As the weeks slowly pass by, it’s becoming more and more likely that there might not even be an MLB season at all. For several Braves, that will be devastating, and I wrote about that earlier this month. But there are also plenty of prospects that need this season to happen more than others. Here’s why:
Weigel would probably already be in the majors if it wasn’t for Tommy John surgery that set him back a couple of years. The tall righty was outstanding in his return last year and continued that success into Spring Training. It almost appeared as if he might have made a run at one of the final bullpen spots on Opening Day, but the Braves decided to option him to Gwinnett. Still, it was only a matter of time before he debuted in 2020, but now, that is in question. As a 25-year-old with a ton of talent, no prospect needed this season more than Weigel.
Jackson, a former #6 overall pick by the Mariners before being traded to the Braves, has taken a while to bloom, but he finally had a fantastic season for Gwinnett in 2019, blasting 28 homers in just 85 games. With Tyler Flowers on a one-year deal, and top prospect Shea Langiliers primed to be the catcher of the future; there’s a short window for Jackson to prove himself. It didn’t happen last year in his brief stint with Atlanta, and he struggled this spring, going hitless in 13 ABs. At 24, Jackson needed this season as another opportunity to make the Braves’ brass believe he is more than just a AAAA player.
After being drafted in the second round out of Wichita State, Jenista has not developed in the minors as quickly as one might hope for an older player. As a 22-year-old, he was promoted to Mississippi after 56 games with the Florida Fire Frogs. Although he didn’t necessarily earn that promotion, hitting just .223 with four homers in Florida. He hit better with Mississippi but not by much (.243 with 5 homers in 74 games). Now 23-year-old, 2020 was going to be a critical year in Jenista’s development, and it would be quite a blow if the season were canceled entirely.
After spring training last year, Wright looked poised to make an impact on the Braves starting rotation. He began the year as the team’s #3 starter (mainly because of the injuries to Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, and Mike Soroka), but quickly was demoted back to Gwinnett, where his struggles continued. Eventually, Wright was able to turn things around, and he had a steady second half of the season for the Stripers, followed by another spectacular spring training this year. He was in the running for the final starting rotation spot and looked to have turned the corner. At 24-years-old and a former #5 overall pick, this would be an unfortunate year for Wright to miss.
Pache is on this list for different reasons. After another impressive spring training, he was projected to make his highly anticipated debut in 2020 as a 21-year-old. Now, even if there is an abbreviated season, that will be much more difficult to accomplish. Unlike the rest of the players on this list, it’s not going affect Pache’s career path mightily, but this was supposed to be his year to take over in the Braves outfield. That feels like a longshot now, thanks to the Coronavirus.