The Florida Fire Frogs have been one of the more interesting affiliates for the Braves to watch since it has been used as a quick stop for many of the Braves’ top prospects in recent years. While some players have spent full seasons there, many have used the high-A affiliate as a springboard to ascend the minors in a hurry. We saw this with guys like Ronald Acuna Jr., Bryse Wilson, Kyle Muller, Austin Riley, Cristian Pache, and others. As a result, one of the things to watch this coming season will be which players were seemingly placed in high-A with a eye on being moved up quickly as the season goes on. Here is a rundown of the Fire Frogs roster.
Troy Bacon - RHP, Tristan Beck - RHP, Walter Borkovich - RHP, Hayden Deal - LHP, Cutter Dyals - RHP, Daysbel Hernandez - RHP, Justin Kelly - LHP, Jon Kennedy - LHP, Sean McLaughlin - RHP, Freddy Tarnok - RHP, Keith Weisenberg - RHP, Brandon White - RHP, Huascar Ynoa - RHP
The big names here are in the rotation where presumably we will see Freddy Tarnok, Tristan Beck, and Huascar Ynoa who are all top 30 Braves prospects. Beck will be in his first season of full season ball and as a older, college draftee that some saw as a first round talent in drafts past, he could easily move up quickly as rotation spots in Double-A and Triple-A become available. Tarnok’s promotion is a pretty fascinating one because after an electric start in Rome’s bullpen in 2018, he was moved into the rotation where he had inconsistent results. However, there may not be a player with more raw arm talent in the Braves system and this promotion seems to indicate that the team likes how he is developing even if he may move slowly. Huascar Ynoa has a good fastball, but will have to work on his secondaries...however, the Braves added him to the 40 man roster so how his development is treated will be something to monitor.
As for sleeper types, keep an eye on Hayden Deal. A completely unheralded prospect, Deal was lights out for Rome last year with a 2.17 ERA while striking out better than a batter and inning and he keeps the walks down. He started a handful of game for Rome and it will be interesting to see if he sees more time in the rotation in high-A and begins to emerge. Jon Kennedy and Brandon White are two relievers to keep an eye on as well with Kennedy being a tall, imposing lefty and Brandon White having a track record of success as a late inning guy in low-A and may be ready to take the next step before too long.
William Contreras, Zack Soria, Rusber Estrada
The biggest name here is clearly William Contreras who many expect to become one of the top catching prospects in baseball before too long. We like moving him along slowly as not only will the bat need more reps before it will play against true high quality pitching, but giving catchers time to develop their craft and technique is almost always good. He did see some time in high-A last season, so he could force his way to Double-A before too long if he excels.
Riley Delgado, A.J. Graffanino, Brett Langhorne, Drew Lugbauer, Riley Unroe
The Fire Frogs have two REALLY good defenders in Delgado and Graffanino and it will be important to see who gets the lion’s share of time at shortstop as well as see if their offensive outbursts from last season continue. Drew Lugbauer will now see a healthy amount of time at first base so he can focus on developing as a hitter although he is a guy that can catch or play third in a pinch as well.
Greyson Jenista, Shean Michel, Jefrey Ramos, Isranel Wilson
The Fire Frogs have a talented outfield to start the season. Greyson Jenista hasn’t shown a ton of power in pro ball just yet, but he has it and with some work on his swing path, he could do some damage even in the homer-suppressing Florida State League. Ramos is a guy that is a bit streaky, but he is a high effort guy and has some pop. Izzy Wilson has all of the raw tools and athleticism one could want in a prospect. 2019 will be an important season to see if he can put it all together finally and improve his hit tool.