Monday, December 6, 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)
- 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
2021 stats (A): 99 IP, 2.91 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7 HR
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.
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.