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Battery Power 2023 Midseason Top 25 Braves Prospects: 6-10

The upper levels of the Braves system are young, with only two of the top 10 being older than 21.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

We are just one more stop away from the top of the Atlanta Braves prospect list, and we enter the top 10 here with a solid group of players. While injuries and a lack of professional exposure have delayed the rise for some of these players, this is the part of the list that will widely determine where the Braves system as a whole stands going into the future. It’s a high octane group of talents with the potential to change the landscape of the organization though with more risk than you would see out of the top five.

We appreciate everyone who has followed along with the list, and if you haven’t been following along you can check out the first four parts of this series.

Honorable Mentions | 21-25 | 16-20 | 11-15

10. Cade Kuehler

How the Braves acquired him: 2023 MLB Draft Comp Round B, 70th overall

Preseason Rank: N/A

Atlanta stuck with a familiar theme on day one of the draft this year, taking college arms with their first three selections. The last of the trio picked was Cade Kuehler, a righthander out of Campbell University. Posting a 2.71 ERA across 13 starts and 73 innings, Kuehler has all the makings of someone who can stick in the rotation thanks to his advanced arsenal and solid stuff across the board. Standing at 6’0, 215-pounds, Kuehler’s fastball typically sits in the low-90’s but has shown the ability to ramp it up to the mid to upper-90’s which in turns helps his breaking stuff play better.

Kuehler features a slider with good feel and great break to it along with a solid curveball, as well as a plus changeup and splitter. While the arsenal certainly screams starter, Kuehler will have to tone down some of the mechanics when it comes to his delivery as sometimes it gets violent and out of hand. The Braves have done well recently in making mechanical changes when it comes to pitchers and it’s easy to imagine they won’t have a problem in doing so with Kuehler. However, in the event those changes don’t pan out, Kuehler has more than enough potential to become an incredibly solid reliever at the big league level.

9. Dylan Dodd

How the Braves acquired him: 2021 MLB Draft 3rd round

Preseason Rank: 9th

Despite being a senior sign for the Braves out of Southeast Missouri State in 2021 Dodd was a well-regarded pitching prospect and quickly outperformed his rankings in professional ball. Dodd got off to a slow start in 2022, but hit his stride in May and over his final 10 High-A starts posted a 1.96 ERA. This sent him off to Double-A Mississippi where he actually increased his strikeout rate, lowered his ERA and FIP, and earned a one game call up to Gwinnett at the end of the season. Dodd came into 2023 spring training as a dark horse for the starting rotation, and after a solid spring made his major league debut on April 4th. Unfortunately since that solid spring Dodd has struggled in every way, getting pulled from the major league starting rotation and regressing in his first full season at Triple-A. Dodd holds an ERA of nearly eight for Gwinnett and a FIP of 5.98 while posting his worst numbers of any level in every main peripheral.

Dodd’s concerns right now surround his command, as that was one of the aspects of his game that got him to the major leagues so quickly. The Braves have made adjustments here and there to his mechanics overall, and it seems he may be struggling to fine tune and get back that last little bit of command. While he was throwing up to 97 in college and the lower minor leagues he is sitting in the low 90’s now and his fastball isn’t good enough for him to have significant success without his previous plus command. If he can get back into form and allow his secondary pitches to eat then we could be looking at a back end of the rotation starter, as his above average changeup and average slider are both capable of getting outs at the highest level. Dodd will, save for the potential handful of spot starts, spend the rest of the season refining his game at Triple-A with the hope that a Kyle Wright-esque turnaround could be in order.

8. Luis Guanipa

How the Braves acquired him: 2023 International Free Agent

Preseason Rank: 18th

The Braves finally got into the international signing game in a big way in 2023, inking 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Luis Guanipa to a $2.5 million deal. Ranked as a consensus top-50 international prospect, Guanipa immediately became one of the system’s top position prospects and has risen since making his professional debut with the DSL Braves earlier this year. In 31 games, Guanipa has posted a .277 average to go along with an .841 OPS. He’s also homered four times and drove in 13 runs while tallying eight doubles.

Projected to have above-average tools across the board, with the potential for plus power and speed, Guanipa has shown those projections to be true and perhaps a bit low. There were some concerns with the hit tool as he made his way stateside, but he has shown to have a much better feel for the bat and zone, striking out in just 19 percent of his plate appearances so far. It wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Braves test Guanipa and give him the bump up to the FCL squad some time this year, pushing him to make the jump to full-season ball in Augusta sometime in 2024. If he continues at this pace, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Guanipa to eventually make his way onto some top-100 prospect lists given his incredibly high ceiling.

7. JR Ritchie

How the Braves acquired him: 2022 MLB Draft: Round CB-A, 35th overall

Preseason Rank: 4th

When the Braves drafted Ritchie, they were getting a high upside high school arm who just turned 19. He had what most viewed as a plus fastball which sat in the mid 90s but could work its way into the upper 90s. Besides that, Ritchie threw a slider and curveball combo that showed flashes in high school but were mostly average pitches at the time. What was noticeable though with UCLA commit was he did not struggle with the command of his pitches like so many high school arms do. This was something that made some wonder if the Braves would be able to fast track him through the system. However, injuries have prevented that from happening for Ritchie as he underwent Tommy John surgery late in May of this year.

What TJ surgery does for Ritchie’s long-term outlook is difficult to judge as it unlikely that we will see him until his age 22 season which puts him behind the eight ball in terms of development. Despite an inflated ERA of 5.40 at the time of his injury, Ritchie had struck out 25 batters in 13 13 innings compared to three walks. It was of course in a small sample size, but it did further add intrigue as to how quickly he could be promoted through the Atlanta system. Assuming Ritchie is able to fully recover and start pitching again in 2025 he will still have a real shot at fulfilling his potential of being a number three starter in the Braves rotation.

6. Cole Phillips

How the Braves acquired him: 2022 MLB Draft: 2nd round, 57th overall

Preseason Rank: 5th

The Braves surprised some people during the 2022 MLB Draft when they used their second round pick not just on a prep arm, but an injured prep arm at that. That player, Cole Phillips, had a breakout start to his senior season and was starting to get real talk as a potential first round pick. That’s when he blew out his elbow and needed to undergo Tommy John surgery just a couple of months ahead of the draft.

Phillips is the type of prospect you think of when you think of first round prep arms from the state of Texas. He’s a projectable 6’3” and 200 pounds with a fastball that can get up to 99-100 MPH, and a breaking ball that can get swings and misses as well. Also like you’d expect for a prep arm with that arsenal, he hasn’t used the changeup much - but has at least shown some feel for it at this stage in his development. Phillips is also a guy who could have average command of his plus arsenal.

Phillips still hasn’t pitched in a game yet this year, but is throwing with the coaching staff. It appears that the Braves are taking the same approach with him that they did with Spencer Schwellenbach last year during his recovery process. If he doesn’t pitch in a game this year he would likely start next year in Augusta and still wouldn’t turn 21 until late-May. The upside to be a front end of the rotation starter is certainly there with two swing and miss offerings, feel for a solid third pitch, and good strike throwing ability.

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