With the 35th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves selected RHP JR Ritchie out of Bainbridge High School in Washington. The Braves dip into the prep arm ranks for the second straight pick in the draft.
Weight: 185 lbs
Baseball America: 52nd
MLB Pipeline: 47th
Introducing JR Ritchie
Ritchie saw his fastball velocity jump up his senior year with it touching the upper 90’s. He tends to come in high and fade to the lower 90’s late in starts, so he’ll need to add some strength to improve his stamina. His slider had potential, but wasn’t a consistent plus pitch in high school so it will require development. He also features a curveball with high spin rates, but has started to use it less frequently as he’s shifted to a more slider-heavy approach. His changeup is also a potential plus pitch down the line as he sells it well and matches his arm speed with his fastball. He knows how to command his pitches and is a polished arm for a prep pitcher. His standout feature is his arm speed and mechanics, which are clean, quick and deliver the ball on a consistent release.
Ian Ritchie Jr (WA) w/ a full three pitch arsenal. Clean & functional operation, FB T95 & sitting 92-94, good feel for SL & turns over low-80s CH well. Solid starter mix #PGAllAmerican pic.twitter.com/1uO6mDWtj3— Perfect Game All-American Classic (@PGAllAmerican) August 23, 2021
Perhaps the one thing no one saw coming, the Atlanta Braves used their top two picks on prep right handed pitching. It’s not clear exactly how much Atlanta will be spending here yet, but they should have plenty of money left to spread over the next few picks. Ritchie has a lot of upside and will be another arm to build on a weak lower minor league depth. There were some interesting players available still at 35, but it seems the Braves weren’t able to strike deals to make those happen.