It doesn’t seem like these CBA negotiations between MLB and MLBPA are going to end any time soon. Don’t worry, we feel your pain. To help you get your Atlanta Braves fix while we wait for SOMETHING to happen, the Talking Chop minor league team put together a roundtable series about the upcoming minor league season cleverly titled Talking Prospects.
For this part, we turn our attention to the 2021 draft class for the Atlanta Braves professional baseball club. There are a lot of interesting players from the class, but we tried to force ourselves to pick one player that intrigues us the most. Enjoy!
Eric: Spencer Schwellenbach, Tyler Collins, and AJ Smith-Shawver are all good options here, but honestly my answer is Ryan Cusick. There are a lot of things about his game from Wake Forest that gives a lot of credence to the concerns about his reliever risk. However, starters that can routinely throw 100+ mph are no joke and I want to see if he can command his breaking stuff and throw a changeup. If he can and he can go deepish into games, he is going to jump up prospect lists in a hurry.
Garrett: I love Andrew Hoffman, but I’m going to go with Spencer Schwellenbach here. There’s so much with Schwellenbach that we just don’t know at this point and he will be the most closely watched among all of the prospects if and when he does return to action. The organization loves him and he’s an intriguing arm that I will be anxious to see for the first time in a starting role.
Matt: I’m also going with Spencer Schwellenbach. What he did at Nebraska as a shortstop converting into closer, and while not throwing bullpens on the side gives you hope that there is a lot more to come. Obviously his health status is the biggest question and he is going to need a lot of work to refine things, but it will be fascinating to watch his development. I’m not saying he is or isn’t my favorite player from the class as much as I’m saying his development itself needs to be watched.
Gaurav: The player I am most intrigued by is Tyler Collins. He doesn’t have that sexy profile of a hard hitting outfielder, but instead the Braves have a phenomenal athlete on their hands. If he can continue to make contact at his current rate, walk at a decent clip, and limit his strikeouts, he’s an incredibly intriguing player with a skill set the Braves haven’t had in a while. He has supreme speed so his BABIP should always be high, so if he can get on base he is a very valuable player in the organization and when Dana Brown comps a player to Kenny Lofton, you listen.
Wayne: I definitely want to see what happens with Ryan Cusick as he climbs the ladder, and while his stuff is exciting, I think the prospect I’m most excited for is AJ Smith-Shawver. I’m a big fan of athletes, whether that is a teenager who was a two-way baseball player – a la Austin Riley – or a two-sport star, like Smith-Shawver. He was such a good quarterback, he was heading to Texas Tech… this guy can play. He barely threw any innings last season, but his last outing was his best. His stuff is really raw and he is very young, but he has the velocity and movement – and frame – to develop into something quickly. We’ll see just how quickly in 2022.