Checking in on the Braves prospects for June: 20-11

Last Friday I looked at how the Braves nos. 30-21 prospects had performed during the month of June. Now it’s time to examine the middle group of ten, nos. 20-11. Let’s get right down to it…

20. Rickey DeVito, RHP ↑

A+ — Rome (7-day IL)

I really hadn’t noticed until recently but DeVito is actually on the injured list, which explains why he only pitched three innings for Rome last month. With such little attention paid towards minor league transactions, some of these players can fall through the cracks. Given his track record from two seasons ago and the fact he has had another strong year in 2021, I’m keeping the “up” symbol on him. DeVito sports a 2.66 ERA so far this season, to go with 12 strikeouts per nine in 20.1 innings.

19. Jesse Franklin V, OF ↑

A+ — Rome

The strides Franklin has made at the plate this past month were pretty incredible as he’s become one of the big bats in the Rome lineup. Just consider his May/June splits…

May – 79 PA, .200 AVG, .481 OPS, 4 XBH, 2.5 BB%

June – 85 PA, .338 AVG, 1.169 OPS, 14 XBH, 10.5 BB%

Any time you can raise your OPS by nearly 700 points, you’re bound to have great results. Franklin is still less of a threat when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage, as his season AVG versus southpaws still sits at .231. However, it appears in June he began adjusting his approach against lefties and started drawing more walks. Regardless, Franklin’s bat is better than we initially thought, and if he keeps this up he’ll be in Mississippi before too long.

18. Spencer Strider, RHP ↑

AA — Mississippi 

Strider has been a fast riser in the Braves system, and just like his promotions this season, he’ll probably see a nice jump in the rankings whenever I update the Top 30 later this year. The kid has done nothing but dominate ever since becoming a pro, turning in a 0.59 ERA with Augusta back in May and then a 3.52 ERA just this past month. Sure, the numbers are bound to regress some now that he’s actually pitching at a more competitive level, but I still expect Strider to keep most of this up. He’s the real deal and really doesn’t belong at no. 18.

17. CJ Alexander, 3B ↓

AA — Mississippi

Sometimes I wonder if Alexander is even ready for Double-A pitching. I mean, he has had nearly 250 PA at the level and his career numbers there are pretty underwhelming: 244 PA, .135 AVG, .469 OPS, 7.3 BB%, 34 K%.

At least this season he has displayed some more power, having hit five home runs and six doubles. However, he’s only getting on base at a .222 clip in 2021. It’s just a tough situation, because at nearly 25-years-old Alexander can’t afford to move down. I really like this kid, but his numbers are concerning, and it didn’t help that he had an even worse month at the plate in June.

16. Freddy Tarnok, RHP ↑

A+ — Rome

I of course didn’t love the three homers Tarnok surrendered in his most-recent start on Independence Day. But even with the trio of long balls, the 22-year-old still wound up with the win as he struck out five in five innings of work (the three homers made up for all but one of his four hits allowed overall). With the late start to the 2021 season (June 9 was his first appearance with Rome), I’m willing to give Tarnok a little more margin for error, so I’m fine with his performance thus far. A .186 AVG allowed is just fine considering he’s made a total of three starts all year. 

15. Daysbel Hernández, RHP ↓

AA — Mississippi 

Somehow, despite generating ground balls at a 68% clip in the month of June (per Baseball Reference), Hernández still allowed a .290 AVG from opposing batters. Anyways, he certainly didn’t look himself when I was in town for an M-Braves game back on June 10 versus Biloxi, in which he allowed two runs from two hits in a 28-pitch eighth-inning. Hernández blew that game but thankfully outfielder Jefrey Ramos walked it off in the ninth with a homer to win. It was obvious he wasn’t ready for the Triple-A level to start the 2021 season, but with him nearly 25-years-old he’ll need to start showing results in Double-A. I think he will eventually. 

14. Bryce Ball, 1B/OF ↓

A+ — Rome

Ball is definitely seeing the ball just fine as he leads High-A’s East League with 33 walks so far this season, a walk-rate of 18%. However, Ball is expected to do a little more than simply draw walks, especially after he demolished the ball in his debut year in 2019. The results just haven’t come for Ball. Following a .212 AVG in May, the burly slugger posted just a .186 AVG in June, and so far he’s just 2 for 11 in July. We know Ball is capable of putting up huge numbers, so surely he’ll come around soon. 

13. Victor Vodnik, RHP ⇔

AA — Mississippi (7-day IL)

It’s difficult to find out much about an injured minor leaguer, but boy it sure would be nice to know what the hell is keeping Vodnik off the mound as the righty has been on the injured list since May 27. A month of no pitching is tough to come back from, and his absence is sure to impact his development the rest of the season. Hopefully the Braves are just being cautious and planning on a return following the All Star break. Regardless, when active, Vodnik has been dominant as usual in 2021.

12. Jared Shuster, LHP ↑

A+ — Rome

Back in May the Braves sort of shut down Shuster to reportedly get his mechanics straightened out, so his 3.00 ERA and 10.5 K/9 came in just six innings for the month. In June the southpaw received a full month’s worth of innings, so Shuster’s three starts and one relief appearance gave us a much better look as to what kind of prospect he really is. Everything appears just right: in 13 innings last month, Shuster struck out 19, walked only four and allowed six runs from 12 hits — a strong ERA of 4.15. The Braves will most likely baby its 25th overall pick from 2020, so there’s no rush for the 22-year-old.

11. Trey Harris, OF ⇔

AA — Mississippi 

Harris had a better month of June but overall his 2021 campaign has been a little underwhelming, especially compared to his huge 2019 season when he won Minor League Player of the Year in the Braves system. Other than some situational struggles, like with two outs and RISP (.185 AVG), there’s nothing that really stands out. Harris could walk a little more as he’s at 6.7% so far this year, and it would be nice if there was a little more power in his swing (just seven XBH in 192 PA). However, overall there’s not too much to complain about regarding the former 32nd round pick. 

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