Biggest risers in MLBPipeline’s Top 30 Update for the Braves – Michael Harris II has officially graduated from prospect status after notching 131 plate appearances last night, so the Braves are looking at a new Top 30 Prospects list. Even before the graduation of Harris, Atlanta saw some movement on MLBPipeline’s official rankings:
Outfielder Brandol Mezquita joins the #Braves' Top 30 Prospects list as Michael Harris II graduates.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 6, 2022
Biggest risers in MLBPipeline – The Moving on Up
As you can see, Atlanta’s system is taking a big hit. However, there are some interesting names that have moved up, most notably shortstop Vaughn Grissom, who continues to rise quickly.
Here’s what MLB.com had to say about Atlanta’s new #5 Ranked Prospect:
In 2019, the main attraction at Hagerty High School in Florida was Riley Greene, who went No. 5 overall that June to the Tigers. Grissom was that school’s shortstop, and while he wasn’t as highly regarded, the Braves liked him enough to go over the $125K limit in the 11th round and sign him for $347,500. He’s rewarded their investment by hitting pretty much everywhere as a pro — from his summer debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to the alternate site, where he was one of the youngest players, to a full-season debut in 2021 in which he raked in A ball and earned a late promotion to High-A.
Grissom routinely displays outstanding bat-to-ball skills with a very good approach. He has a strong feel for the barrel from the right side of the plate, manages his at-bats well, draws walks and rarely strikes out. He’s short to the ball with relatively simple hitting mechanics and has solid bat speed. The Braves hope he’ll continue to fill out his 6-foot-3 frame and grow into more power as he matures.
As solid as Grissom has been at the plate, it’s been less clear where he might belong long-term defensively. He’s still seen more time at shortstop than any other position, but he’s also played a fair amount at third as well as a little at second. He has the arm to stay on the left side of the infield, where he’s more comfortable and while he doesn’t always have silky-smooth actions, he’s a solid defender. If he can’t play short, he might need to raise his power profile a bit to be a fit at the hot corner as a regular.
Spencer Schwellenbach, a 2021 draftee and two-way player, has jumped into the top ten while he recovers from Tommy John Surgery:
Schwellenbach spent three years as Nebraska’s shortstop. Because of an elbow injury in high school, he didn’t pitch for the Cornhuskers until 2021, when he served as the closer, saving 10 games and pitching 31 2/3 innings en route to winning the John Olerud Award as college baseball’s best two-way player. While it was a small sample, the Braves liked what they saw on the mound enough to take him in the second round as a pitcher. Signed for well below slot, Schewellenbach needed Tommy John surgery shortly after joining the Braves organization.
In the brief time Schwellenbach was on the mound, often coming in from shortstop to finish games, he showed three quality pitches and command of all of them. All three would at least flash plus, with a fastball that sat 94-97 mph and topped out at 99, a low-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup with power sink. He could throw all three of them for strikes with a simple delivery.
Because of his repertoire and feel for pitching, there is some thought he has the chance to start, and the Braves will likely develop him as such once he returns to the mound. He’ll probably be back in time for instructional league play in the fall of 2022, with 2023 a target for regular season action. Some see a lot of Jacob deGrom in him, who was also a college shortstop who didn’t pitch much before his junior year of college, and also needed Tommy John surgery the summer after he signed.
Tyler Collins, a 2021 draftee that I had ranked inside my Top 20 to start the year, clocks in at 22nd overall:
Collins starred at McKinney Boyd High School in Texas and looked like he might be headed to Oklahoma State for college ball. The Braves loved his speed and feel to hit enough to nab him in the eighth round of the 2021 Draft, signing him for an above-slot $447,500 and making him the first ever draftee from his school. Collins returned their faith in him by hitting .347/.424/.453 with 12 steals in 23 Florida Complex League games.
The left-handed hitting outfielder’s calling card is his speed, which is nearly close to top of the scale. He’s a legitimate basestealing threat who registers very low times from home to first and uses his legs well to stretch singles to doubles and doubles to triples. He can make a lot of contact, but is content to spray the ball around the field. He’s not likely to ever be a big power guy, but added strength will help him impact the ball more consistently.
Collins’ speed is also an asset in the outfield and while he’ll need to sharpen his reads and routes, he does have the chance to stick in center field. If he can keep getting on base and get strong enough to drive the ball a little, he could profile as an intriguing table-setting type in the future.
Biggest risers in MLBPipeline – Finally, the aforementioned Mezquita. He has a ton of tools, and we’ve seen the Braves develop toolsy outfielders with a high success rate. He clocks in at 27:
Mezquita’s original deal and $300,000 bonus in 2017 with the Braves were nullified by Major League Baseball as part of the penalties levied against the organization for international signing infractions. He opted to re-sign with the Braves shortly after he was declared a free agent, making his debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2018. He showed glimpses of raw tools then and in two summers (2019 and 2021) in the Gulf Coast League and was making a strong impression during his full-season debut in 2022.
A right-handed hitter, Mezquita is a veritable toolbox, though he has a ways to go to tap into those tools consistently. He has tremendous bat speed and plus raw power, often showing the ability to barrel up the baseball and register high exit velocities, with most believing there will be over-the-fence power to come. He’s too aggressive at the plate and his strikeout rate is a bit of a concern, but the Braves think he has the ability to develop into an average hitter.
Mezquita is an above-average runner with a strong arm. He’s shown the ability to play all three outfield spots and as he physically matures, a corner spot will likely be the best option for a regular gig, with the potential to fit the power-hitting profile for that position.
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