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Battery Power 2023 Midseason Top 25 Braves Prospects: 16-20

Ambioris Tavarez leads a group of young lower-level players.

Credit: Garrett Spain - Battery Power

We now roll on with the second of five parts of the Battery Power midseason top 25, this time looking at the 16th through 20th best prospects in the Atlanta Braves system. This is a predictably young section of the list, as much of the more advanced talent is either more highly rated or has already graduated from prospect status. The Atlanta Braves are widely seen to have the worst system in the minor leagues, but with much of their talent having been acquired within the last two drafts and international signing periods this is the part of the list that determines whether it trends up in future seasons.

We’re approaching the trade deadline soon, and it’s also important to mention that this is often the section of the prospect list that Alex Anthopoulos leverages in midseason acquisitions. None of these players have very clear paths to playing time in Atlanta, leaving them among the more expendable options while still having the value to net major league improvements. If you want to know more about our process for making this list check out the first part, ranks 21 through 25, below.

Previous Installments | Honorable Mentions | 21-25

20. Douglas Glod

How he got to the Braves: International free agent from January 2022 class

The prime piece of the Braves 2021/22 international class was Diego Benitez, but he wasn’t the only highly rated prospect the team signed in their first full bonus pool since the international sanctions were lifted. That other player is outfielder Douglas Glod, who was generally ranked a Top 25-30 player in the class himself. Glod was a noted productive player who didn’t have a ton of physical projection left on his body, but came with a more mature game than the typical 16-year-old signee.

To date nothing about that scouting report has been incorrect. Last year in 128 plate appearances in the DSL he hit just .202, but had a .352 OBP and .356 slugging percentage. Those numbers didn’t exactly make him blow up, but as a young player making his pro debut he more than held his own. Glod would come to the US this year and start in the FCL as an 18-year-old, and he has really started to gain some confidence at the plate. He’s seen his slash line rise to .252/.400/.496 with five homers in 140 plate appearances. Glod may be striking out a bit more than you’d like with 43 strikeouts, but he is getting on base at a high clip and hitting for power.

The knock on him is he is just 5’9” and 185 without a ton of projection and is projected to slow from an above average runner to probably more of an average runner. That means that while he can handle center field today, he is probably going to have to move to a corner eventually. Still the value with him is in the bat, and he is a guy who should be able to hit for average and some power if he is able to keep his strikeouts down.

19. Garrett Baumann

How he got to the Braves: Fourth round pick in the 2023 MLB draft

If you’re looking for a prospect on this list just oozing with potential, look no further than Baumann. The Braves deviated from their first three picks of the 2023 draft, taking the prep right hander in the fourth round. Simply put, Baumann is an absolute unit. Standing at 6’8, 245-pounds, the 18-year-old former UCF commit projects as a power arm with loads of potential when it comes to velocity. Currently, Baumann sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s but given his frame and youth, there’s no reason to think sitting consistently in the upper-90’s — think Spencer Strider-esque — can’t become a reality for him. Like most prep pitchers, the breaking stuff needs some work, although the changeup is fairly decent when he can control it. With an upper ¾ arm slot, another thing to watch out for as he progresses through the minors is the fact that given his large frame, it’ll most-likely take a bit to get his mechanics going in one fluid motion and be able to repeat them as well.

The Braves took a huge swing at upside here with the pick of Baumann and if they hit, the rewards could be phenomenal. The lack of concern, repeatable mechanics and other questions should subside once the Braves get him under some professional coaching. Assuming he’s able to quell some of those concerns, Baumann has serious upside as an upper rotation candidate. Even if starting doesn’t pan out, there’s enough physicality and velocity there to get some value out of him as a power reliever down the road if all else fails.

18. Seth Keller

How he got to the Braves: Sixth round pick in the 2022 MLB draft

Keller may have been last season’s sixth round pick, but his $700k signing bonus indicates how much higher the Braves see him than that pick. Keller has been arguably the top-performing pitcher from last year’s draft, though a recent slump has taken a toll on his overall numbers. Over six starts to begin the 2023 season Keller posted a team-best 1.17 ERA with a 2.82 FIP and impressive 3.5% walk rate. Unfortunately Keller hit the injured list in mid-May and since his June 23rd return hasn’t quite shown that same success. Only once over his five starts in that span has he struck out more batters than he’s walked, putting up a concerning 6.9% strikeout rate, 13.94 ERA, and 7.95 FIP in that span. This complete breakdown since injury culminated in his last start with him allowing eight runs over 1 13 innings and has reopened the biggest question surrounding Keller going into the draft.

Keller’s 5’10 frame is the reason he was even available to the Braves in the sixth round, as many believe that he won’t be able to stick in a rotation at that size. His early injury and subsequent struggles have contributed to that concern. but the arsenal is good enough for him to start long term. Keller’s split-changeup is one of the better pitches in the system, and early this season he located all of his pitches extremely well. Since his return it’s clear that he’s lost a bit of the feel he had for all of his pitches, so it’s fair to somewhat disregard recent results as a result of lingering rust. Keller only began starting as a senior in high school, so there is a lot of potential still left to develop although his fringe fastball will likely be frame-limited.

17. Drue Hackenberg

How he got to the Braves: Second round pick in the 2022 MLB draft

Drue Hackenberg is probably the hardest player to rank out of this entire class, as his $2 million signing bonus is fit for a much more highly rated player. The Braves have a clear belief in Hackenberg to be willing to go to that extent to buy him out of two years of eligibility and his college results give plenty of reason to believe in his long term potential. Go to his baseball-reference page if you wish, then scroll past his ERA, and tell me what the rest of those numbers look like to you? From a performance perspective all of the basic components were there, and his arsenal can certainly justify a high pick. Still, this was widely seen as a reach and even given our further digs into him it’s hard to know exactly what the Braves were looking at to give him that bonus in the second round.

Nothing in Hackenberg’s profile sticks out in any particular way, but it’s the roundedness of the attributes as a whole and his athletic pedigree that gives the best picture of him. There doesn’t seem to be the exciting ace-type ceiling that many want out of high-bonus players, but there are also no real glaring flaws to Hackenberg’s game. His sinker is solid with above average velocity, and he does a good job of controlling the zone with it and his other pitches. His slider is a mixed bag, as its spin rate and shape are plus but it hasn’t necessarily generated those results at the college level. Hackenberg does need to work on his changeup more, but there is feel there and the overall simplicity of his delivery and his high athleticism should make development an easier process. Hackenberg has a lot to live up to in order to justify the faith the Braves have, but Atlanta has been fantastic at identifying these undervalued college players in the past and Hackenberg is among the safest bets to stick as a starter in the entire system.

16. Ambioris Tavarez

How he got to the Braves: International free agent from January 2021 class

Ambioris Tavarez was the first key piece the Braves signed on the international market since the class including Kevin Maitan that was since freed up by MLB. The Braves came in with a fraction of the normal bonus pool that year in the last of their sanctions, and they spent the bulk of their slot money on Tavarez.

It’s been tough going for Tavarez so far. He missed the 2021 season as the Braves didn’t play in the DSL that summer. Last year he got started a little late in the FCL and was coming off an offseason surgery, so it didn’t surprise anyone that he hit just .277/.304/.385 in 69 plate appearances in his professional debut. This year he moved up to full season ball in Augusta and is hitting .202/.295/.335 with five homers in 309 plate appearances.

Tavarez came in considered a potential big time bat that seemed likely to have to move to third defensively as he keeps growing. That has changed since he has signed though, as he is now expected to stick at short defensively and could be solid with his glove. The big potential with the bat is still there as the plus power potential still exists, but his struggles in making consistent contact have made those high end expectations at the time of signing seem unlikely. Tavarez struck out 28 times in 69 PA last year and this year has a massive 135 strikeouts in 309 PA.

For Tavarez to even reach the upper minors he is going to need to make significant changes to his swing mechanics and approach, but there is real talent in there to work with and it’s important to remember that even though we have been hearing about him for years, he is still just 19-years-old all season and playing in full season ball.

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