Braves: Breaking down MLBPipeline’s Top-30 prospect rankings

Braden Shewmake

MLB Pipeline released their first Braves prospect rankings of 2021, and it’s relatively similar to our Top-30 prospect list we did over the winter. If I disagree with any of their rankings, don’t take my word as law — they do excellent scouting, this is just my opinion. There was also no 2020 MILB season, so it’s a bit tougher to evaluate these guys. Regardless, here are some of my early reactions to MLB Pipeline’s rankings.

Too Low

First off, I think the Braves as a whole are too low — they certainly still have a top ten system in the entire majors. If you look around the league, it’s harder to find a system with better prospects at the top. Ironically enough, the old Braves used to be so vaunted for their depth. This year, they have multiple guys who could win NL Rookie of the Year.

I think Contreras is easily in the top five, and potentially the fourth best player in the system. He will make in impact in Atlanta very soon, but you can interchange him and Langeliers at fourth and fifth. I understand why Harris is so low, he can certainly climb at any time, but the sample size is pretty small. I think Harris will be the next super prospect in the Braves outfield, and in all of baseball. Ball has immense power, and I think he’s a bit closer to the top ten than 15. I think with a hot start to 2021, he’ll enter that conversation.

I get Harris appears to have a limited ceiling, but there’s no way I’m ranking a guy who had an .887 OPS over three levels of the minors in 2019 that low. Kalich’s ranking isn’t too bad, but I think he had a good enough 2019 to earn some chatter as a bit higher. I have to credit MLB Pipeline on this, Kalich just missed our top 30. We had Logan Brown a bit lower as well, but he looked pretty comfortable this spring, which could earn him a few extra spots.

Potential Snubs

Of course you can make an argument for a lot of guys to make this list, but here are a couple we included that didn’t make the list.

I talked a bit about Mahki Backstrom here, and regardless of where he’s ranked; I think the kid will make a name for himself soon enough. He has incredible raw power to all fields, and if he gets to mashing early — he’ll garner some attention. DeVito profiles best as a relief arm, but I like his upside and ability to generate strikeouts. The former Seton Hall Pirate was rising quickly in 2019, so we’ll see if he has that immediate impact in 2021.

Surprises

This isn’t necessarily a knock or an endorsement, just some guys that went higher or lower than I expected coming into this season.

I am not saying by any means that Pache does not deserve the first spot, but I thought Ian Anderson would get the nod after an insane 2020 season in the majors. They’re 1a and 1b, and both are going to be special. Shewmake was once thought of as a horrible reach, but Anthopoulos proved the doubters wrong once again. I think Shewmake will have a role in Atlanta sooner rather than later with his pure hitting ability. The question becomes, where do you put him?

I’m not sold on Shuster just yet, but I trust Alex Anthopoulos’ judgement — as bad as his collegiate stats looked, he played pretty well in wood bat leagues. Tarnok has all of the tools, but he has yet to put it together in the minors. Hopefully he got some good behind the scenes work in during the 2020 offseason, because he’s starting to lose momentum as a top prospect.

Jackson at 16 is truly shocking, I hope I’m wrong, but he hasn’t shown much at the Major League level. I like Franklin a lot more than most, and I’m happy to see him crack the top 20 — the kid can hit. I thought Strider would make the list, but not at 24. He’s a great college arm that could make an impact sooner rather than later. Dean isn’t a name that cracks these lists a lot, but he can hit and he’s speedy. He has a real chance that could be a fourth outfielder in Atlanta at some point. Woods has all of the tools, but I was shocked that he made the list.

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