Fangraphs is going through their yearly roll outs of top prospects from around baseball, and they got to the Braves more quickly this season. They didn’t make a big splash at the top of the list, naming current Rome Braves flamethrower AJ Smith-Shawver as their number one prospect. Smith-Shawver has nearly universally been ranked as either the number one or two prospect in the system and got off to a hot start with eight strikeouts in his season debut.
Beyond that there were a few notable calls, including the ranking of JR Ritchie. Ritchie joined Smith-Shawver as the Atlanta Braves only 45+ FV prospects and came in just behind at number two. This isn’t a major shock; we here at Battery Power are all very high on Ritchie. However, it ranks him four spots above first round pick Owen Murphy. Luis Guanipa was aggressively placed as the Braves seventh-best prospect, and I’m on board with that by all means as he is the best international prospect the Braves have signed since Kevin Maitan in 2015.
Fangraphs went high on Roddery Munoz at number eight, despite like us believing he is a likely reliever in the future. They also pushed one of our favorites Ignacio Alvarez to number nine and went notably high on Cody Milligan at 14. While I am certainly a fan of Milligan’s game and think there is big league potential there, it’s hard to believe that he is the 14th best prospect in the system when even they see him as a bench bat. Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. checks in at 21, a ranking predicated on his 60 grade defensive ability and elite quick-twitch athleticism. Notable low rankings include Cole Phillips at 22, whose ranking indicates Fangraphs hesitance to put Tommy John arms high and their lack of belief in a slider others believe is above average to plus. The most notable is Ambioris Tavarez at 26, which while not absurd given his lack of production in his career thus far seems a bit low given it ranks him behind much older players with mediocre production and far less defensive value. Notable unranked prospects include 2021 left handed pitcher Adam Shoemaker, 17 year old starter Didier Fuentes, and Arizona Fall League star Cal Conley. I’m skeptical of not ranking Conley at all even given his defensive limitations and poor approach because the system really is not strong enough to not have a place in the top 30 for a bat with his contact ability and power potential.