Hot/Cold…weather, coffee, tea, even your favorite deli sandwich…various opinions abound as to which is better. One thing that fantasy baseball players throughout the globe can agree on is that we like our favorite teams’ prospects to be HOT. Sizzling hot at that!
As we are just about a month into the season, I feel that we have enough of a track record, enough data points, to take a peek at the early season results from the Braves’ minor league teams so far into 2023. We’ll highlight the four full season minor league teams in this article, as the rookie leagues aren’t underway just yet.
Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A):
Braden Shewmake, SS
The Braves recently rewarded the shortstop’s early season success with a call-up to the big league squad. It’s not a surprise to many that Vaughn Grissom has been struggling on defense, with that aspect being a strong suit of Shewmake. The bat is questionable at the highest level, which tells me we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Aggie alum ping pong back and forth.
Braden Shewmake’s best tool? His glove!
The top-ranked @Braves position player prospect goes airborne to take away a hit for the @GoStripers: pic.twitter.com/6tuQSdNQKb
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 3, 2023
Joe Dunand, 3B
Dunand played in a few games for Miami last season, and is a current mainstay on the Stripers team, manning the hot corner. At 27, with Austin Riley entrenched at third base, he plays the role of organization depth. 3 homers and 11 RBI, paired with an average above .300 is a great start to the season for any prospect.
Allan Winans, RHP
Many of you may not have heard of Winans before, but don’t let the relative obscurity fool you. He was drafted originally by the Mets out of Campbell University in North Carolina. Other famous baseball alums from the university include Zach Neto and Cedric Mullins. Through 4 starts, Winans has 36 K, 7 BB, 0.97 WHIP, and an ERA of 2.90. Injuries could propel him into a spot start for the Braves at some point this season.
Magneuris Sierra, OF
Originally a Cardinals farmhand, Sierra has been in professional baseball for a decade now. After a decent year in the Angels organization in 2022, Sierra is off a very sluggish start in AAA. He doesn’t have a home run, as of May 7th, with a batting average just north of .200.
Mississippi Braves (Double-A):
Tanner Gordon, RHP
This right-handed hurling Hoosier is repeating the Double-A level this season, and so far the results have been impressive. He sports a 27:4 K:BB ratio in 27.2 innings, to go along with a 0.83 WHIP and a sparkling 1.63 ERA. I’d be on the lookout for a promotion coming soon for Mr. Gordon.
Domingo Robles, LHP
The Braves signed Robles away from the Cardinals as a minor league free agent this offseason and assigned him to Gwinnett. He had a couple of rough starts to open the season and was demoted to Double A, and he’s been nothing but excellent there. With similar numbers to Tanner Gordon (25:7 K:BB, 1.095 WHIP, 1.71 ERA), it appears Robles is making the front office feel good about offering him a contract this past January.
Cal Conley, SS
Coming off the heels of a fairly impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League in 2022, many were pointing to Conley as a potential breakout candidate. In an organization that is pitching heavy, it wouldn’t take much to prove those prognosticators correct. Unfortunately, Conley is hitting just barely above .200 with zero home runs, and only 3 RBI in 25 games. The season is long, but it can feel even longer when you’re firmly entrenched on the struggle bus.
Rome Braves (High-A)
Ignacio Alvarez, 3B
We pegged the 2022 5th Round draftee as the 24th best prospect in the Braves system on our 2023 Top 50 list. In hindsight, that appears to be low, and he’ll undoubtedly get moved up the ranks when we release our midseason Top 50. The power hasn’t shown yet for Ignacio, but the hit tool is where he shines. With a slash line of .317/.496/.378 and 28 walks to only 12 strikeouts, I don’t believe we’ll see him stay at Rome too much longer.
Ignacio Alvarez Peak Projected Ranks:
Is he the next Luis Arraez? pic.twitter.com/cZwJMzfuw8
— Scout the Statline (@StatlineScout) May 6, 2023
It’s a good thing the Braves are not in need of catching anytime soon. Sean Murphy is en fuego at the moment and headed for a spot on the All-Star team in Seattle this summer. For his part, Zebrowski has been absolutely crushing the baseball with 5 homers, 14 RBI, and a slash line of .333/.457/.684!
AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP
AJ is making a very strong case to ascend to the top of the rankings, as he has been nothing short of impressive. The Braves just promoted him to Double-A on Cinco De Mayo after not giving up a single run in 14 IP over the course of 3 starts. He struck out 23 of the 52 batters he faced, walking 4 of them and giving up only 6 hits. Yeah, that’ll do!
Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A)
Landon Harper, RHP
I don’t usually highlight relief pitchers much, but that doesn’t mean Harper isn’t deserving. He has pitched 17.1 IP over 5 appearances and has 18 strikeouts and only 1 walk. That is good enough to post a WHIP of 0.79 and ERA of 2.55.
Jhancarlos Lara, RHP
Lara was signed out of the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2021 and showed promise in his first season last year. As with many young pitchers, the lack of control was evident. That still remains true for him, however he is showing early signs of improvement in that area. The 5.6 BB/9 mark will need to come down further, but he has done a great job in limiting those free passes from scoring, while displaying serious strikeout potential.
JR Ritchie, RHP
I’ve seen several debates regarding Ritchie and fellow 2022 draftee Owen Murphy. Ritchie has the better “stuff”, with Murphy having the higher floor. The 5.40 ERA so far in 2023 isn’t anything to write home about, however the “stuff” has been on full display. Ritchie has punched out 25 batters in 13.1 IP, allowed only 3 walks, and posted a WHIP of 1.05. It’s going to be exciting to see both progress their way through the Braves’ system.
David McCabe, 3B
The Braves selected the power hitting 3B in the 4th round out of UNC-Charlotte. To date, we have yet to see the power manifest itself. McCabe is currently 2 years older than the league average, yet he hasn’t been able to display the toolset that enticed the Braves to select him. His K rate is sitting above 35% with a .190 batting average. I don’t expect the Braves to cut bait on the recent draftee, but he’ll have a shorter leash than others based on age and lack of expected production.
Born in Arizona. Raised in the Midwest, and with lots of baseball. When I’m not writing about baseball or purchasing my next baseball card, I can be seen coasting down the highway to yet another travel baseball tournament with my wife and son. I love the Braves, bat flips and outfield assists.
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