Over the final month of this unforgettable year that has been 2020 and into the new year, Jake and I will be updating our own SportsTalkATL Top 30 Prospects List. We will each come up with our own Top 30 and average it out to create a consensus Top 30 list of Braves prospects. This year’s initial group will be a bit more difficult to judge than it has been previously because most of these guys didn’t see a bit of live-action in 2020, thanks to the coronavirus. However, we will take our best stab at it and update it several times over the course of next season.
30. Philip Pfeifer (LHP)
Yes, in case you were wondering, 28-year-old Philip Pfeifer is still considered a prospect. The southpaw has been in the Braves system since 2017 and put together a really productive 2019 campaign over three levels (A+, AA, AAA), finishing the season with a 2.97 ERA over 133.1 innings. I was a bit surprised that we never got to see him at any point last season. Pfeifer pitched well in Spring Training and has plenty of starting experience in the minors. Given the Braves rotation woes in 2020, you would have thought we would have seen him at least once. But even though it never ended up happening, his major league debut looks to be just around the corner.
29. Logan Brown (C, L/R)
Brown was pretty impressive for Rome in 2019, boasting a healthy .301 average, which resulted in a promotion to the Florida Fire Frogs. He wasn’t as successful in 48 games of A+ ball, but for a 23-year-old that was in his first full season of professional ball, he turned some heads in the organization. Enough so, that the Braves even had him be apart of their 60-man taxi squad.
28. Thomas Burrows (LHP)
Burrows put together a fantastic 2018 in which he recorded a 2.66 ERA over three levels (A,A+,AA). He followed that up with a so-so 2019 between Mississippi and Gwinnett. Like pretty much all minor leaguers, he didn’t get to see any action last year, but there’s a chance he makes his major league debut in 2021, especially if the Braves have multiple injuries. The burly, 230-pound lefty out of the University of Alabama has the potential to be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen in the future.
27. Jesse Franklin (OF, L/L)
In the third round of this year’s five-round MLB draft, the Braves took Michigan outfielder Jesse Franklin. Franklin’s a plus-athlete that thrived during his freshman and sophomore seasons in Anne Arbor, tallying 23 homers and hitting for a healthy .287 average — good for a .905 OPS. His power-bat gives him plenty of upside, and the Braves may have gotten a steal here, given he didn’t participate in the 2020 season because of a broken collarbone.
26. Tyler Owens (RHP)
Owens is a 19-year-old that turned some heads in his first stint of Rookie ball. The 13th round pick struck out 32 batters in 27.1 innings and held opponents to a .184 batting average against. Owens is a long way from the majors, but he could end up being a late-round gem for the Braves. It would have been nice to see how he developed in 2020, but hopefully, the time off doesn’t end up hurting his progression.
30. Trey Riley (RHP)
Riley gets a bit of an edge here because he still has some projectability. His 7.1 BB/9 isn’t pleasant to look at, but he has some potential at 6’3 with a beaming 97 MPH fastball. His future is likely in the ‘pen if he can develop his other pitches. Missing last season hurt him.
29. Alex Jackson (C/OF, R/R)
Yes, Alex Jackson is still technically a prospect at this point. He barely cracks my Top 30, and he may not have if Atlanta hadn’t made the ill-advised Tommy Milone trade in which they lost AJ Graffanino. Well, hindsight is 20/20 and Jackson is here. He’s running out of time as a prospect, and he’s shown little ability at the plate at the Major League Level. I trust that Jackson has been working hard this offseason, and with Shea Langeliers and William Contreras in the fold — it’s becoming make or break for A-Jax.
28. Philip Pfeifer (LHP)
Echoing what Chase said — feels like we’ve been waiting on him forever. This guy was part of the Bud Norris trade with the Dodgers. Regardless, we might get a look at him this year. He’s posted good numbers in the minors and lefties out of the ‘pen are always valuable. Time is running out for him as well.
27. Logan Brown (C, L/R)
I actually quite like Logan Brown; he’s a bit old for A Ball at 24, but catcher is one of the hardest positions to develop. Brown throws pretty well, and while his average dipped to .240 in A+ ball, he hit .300 in Rome. He’s still pretty raw, and like with A-Jax, the presence of Langeliers and Contreras hopefully spurns a breakout.
26. Tyler Owens (RHP)
Tyler Owens has only made 10 starts in Rookie Ball, but there’s something there with only 2 HR, 12 BB, and 32 Ks over 27.1 innings. He has a nice 1.10 WHIP too. His future probably isn’t in the rotation, but if he keeps the walks and home runs down, he could carve out a future for himself.