It is the absolute most wonderful time of the year - prospect list season. Talking Chop is kicking off 2021 with our Top 30 list, and we’ve got a fun list this year. The first article in our installment, as always, is going to be our honorable mentions list. This is a group of four notable players who just missed out Top 30 list, given in no particular order, and I have to be honest this is one of my favorite honorable mentions lists we’ve done. There is some real major league talent on this list and any one of these guys could find his way to Atlanta one day. Before we get started, I need to shout out Eric Cole and the rest of the Talking Chop crew of Matt Powers, Wayne Cavadi, and Gaurav Vedak for all the work we’ve all done to get this prospect list ready. It was a tough year for minor league writers, but we are glad to be back in the saddle and we hope you enjoy our little break from the madness of the world.
Ricky DeVito - RHP
Up first on our list is right-handed pitcher Ricky DeVito. DeVito had a strong college career at Seton Hall, winning Big East Pitcher of the Year in 2018 and was named second team All-American. He was an eighth round draft pick for the Braves in 2019 and in his short professional debut he impressed by posting a 3.44 ERA while advancing to Rome in half a season. DeVito flashes the potential to be an MLB starter with his three pitch mix. His primary offering is a fastball that sits in the low 90’s and can run up to 97 mph, and with room still to add to his frame he could se a tick or two more to that. He has deception with his changeup and the pitch has potential to be an above average offering that provides a nice complement to his fastball. An average curveball rounds out a solid three pitch mix for DeVito that looks more complete than you might expect from a college pitcher that didn’t crack our top 30. DeVito’s issues have primarily been a lack of consistency with his stuff and his control. Walks have been an on and off issue for DeVito in is career, and when he doesn’t have his command, he tends to not be able to find it and it can turn into some ugly innings quickly. He’s 22 now, which is still young by all means, and has the potential to stick in a major league starting rotation if he can start to come along with commanding his pitches.
Logan Brown - C
The next player we’re going to cover is the one that has probably had his name heard by the most Braves fans at some point and that’s Logan Brown. Brown was the only player on this list named to the Braves initial alternate player pool last year, though he never had any shot at getting to the major leagues. Brown is a defense first catcher and not one likely to be a future star, but he has the mold of a player that can stick around in the major leagues for awhile as a backup or as a low end starter. Brown was a 35th round pick in 2018, but he outplayed that with a great season in rookie ball. He continued to show a cannon arm and has been fantastic at throwing out runners at every level. He has the receiving actions and movements behind the plate that make him a major league caliber defender. His bat is not as advanced as his other skills and it is what will prevent him from likely ever being a starter in the major leagues. He doesn’t strike out a ton, but he also does not walk much and his quality of contact is nothing to write home about. There is not much room to grow into power, and to expect him to be anything other than a below average hitter is putting too much on him. With his defensively ability, if he can just be somewhat competent with the bat, he can certainly carve out a long career as a backstop which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Jefrey Ramos - OF
Jefrey Ramos seems like he’s been around forever at this point, but the dude is still just 21 years old and has always been decent with the bat with the potential to be much more. Ramos signed with the Braves as a 16-year-old in 2015 and has since spent five seasons in the system including last year. His age-17 season was a tough one in the Gulf Coast League, but round two saw him break out with a .930 OPS in 30 GCL games and he finished the season up in Danville. This earned him a promotion to Rome as a 18-year-old, and he showed off some potential with the bat posting a 102 wRC+ while hitting 16 home runs. In 2019 his power numbers took a dip in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, but he still had a 92 wRC+ and a sub 20% strikeout rate. Ramos has always struck out well below his league averages, but inconsistent quality of contact has led to low BABIPs at full season levels. Combine that with his low walk rates and you come up with a guy who has potential to be a major leaguer, but so far has not shown the on-base skills necessary to do so. He can hit and has obviously shown above average power, but turning that in consistently and getting on base more often is going to be the key for Ramos. He’s not a defender worthy of writing home about either and will likely be a left fielder, so there’s going to be pressure on the bat to perform.
Spencer Strider - RHP
Spencer Strider has by a good margin the most helium of the players on this list, and it should be a reasonable expectation to see him on the midseason top 30 list. There is good reason to have him on that list now, but the lack of track record made us a bit hesitant to pull the trigger on him quite yet. Strider is an extremely talented arm that the Braves took in the fourth round this past season, but he only has 12 innings post-Tommy John surgery which is not enough for us to get a good consensus on where he should be. Strider can be nasty with a mid 90’s fastball that can get up around 99 at its best, and this was early in his first season post-surgery. He spins the pitch well and it has the potential to be the pitch he can center his arsenal around. His slider is inconsistent but flashes devastating movement and can be a second above average pitch for him to throw in the bag. The changeup is going to be the big question mark as he has yet to rely on it in his amateur career, but whispers out of the alternate site suggest that it may develop into a solid third offering. His command was much improved following his surgery and if it remains that way, he has real potential as a starter, though most of his concerns pre-draft were about whether he can really be consistent given an unorthodox and difficult-to-repeat delivery. Strider has huge potential and could be a mid-rotation starter for the Braves, but there’s quite a bit that he and evaluators need to figure out at this point in his career.