Jake and I broke down our latest SportsTalkATL Braves Top 30 Prospects List to ring in the new year. And I more recently talked about the ETAs for each of the Brave Top 10 prospects. Several players will be graduating to the major leagues this year, so now it’s time to look at which guys outside of the Top 10 will fill in the gaps.
10. Jasseel De La Cruz (RHP)
De La Cruz has yet to see time in Gwinnett, and pitchers tend to struggle with that jump. There are also some uber-talented prospects lurking behind him, and when they break out, it will be easy for them to jump De La Cruz. However, he does enough to stay in the Top 10.
9. Terone Harris (OF, R/R)
Harris was the Braves Minor League Player of the year last season, yet he hasn’t gotten a ton of respect in the prospect rankings. That will change if he builds off his 2019 campaign. I have him cracking our top 10 next
8. Bryce Ball (1B. L/L)
After his torrid end to the 2019 season, there wasn’t a prospect I was more excited about than Bryce Ball. The towering lefty slugged 17 homers and 18 doubles in his first 62 games while getting on base at a nearly .400 clip. The sample size is small, and we’ve seen other late-round prospects start sizzling before cooling off immensely. I’m betting on him not slowing down in 2021.
7. Jared Shuster (LHP)
Shuster was the Braves first-round pick in the five-round 2020 MLB Draft. I’m giving him this ranking because I’m putting my faith in Alex Anthopoulos. Many people questioned this pick, and it was clear that Shuster was selected so the Braves could sign him below slot value. However, he still showed a lot of promise in the Cape Cod League, and if he impresses in his first stint of professional ball, he will insert himself into the Braves top 10 prospects.
6. Michael Harris (OF, L/L)
A third-round pick in 2019, Harris made his mark in Rookie-Ball and earned an early promotion to Rome. He impressed so much, the Braves included him on the 60-man taxi squad. We’ll see where he starts next season, but if he gets to AA, he’ll shoot up these rankings.
5. Shea Langeliers (C, R/R)
Langeliers will never be the sexiest prospect, which is why I have a hard time seeing him jumping much higher than this before he graduates. He was drafted for his defense as a catcher, and while his offense has been respectable early on in his minor league career, I don’t expect him to ever wow us with his bat, which is why I have him only moving up one spot going into 2022.
4. Braden Shewmake (SS, L/R)
I have a feeling Braves fans are going to be drooling over Shewmake after this season. He was dynamite in Rome before being promoted to AA in just his first half-season of professional ball. He has a great contact bat with developing power and can play all over the diamond. If he has a huge 2021, people will start talking about him being the shortstop or third baseman of the future, especially if Dansby Swanson or Austin Riley struggles.
3. William Contreras (C, R/R)
After Contreras burst on the season for his short stint with the Braves, some believe he could end up being the backup behind Travis d’Arnaud at some point this season. I would say that’s a bit overzealous — or a lot overzealous. I was extremely impressed by Contreras last year, not just because of his performance in the majors but also in spring training. His bat is clearly turning a corner. However, the last time we saw him for a full season, he was struggling in AA and has yet to even log a game in AAA. Contreras should have at least a year before the Braves force him into action permanently.
2. Kyle Muller (LHP)
Muller has the type of talent to make it in 2021. You can’t teach gas in the high-90s from the left side. However, his control and secondary offerings have held him back thus far, and the Braves are loaded with pitching depth. I’m not counting out the possibility of him graduating from prospect status in 2021 because if he thrives in AAA, Atlanta won’t be able to hold him down for long. I just feel like it is more likely than not that he is in Gwinnett for most of the year.
1. Drew Waters (OF, S/R)
Waters tops the list, and I don’t really think there is any doubt he will be deserving of the #1 spot come this time next year… if he’s still a prospect. Anderson and Pache will undoubtedly graduate to the majors this season. Waters has a chance to as well, especially if he starts tearing up AAA early in the year. However, I expect the Braves to add to their outfield in free agency before the start of the season, which will allow Waters more time to develop in Gwinnett.
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