Customarily, we would fit our honorable mentions prospects right at the beginning of our prospect list, however this season I thought it fitting to shift it until the end. Despite what rumors might say it’s definitely not because I forgot I was supposed to do it until the night before the top 30 list was running, it was a totally and completely planned move. Our top 30 list just wrapped up yesterday, but those weren’t the only guys that received votes. In fact, one of these six is already in the top 30 because Alex Anthopoulos never sleeps.
30. Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. - OF
This is...a bit awkward. Thanks to the Atlanta Braves acquiring JP Martinez in exchange for our 26th-ranked prospect, Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. just sneaks into our top 30. Kilpatrick got off to a hot start in Rome this season, though he struggled down the stretch and ultimately wasn’t able to take the step necessary to jump up on our list like we had hoped. Still, Kilpatrick oozes athleticism along with showing solid bat speed and being able to play all three outfield spots. His hit tool is a work in progress, but he has enough power and plate discipline to be a solid major league bat.
Keshawn Ogans - INF
Keshawn Ogans was the very last player drafted for the Braves in 2022, but he didn’t play like that at all last season. Ogans wasn’t a star, but played an all-around solid game for the Rome Braves and showcased the potential to be a major leaguer. Ogans lacks a standout tool, but he manages to do everything a player needs to succeed, putting up solid plate appearances, making consistent contact, and hitting for enough power to round his entire game together. Ogans’s best position is second base but he is solid enough defensively to play all around the diamond. He put up good numbers in the Arizona Fall League in 2023 and will now test Double-A with an opportunity to take the next step in his career.
Cody Milligan - OF
Cody Milligan stands out for his defense in center field, and that is a surprise for a player who only started playing the position once he got to Double-A. Milligan’s speed and natural instincts made him an immediately excellent fit for the position, with the only knock being a lack of arm strength. Milligan unfortunately lost significant time to injury in 2023, but when he was active he was a spark at the top of Mississippi’s lineup. Milligan is capable of working deep counts and doing damage on the bases, and while his power is limited he hit the ball harder last season and could fit in as a fourth outfielder.
Jared Johnson - RHP
Since being a part of the 2019 draft Johnson’s career has taken a slow path, but he flashes the talent to be a force in a major league bullpen. In short outings Johnson can sit in the upper 90’s with his fastball, overpowering hitters and also dropping in a short-breaking upper-80’s to low-90’s slider. Command pushed him to a full time bullpen role upon a promotion to High-A Rome, however the raw stuff can play as long as he can find the zone. Johnson’s time in the pro ranks has been tumultuous due to the covid layoff and Tommy John surgery in 2022, but he is in a position to go a long way in 2024 with his first full, healthy offseason in awhile.
Javier Valdes - C
Javier Valdes can flat out hit. Ever since being drafted in the 21st round in 2019 that’s all he has done, advancing to Double-A for the past two season where he posted better-than-league average numbers in 96 total games. Valdes draws tons of walks, makes solid contact, and has much more home run strength than his 5’10 frame might suggest. An arm issue in 2023 slowed his progress just a bit and may have impacted his power numbers, but as long as he can find a defensive home there is reason to be optimistic about his offensive game.
Luis De Avila - LHP
There aren’t many cheaper ways to acquire talent than through the minor league Rule 5 draft, and De Avila stepped into immediate success in the Braves system. De Avila took a major step forward in 2023, showcasing a three pitch mix centering around a low-90’s fastball. De Avila also throws a curveball and changeup, with the changeup being the more effective of the two. De Avila’s frame and command are concerns for a starter, but he has managed to have success by filling the zone and focusing on keeping the ball down in the zone. A step forward in his command could have him projecting as a back-end starter, and he has had impressive success in the upper levels of the minor leagues.