Weigel has been a great comeback story and I am really rooting for him. As it stands today, I see nothing more than a reliever with a plus FB and two secondary offerings that will really play up in short stints, a far cry from where he was a few years ago, but still may contribute a little.

15. Michael Harris, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #43)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: .277/.344/.393, 2 HR, 8 SB

A two-way player out of his Georgia high school, the Braves preferred Harris as a hitter thanks to his plus raw power and average speed combination. The Stockbridge High School product would be higher on my list if the hit tool was a little more developed, but his speed and strength are promising. The hit tool has plenty of time to come along. On another note, if you find yourself with some time go look at his curveball. It is what we in the business call gif worthy.

16. Justin Dean, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #31)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: .284/.386/.431, 9 HR, 47 SB

Dean is an interesting prospect. I think down the road we see a gap hitter with high base stealing potential. He has a skill set that could make him a valuable bench piece in the majors. Oh by the way, he surprisingly popped nine dingers last season. 

17. Daysbel Hernandez, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #25)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: 1.71 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 70 K, 23 BB

This next run of three guys are much more valuable in deep leagues or if you like promising relievers with high potential of making the majors. I have profiled Hernandez extensively and love his mid 90’s FB and the breaker that produces a lot of swing and miss. 

18. Kasey Kalich, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #22)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: 1.25 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 24 K, 11 BB

A promising college arm, Kalich is exclusively a FB/SL guy that has high leverage pen piece written all over him. 

19. Victor Vodnik, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: 2.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 69 K, 24 BB

Admittedly, I haven’t always been a Vodnik guy and I’m still not quite where some others may be. His lack of a solid third pitch has him destined for the bullpen, but he, Kalich, and Hernandez could make for a great trifecta in the late innings.

20. Stephen Paolini, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #37)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .192/.315/.242, 0 HR, 2 SB

Little was known about Paolini coming into the draft, but I do know this, the Connecticut native has a power/speed combo that warrants an aggressive ranking. Pro ball will be an adjustment for him, but I am betting on the athlete in this case.

21. Alex Jackson, C (2019 Midseason Rank #32)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 MLB Stats: 13 AB, 0 H, 5 SO, 1 BB

I probably dropped Jackson too far down this list in the midseason update, but he simply has one carrying tool, his power. There isn’t much else he offers on the diamond and I don’t think he is a part of the Braves long term plans.

22. Jefrey Ramos, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #24)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: .241/.291/.352, 9 HR, 1 SB

Ramos is big, strong, and here to do one thing, mash baseballs. The power is really the only tool that projects to be plus, but he doesn’t post high strike out rates which could be a sign that we shouldn’t write off the hit tool quite yet. Regardless, the 20 year old’s defense is so poor that he needs to keep crushing to get a shot at the majors and maybe hide him in left field. Ramos is my sleeper/breakout candidate this year.

23. Bryce Ball, 1B (2019 Midseason Rank #28)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: .329/.395/.628, 17 HR

The man, the myth, the legend. Ball was the talk of the Braves system thanks to the rate he was launching baseballs into orbit after the draft. The power is real, but the profile is limited to 1B. I believe Ball has enough in the bat to carry him to the majors. 

24. Vaughn Grissom, SS (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .288/.361/.400, 3 HR, 3 SB

Grissom had a great pro debut and profiles as a power hitting shortstop. Although he is just 19, the 6’3 frame leads one to believe there is even more raw power down the road than at present, though he may lose a step or two in the field and on the base paths.

25. Greyson Jenista, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #9)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .233/.318/.349, 9 HR, 3 SB

Jenista’s stock is down and for good reason. But if you believe in the left handed mashers power potential, now would be a good time to buy low. When I say buy low, I mean way low. 

26. Freddy Tarnok, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #34)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: 4.75 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 91 SO, 37 BB

I am probably the low man on Tarnok and I get it. He has the frame and the big FB, but his lack of a decent third offering and command give me some concern. 

27. Jeremy Walker, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #36)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 MLB Stats: 9.1 IP, 6 K, 4 BB, 9 H, 2 ER

Walker will serve in a middle relief role sooner rather than later and may even break camp in the pen. He won’t be in line for many high leverage situations, though.

28. Jacob Webb RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #23)
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 1.39 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 28 K, 12 BB

Webb will be battling for a bullpen spot coming out of camp and his value simply relies in potential holds down the road.

29. Chad Sobotka, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #29)
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 6.21 ERA, 1.62 FIP, 38 K, 19 BB

More of the same, bullpen depth for the time being. He was actually a guy I had a little hope for before the Braves loaded up on elite bullpen arms.


Tier 5

30. Beau Philip, SS (2019 Midseason Rank #18)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .193/.297/.280, 4 HR, 5 SB

The 60th overall pick struggled a little bit in pro ball after a long college season. I see Philip as a better real life piece than a fantasy piece.

31. Braxton Davidson, OF (2019 Midseason Rank #19)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

Davidson broke his foot on a walk off homer to win the AFL Championship in 2018 and will be back on the field in 2020 to showcase his impressive power.

32. Tyler Owens, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 4.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 32 K, 12 BB

Owens is small for a pitcher, but he makes up for it with his athleticism. His mid 90’s FB is coupled well with a SL and he commands both pitches well. As with any pitcher of his size, there are durability concerns, but he has given us no reason to believe he can’t be developed as a starter for now.

33. Hayden Deal, LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #45)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: 3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 99 K, 32 BB

Deal came to Rome in 2018 and I had no idea who the guy was, but he impressed. A 6’4 undrafted lefty, he spent 2019 in High-A where he was adjusting to the higher level of competition. He has good extension and deception and I could see him filling a bullpen role with his cutter.

34. Mahki Backstrom, 1B (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .300/.402/.457, 2 HR, 1 SB

Braves twitter almost exploded when Backstrom signed and I guess I’ll jump on the bandwagon. He’s a huge kid at 6’5 220 and rather athletic. His carrying tool is power, if you really needed me to point that out, and it is encouraging that it comes from a combination of high bat speed and strength. He could vault up this list after getting some more pro ball looks.

35. Logan Brown, C (2019 Midseason Rank #41)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: .272/.313/.334, 1 HR

Just depth at the position for the time being, but defense could give him a decent floor and he was fine at the plate in 2019.

36. Phil Pfeifer, LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #47)
Age: 27
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: 2.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 159 K, 42 BB

Pfeifer is the most intriguing story in the Braves system. So intriguing that I may need to write a separate piece on him.

37. CJ Alexander, 3B (2019 Midseason Rank #38)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .117/.245/.180, 2 HR, 3 SB

I was always lower on Alexander than the consensus and that was in large part due to the hit tool. Last offseason many Braves fans were of the thought that Austin Riley was expendable because Alexander was in the system. There is extreme raw power, but I’m not sure he will hit enough for it to matter.

38. Riley Delgado, INF (2019 Midseason Rank #26)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: .315/.367/.377, 2 HR, 1 SB

Delgado isn’t the toolsiest player on the field, but he is a polished college bat that has hit well so far in pro ball. The ceiling isn’t very high, but guys like that are worth mentioning.

39. AJ Graffanino, SS (2019 Midseason Rank #27)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A
2019 Stats: N/A

Lost 2019 to injury.

40. Jared Johnson, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 3.52 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 12 K, 4 BB

Another relatively unknown name in last year’s draft, Johnson is a Mississippi prepster that is about as raw as they come. He dominated lesser competition before getting drafted and after some coaching could very well trudge his way up this list.

41. Greg Cullen, 2B (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: .270/.393/.401, 9 HR, 2 SB

42. Thomas Burrows, LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #35)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: 4.42 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 63 K, 24 BB

43. Riley Unroe, 2B (2019 Midseason Rank #46)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
2019 Stats: .281/.361/.403, 9 HR, 14 SB

44. Ricky DeVito, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: 3.44 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 35 K, 16 BB

College arm with a solid repertoire. If anyone from the 40’s will move up it is DeVito.

45. Trey Riley, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #30)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: 7.67 ERA, 1.99 WHIP, 41 K, 46 BB

46. Kadon Morton, OF (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .152/.257/.273, 1 HR, 1 SB, 45 SO in 32 Games

Who let this guy in? AmIRite? Morton is here for one reason. He’s an athlete. A two way player out of his Texas High School, the 18 year old could be a two way player, but the Braves value him more with the bat.

47. Gabriel Noguera, LHP (2019 Midseason Rank #40)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Single-A
2019 Stats: 3.59 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 82 K, 40 BB

48. Darius Vines, RHP (2019 Midseason Rank #39)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 6.68 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 35 K, 10 BB

Vines is on this list for one reason, his CB. The California native may not pop up as a must grab in your dynasty leagues, but we have to appreciate a young man with a nice breaking ball.

49. Geraldo Quintero, SS (2019 Midseason Rank NR)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: DSL
2019 Stats: .264/.379/.376, 2 HR, 21 SB

My favorite J2 player from an org that couldn’t sign many J2 players. You know why.

50. Ryan Casteel, 1B (2019 Midseason Rank #50)
Age: 28
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
2019 Stats: .263/.334/.477, 21 HR

Just a masher. If you’ve been following my work you know #50 is just a @berrys_baseball favorite.




About Jake Berry 43 Articles
I reside in Carrollton, Georgia and love everything baseball. I graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. I have a passion for the minor leagues and have high hopes of visiting as many minor league parks as I can. I enjoy the statistical side of the game, especially sabermetrics. I am also an avid baseball card collector and fantasy baseball player.

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