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Prospect roundtable: Which players have the most pressure to perform this season?

We cap off our roundtable series with the players that most need a good 2023 season.

MLB: JUL 21 Marlins at Braves Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the prospect world there are success stories, but many more players who will never make it to their highest potential. Among those are the players who came in with high expectations but fall short. Today we look at some of those players who could be on that path and which most need to have a bounce back in 2023

Which player has the most to prove this season, be it due to injury recovery, age, or underperforming their early expectations?

Matt: It’s gotta be Braden Shewmake. The 2019 first rounder has not only been unable to reach the big leagues, but has struggled to hit as much as many expected in the minors. He’s had a promising spring and with that and the fact that later this year will mark four calendar years since his draft, he will need to prove himself if he wants a chance to have a role in Atlanta. He’s got no better chance than right now after Dansby Swanson moved on and the Braves declined to sign a replacement externally.

Devin: My answer for this question was Braden Shewmake, but in order to prevent any overlap I will go with Alan Rengal. The 25 year old pitcher is entering his 8th year of play in the Braves system and his window as a prospect and potential Major League starter is beginning to narrow. He has only appeared in 1 game above AA, a level where he struggled mightily in 2022 pitching to a 5.26 ERA. If Rangal wants to stay on the Braves radar he is going to have to have a strong 2023 season and that starts with the WBC as he is pitching for team Mexico.

Brady: I’m going to go with a little bit of what I think most people would view as a little bit of a shocker for “having something to prove.” But I’m going to go with Jesse Franklin. Before the elbow injury that derailed his 2022 season, Franklin was viewed as one of the top outfield prospects in the Braves system. And while he’s still widely-viewed as such — which I believe is more of an indictment of the depth and quality of the current state of the system more than anything — it’s fair for people to question the status of his future.

Garrett: My top answers have already been covered with Shewmake at the top of the list, so I will pass a couple of comments. One, it is interesting that Jesse Franklin has not had an at bat in major league camp this spring. He should have been ready to DH a couple of months ago and a guy his age usually gets at least a couple of at bats. Spencer Schwellenbach will probably have leeway this season from us, but he is a second round pick who hasn’t even played professionally yet and needs to do a lot to live up to the hype fairly quickly. Another to mention is Victor Vodnik. He is still incredibly talented and only 23 years old, but if he continues to be injury prone and can’t show improvements in his command he will quickly be caught in the cycle of talented Triple-A arms that never get that shot in the big leagues.

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