Thursday, December 23, 2021
With Christmas coming up and some time off ahead, I’m keeping the Best Tools series rolling today. On Wednesday I looked at a pitcher’s tool, best fastball, and today I’m returning to a position-player’s tool – best power.
If you’d like to look at previous posts in this series, here’s what has been covered thus far…
Explanation of what best power means: I don’t think this one really even needs an explanation, right? The best power will be the Braves prospects who’re the best at slugging homers and XBHs. Plain and simple.
BEST POWER TOOL (TOP 5)
|Rank||Player||Position||’22 Prospect rank|
|1||Jesse Franklin V||OF||13th|
Contrary to what many of us believed on draft day, Franklin is much more than the “righty-punishing platoon sort”, which was the exact words of FanGraphs in its scouting report in the site’s March 2021 prospect list. The kid absolutely crushed it at the High-A level, finishing this past season with 24 home runs and 24 doubles (the former total led all Braves minor leagues and the latter was second). And not just that, but he actually posted a higher OPS versus lefties than he did against righties, proving that he’s plenty capable of becoming a full-time player in the big leagues. We’ll see how his power numbers look once he faces Double-A competition in 2022, but at least for night now, Franklin wields the most power among Braves prospects. (FYI: Franklin’s .278 ISO in 2021 was the top mark among Braves minor league hitters, by nearly 30 points.)
I’m probably one of the only ones to rank Lugbauer as a prospect. He’s a guy with a career K rate in the 30 percentile in the minors, and at 25-years-old, there’s probably not much projection left, meaning what he is now is most likely what he’s going to be as a hitter. However, the former 11th round pick had quite the 2021 campaign with Double-A Mississippi, swatting 18 homers and 15 doubles to go with 51 RBI in 86 games, all ranking within the top 10 among Braves minor league batters. FanGraphs gave Lugbauer a 60-grade Raw Power back in late 2018 (the last time he was prospect material nationally). This guy can definitely slug, but hopefully he can start making contact as well.
Jenista has an offensive profile fairly similar to Lugbauer’s above. In 2021, with Mississippi, the 25-year-old belted 19 homers and seven doubles with 42 RBI in 89 games, although he also struck out 35.9% of the time and finished with only a .216 AVG. Luckily for Jenista, he’s capable of having a little more value given he’s more athletic and can play the outfield, but like his M-Braves teammate, his overall stock is limited because he can never seem to make enough contact. The power is real, though, as FanGraphs has Jenista pegged with a 60-grade Raw Power. We’ll see if he can become a better overall hitter with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022, but right now he’s still one of the better sluggers in the system.
The no. 5 hitter was a tough one as there are several different players I wanted to put here. If you’ve seen him in-person, Shewmake definitely doesn’t look like a slugger, with his tall and lanky build, but make no mistake, this guy has some serious pop. Sure, he’s known for being a skillful contact hitter, but with the M-Braves this past season, Shewmake tallied 12 homers and 14 doubles, all while spending the first month or so of the season basically doing nothing stats-wise. He’s 24-years-old so I’m not sure how much more he’ll grow into his 6-foot-4 frame, but I could see the former first-rounder evolving into a slugging shortstop one day. I mean, he did finish his freshman season at Texas A&M with 11 homers in 64 games back in 2017, so there’s a history of power with Shewmake.