Right now, there is a cloud cover surrounding the future at catcher for the Braves. Nobody knows who will be starting behind the plate next year, but Contreras is building up a bid to be the top option in the near future.
Brother of Cubs All-Star catcher, Willson Contreras, William is starting to pick up some major traction as a prospect, booming all the way up to #13 in the Braves system according to MLB.com. With so little talent at the position around the league, Contreras projects to be one of the few who could be able to provide defense behind the plate and offense in the batter’s box. Last year he hit .285 with 11 home runs in just over 100 games between Rome and Florida.
There is still quite a ways to go before he is MLB-ready, but considering the lack of catching talent the Braves have in their whole system, including the MLB roster, there is no reason to include Contreras in any potential deal.
This one is pretty obvious. Soroka is the #1 prospect in the Braves system and probably would have already left his mark on the MLB had he not had to deal with lingering shoulder soreness that resulted in him being shut down for the remainder of the season.
There is nothing overpowering about Soroka’s stuff. That is exactly why scouts are high on him. Despite not having a mid to high 90s fastball, the 21-year old has dominated throughout all levels of the minor leagues with his composure and command of the strike zone. He is very Maddux-esque in his approach, attacking batters from the opening pitch, resulting in an efficient work rate. He walks a batter about every five innings on average and hasn’t had a WHIP in the minors above 1.13 since his 2015 Rookie ball stint with Danville, which was only 24 innings. In his five games with the Braves last year as a 20-year old, he went 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA. Soroka will be in the starting rotation for Atlanta next year providing his health cooperates.
Wright was in the conversation for the #1 overall pick back in 2017. The Braves ended up selecting him with the 5th overall pick and signing him to a contract above-slot value. The Huntsville, Alabama, native began his first full pro season in 2018 with AA Mississippi. There were some growing pains, but it did not stop him from moving up to AAA and eventually receiving the call in September.
Unlike Soroka, Wright can maintain velocity in the mid-90s for as long as you need him to. He possesses a couple of nasty breaking pitches and even an improving changeup. With so many young pitchers fighting for five rotation spots, Wright might not start next year with Atlanta, but it should not take him long to get there. The only way the Braves might find themselves dealing Wright is in a major blockbuster deal.
Christian Pache/Austin Riley
I put them together here because there’s not much of a chance the Braves deal their two most MLB-ready bats.
Riley may be ready to start on opening day next season. There’s potential for him to blossom into a 30 home-run bat, something the Braves desperately need. The problem with him is his position. Atlanta has two outstanding young players on the left side of the infield already. If Riley cannot make the transition to the outfield, a move is going to have to be made.
Pache is a speedy contact bat with A+ defensive attributes. He is a little further behind Riley in his development, but at just 20 years old, he has already shot up to the #6 prospect in the Braves system.
Both of these players could be a key piece in a major deal; however, Atlanta really should not be looking to move either of them and definitely cannot afford to deal them both. Unless, of course, they find themselves in the Corey Kluber sweepstakes.
The third-ranked prospect in the Braves system, Anderson belongs in the same class as both Soroka and Wright. The 2016 first-round pick out of high school has done nothing but impress since turning pro. Still only 20 years old, the Braves have not shot him through their farm system as they have had with their other top arms.
That could all change in 2019. Anderson pitched in A+ and AA ball last season, going 4-7 with a 2.49 ERA and holding opponents to a batting average under .200. He will start the season in either AA or AAA next year, but regardless, do not expect the Braves to be hesitant in calling him up. He has the most unhittable stuff of any of the Braves top pitching prospects.