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Atlanta Braves 2022 Minor League Player Review: Justyn-Henry Malloy

Justyn-Henry Malloy opened some eyes with his bat in 2022 as he moved through the minors.

Justyn-Henry Malloy
Mills Fitzner

The Braves used their sixth-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft to take a bat-first infielder from a college in their backyard, Georgia Tech’s Justyn-Henry Malloy (or JHM). Malloy raked at Tech in 2021, and continued to do so in a small sample size for Augusta after signing. However, the bat was never really the question mark here. Instead, the questions were all about his defense. Malloy’s future defensive home being a mystery at the time of the draft, as well as a single year of college production after struggling to find consistent playing time at Vanderbilt, both led to him falling to the sixth round.

Preseason Report Card

When we did our preseason Braves Top 30 prospect list, JHM ranked 30th, right at the end. It seemed about fair for a sixth-round pick with just one year of elite college production and no one being sure about where he would end up having to play defensively. That said, the bat was never a question, as all this kid does is hit everywhere he has gone.

What we saw in 2022

Malloy played literally everywhere in 2022, and in more ways than one. He started off in Rome, got promoted to Mississippi, and finished off with a handful of games in Gwinnett. Then, once the season ended, he was off to the Arizona Fall League to play some more at yet another location. Nor did he stick to a single place on the field, as he spent time at third base, left field, and DH in 2022. He totaled 61 games in left, not counting an additional 16 games in the AFL, 51 at third, and 21 as a DH.

He spent the most of his time this year in Rome, playing in 71 games and hitting .304/.409/.479 with 10 HR and 44 RBI there (144 wRC+). In Mississippi, he played in 54 games and hit .268/.403/.421 with 6 homers and 21 RBI (125 wRC+). Then in Gwinnett he played n eight games while hitting .280/.424/.440 with a homer and 6 RBI (136 wRC+). In total that is 133 games and 591 plate appearances with a slash line of .289/.408/.454 with 28 2B, 17 HR, 81 RBI, 97 walks, and 138 strikeouts.

Not only did he have a .408 OBP on the year, but he had a .400+ OBP at every stop he made along the way, including his stint in the AFL. In the 20-game AFL stint he went on to hit .306/.438/.444 with five doubles, a triple, and a homer, drawing 16 walks to 20 strikeouts in 89 plate appearances.

2023 Outlook

After finishing the season by playing his final eight games in Gwinnett and having a strong showing in his AFL stint, it is expected that JHM will open the 2023 season back in Triple-A. He’ll go there to continue to work on his defense in hopes that it improves enough to secure an adequate future defensive home for him. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see the Braves bring him up at some point in 2023, so long as he continues to rake at Gwinnett, as his knack for getting on base at a high rate is a skill that projects to carry over into the big leagues. Honestly the bat may even be ready now, though without elite power it does make it tougher to deal with the defensive concerns at the big league level.

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