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2022 Braves Prospect List (Offseason)

Recently I chose four players to replace the quartet of prospects that were moved in the Matt Olson trade with the A’s last week — a monster deal that sent Cristian Pache, Shea Langeliers, Joey Estes and Ryan Cusick to Oakland in exchange for Freddie Freeman’s replacement. In case you aren’t as familiar with the Braves farm system these days, those four players above were some of the top prospects in the organization as each were ranked within the top 15, according to me and… well… most Braves prospect lists across the internet.

The show must go on, though, and below I’ve compiled an updated version of the Top 35 that I constructed back in December. This offseason list will serve as my rankings for now, and barring another blockbuster trade that includes more ranked Braves prospects, the next revision will likely take place somewhere around the mid-season mark, with a final 2022 list at the conclusion of the regular season. So here it is – the updated 2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List

2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List

RANKPLAYERHIGHEST LEVEL (Prior to ’22)
— TIER 1 —— TIER 1 —— TIER 1 —
1Kyle Muller (LHP)MLB
2Drew Waters (OF)AAA
3Michael Harris II (OF)A+
4Tucker Davidson (LHP)MLB
5Bryce Elder (RHP)AAA
6Spencer Strider (RHP)MLB
7Freddy Tarnok (RHP)AA
8Braden Shewmake (SS)AA
9Jesse Franklin V (OF)A+
10Indigo Diaz (RHP)AA
11Vaughn Grissom (SS/3B)A+
12Jared Shuster (LHP)AA
13Spencer Schwellenbach (RHP)N/A
14Victor Vodnik (RHP)AA
15Cal Conley (SS)A
16Darius Vines (RHP)A+
17Luke Waddell (INF)AA
18Dylan Dodd (LHP)A+
19Justyn-Henry Malloy (3B/OF)A
20William Woods (RHP)A+
21Jasseel De La Cruz (RHP)*AAA
22Drew Lugbauer (1B/DH)AA
23Daysbel Hernández (RHP)AAA
24Tanner Gordon (LHP)A+
25Brandol Mezquita (OF)RK
26Andrew Hoffmann (RHP)A
27Trey Harris (OF)AA
28Ambioris Tavarez (SS/3B)*N/A
29Tyler Collins (OF)RK
30AJ Smith-Shawver (RHP)RK
31Kadon Morton (OF)RK
32Greyson Jenista (OF/1B)AA
33Alan Rangel (RHP)AA
34Roddery Munoz (RHP)*A
35Jefrey Ramos (OF)*AA
* = recently added to Top 35

As you can see: Jasseel De La Cruz (#21), Ambioris Tavarez (#28), Roddery Munoz (#34) and Jefrey Ramos (#35) have each been added to the Top 35. To read an explainer detailing why I’ve chosen those four players, please see this post.

Below are excerpts for all 35 ranked prospects…

#1. Kyle Muller, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2016 from Dallas Jesuit College Prep (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’7″ / 250 lbsR/L2nd

With Cristian Pache’s reign as the top prospect now over, someone had to take over the no. 1 spot, and for me, that guy had to be Muller. The lefty had an incredible 2021 season, not only getting his first taste of the big leagues but also dominating it for a bit; during his first six major league starts, the southpaw averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine, allowed just one home run and posted a 2.43 ERA – showing us that he’s definitely ready to begin contributing in Atlanta. Sure, the final two outings with the Braves wasn’t ideal. Muller got rocked a bit, allowing nine runs from seven hits combined versus the Nationals and Reds in August, but overall his performance this past year provided what we’d all been waiting for, and that’s that Muller had arrived.

The outlook for the Braves 2022 starting staff looks strong right now, and there’s no doubt that Muller will play a big role. With Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson as locks for the nos. 1-3 spots in the rotation, I’d be surprised if Muller doesn’t fit right in as the fourth or fifth starter by the time Spring Training is over. For me: even though his prospect title will most likely disappear early in 2022 because of innings, this is the Braves top prospect as we enter a new campaign.

#2. Drew Waters, OF

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’2″ / 185 lbsB/R3rd

You may think because Pache had a bad showing in Atlanta that Waters deserves to jump ahead. And that’s probably a fair argument, but that would also mean that Pache’s future value has taken a hit… and I don’t believe that.

*UPDATE: Cristian Pache was traded to Oakland as part of Matt Olson deal

But to be fair to Waters, he had another great year in 2021, spending all season with Triple-A Gwinnett where he hit .240, slugged 11 homers and stole 28 bases in 103 games. The numbers are obvious: like Pache, this is a very toolsy outfielder who still appears to have an ultra-bright future ahead of him. But with Waters (and Pache to an extent), I’m still worried about that approach at the plate. This past season makes two consecutive years in which the former has struck out over 30% of the time, and with his wheels on the base paths, that high of a K rate really holds him back. Waters did raise his walk-rate by 1% in 2021, which is good to see.

As far as Waters’ outlook in 2022, it’s hard for me to get a good read on what the Braves are thinking. I still believe that Pache is the next young outfielder on the cusp and that Waters is directly behind him. But, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter prospect given an opportunity instead. We saw what Pache could do – maybe it’s time to see what Waters can do? Regardless of the prospect depth chart, though, Waters still needs to cut down on the whiffs, for he doesn’t wield quite the same athleticism as his fellow outfield mate is so famously known for.

There’s also another notable storyline, though we won’t get into it here. But, given the two are essentially interchangeable talent-wise, wouldn’t it make sense to trade one of Pache or Waters? I don’t really have an opinion on that right now, but considering some of the other outfielders the Braves have drafted recently, you could make the argument that the organization has plenty of depth at the position to move one of its top players.

#3. Michael Harris II, OF

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2019 from Stockbridge HS (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
20-years-old6’0″ / 195 lbsB/L5th

Harris is no. 1 in the Braves system, according to Baseball America’s 2022 list. And I can certainly understand the reasoning, given Harris is both young and coming off a 2021 campaign in which he put literally every tool on display, hitting .294 with seven homers and 26 doubles, to go with 27 stolen bases – good for a 114 wRC+ — at the High-A level. And to top all of that off, he was the most-hyped Braves prospect heading into last season, so he did a great job of meeting and exceeding expectations.

There’s really nothing to critique here. Harris is developing almost perfectly, displaying an impressive approach at the plate that featured just a 18.1% K rate this past season. There’s no doubt that he has perhaps the highest ceiling of all the top-tier prospects in Atlanta’s system, as at only 20-years-old, he was three years younger than the average player in High-A last year (per Baseball Reference).

The only thing that’s really holding me back from ranking him higher is that he lacks any time in the high-minors, which isn’t his fault. However, it’s extremely likely that Harris begins 2022 in Double-A Mississippi, so if he’s able to continue his numbers there, he’ll once again start moving up the list. Just FYI: Harris finished last season with the third-highest line drive rate in the High-A East league, at 25.9%. That tells me his numbers should translate rather well in Pearl, Mississippi.

#4. Tucker Davidson, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 19th Round, 2016 from Midland College (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old6’2″ / 215 lbsL/L6th

It was an unfortunate season for Davidson in 2021 as he was shutdown in June because of a forearm injury, which came after a pretty solid performance in Atlanta, including a 3.60 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 innings (four starts). It was a nice showing by the lefty and had to of given him some confidence for next season.

I’m keeping Davidson right where I had him on my mid-season list from back in August. Despite only logging 43 total innings between the majors and minors this past season, I do believe he has a solid shot at earning a spot within Atlanta’s starting rotation this coming spring. The Braves desperately need another lefty on its staff and Tuck seems like the perfect candidate if he can stay healthy. He and Muller will have quite the competition in Florida this year.

#5. Bryce Elder, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 5th Round, 2020 from University of Texas (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’2″ / 220 lbsR/R8th

Elder pulled a Trey Harris from 2019 and totally dominated at three minor league levels in 2021, posting a 2.60 ERA in High-A Rome, a 3.21 ERA in Double-A Mississippi and a 2.21 ERA in Triple-A Gwinnett. Overall, the righty logged a stingy 2.75 ERA in 25 starts this past season, while averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine and just 3.7 walks per nine. Those are the numbers of a stud prospect pitcher, especially considering it was his first year pitching in the minors.

Given he only made seven starts for the Stripers in 2021, I expect Elder to spend much of his time in 2022 with Gwinnett. However, at his current rate of development, it’s not far fetched to expect him to crack the majors at some point next summer. Injuries happen all the time in the big leagues, and in my opinion, Elder is a just a few injuries away from getting his chance to show what he can do in Atlanta, which is crazy to say for a kid who’s tallied just 137 2/3 innings as a professional.

#6. Spencer Strider, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 4th Round, 2020 from Clemson University (SC)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’0″ / 195 lbsR/R7th

Armed with a grade-A mustache, Strider silenced all the critics that said on draft day he hadn’t posted impressive enough numbers as a college player at Clemson. The righty began his impressive campaign all the way down in Single-A Augusta, where he didn’t stay long after posting a 0.59 ERA in four starts. Then it was three starts in High-A Rome, where he managed a 2.45 ERA. And after that, Strider put together a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts with Double-A Mississippi. The Braves moved him up to Triple-A Gwinnett, and following one relief appearance there, they called him up to the big leagues, where Strider pitched out of the bullpen in two games and allowed a run from two hits in 2 1/3 innings. What a busy year.

The outlook is pretty simple for Strider: like Elder, the former will do all he can to try and crack the Braves starting rotation during spring camp, but if that’s not in the cards, he (along with Elder) will help make up probably one of the most dominant starting staffs in Triple-A. I’m not sure many realize this, but the Braves are still absolutely loaded with arms in the minors… and Strider is certainly one of them. The 2022 campaign will be a huge year for the Clemson product, and I believe we’ll see him in some sort of role in Atlanta before the regular season is over.

#7. Freddy Tarnok, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2017 from Riverview HS (FL)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’3″ / 185 lbsR/R9th

Tarnok’s 2021 season didn’t get going until early June and he sort of struggled during that first month or so in High-A Rome. However, by the end of July the righty was in Double-A Mississippi, where he went on to post a 2.60 ERA and average 12.2 strikeouts per nine in a short nine-start stretch. Overall for this past season, the 23-year-old logged a 3.44 ERA with a tremendous rate of 13+ K/9 in 14 starts and two relief appearances (73 1/3 innings). It wasn’t a full season showing, but it was solid nonetheless.

Tarnok has always been hard for me to peg down. If you read about his improvements from this past season, the added velocity and how he now has three viable offerings, you’d suspect that he’s on his way to becoming one of the top arms in the system. Although, as shown with the guys ranked ahead of him on my list, there are several other prospect pitchers in the Braves organization that are doing the same thing… and doing it even better.

Basically, I want to see Tarnok stay healthy for a full season AND put all of his improvements on display, which I’m hoping will happen as soon as next season. With 45 innings in Mississippi in 2021, I expect Tarnok’s first assignment in 2022 to be a return to the M-Braves, and then go from there depending on how he performs. Essentially, in terms of where they are on the prospect pitcher depth chart, I have him perhaps a rung behind guys like Strider and Elder, which means he’s two-ish rungs down from guys like Davidson and Muller (which is pretty much what I thought of Jasseel De La Cruz a year ago). However, a strong (and healthy) year in 2022 could help Tarnok dramatically.

#8. Braden Shewmake, SS

Drafted by ATL: 1st Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’4″ / 190 lbsL/R12th

We can’t talk about Shewmake without mentioning the crazy 2021 season he had. With Double-A Mississippi, the former first-rounder put together one of the worst starts I’ve seen in quite some time, going 8 for his first 85 (.094 AVG) during the first 22 games of the campaign, good for a minus-17 wRC+. That kind of performance from a college bat – that the Braves signed for over $3.1 million (!) – is hard to make sense of. However, Shewmake went from one extreme to another. If you exclude those first 22 games of the 2021 season (from June 5 on), the guy had a pretty damn good year, hitting .276 with 11 homers, 13 doubles and a solid 19.7% K rate in 61 games, good for a much-better 120 wRC+.

Of course, those first 22 games still count, and because they do, Shewmake’s overall performance last year is a bit distorted. But imagine if during that first month of the season he had actually hit. I think it’s pretty impressive how Shewmake was able to pull himself out of such a hole, and hopefully he learned a lot from his struggles. The guy is a natural hitter, and when I watched him back in late July, he barreled up every ball he made contact with, featuring a 3 for 4 night on July 25 versus Double-A Biloxi. The 2022 season will be a nice opportunity for Shewmake to reset and start over with a fresh year. I think he’s ready for Triple-A Gwinnett, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves give him another month with the M-Braves. Given his age… it’s hard to tell.

#9. Jesse Franklin V, OF

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2020 from University of Michigan (MI)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’1″ / 215 lbsL/L10th

The question with the lefty-hitting Franklin was whether or not he was going to be able to hit southpaw pitching in the pros, and I believe he passed that test with flying colors, posting a .926 OPS against lefties in 2021, compared to an .815 OPS versus righties. So that much has been settled: he’s not simply a platoon bat.

But while Frankin mashed a whopping 24 homers and 24 doubles with High-A Rome this past season (to go with a surprising 19 stolen bases), the kid went back and forth with a few concerning slumps and ultimately finished the season with just under a 30% K rate (28.3%). For instance, in May, Franklin hit only .200 with four XBH, but then hit .338 with 14 XBH in June, only to follow up with a July in which he struck out 31.6% of the time (although he also walked 12.8% of the time). The back and forth continued in August and September as he hit .203 in the former month and .268 during the latter.

All in all, though, I believe Franklin has a bright future. The inconsistencies from month to month isn’t really ideal, but hell, it was his first year in the pros, so I’m not too worried. The competition in 2022 will be much tougher, though, as the pitching is quite different from High-A to Double-A. If Franklin can keep the whiffs down to a minimum, his power and athleticism could make him yet another up-and-coming outfield prospect in the Braves system.

#10. Indigo Diaz, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 27th Round, 2019 from Michigan State (MI)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’5″ / 250 lbsR/R19th

Of the seven prospects I have in this second tier, it’s perhaps Diaz that has the best shot at reaching the majors in 2022. If you didn’t know of him coming into last season, by now I’m sure you’re plenty aware, after he absolutely dominated the minors.

Other than a rough showing in the AFL this fall (12.79 ERA), Diaz was in cruise control in 2021. He began the year in High-A Rome, where he struck out 54 batters in 27 innings – a K rate of 18 K/9. Moving up to Double-A Mississippi in mid-July didn’t appear to slow Diaz down a bit. With the M-Braves, the righty logged a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings, to go with another freakish display of power-pitching, averaging 14.5 strikeouts per nine. Overall, by season’s end, Diaz owned a 1.20 ERA in 45 combined innings between the two leagues, and only in his final appearance of the season did he allow a home run from the opposition.

The only thing really standing in Diaz’s way is a lack of innings. Over parts of two seasons as a pro, the 23-year-old has only 55 1/3 frames to his name, but so far the career numbers are video game-like: a 1.63 ERA, 1 homer allowed, 0.867 WHIP, 15.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9.

He may repeat Double-A for at least a month or so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Diaz is in Triple-A Gwinnett to start 2022, and if his dominance can continue there, than there’s no reason to believe he can’t earn an opportunity in Atlanta at some point. Given his increase in fastball velocity (now up to the high-90s MPH) and the fact that he seems to be ultra-consistent command-wise, Diaz has quickly evolved into the top relief prospect in the system. There’s a bright future for this kid.

#11. Vaughn Grissom, SS

Drafted by ATL: 11th Round, 2019 from Paul J. Hagerty HS (FL)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
20-years-old6’3″ / 180 lbsR/R13th

Grissom started last season in Single-A Augusta and spent much of the campaign there, where he slashed .311/.402/.446 with five homers, 15 doubles and 13 stolen bases in 75 games – good enough for a 135 wRC+. The kid did it all down in Augusta, playing 35 games at shortstop, 23 at third and 10 at second, even getting a handful of games as a DH. By early September, Grissom received a well-deserved promotion to High-A Rome, where he hit even better, even if it was just a dozen games. With Rome, the 20-year-old hit .378 with four XBH, going 3 for 3 in stolen base attempts to post an impressive 196 wRC+. That performance should give him plenty of momentum going into 2022, where he’s basically guaranteed to begin the year as the R-Braves starting shortstop.

Like Shewmake ahead of him, for now at least Grissom appears to be a shortstop long-term. Also similar to the older Shewmake, Grissom is a pure hitter, sporting a career .308 AVG in two seasons as a pro. Impressively, the Florida native struck out just nine more times than he walked in 2021 (54 K / 45 BB), which is really promising for a kid his age. Basically, the 2022 season could be the year Grissom really puts himself on the map. If last year is any indication as to what’s coming next season, I could easily see him cracking the Braves top 10 and becoming a top 100 prospect by the midseason mark.

#12. Jared Shuster, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 1st Round, 2020 from Wake Forest (NC)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’3″ / 210 lbsL/L11th

We finally got see a full season of the Braves top draft pick from a year ago, and for the most part, it was a great showing. The left-handed Shuster began his pro journey with High-A Rome in 2021, and with a solid 14-start stint there he managed to post a 3.70 ERA to go along with 11.2 strikeouts per nine. It wasn’t an otherworldly performance by any means, but it was good enough that the Braves promoted the then-22-year-old to Double-A Mississippi in early September.

In Pearl, Shuster ran into some adversity right off the bat. His first start with the M-Braves was his worst outing as a pro as he allowed eight runs from seven hits in four innings. However, starts nos. 2 and 3 were much better, and as he became more comfortable at a higher level, the southpaw concluded his 2021 campaign with a 3.38 ERA over his final 10 2/3 innings.

Signing a $2.2-million bonus back in 2020, this is a prospect the Braves are sure to be careful with, which means Shuster could likely spend a lot of time in Mississippi next season. The kid still needs to hone in a third pitch, his slider, which is sure to help compliment his bread and butter changeup. If you recall, coming into draft day, reports were that Shuster had drastically improved his fastball velocity, so he’s certainly not foreign to developing his repertoire. This is a future mid-rotation starter, but he may require a little more time than the Elders and the Striders of the organization.

#13. Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2021 from University of Nebraska (NE)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’1″ / 200 lbsR/R17th

The only prospect on my list that didn’t play at all in 2021, Schwellenbach underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after signing with the Braves for $1 million back in July/August. Following the draft, it was reported that the righty was originally Atlanta’s first-round choice, but the need for elbow surgery dropped him down a round. Either way, Schwellenbach will be lucky to log a meaningful amount of innings in 2022 as he’ll likely require most of the season to recover and rehab.

But if you can get over the fact that it’ll probably be 2023 before we really see the kid in action, it’s important to know just what Schwellenbach could provide to the organization. He’ll pitch as a pro, but the former Nebraska star was a touted two-way player in college, hitting .284 with 19 XBH and nine stolen bases in 48 games as a hitter during his final year in Lincoln, to go with a 0.57 ERA and an average of 9.7 strikeouts per nine in 31 2/3 innings as a high-leverage reliever. Put that together and you have a tremendously athletic prospect who won’t turn 22 until next summer.

Missing basically entire year is never a good start for a prospect. But given this kid’s tools, I’d say the wait may be worth it for Schwellenbach.

#14. Victor Vodnik, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 14th Round, 2018 from Rialto HS (CA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’0″ / 200 lbsR/R18th

Year 3 was more of a challenge for the right-handed Vodnik. The undersized pitcher met his first real taste of adversity in Double-A as part of the M-Braves starting rotation. The kid dealt with injuries that caused him to miss a good bit of time in 2021, but overall he logged a 5.35 ERA (4.06 xFIP) in 11 starts with Mississippi, while averaging just under 11 strikeouts per nine.

Unfortunately, Vodnik’s biggest struggle had to do with free passes this past season. With the M-Braves, he walked 22 in 33 2/3 frames (5.9 BB/9) and then while in the Arizona Fall League he walked 14 in 23 2/3 (5.3 BB/9). However, to be fair, the California native did earn a Fall Stars invite with Peoria.

Personally, I’m not too concerned with Vodnik’s middling performance from 2021. He’s still fairly young, and given he only had roughly 70 innings of work above rookie-ball coming into last year, the jump to Double-A can humble any potential star. Although the bad health isn’t quite ideal, and I hope he’s able to do a better job of staying healthy in 2022. Vodnik has a real chance at becoming a top 10 prospect this coming season. He has the stuff. He just needs a full year to show it off.

#15. Cal Conley, SS/2B

Drafted by ATL: 4th Round, 2021 from Texas Tech (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old5’10” / 185 lbsB/R22nd

Conley came from Texas Tech this year, where he crushed it in college, slashing .329/.393/.587 with 15 homers, 13 doubles and seven stolen bases in 56 games. As a guy that played all of his games at shortstop for the Raiders, those are some impressive numbers in general, not to mention for a defensive position.

The fourth-round pick got his professional start with Single-A Augusta, and Conley had time to get in on 35 games with the GreenJackets – a healthy sample that resulted in a .214 AVG. The kid didn’t necessarily hit very well in the minors last year, but he held his own and his plate discipline indicates a player not out of his realm; in 161 PA, Conley struck out only 20.5% of the time in Single-A.

As a college bat, and also a guy that plays a position the Braves are rather thin at organizationally, I expect the 22-year-old Conley to be moved up through the minors rather quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if those 30-ish games in Single-A last year is all he gets as he begins 2022 with High-A Rome.

#16. Darius Vines, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 7th Round, 2019 from California State University (CA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’1″ / 190 lbsR/R23rd

The recent rise by Vines has been crazy. Coming into 2021, the former seventh-round pick’s latest performance was a rather underwhelming rookie-level campaign in which he allowed a horrid 6.68 ERA in 32 1/3 innings combined with the GCL and Appy League teams in 2019. But in Year 2 (well Year 3 if you count the cancelled 2020 season), the 23-year-old Vines shined. First it was Single-A Augusta, where his 92-93 MPH fastball and “deceptive” slider (per Talking Chop) set down opposing batters with ease. With the GreenJackets, Vines averaged 12 strikeouts per nine and completed the level by posting a 2.25 ERA in eight starts (36 IP).

Towards the end of June, the Braves promoted Vines to High-A Rome, and this is where the kid starting really getting some attention. With just 30 or so innings above rookie ball under his belt, the California native was just as strong with Rome, putting together a 3.24 ERA in 14 starts with the team and becoming one of the staff’s more consistent starters. By August, I had Vines pegged as the no. 23 prospect in the Braves system, and throughout the second-half of 2021, he continued to trend in the right direction (featuring a 2.38 ERA in his final six outings of the campaign).

Last season’s Double-A South manager of the year, Dan Meyer, should really enjoy working with Vines in 2022, where the latter will likely join a more depleted M-Braves starting rotation this time around. As he turns 24-years-old just after the regular season begins, this coming year is a big one for Vines, who, because he lacks a ton of velocity, will need to continue to hone in his command and control. This could certainly be a much more well-known name by mid-season.

#17. Luke Waddell, INF

Drafted by ATL: 5th Round, 2021 from Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old5’9″ / 180 lbsL/RNR

As a four-year starter at Georgia Tech (and fifth-round pick in this past summer), Waddell was given a pretty aggressive assignment in Year 1, spending 21 games in High-A Rome before finishing out the 2021 campaign in Double-A Mississippi. As a 22-year-old, he played all over the infield on defense, and while with the R-Braves he got hot at the plate, slashing .304/.372/.580 with seven XBH (six HR) in just 78 PA, including a late-August stretch in which he went 10 for 18 (.556 AVG) with four long balls.

Waddell ran into a bit of a wall with the M-Braves, going just 5 for 31 (.161 AVG) during his short stint there to end the year, but even though he failed to produce much with the bat, he still managed to show a strong glove at several different positions (zero errors at second, short and third). Plus, despite only posting a 7 wRC+ in Mississippi, the kid only struck out four times (a 12.1% K rate), indicating he’s plenty able to put the ball in play versus high-minors pitching.

While his power display in High-A was impressive, Waddell isn’t the flashiest in terms of tools, and I don’t believe power is ever going to be his game. For a guy just now entering his first full season as a pro, he definitely has an advanced feel for hitting, though four years at a Power 5 school will help with that. Though he’s probably topped out in terms of prospect stock (and I didn’t even have him ranked back in August), to me, I now believe this is a solid future big league utility-infielder, and his strong performance this fall in Arizona makes me confident that he’s perhaps only a few seasons away from the majors. With Peoria this past fall, Waddell hit .311 with five doubles in 18 games as one of the only Braves to actually produce in the Arizona Fall League. If he can hit in Double-A in 2022, this could be a very interesting prospect going forward.

#18. Dylan Dodd, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2021 from Southeast Missouri State University (MO)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’3″ / 210 lbsL/LNR

Coming out of a small school (Southeast Missouri State), I admit, it was a bit surprising when the Braves selected Dodd in the third round of this past summer’s MLB Draft. Although at only a $122,500 signing bonus, Atlanta got him waay under-slot (Pick 96 value was $604,800 in 2021).

Regardless, the lefty was fine in his pro debut this past season. Sure, he only managed a 4.91 ERA in three starts with Single-A Augusta, but Dodd didn’t allow a single home run during that stretch with the GreenJackets as he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine and only 2.5 walks. His one start with High-A Rome in September went very poorly (3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 4 HR, 6 K), but it was simply one horrid outing.

Given Dodd will turn 24 in early June and he’s coming off four years worth of college ball, I definitely expect him to begin 2022 in High-A Rome, where he’ll be shooting for a mid-season promotion to Double-A. Dodd isn’t a hard thrower, hanging around the low-90s MPH, but reports indicate he has four viable offerings, so as long as he can continue to maintain solid command he should fit in as a potential mid-rotation starter.

#19. Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B/OF

Drafted by ATL: 6th Round, 2021 from Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’2″ / 212 lbsR/RNR

This could be an intriguing prospect at third base, and still only entering his age-22 season in 2022, Malloy appears to have a bright future ahead of him, after being selected by the Braves in the sixth round of this past year’s draft. Athleticism, some solid speed, above average contact and plus power are all in play here.

Coming off a three-year collegiate career at both Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, that featured a career .279 AVG, .931 OPS and 11 homers in 82 games overall, the Braves assigned the kid to Single-A Augusta following the draft. Malloy was impressive with the GreenJackets in 2021, slashing .270/.388/.434 with 10 XBH in 37 games, likely earning himself an opportunity to jump the gun a bit and start 2022 in Mississippi.

#20. William Woods, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 23rd Round, 2018 from Dyersburg State Community College (TN)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’3″ / 190 lbsR/R24th

As I’m sure you know, Woods has a chance to be one of the better pitching prospects in the system. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t been able to log many innings yet as a pro, totaling 51 back in 2019 as primarily a reliever and then only 10 2/3 frames this season. The Tennessee native didn’t start his 2021 campaign until August 19 – a one-inning opener with the FCL team. The next four starts never surpassed 42 pitches at a time as the Braves eased him back on the mound during the final month of the season with High-A Rome.

The undisclosed injury that Woods dealt with all this past season is a bit concerning, but all indicators seem to point to him being 100% in 2022. The Braves have always been wowed by his high-90s MPH (sometimes 100-MPH) velocity, and evidently there’s a future regarding his secondaries given the organization decided to transition him to a starter. The missed time has surely hurt Woods, but nearing his 23rd birthday later this month, he’s still at a young enough age that his prospect stock shouldn’t necessarily be impacted. I’ve had him at no. 24 in the system essentially since this past June, but I think by this time next year he’ll be inside the top 15. Woods just needs a full, healthy season to show what he can do.

FYI: Woods had a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League this fall, posting a 4.21 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance (21 IP), to go with 8.6 strikeouts per nine and 4.3 walks.

#21. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2015 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’1″ / 195 lbsR/R16th

JDLC wasn’t included in my Top 35 back in December simply because, at the time, he no longer was part of the Braves organization. Heading towards the MLB Rule 5 Draft, Atlanta non tendered the righty in late November, potentially ending his stint in the Braves system. However, as of mid-January, the team re-signed Cruz, and according to several sources the non tendering was simply to make space on the 40-man roster, and the Braves had every intention of bringing the kid back anyways.

And it’s a good thing he’s back too. Despite struggling during his first opportunity at the Triple-A level in 2021 (7.03 ERA in 56 1/3 IP), Cruz is still considered a talented player. His prospect stock may no longer be that of a top-tier starting pitcher, but with his elite two-pitch mix (fastball / slider) still plenty effective, Cruz could make for a damn good multi-inning reliever in the majors. He’s entering his age-25 season, so time has most likely ran out for him as a starter, but as a bullpen option, I believe Cruz should still be considered a ranked prospect in the Braves system.

#22. Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH

Drafted by ATL: 11th Round, 2017 from University of Michigan (MI)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old6’3″ / 220 lbsL/R27th

Braves Farm may be the only site that lists Lugbauer as a ranked prospect. Most in the industry look at him as more of an honorable mention, and I did too until this past season. He’s always had power, but the big guy could never seem to make enough contact to provide much value as a hitter. That changed with Double-A Mississippi in 2021.

During the first month of this most-recent campaign, Lugbauer’s power-stroke was still getting warmed up but the University of Michigan product hit .308 with a .881 OPS in his first 16 games. Over the next two months (through June and July), Lugbauer would go on to become one of the M-Braves most dangerous bats, slashing .252/.362/.531 with 10 homers and 11 doubles in 42 games during that stint. The first-half performance earned him a spot in my midseason top 30, and even though he cooled off quite a bit during the second-half of the season (.145 AVG, 10 XBH, 33 games), I believe the former 11th round pick has turned a corner.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Lugbauer, though. At 25, he’s getting old for a prospect, and he doesn’t really have a home on defense, only able to man first base or DH. Plus, despite huge offensive numbers in 2021, Lugbauer still struck out at a career-high rate (37.4 K%), which has been an issue for him his entire pro career.

A long stint in Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022 could go a long way in truly determining what kind of player Lugbauer is. Right now I believe his ceiling is a potential bench bat in the majors, but if he can cut down on the whiffs going forward, and maintain his power, he could evolve into the Braves future homegrown designated-hitter when the universal-DH comes along.

#23. Daysbel Hernández, RHP

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2017 from Cuba

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old5’10” / 220 lbsR/R21st

I’ve been mostly alone on the Hernández hype train for a few years now, but I think more of Braves Country is beginning to come around. If you recall, the righty was absolutely incredible back in 2019 with High-A Florida, putting together a 2.76 ERA in 32 2/3 innings, which included an average of 12.6 strikeouts per nine and 4.4 walks. That performance must have really impressed the Braves. Though 2021 was his age-24 season, Hernández initially skipped Double-A and was given a Triple-A assignment to begin the year. However, unfortunately, it didn’t go very well.

Really it was just one bad appearance in Gwinnett that spoiled Hernández’s stint with the Stripers at the start of this past season. After posting a 3.86 ERA during his first three games with the team, on May 18 he allowed four runs in 2/3 innings, and a week later he found himself demoted to Double-A Mississippi.

But with the M-Braves, Hernández bounced back nicely and morphed into one of the team’s most dominant relievers. He didn’t allow a single run in his first three appearances with the team, and from July 29 through September 12 (10 1/3 innings worth of appearances), Hernández pitched to a 0.87 ERA and struck out 13 batters. Rightfully, the Cuban prospect earned another try with Gwinnett in mid-September, and remained there until the end of the season, posting a 5.40 ERA in five innings during his second stint with the team.

Now coming into his age-25 campaign, the time is now for Hernández. There’s no doubt he has the talent, it’s just a matter of putting it altogether and being more consistent. Given his age, the Braves really have no choice but to start him in Gwinnett in 2022 and see if he can get on a roll. To avoid just becoming minor league bullpen depth, Hernández needs to put up some strong numbers with the Stripers this coming season. We’ll see if he can match what he was able to do in Double-A.

#24. Tanner Gordon, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 6th Round, 2019 from Indiana University (IN)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’5″ / 215 lbsL/R26th

The big righty pitched well in his first full season in the Braves organization. As a former sixth round pick from back in 2019, I’m sure Gordon was chomping at the bit to get back on the mound; following a strong 2.22 ERA in the Appy League during his draft year, the Braves decided to move Gordon to a starter’s role full time, and it appears to have been the right decision.

Split equally between Single-A Augusta (11 starts) and High-A Rome (10 starts / 1 relief appearance), Gordon held his own as a pro in 2021. With the GreenJackets, the righty averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine and just 1.6 walks on his way to a 3.43 ERA. He wasn’t as overpowering with the R-Braves, with his K rate falling to 7.8 K/9 there, but he still maintained a decent 4.44 ERA, and just as important, as he rose a level he continued to keep the free passes down (2 BB/9).

Despite being built like a power-pitcher, the guys at Talking Chop call Gordon more of a pitch-to-contact guy, and the drastic drop in K rate from Single-A to High-A sort of proved that this past season. The righty will pitch as a 24-year-old all year in 2022, so regardless, he’s on track to reach Mississippi at some point this coming season. I want to see how he handles the upper-minors before I get into invested, but so far I believe this could be a potential mid-rotation arm for the Braves.

#25. Brandol Mezquita, OF

Signed by ATL: 2017 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’5″ / 215 lbsL/R26th

Mezquita is a kid I’ve already wrote about this offseason and he’s someone Braves Country really needs to start paying attention to. As part of the 13 prospects originally lost due to the actions of former GM John Coppolella, Mezquita re-signed with Atlanta prior to the 2018 season and has been developing at the rookie levels ever since.

Still just 20-years-old, Mezquita will finally get his opportunity to showcase his talent in full-season ball in 2022. After parts of three seasons in instructs, the outfielder slashed .255/.367/.357 with 25 XBH (eight HR) and 27 stolen bases in 129 combined games – good for an overall 110 wRC+ as a pro hitter. Coming off a career-year at the plate in 2021 (132 wRC+) with the FCL team, Mezquita could evolve into one of the most exciting young prospects in the system. We’ll have to wait and see as he’s yet to log any meaningful games at even the Single-A level, but I believe he — and one of his outfield mates from instructs that we’ll talk about later — is the real deal.

#26. Andrew Hoffmann, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 12th Round, 2021 from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (IL)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’5″ / 210 lbsR/RNR

I’ve been interested in Hoffmann since he was selected in this past summer’s draft. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, and still only entering his age-22 season, the righty is both a two-year college arm AND young enough to still have a decent amount of projection left. The kid spent his first pro season with Single-A Augusta in 2021, where he made seven clean starts, logging a 2.73 ERA and averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine to go with just 2.4 walks.

This kid has size, fastball velocity and a wicked secondary in his changeup. The only thing left for him to do is continue to develop the rest of his repertoire. And even if a third or fourth viable offering isn’t in the cards, the Braves will no doubt develop Hoffmann into an overpowering reliever. Like a lot of these guys on the back-end of this list, the righty just hasn’t logged enough time in the minors yet to get a good read. But I think it’s safe to believe in Hoffmann. How he handles a High-A challenge in 2022 will go a long way on determining what the Braves have in their 12th round pick.

#27. Trey Harris, OF

Drafted by ATL: 32nd Round, 2018 from University of Missouri (MO)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old5’11” / 220 lbsR/R20th

To be a former 32nd round pick, Harris has become quite the prospect, even if his stock has declined rather sharply over the last season. Coming off a MiLB Batter of the Year campaign from 2019 (in which he raked at three different levels), the Mizzu product spent all of 2021 with Double-A Mississippi, although unfortunately he wound up having his worst season ever as a pro (89 wRC+), and as a result, I now have him barely in the top 30.

There are a few issues impacting Harris’ stock: for one, he’s now entering his age-26 season, which is really too old for a prospect. Secondly, he plays a position (outfield) that is pretty crowded in the Braves organization, making his path to the majors even more difficult. And lastly, though Harris is a mature hitter with some pop and athleticism, he’s an undersized player that doesn’t absolutely flourish at one single thing on the field. As the seasons go by, he’s looking more and more like a future fourth outfielder in the majors, though we’ll see how he does in Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022.

#28. Ambioris Tavarez, SS/3B

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2021 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
18-years-old6’0″ / 168 lbsR/RNR

The Braves signed Tavarez back in January of 2021 for $1.5 million, going down as the team’s biggest international signing in several years. However, the 18-year-old hasn’t played stateside since, so there’s still obviously a ton of questions regarding his prospect stock within the system.

Either way, considering the excitement surrounding his signing (per Baseball America, he was the 25th-best player in the 2020-21 class), combined with the lack of depth in the organization up the middle (even though it has improved a bit recently), I imagine Tavarez should fit in somewhere in the top 35 on my list (BA has him 26th).

#29. Tyler Collins, OF

Drafted by ATL: 8th Round, 2021 from McKinney Boyd HS (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
18-years-old5’11” / 180 lbsL/RNR

The guys at Talking Chop give him a Michael Bourn comp as Collins is your prototypical lead-off hitter, wielding plus speed and an above average ability to get on base. The 18-year-old was impressive with the FCL team in 2021, getting with the organization in time to play in 23 games down in Florida. In instructs, Collins slashed .347/.424/.453 with six XBH and 12 stolen bases – good for a solid 140 wRC+.

The Braves have a couple of options with Collins – they could either leave him in extended spring training and let him get a few more PA at the rookie level, or they could start him out in Single-A Augusta in 2022. With him turning only 19 in March, the organization definitely doesn’t have to rush. This kid could be a future star in center field.

#30. AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 7th Round, 2021 from Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
19-years-old6’3″ / 205 lbsR/RNR

Shawver is a raw prep arm the Braves took a chance on in this past summer’s draft. The team really likes his mid-to-high 90s MPH fastball and wicked slider, and with his ideal size/build, there’s a solid chance he can stick it as a prospect starting pitcher. At just 19-years-old, he has plenty of time to develop more secondary offerings.

Like Collins above, the Braves could give Shawver more time in rookie ball or start him in Augusta in 2022 – either choice is a viable one and wouldn’t be surprising. The righty struggled with the FCL team this past season, posting an 8.64 ERA in four starts. Although, he did show an ability to induce a ton of swing and miss as he struck out a whopping 16 batters in just 8 1/3 innings (17.3 K/9). I’m interested to see more of this kid.

#31. Kadon Morton, OF

Drafted by ATL: 19th Round, 2019 from Seguin HS (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’2″ / 195 lbsR/RNR

Morton is the outfield mate I mentioned in the above Mezquita excerpt. For a few seasons now, the two 21-year-olds have made quite the pair down in instructs. But now’s their chance to shine in full-season ball.

Mezquita and Morton seem fairly similar, though I’d say the former is a little less raw as a prospect, with the latter striking out 35% of the time with the FCL team in 2021. In fact, Morton — a former 19th round pick — really has yet to do much at all at the plate so far as a pro, with a lot of the expectations surrounding him being built from projection. Either way, the kid’s career is still in it’s beginning stages as all 77 games thus far have come in instructs. We’ll be able to tell much more about Morton this coming season when he likely joins Single-A Augusta.

#32. Greyson Jenista, OF/1B

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2018 from Wichita State University

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old6’4″ / 210 lbsL/R25th

Other than an impressive 33-game stint in Single-A back in 2018, this past season was the best performance Jenista has put together so far, posting a 124 wRC+ with 19 homers, 42 RBI and seven stolen bases in 89 games with Double-A Mississippi. Sure, the former second round pick only hit .216 for the year, and he struck out at a 35.9% clip, but the production was still impressive as he also raised his walk-rate by 5% compared to his 74-game sample in Double-A back in 2019.

The evident issue with Jenista’s stock, other than the fact that he’ll enter his age-25 season in 2022, is that whiffs have been a problem essentially his entire career, and if it wasn’t for his breakout in the power department last year, his bat would’ve been nearly unplayable.

Given he’s logged 163 total games with the M-Braves over the last two seasons, it’s safe to say that Jenista will be in Triple-A Gwinnett this coming year, where he’ll need to show he can be more than simply a platoon hitter; in 2021, the lefty-batter hit just .147 versus southpaws, compared to a solid .242 AVG against righties. Jenista is running out of time, but if he can slug with the Stripers like he did with the M-Braves, I could definitely see some options opening for him.

#33. Alan Rangel, RHP

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2014 from Mexico

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’2″ / 170 lbsR/RNR

No one wants to be the last prospect on the list, but this year I wanted to find someone both different and deserving, and Rangel certainly fits that mold. The 24-year-old righty has been in the Braves farm system for going on eight seasons now as he joined the organization as just a 17-year-old. The team must think a lot of him, too, because Atlanta protected him from the Rule 5 Draft this year, selecting his contract back in early November.

So why is his prospect stock so low? Well, it’s actually as high as its ever been for him. The Braves have always been really conservative with Rangel, letting him develop in instructs for two years before he spent parts of 3 seasons (or 327 2/3 innings) at the Single-A level, just earning his first taste of High-A in 2021. However, the promotion proved to be the right choice as Rangel averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine and just 2.7 walks, posting a 3.57 ERA with Rome this past season. By early August he was moved up to Mississippi, where he held his own there as well, managing a 4.50 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in seven starts.

Because he started his pro career so young, Rangel is still only entering his age-24 season, so he’s pretty close to following a traditional track through Double-A in 2022. An uptick in fastball velocity, and solid secondaries that include a breaking ball and a changeup, has allowed Rangel to evolve from a pitch-to-contact guy to more of a power-pitcher lately, and the ability to induce strikeouts is giving him a nice trend heading into next season. We’ll see if he can keep it up. If he’s able to… I could see him moving up the list rather quickly.

#34. Roddery Munoz, RHP

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2018 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’3″ / 190 lbsR/RNR

Munoz sort of went viral for a bit last season when he came out of the gate throwing a high-90s fastball versus Single-A batters. In his first four appearances with Augusta, the young righty tallied 24 strikeouts in 17 innings, and he looked like a potential quick riser in the Braves system. However, when the calendar flipped to June, everything went downhill for Munoz, and with an injury mixed in there, the 21-year-old struggled to the tune of 13 earned runs over his final 12 2/3 innings last season, a whopping 9.24 ERA in that span.

Munoz has an electric fastball, and despite his first two pro seasons (both in instructs), he actually appears to have a pretty good handle on it, shown by his 3.3 walks per nine in 2021 — a huge improvement compared to his 2018 and 2019 seasons. Sure, the 6.67 ERA last year is concerning, and Munoz is no doubt a raw prospect, but I believe there’s now enough room for him inside the top-35.

#35. Jefrey Ramos, OF

Signed by ATL: INT signee, 2016 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’1″ / 185 lbsR/R30th

Back in late August of last season (featured in my 2021 Midseason Top 30 List), I had Ramos just barely ranked as a prospect, ranked 30th. Then the outfielder proceeded to only play in four games during the final month of the season, finishing the year with Double-A Mississippi going just 3 for 15 (.200 AVG), appearing to have lost his starting job. Overall, Ramos hit only .183 last year, to go with six home runs — good for a 55 wRC+. And to make matters worse, he struck out a career-high 30% of the time, perhaps suggesting he was a bit in over his head.

However, at just 23-years-old right now, I can’t get over the two seasons prior to 2021, when Ramos hit .243 with 25 homers and 125 RBI in 250 games combined between Single-A and High-A in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Leading up to last season, all signs pointed to him becoming an above-average bat for the Braves, even though the system’s outfield was rather crowded.

We’ll see if Ramos can turn things around in 2022 and get back to the player he was a short time ago. Given the recent prospect turnover, though, I think he just barely fits inside the top-35 on my updated list.

9 responses to “2022 Braves Prospect List (Offseason)”

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