When selected 41st overall, many were not sure whether Austin Riley would be taking his talents to the pitching mound or the hot corner. The Braves eyed him for his bat, and right now it appears that they hit on Mr. Riley. Many considered the Braves’ selection of the Mississippi State commit a reach, but in his short time in Rookie ball he has shown that his talent may actually exceed where he was drafted. He’s only offered a small sample size, but Austin Riley has the potential to be the best offensive prospect we have had since Evan Gattis and Freddie Freeman. The Desoto High School product has appeared in 48 contests thus far in 2015, and has impressed. In a farm system lacking power bats, Riley has hit 9 homers to go along with 29 RBI. Over the course of an 162 game season, Riley would be on track to hit 25-30 homers. If you haven’t noticed, that would easily be tops for the whole Braves organization in 2015. His power mainly comes from his 6’2″, 230 lbs frame. Like many power hitters, Riley has had some issues with strikeouts, though he has still maintained a .357 OBP throughout both levels of Rookie ball. Riley was not a third baseman in high school, but his power and his gun for an arm make him an ideal fit for third base. As a pitcher his fastball topped out at 94 MPH.
Though the Braves have just heavily invested in Hector Olivera, he and Riley are 12 years apart in age. Riley is putting up these numbers straight out of high school, which is fairly impressive. He’s far away at this point, but if he can continue to put up these types of numbers he will fly through our farm system. This kid looks like he could very well be the future at the hot corner for Atlanta. He’s already building up serious hype as a prospect right out of the gate, and was awarded the MiLB.com GCL Player of the Month for July. We have him ranked as Atlanta’s 15th best prospect, and considering his age he will fly up this list in the coming years if he continues to hit the way he has. He, alongside Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka, look like they have the potential to be star players, and this draft class has restored a lot of faith in the Braves’ new-look scouting department. Austin Riley is well worth keeping an eye on, and with rumors stirring that the Braves have an agreement in place with Kevin Maitan, it looks like it’s not just pitching they are invested in after all.