Coming into the 2022 MLB Draft, the Braves needed to make the most of all of their picks to get a large infusion of talent into their farm system. On Day One, they went with a ton of high-upside pitchers, but at the start of Day Two they turned their attentions to the position player ranks. With their first selection on the second day of the draft, they nabbed catcher Drake Baldwin out of Missouri State, a guy with some tantalizing offensive potential.
Preseason Report Card
We didn’t have Drake on our preseason prospects list because obviously the Braves hadn’t drafted him yet when we wrote it. However, Drake was a known quantity coming into the draft as he was considered by the national baseball publications to be ranked in the 120-140 range as a 2022 draft prospect.
What we saw in 2022
After the Braves took Baldwin in the third round, he made his pro debut in the Florida Coast League for a handful of games before making the jump to full-season ball in Augusta. Overall, he looked very reasonable at the plate while posting a .258/.396/.315 line across two levels of the minors and at least looking the part as a catcher on defense, although he certainly wasn’t a standout performer there. He did only play in 24 games, so all of the usual small sample size warnings apply here.
From what we can gather, Baldwin seems to be a split-camp guy with analytics-driven evaluators liking him more than others. The bar for offense from catchers is pretty low and Baldwin does seem to have some feel for the strike zone, so we are cautiously optimistic that he will start the season at High-A and should perform reasonably well there as a college bat. The real test will come in Double-A, where he will have to manage a pitching staff against hitters that better know what they are doing while also being able to impact the ball against pitchers that aren’t going to be as willing to issue free passes. Time will tell.