Friday, August 13, 2021
For those that follow the Braves many prospects and minor league system, this time of the year can be a bit overwhelming. Midseason rankings have just been completed, and following the MLB Draft, a whole entire class of new players has recently joined the organization. Although sometimes you just have to keep things simple. Evaluating young players isn’t rocket science, and it’s obvious to anyone who has had the opportunity to see him, but righty Spencer Strider is one helluva prospect.
Ranked seventh on my Midseason Braves Top 30 (up a whopping 11 spots since my June list), Strider is on a run like no other in his first full-season as a pro. And on Thursday, MLB.com recognized 2020’s fourth-round pick by naming him the Braves surging prospect.
Across Augusta, Rome AND Mississippi this season, Strider has pitched to a 3.89 ERA in 69.1 innings, all while sporting a ridiculous average of 14.8 strikeouts per nine and 4 walks per nine. Each stop he’s made; the punch outs just continue. And so far in August he’s looking even stronger, now up to 16 strikeouts in 11.1 innings this month, to go along with just four earned runs (good for a 3.18 ERA).
Whether it’s a righty-batter or a lefty, Strider has been tough to hit in 2021. And even better, the 22-year-old pitcher becomes stingier when the situation becomes more critical. According to Baseball Reference, Strider’s overall OPS allowed this year goes from .602 in normal situations down to .526 in situations featuring runners on base. That ability to stay cool during stressful moments of the game is huge for a guy in just his first professional season still simply trying to get a feel for his stuff.
Strider just made his 16th start of the season on Thursday night (a game the M-Braves won via walk-off), getting hit around a bit against Biloxi to the tune of four earned runs (one HR) from four hits in five innings. By Game Score, it was one of his fourth-worst outings of the 2021 campaign. There’s no doubt that the Double-A level has been a bit more of a challenge for Strider, as it should be. But so far he’s handled it nicely and should continue to be a top-tier prospect in the Braves system.