Earlier today, MLB Pipeline released their Under 25 Draft results, and four Braves were selected. It was a five-round process with five MLB reporters participating, essentially creating a 25 under 25 list. Here’s which budding Atlanta stars made the cut and who I believe could be on this list in the future.
Ronald Acuña Jr.
Ronald Acuña Jr. was selected with the third overall pick, behind only Juan Soto (1st) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (2nd). Obviously, I’m a little biased, but these are the three best young players in the game, and there is no disputing it. Acuña is the only legitimate 40/40 threat in baseball, and I expect him to reach that threshold this season as long as he stays healthy. Soto might be the toughest out in the game right now, and Tatis just inked a $340 million extension for a reason. There’s no doubt all three of these guys will win MVPs over their careers and probably multiple of them.
Albies was taken 17th overall, which is a little low for my taste but understandable after being injured for most of 2020. Still, the last time we saw him play a full season, he led the league in hits, boasting a .295 average and .852 OPS, all while playing elite defense at second base. I’m expecting a bounce-back year for him in 2021, but unfortunately, he will be 25 next year, so he won’t be eligible for this draft again.
Selected right after Albies was Mike Soroka. The Maple Maddux suffered a freak injury last season, tearing his Achilles while bouncing off the mound. That’s an obvious reason why he was selected much lower than he should be. As a 21-year-old rookie, he posted a 13-4 record with a 2.68 ERA and the lowest HR/9 in the majors (0.7). I don’t imagine the Achilles injury will slow him down much, either. Soroka’s as level-headed and competitive as they come. It’s only a matter of time before he’s back atop the Braves rotation.
Cristian Pache was the third-to-last player selected, but he’s certainly deserving of being on this list. He should begin 2021 in Atlanta, and his defense alone will make him a valuable commodity. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he won a Gold Glove as a rookie, but his strides in the power department are what has propelled him to break the top 10 on most prospect lists. The Andruw Jones comparisons are legit, and it will be awesome watching him progress in his first full season in the majors after he received a taste in last year’s NLCS.
Guys who could be on this list next year
There’s only one other Brave that I imagine should and will be on this list next year. I thought he very easily could have made it this year but to each their own. Ian Anderson was spectacular in his first stint of major-league action, and he was at his best when the lights were the brightest in the postseason. I understand his stuff might not be as eye-popping as some of the other young arms that made the list, but he has already proven he can perform against the best competition. Perhaps major-league hitters catch up to him as they become more familiar, but experience works both ways, and Anderson should only improve as he continues in the majors.