Offseason Prospect Review: Joey Estes

Monday, December 6, 2021

-Clint Manry

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.

Previous reviews

  • 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)
  • Cal Conley, SS/2B (link)
  • Daysbel Hernandez, RHP (link)
  • Trey Harris, OF (link)
  • Indigo Diaz, RHP (link)
  • Victor Vodnik, RHP (link)
  • Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP (link)
  • Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP (link)

#15. JOEY ESTES, RHP

20-years-old

2021 stats (A):  99 IP, 2.91 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7 HR

Trend:  Up

As a former 16th-round pick from 2019, Estes really showed out this past season, becoming one of the best starting pitchers in Single-A with a league-leading 127 strikeouts (a huge improvement from his first taste of pro ball during his draft year, when he allowed nine runs in 10 innings in rookie ball).

Pitching all year as a teenager (19-years-old), Estes tallied double-digit strikeouts in three outings in 2021, including a complete-game gem versus Kannapolis on August 14 in which he struck out 13. The kid punched out seven or more in a whopping nine starts and only allowed more than three hits in a single outing just three times. Estes was essentially bored in Augusta.

2022 outlook

Not only did Estes lead the Single-A East league in punchouts, but he also paced the crowd in ERA and WHIP, suggesting that he’s definitely ready for more of a challenge. And even though he’s still super young, he’ll likely get a tougher assignment in 2022. Although, the Braves have no reason to rush Estes, so I don’t envision him going any higher than Rome to begin next year.

According to evaluators – who by the way, love Estes’ mid-to-high 90s MPH fastball – the righty already wields a fairly advanced repertoire, especially for his age. To go with his heater, the California native also mixes in a “wipeout” slider to go with a serviceable combination of a curveball and changeup.

With my new 2022 list finalized as of this past weekend (yay!), I can already tell you that Estes was one of the bigger risers among my Braves prospect rankings from this past August to now. By this time next year (or even as early as mid-season of ’22), Estes could be a household name.

Prospect righty Joey Estes wins Pitcher of the Week

Monday, August 16, 2021

-Clint Manry

One of my biggest risers on my Midseason Braves Top 30, going from 23rd to no. 15 in just the span of a few months this year, former 16th round pick Joey Estes earned a well-deserved accolade today as he won Pitcher of Week, according to MiLB.com.

Estes, still only 19-years-old and pitching with the Single-A Augusta GreenJackets, won the weekly award for his performance this past Saturday, when he tossed a complete-game that featured just two runs from four hits and a whopping 14 strikeouts. Of the final 21 batters he faced, only two Kannapolis batters managed to reach base, including a stretch in which the righty recorded six-straight punch outs in the seventh and eighth innings combined.

As you can see from the clip below, Estes’ high-octane fastball was just too much for opposing batters… and has been all season long down at the lowest full-season level.

For 2021, it’s clear that Estes is ready for more of a challenge, even if the Braves are in no rush to promote him. The righty is enjoying some of his best pitching of the campaign over these last 4-6 weeks, and right now he leads Single-A’s East League in multiple categories, including strikeouts (116), innings-pitched (87), ERA (2.69), WHIP (0.97), AVG (.187) and now complete-games (1).

As it stands now, even though the list is likely to change a bit by season’s end, I have Estes as the eighth-ranked pitching prospect in the Braves system, just behind Augusta teammate and Braves 2021 top pick, righty Ryan Cusick. There’s certainly much more to development in the future for Estes, for he is indeed a raw pitcher, however, if it keeps this up he’ll likely work his way into the top-10 in no time.