Prospect list season continued Monday with the release of Keith Law’s annual Top 100 list at The Athletic. The Atlanta Braves only had one player to make the cut in 2023 first round pick Hurston Waldrep who slotted in at No. 80.
Law lauds Waldrep’s splitter like just about everyone else, but mentions that he will need to use all four of his pitches to succeed as a big league starter.
The splitter is just sick — it looks like a fastball out of his hand, has good velo separation from the heater at 85-89, and has huge bottom to it, yanked downward by some invisible zombie hand coming out of the ground like in the “Thriller” video. It also finishes out of the zone too often to be his go-to pitch — it’s a chase pitch, and a great one, but that’s all, and he’ll need to use all four pitches together to be a big-league starter. He has a curve and slider, either of which would likely improve with use, as in college he wouldn’t finish them out front, while his fastball sits 95 but doesn’t have great ride or life. He may never have more than average control, so he’ll really have to mix the four pitches to keep hitters off balance and generate more swings and misses. If not, he’s an easy guy to move to the bullpen, where he could junk one of the breaking balls and would be fine using the splitter at a higher rate than he can as a starter.
A.J. Smith-Shawver has been included on a few Top 100 lists this offseason, but misses the cut here. We will have to see what Law has to say about him when he releases his Braves’ top 10.