Sunday, November 21, 2021
The offseason is here and it’s a perfect time to recap the 2021 season of each of the Braves top 30 prospects. In this series, I’ll discuss each player’s performance from this past year, as well as what’s needed for them to continue to rise in the organization. All rankings are derived from my most-recent 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect List, which came out this past August. Following this series, a fresh top 30 will be constructed, primarily based on the notes I’ll provide in this column.
- Jefrey Ramos, OF (link)
- Brandol Mezquita, OF (link)
- Cody Milligan, 2B (link)
- Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH (link)
- Tanner Gordon, RHP (link)
- Greyson Jenista, OF/1B (link)
- William Woods, RHP (link)
- Darius Vines, RHP (link)
#22. CAL CONLEY, SS/2B
2021 stats (A): 35 G, .214 AVG, 8 XBH, 8 SB, 73 wRC+
As the Braves fourth round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Conley has the potential to become one of the system’s rising middle-infielders. Coming off a huge season with Texas Tech (featuring a .329 AVG and 15 homers), the 22-year-old got hit first taste of pro ball this past season, playing in 35 games with Single-A Augusta. The early results were strong, but through the end of August and into September, Conley eventually cooled.
First 17 games (Aug. 4-27): .261 AVG, .725 OPS, 4 XBH, 14 K, 5 BB
Last 18 games (Aug. 29 – Sept. 19): .169 AVG, .502 OPS, 4 XBH, 19 K, 9 BB
Conley’s top-25 ranking came thanks to that strong start in August, although even with his poor finish I still believe this is a prospect to keep an eye on, especially given how shallow the Braves organization is in terms of viable up-the-middle bats. Over at FanGraphs, Conley is ranked 20th in the system, while sporting 55-grade raw power (which is quite evident considering he slugged 18 homers in 74 career games as a college player).
Conley’s 35-game sample size in 2021 is obviously very little to work with, and as far as him moving up to Rome in 2022, you would’ve liked to see him finish the year a little better in Single-A. However, the 5-10, 185-pound switch-hitter will turn 23 in July, so it’s not like he’s some teenager the Braves can ease in (perhaps like they did with Vaughn Grissom, who will enter his age-21 campaign in ‘22).
Ideally, Conley begins next season repeating Augusta, with a fluid plan to reach High-A by midseason, setting him up for a possible upper-minors assignment by 2023. Of course, that all depends on how well Conley adapts to the competition. From my very short look at him, though, I believe once he finds his groove, this is a bat that can move up the system rather quickly. Because of his position, and the solid grades regarding his power, I expect Conley to remain a top 30 prospect once my new list comes out.