Atlanta Braves 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

Typically Spring Training is the time of year where I feel the optimism, the excitement, the new opportunities, food tastes better, my mood is enhanced, it is MY new year. After a 2020 worth forgetting, I felt those vibes that come with a fresh start in the traditional new year and this Atlanta Braves Top 50 gives us an opportunity to turn the page on double-digit first innings, baserunning blunders, blown three-one leads, and most importantly, a year with no Minor League Baseball. On to 2021.

Thanks in part to guys like Ian Anderson, Cristian Pache, and William Contreras, the 2021 list will have more players that have made their MLB debut than we are used to seeing. What has been consistently a top five system in recent years will start to trend down when Anderson and Pache exceed prospect status in 2021. The club’s calling card has been the flashy names they’ve had in the pitching stable and despite recent graduations, there is still a ton of mound depth on the farm, but it looks a little bit different. This list is stacked with promising relievers who are being developed as such, which may be for the best given the recent trends in the major league game. Regardless of how you think the Braves stack up against other farm systems, there is no denying there is some major talent at the top of the list and most of them are knocking on the door of the show, if not already broken through. Uber talented outfield prospects, some catching depth, more near major league ready bullpen arms than most, and one of the best young major league rosters in baseball, it is a great time to be a Braves fan.


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
Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB

When making the 2020 list I swapped Pache and the number two guy in this top spot more times than I can remember. One year later I still feel good about this ranking as Pache is in position to be the everyday center fielder for the Braves starting immediately and for the foreseeable future. A divisive prospect in the fantasy world, Pache’s game has changed as he has developed and he is now seen as more of a power threat than he was in his early days. Once upon a time we thought his offensive game was going to be centered around steals and while he definitely has the wheels, he does have room to improve on the base paths. He just turned 22 this offseason and there are some holes in the swing and concerns in the batted ball data, as I documented in last year’s Top 50, but no one can deny the young man held his own in the playoffs last year against the eventual World Series Champions. I am still bullish on Pache.


2. Drew Waters, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: Triple-A

There is no doubt in my mind that the Georgia native has a ceiling of a Tier 1 player and while I say I still feel good about having Pache number one in my list, I am by no means arguing with any fantasy list that has Waters on top. Waters has the potential to fill up all fantasy categories with his above average running ability and knack for barreling the ball and taking the extra base. The doubters of Drew Waters point to his high strikeout rates, but I am a glass half full kind of guy and like to make note of the fact that when he does make contact, which he does a lot, it is typically off the barrel and it typically comes off the bat hard. Give me the young switch hitter with a lot of pop any day of the week. At just 22, he can continue to work on the high swing and miss rates. Again, my internal struggle between Pache and Waters was well-documented in last year’s list.

Tier 2

3. Ian Anderson, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB

One of these days when you google “Ian Anderson”, the Braves pitcher is going to come up instead of the lead vocalist from Jethro Tull. His 2020 debut was a pretty good step in that direction. The 6’3 right hander had 1.3 bWAR in just 32.1 innings and finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting despite not joining the major league squad until August 26. He won all three of his first decisions in the bigs and ended up posting a 1.95 ERA and 10.1 K/9 on the season. After struggling a little bit to keep the ball in the park in Triple-A, Anderson allowed just one homer in the majors in 2020. He had all three of his pitches working last year and I am looking forward to what a full season in the Braves rotation will do for Anderson. It is safe to assume that the Shenendehowa HS product (also the high school of Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter for a little ATL connection) will be a staple in the middle of the Braves rotation for the next handful of years.

4. Braden Shewmake, SS
Age: 23
Highest Level: Double-A

You won’t find much of an argument in the Braves system in terms of who the top three prospects are, regardless of the order, but number four is where things really start to shakeup. I’m extremely high on Shewmake because he is about as developed as a guy with only half a year of pro ball can be. Of course his SEC pedigree helps, but Shewmake possesses an advanced hit tool and plate approach which gives him a pretty high floor from a fantasy standpoint. His size, strength, and ability to barrel the ball also give him a lot of power potential. There is a lot to like in this shortstop prospect.

Tier 3

5. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Double-A

De La Cruz was called up to the major league roster in 2020, but didn’t make his debut as he was more of a “break glass in case of emergency” type of arm while Cole Hamels was returning from the IL. The most well-known @berrys_baseball favorite has had a meteoric rise since bouncing around in foreign and rookie ball in the early going and, with some injuries hopefully behind him, has earned his shot at the majors. De La Cruz has long been known for his wipeout FB/SL combo and the knock has always been his lack of command on the CH. I’ve watched more De La Cruz than most since 2018 and the reports of him not having a third pitch are well outdated. He may be a late bloomer thanks to the early injuries, but some time in Triple-A to keep mastering his stuff will set him up to be a solid MLB contributor.


6. Bryse Wilson, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level:MLB

By MLB standards, Wilson is no longer a prospect. However, at Prospects1500 we use one rule and one rule only to determine pitching prospect eligibility, 50 IP. Wilson, who so many in Braves country love to refer to as a “bulldog” is just under 43 career innings in his big league career. He’s been in the system a while and has had some solid outings at the MLB level, so I’m likely not telling prospect hunters anything they don’t already know, but Wilson has solid stuff across the board and can command all three of his pitches very well. I wouldn’t call Wilson “fiery”, but he is definitely competitive and I love watching him take the mound. He may end up in the bullpen down the road, but the Braves have not given up on him as a starter, especially after shoving against the Dodgers in game four of the NLCS.

7. Shea Langeliers, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: Single-A

I’ve been on the side of Langeliers as the Braves top catching prospect since the day he was drafted and have noticed the main knock against him in the fantasy industry is he is a “better real life prospect”. That may be true, but here comes my annual “playing time is king in deep leagues” message. The Baylor product is going to be a staple on a major league roster and his elite defensive ability gives him a high floor. The young man also happens to have an exceptional baseball IQ, has proven he is making adjustments to his swing, and is now around elite coaches. I believe Langeliers is going to be a legitimate offensive threat at the major league level with a solid hit tool and 15-20 homer pop.

8. Jared Shuster, LHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: College

Aggressive? Maybe so, but people that have read my work in the past know I love a guy who is coming into pro ball with an established CH and good control, especially if it is coming from the left side. A 6’3 lefty in the mid 90’s with good command and a solid CH gives Shuster a pretty high floor in my eyes and that floor is why I have him above the next lefty for the time being. The Wake Forest product has all of the qualities to be a middle to back of the rotation staple.


9. Tucker Davidson, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Davidson has typically had good stats in the minors, but he really burst onto the prospect scene in 2019 after striking out a bunch of Double-A hitters with Mississippi. The lefty was a reliever for his first year and a half of pro ball and as his stuff progressed was moved into a starter’s role. The Braves hope that progression continues and all factors indicate that it will as he posses a good FB and has a well-documented talent to spin the ball pretty well.

10. William Contreras, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB

Braves fans really loved the small sample they saw from Contreras in the majors last season as he racked up four hits, including a double, in his first 10 major league at bats. With only 60 games above High-A over the course of his five year pro career prior to 2020, Contreras made it to the show quicker than expected thanks to an unusual season and some organizational injuries. I believe he is going to be a solid big league catcher with the offensive potential to finish among the top tier of his position group in a few fantasy categories, but I still believe Langeliers is the catcher of the Braves future.

11. Kyle Muller, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Double-A

This is typically where I receive the most criticism from prospect people. The fact of the matter is, I am a huge Muller fan because I like watching baseball players that are built like professional wrestlers. While he definitely falls in the top three of Braves prospects I would want to have my back in a bar fight, I think there is still some work to be done on the mound. The 6’6 lefty is touching 100 with his FB thanks in large part to a workout regimen that would make prime Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous, but I’d like to see his other pitches and most importantly the command come along with it as well. With how this guy works, there is no doubt in my mind he can get there and clearly the Braves feel that way as well since they added him to the 40 man in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

12. Jesse Franklin V, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: College

I really like each one of these next three outfielders and while it may be a gamble to have all of them in Tier 3, because unfortunately the odds are against each of them panning out, I feel good about the order… today anyway.  There are some question marks that surround the 97th overall pick in 2020, but the one thing I do know is Franklin is a solid athlete and reports from the alternate site say he took a good approach to the plate. There is a nice combination of raw power and foot speed and Franklin has some very entertaining film from his time at Michigan. It has been a while since we have seen him in competitive action, but he is definitely a guy I will be keeping a close eye on in 2021.


13. Terone Harris, OF
Age: 25
Highest Level: Double-A

Harris has been an absolute hitting machine in pro ball and I am willing to claim that I started his hype train. The knock in the early going for him was that University of Missouri product was beating up on lower competition. That may be true, what do you say about a guy who has continued to beat up on his competition all the way through Double-A. We need to see a bigger sample, sure, but there are very few players in the minor leagues that have studied, embraced analytics, and made adjustments in the way Harris has.

14. Michael Harris, OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: Single-A

Back to back Georgia boys and back to back Harris’, but no relation. Harris was a major talent coming out of Stockbridge High School and he could have just as easily been a pitcher as an outfielder. I got to watch him in Rome in 2019 and while his performance at the dish wasn’t so impressive in the small sample, he did showcase some talent on the bases in the games I attended. He is a solid raw athlete with some development still to go, but has the potential to move up this list as he progresses in the professional game.

15. Bryce Ball, 1B
Age: 22
Highest Level: Single-A

I just so happened to be on a trip in Asheville, NC in 2019 where I saw Ball’s Single-A debut and he didn’t slow down one bit from his tear in rookie ball. A 24th round pick in 2019, Ball mashed the lower levels of the minors and that is something we are going to continue to see from him. Unbelievable power and a hit tool to go with it, Ball’s stock will definitely benefit from the universal DH when it inevitably goes into action. From a pure batted ball standpoint, this is your guy in the Braves system.


16. Freddy Tarnok, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: High-A

The Braves have a lot of third-rounders on this list and Tarnok is another one. He has a slimmer frame at 6’3 185, but he can sling it. The delivery is easy and he has steadily trended up in terms of his command. There is a solid three pitch mix and as he learns to command each of those pitches more he will continue to make progress. With so many of the Braves top prospects nearing the meajors, Tarnok is one of the top arms to watch that has yet to touch Double-A.

17. Bryce Elder, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: College

At pick 156 in the 2020 draft, Elder may one day be seen as one of the higher value picks from that year’s selection process. His stuff isn’t overpowering or flashy, but he can spin a couple of breaking balls that give hitters fits. He is going to be a guy that needs to learn to mix his pitches well and if he does that he certainly has enough stuff to land at the back of a major league rotation.

18. Daysbel Hernandez, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: High-A

I was the first Braves writer on Hernandez and it seems like the industry is catching up, especially the fantasy world. I’ve long profiled the value that relievers bring to deep leagues and as more fantasy players go the dynasty route, more are starting to take note of that. I profiled Hernandez in-depth in 2019 and still believe that his wipe out FB/SL combo is going to carry him to the bigs as a potential late-inning option.

19. Kasey Kalich, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Single-A

Another reliever I have profiled in the past, Kalich had surgery on his wrist last year and according to his instagram seems like he should be ready for spring. Despite that little set back, I still have a strong opinion on Kalich and his late inning potential. Just like Hernandez, he showcases a strong FB/SL combo and the righty’s stuff repeatedly eludes bats. I get excited thinking about a Hernandez/Kalich late inning combo one day.

Tier 4

20. Patrick Weigel, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: MLB

The big righty has been around for a while and it was not an easy path for him to the big leagues as TJ slowed him down, but he seems to be back on track. Weigel is destined for the bullpen at this point but the mid 90’s FB and good breaking ball from the 6’6 frame could make him a solid relief option. Side Note: You can find him on twitter deadlifting 600 pounds.


21. Jacob Webb, RHP
Age: 27
Highest Level: MLB

Webb is another guy that is under the 50 IP mark at 42.1 and they have been a really good 42.1. In his MLB career Webb has posted a 1.06 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He should be a staple in the Braves bullpen in 2021 and will be leaned on to make up for some of the loss of Mark Melancon and Shane Greene.

22. Victor Vodnik, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Single-A

A staple in my home ballpark in 2019, I got to see a lot of Vodnik and it is easy to understand why the Braves organization loves him. He’s got a power arm and didn’t allow much hard contact in his Single-A stint. He is still a little raw and needs the secondaries to come along, but he has time and potential to move up this list.

23. Justin Dean, OF
Age: 24
Highest Level: Single-A

Dean is a speed guy, but he has shown a surprising amount of pop in his bat in the early going. It will be interesting to see how he handles higher levels of pitching, but he did dominate Single-A in 2019. If he continues to hit the way he has so far in pro ball, and steal, Dean has fourth outfielder written all over him and could make a nice career in the game for himself.

24. Vaughn Grissom, SS
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

There is some power potential from the 6’3 shortstop and he should be at least average in other offensive categories. The biggest question mark around Grissom is where he will ultimately end up defensively as I could easily see him adding more mass to his frame, tapping into the raw power, and being a hard hitting third baseman.


25. Alex Jackson, C
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

Jackson is one of three catchers currently on the Braves 40 man roster and while he may very well start the season as the backup catcher, I don’t think he is much of a fantasy option at the position for the time being. Sure, his power potential is sky high, I just dont think he hits enough to be very high on your catchers board.

26. Huascar Ynoa, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB

Ynoa made his debut in 2019 and spent some good time with the big league club in 2020, but again he falls under the 50 IP threshold. He possesses everything you would like to see in a relief option in terms of stuff, but could improve on the command. He is just 22 so there is plenty of time to do that.

27. Jeremy Walker, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

At 6’5 with a strong build, you may think Walker is out here overpowering guys, but his game is inducing groundballs through his sinker and curveball. He was pretty good in his 2019 MLB debut and we may see him in a middle relief role at some point in 2021, but that Braves bullpen is deep.

28. Ambioris Tavarez, INF
Age: 18
Highest Level: J2

Would you look at that? The Braves have a notable J2 signee for the first time in a while and it was a pretty good one based on reports. It looks like Tavarez is a powerful young man, both with the bat and with the arm. Given all the moving variables in the world and in baseball right now, I am not sure when I will be able to get eyes on Tavarez, but I am looking forward to getting a peak at that reported raw power.


29. Mahki Backstrom, 1B
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie

Speaking of power, Backstrom might be the biggest power threat in the system behind only Ball. A big 6’5 frame, the California native is also a good athlete, but his path to the bigs will be putting balls over the fence. Braves twitter exploded when he signed and given his skill set, he has a lot of eyes on him. Chicks dig the long ball.

30. Spencer Strider, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: College

The Braves fourth round pick in 2020 sneaks into the top 30 thanks to his good FB which can hangout in the high 90’s. He does have a CH and CB, but they are behind where the heater currently is and if those two offerings can catch up this may turn out to be a nice pick at 126 overall for the Braves.

31. Thomas Burrows, LHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: Triple-A

Burrows didn’t have a spectacular 2019 as he allowed a lot of contact, but he does have a delivery and a wipeout slider from the left side that makes him worth keeping an eye on as a potential middle reliever one day. That reality will become more likely if he masters his control.

32. Phil Pfeifer, LHP
Age: 28
Highest Level: Triple-A

Pfeifer is a great story that I have highlighted many times on this website and I am a huge fan of his. Him having a major league impact for years to come was some what of a long shot already, and it looked like we might get a glimpse of him in the bigs at some point in 2020, but an injury out him on the 45 day IL. I would probably have him ranked lower, but this is the lowest I could put him with our tier system since he is on the 40 man roster.

Tier 5

33. Ricky DeVito, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Single-A

DeVito has solid stuff in his three pitch repertoire and now just needs to fine tune some mechanics and hit his spots consistently. The Seton Hall product has the build and the athleticism to go with his stuff, so he may very well find himself jumping tiers soon if he can put it all together.


34. Jefrey Ramos, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: High-A

Ramos has a fantasy profile that is definitely worth keeping an eye on. He is a power hitter through and through, he just needs to make a little more contact. He doesn’t strike out at enormous rates, but if he could show flashes of a hit tool that would go a long way.

35. CJ Alexander, 3B
Age: 24
Highest Level: Double-A

It is great news that Alexander will be healthy going into 2021 and he is definitely determined to prove himself. He is putting in a ton of work, but for your fantasy team today I am pumping the brakes on him. He is a big guy with a lot of power and has proven in the past he can make good contact, but has struggled against a higher level of competition. If you’re in a deep league he is worth a dart throw and buying low on.

36. Stephen Paolini, OF
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

Paolini is exactly what you want in an athlete. He has a blend of strength and speed, but he is relatively unproven and still a little raw. The ceiling is high however and if he proves himself against decent pro pitching he could move up the list.

37. Greyson Jenista, OF
Age: 24
Highest Level: Double-A

Jenista is a guy I loved coming out of the draft in 2018. He is big and strong and was a good hitter in college, but has struggled to produce so far in pro ball.

38. Yoansy Moreno, OF
Age: 18
Highest Level: J2

The Braves picked up Moreno in 2019 while still suffering from their international penalites. Signed for just $10,000, Moreno is one of the most physically mature teenagers you will see and his stature pays off in a lot of raw power. He also ran pretty well at a Perfect Game showcase a couple of years ago. He may seem more like a tight end than a right fielder to some, but there will be no doubt about his prowess at the plate if he can to tap into that power in game.


39. Logan Brown, C
Age: 24
Highest Level: High-A

Brown will be much higher on real life lists as he is a good defensive back stop, but he doesn’t provide much to fall in love with in terms of fantasy. He does make a lot of contact and his defense could carry him to the majors, so he may be a catcher worth keeping an eye on.

40. Tyler Owens, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

Owens was another piece of that 2019 draft class that landed so many prospects on this list. The 5’10 righty has been able to overpower his competition thus far with his FB, but the development of his breaking ball and CH will be the key to his progression.

41. Hayden Deal, LHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: High-A

Deal was dominant as a reliever in Single-A in 2018 and was pretty solid when he moved to a starting role in High-A in 2019. He was an undrafted free agent and doesn’t possess strikeout stuff, but hasn’t allowed a lot of hard contact either.

42. Brooks Wilson, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: High-A

The Stetson product has a pretty solid skill set with his FB/SL combo and while he doesn’t necessarily bring anything flashy to the table, Wilson is a seasoned pitcher who has posted strong numbers at every level of competition he has particiapted in.


43. Riley Unroe, INF
Age: 25
Highest Level: Triple-A

A former 2nd round pick, Unroe hit pretty well in 2019, his first year with the Braves, and can pretty much play anywhere in the infield.


44. Jared Johnson, RHP
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie

Johnson is a great story coming out of his small town in Mississippi and has a good FB/SL combo. He is a pretty big and physical guy, but he is still pretty raw.

45. Cody Milligan, UT
Age: 22
Highest Level: Rookie

A contact first hitter, Milligan will likely end up at 2B in the long term and could hit enough to be valuable at the position.

46. Trey Riley, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Single-A

Another big righty in this system, Riley has had trouble finding the strike zone so far in pro ball and when he has found it he has been hit pretty well. He will need to harness the command and strengthen the other pitches in his repertoire.

47. Nolan Kingham, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: Double-A

A product of the University of Texas, Kingham has put up fine numbers in the minors, but he lacks strikeout stuff.

48. Beau Philip, INF
Age: 22
Highest Level: Rookie

Philip may have played through an injury in 2019, but I believe he is a glove first infielder and won’t provide much in terms of fantasy.

49. Geraldo Quintero, UT
Age: 19
Highest Level: DSL

Quintero was the offensive catalyst of the DSL team in 2019 and earned himself a spot on this list. I hope he continues to hit well when he comes stateside.

50. Gabriel Noguera, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: Single-A

Noguera missed 2018 after his second “drug of abuse” suspension, different from PED, and made an impressive comeback to pro ball in Rome in 2019.




About Jake Berry 53 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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