The Atlanta Braves selected Mahki Backstrom as an overslot 18th-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of a California high school. The one-time potential high-round pick had slipped during his senior year of high school, but presented as a potential big time power bat that was young for his class.
Preseason report card
We ranked Mahki Backstrom 27th on our Preseason Braves Top 30 list, noting that he still had big time potential but was coming off a disappointing 2021 season that followed a year of down time due to the pandemic. As we noted in our preseason report, he was still a very raw prospect and wasn’t turning 21 until the October after the season, so there was still plenty of time left for him to turn things around.
What we saw in 2022
Backstrom is a case of not being able to look at the stat line he posted and judge anything overall, because it really doesn’t tell the whole story of his season. He posted a .769 OPS with 38.3% strikeout rate on the year, but behind those numbers, there is more to the story.
Backstrom came in and started the season ice-cold. He hit .138 with a .567 OPS through his first 21 games of the season, but the light would eventually go on for him in mid-May. Starting May 12th and continuing the rest of the year, he went on to hit .235/.399/.454 with nine homers in 233 plate appearances, tallying 78 strikeouts to 45 walks. The counting stats that could have likely been a bit higher if not for him missing some time in the middle of the year.
Overall, Backstrom hit .205/.355/.414 with 15 doubles, five triples, 10 homers and 56 walks to 124 strikeouts over 324 plate appearances. He also added eight stolen bases on the season.
Backstrom is likely going to get to Double-A, and is likely to spend the entire season there in 2023. The hope is that we can see the post-May 12th version that made more frequent contact and struck out at a slightly reduced rate. Still, the fact remains that he is a raw, athletic and powerful first base prospect that will get on base at a good rate, but also strike out quite a bit as well. However, that is the kind of prospect you are willing to take the strikeouts from, as he hits for power and gets on base.