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Checking in on how the Braves’ Top 30 prospects are performing

Maple Maddux is starting to show that he’s healthy and never wants to return to the minors.

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Media Day Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome everyone to my first original content piece of 2019! The sun is shining, the Braves are playing solid baseball, and while we’ve seen a lot of the top prospects begin to graduate there are still a ton of really good prospects in the system that we have the joy of watching almost every day. Now that we are roughly 10% done with the season (my goodness!!) let us take a look at our top 30 and see how everyone is performing.

30. AJ Graffanino, SS

AJ left the first game of the season after one plate appearance and has yet to make an appearance since. He has also not been placed on the injured list so your guess is as good as ours at the moment.

29. Victor Vodnik, P

Victor came into the season with a lot of questions but there was one thing that was certain - his potential is elite. That has lived up to the billing as the Braves are treating him a lot like Freddy Tarnok by letting him collect innings in the bullpen as they build up his arm strength. He’s been recorded as hitting 100 MPH already and is giving the SAL fits. Through 4 games (8 innings), Vodnik has yet to yield a run (coming into last night anyways where he DID have a bit of a rough outing) while sporting a 13.5 K/9, and 1.13 BB/9. He won’t be at 29 for too long.

28. Riley Delgado, SS

Riley was a 9th round draft pick with no real stand out tool but when Chipper Jones says you’re going to hit - you’re likely going to hit and that’s exactly what Riley has done his entire professional career. On the season, Riley is hitting .367/.424/.417 with a 12.1 K%. He will never walk a lot, seen by his 6% walk rate, but he’s showcasing the hit tool that Chipper thought he would.

27. Ray-Patrick Didder, INF/UTL

This one hurts a lot as I was hopeful Didder would build on his 2018 campaign and really make a run for a utility role in late 2019/2020. His athleticism and versatility scream post season roster if his hit tool doesn't progress like we hope. Unfortunately, it’s been a rough start for Didder as he’s off to a .146/.340/.220 start in Mississippi.

26. Tucker Davidson, P

Tucker was the hot name in 2018 as he got off to a crazy hot start in 2017 but unfortunately struggled a lot with his control and saw his walk rate almost reach 4.5 walks per nine. So far in 2019 he’s made a pair of starts and has showcased a much higher GB% (68.4%) than in years past, his ERA is down to 1.00 (2.46 FIP), and is striking out 11 per 9. That said, the struggles with the command are still evident by his 5 BB/9 rate.

25. Alex Jackson, C

Alex has been on that Gwinnett-to-Atlanta shuttle to start off the season and has struggled with the bat. I tweeted about his debut saying the best way to describe him is as an enigma. He can tantalize you with that plus power potential at the catching position, but then you watch some of his at bats and you’re just left puzzled as to whether or not he will ever get to showcase that power. On the season, Alex has appeared in five games in Gwinnett and has hit .176/.263/.353. He’s also made 3 appearances in Atlanta (11 plate appearances) and hit .000/.091/.000.

24. Huascar Ynoa, P

There might not be a more dynamic pure arm in the system than with Huascar Ynoa, but he has yet to live up to his pure talent. Through three games with Florida, Ynoa showed out throwing 11 innings with a 13.1 K/9, 3.27 ERA (2.56 FIP) but struggled with walks (4.91 BB/9). He was then moved up to AA where he’s appeared in one game (2 innings).

23. Corbin Clouse, RP

Kind of crazy Clouse has worked his way up from 27th round draft pick to potentially making it to Atlanta this year, but he has deserved it while putting up outstanding numbers for a majority of his professional career. Now on the cusp of potentially making the big league team, Corbin has struggled to the tune of a 7.27 ERA (6 games, 8.2 innings), with a walk rate of 6 per 9 innings. Hopefully Clouse rights the ship soon and forces his way into Atlanta because he has one heck of a story you can get behind.

22. Chad Sobotka, RP

Big Arm Chad is living up to the billing up in Atlanta - having made 10 appearances for the big league team already. They have come with mixed reviews as he’s shown his ability with a 13 K/9 rate, but has continued to struggle with his command (do you blame him? That’s a lot of person to repeat the same mechanics every pitch!) shown by his 6 BB/9, and really rough 3 HR/9 rate. Chad has also put up a 11.00 ERA, 7.20 FIP and -.2 fWAR. The talent is there but he’s struggling a lot right now.

21. Jasseel De La Cruz, SP

It looks like Jasseel is fully recovered from his injury last year because he is making hitters look foolish right now in Rome. In three games started Jasseel has a 2.25 ERA (1.92 FIP), 13.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 all despite a .462 BABIP. If he continues to perform at this level Jasseel will not last long in Rome.

20. Trey Riley, P

I was super high on Trey, ranking him higher than most, because of his dynamic fastball/slider/curveball combination along with a passable changeup. Trey’s command is the only thing that is keeping him behind and he has struggled some - making three starts (12.2 innings) and compiling a 7.82 ERA, 7.82 K/9, and 4.97 BB/9. The stuff is legit but you can tell he’s going to take time to develop.

19. Isranel Wilson, OF

There might not be a prospect I want to work out more than Isranel Wilson who has the POTENTIAL to be an ELITE outfielder but hasn’t come closed to hitting that potential yet. Izzy hit his first homer of the season while I was typing this up but has put together a very Izzy Wilson peripheral line - 11% BB% but 38% K%. Through 14 games, Izzy has hit .179/.289/.282 with four stolen bases. Hopefully his homer from tonight can jump start his season.

18. Kolby Allard, SP

We’ve talked a lot about Kolby over the years so I will keep this very brief. Kolby is off to a very un-Kolby like start in 2019 - putting up a career high 3.38 BB/9, 4.05 ERA in 13 innings (3 games). His 8 K/9 is the highest he’s had since 2016 - his first full professional season.

17. Greyson Jenista, OF

Greyson is making a ton of adjustments this season so don’t expect big numbers from him for a while. Now that that is out of the way, Greyson is off to a very rough start hitting just .212/.288/.269 (.058 ISO!!!) in 15 games for Florida. I won’t be putting too much stock in his numbers as a whole this year, as previously stated, he is making a number of mechanical changes to his swing. As long as the walk rate stays high throughout the season, I will be quite happy with Greyson because the changes he’s making should hopefully help him tap into that raw power he has.

16. Tristan Beck, P

Tristan is off to an interesting start to 2019 - showcasing an elite 10.55 K/9 but also an incredibly low 39.5% GB% (8.3% HR/FB) along with a 7.82 ERA (3.13 FIP). At 22, and with a three year college career behind him, Tristan should find his way to Mississippi pretty quickly this year and unfortunately until he does we won’t be able to watch him to see if he’s made any changes/improvements. For anyone that reads this that has made their way to one of his starts - would love to hear about how he’s doing down in the comments!

15. Patrick Weigel, P

I take absolutely no stock in how a pitcher performs their first year back from TJ surgery because command is one of the last things that comes back - so if you see bad numbers from him this year don’t worry. But for the sake of the article, Weigel has made three starts (4.2 innings) where he has a 0.00 ERA (5.38 FIP, .158 BABIP), 7.7 K/9, and 9.64 BB/9 rate.

14. Freddy Tarnok, P

I love the Braves aggressive assignment of Tarnok in High-A ball. Tarnok is a project in every meaning of the word but has already paid dividends - putting in a ton of work and developing faster than expected. So far on the season Tarnok has appeared in three games (13.1 innings), and has compiled a 4.73 ERA (4.11 FIP), 8.78 K/9, and 4.77 BB/9.

13. CJ Alexander, 3B

If you know me you know my love for CJ Alexander who I firmly believe was an absolute steal in the draft last year. CJ got off to a rocket start to his professional career and was rewarded with an aggressive assignment to start off the 2019 season. He’s showcased some good (18.9% BB%) with some bad (.036 ISO) and unfortunately left his last game with an injury. Through 11 games CJ is hitting .143/.306/.179.

12. Joey Wentz, P

Joey has been bit hard by the homer bug (22.2% HR/FB), and has struggled with his command (5.14 BB/9) but still has limited the damage to the tune of a 2.57 ERA over three starts. The only thing I’m really looking for this season for Joey is to put together a full season without missing any starts because he’s a pitcher - in every sense of the word. Much like CJ, I love the aggressive assignment for Joey who had just 16 games in A+-ball.

11. Kyle Muller, P

Kyle is off to a very weird start - showing off with a 15.58 K/9 but also walking the world (14.54 BB/9). He’s also sporting a 40% GB% through three starts (8.2 innings).

10. Luiz Gohara, P

Gohara has not made an appearance so far and unfortunately I have heard nothing on his status.

9. Bryse Wilson, P

Bryse has been getting the Kolby Allard treatment in 2019 as he’s found himself shuttling between Gwinnett and Atlanta twice now. Bryse made one appearance in Atlanta where he struggled with his command a bit and walked four over 3.1 innings. Following that appearance, Bryse was sent down to Gwinnett where’s hes made three starts and put up a 5.40 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .284/.310/.433.

8. William Contreras, C

There might not have been a player that saw his stock rocket up more last year than William Contreras after he hit .293/.360/.463 for Rome before being promoted to A+ where he finished the season hitting .253/.300/.377. After going hitless through his first two games, William has hit .311/.367/.444 over his last 13 games. He has also thrown out 32% of runners trying to steal off of him. He has struggled with passed balls though having already given up 4 in just 96 innings.

7. Cristian Pache, CF

There might not be a bigger skeptic than me when it comes to Pache and he is proving me so wrong right now and I love it. I always believed he was a ML caliber player because of his absolutely elite defense, but I was not sold on his bat because of his lack of slugging compounded by his low walk rate. Well, the power is starting to come and even if his walk rate never improves - his hit tool is good enough for a .270-.310 average, with some excellent slugging. Through 14 games Pache has hit .309/.361/.618 with a 178 wRC+, and an 8.2% BB%. A line even close to that with his defense wins you multiple All-Star appearances.

6. Drew Waters, CF

The aggressive assignment of Drew Waters created one of the most dynamic outfields in minor league baseball and they are both performing so well right now and all of our hearts are happy and filled with joy. Drew, while he has struck out a lot (30.6%), has exceeded expectations hitting .333/.389/.515 with a 162 wRC+. He also has a .488 BABIP but this is a happy post so we won’t talk about that. Rumor has it a ball once fell in the outfield over at Trustmark Park against Mississippi but I can’t confirm that.

5. Kyle Wright, SP

Kyle made the big league to the delight of us all but unfortunately has struggled to find his form from last year where he was dominant following his promotion to AAA. Kyle has appeared in three games for Atlanta where he has a 7.07 ERA, 7.59 FIP, and 1.786 WHIP. In one game in AAA Kyle gave up five earned runs in four innings. There’s no doubting the stuff but Kyle just needs to find consistency before he’s able to take on big leaguers - where he should be dominant.

4. Austin Riley, 3B

Austin is off to one of his patented slow starts as he’s hitting .209/.274/.328 through 17 games. The Ks are down to 23.3% so far so that is an encouraging sign. I don’t expect him to stay this cold for too much longer.

3. Touki Toussaint, SP

Touki Toussaint is Touki Toussaint. Everyone knows how much I love him.
AAA: 3.00 ERA, 3.0 K/9, 12.0 BB/9, 8.07 FIP
MLB: 2 games, 8.59 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 11.1 K/9, 3.68 BB/9.

2. Ian Anderson, SP

Ian Anderson is doing Ian Anderson things - struggling a bit with his control but being so gifted that he can still get out hitters. Through three starts Ian has a 10.4 K/9, 47.1% GB%, 2.08 ERA. Hitters are hitting just .180 against him and he is his own worst enemy as he’s rocking a 5.54 BB/9 rate. He’s real good.

Mike Soroka, SP

Maple Maddux made his return to the majors last week giving up one earned run over five innings while striking out six and walking a pair. Mike also showed his typical advanced control in a pair of starts in Triple-A where he put up a 0.96 BB/9 rate. Once he proves to be fully healthy, I doubt he ever returns to the minors.

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