This continues my series of bold predictions for the Braves in 2022. If you missed any of the previous parts, follow the links below.
- Kyle Wright is the team’s breakout star
- Matt Olson sets the new single-season franchise record for home runs
- Dansby Swanson’s send off is one to remember
When the Braves took Bryce Elder in the 5th round of the 2020 MLB draft, I loved the pick. Still, I didn’t see him having an impact in Atlanta so soon. Due to COVID, he didn’t get the chance to play minor-league ball in his draft year like most players, but he more than made up for it in his first season of professional ball. Elder began last year in High-A Rome, and by the end of the season, he was shutting down much older players in Gwinnett.
At no point did Elder look flustered. It was almost as if he expected such a meteoric rise to occur so quickly. His numbers were eerily similar at each level. In fact, his best stats are actually from his seven starts in Gwinnett, where he posted a 2.21 ERA, 1.036 WHIP, and 9.8 K/9. That success continued into Spring Training this year. Elder wrapped up the Braves spring slate yesterday by tossing 4.2 scoreless innings, bringing his total to 7.2 shutout innings over two Grapefruit League starts.
Given the way the Braves’ roster is currently constructed, there’s a straightforward path to the majors this season for Elder. He’ll have to wait his turn; guys like Tucker Davidson, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Muller appear to be ahead of him, but eventually, things will clear up and injuries will occur, making room for Elder. All he has to do is keep shutting down offenses, and the Braves won’t have a choice but to bring him up.
So far, everything Elder has done has shown us he’s very close to being major-league ready. There’s no reason to believe last season was a fluke. If he picks up where he left off, I don’t know how he doesn’t end up a part of the Braves rotation, given how many question marks they currently have.
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