So far, the Braves 2020 draft picks have enjoyed their first stint of professional baseball. 4th round pick Spencer Strider quickly earned two promotions on his way to Mississippi, and yesterday, it was announced that Bryce Elder would be joining him in AA.
Last year’s fifth-round selection out of Texas had very little trouble in Rome (the Braves high-A affiliate), where he began the season. Elder recorded a 2.60 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 45 innings in nine starts, good for an 11.0 K/9. He’s not as flashy as Strider — his fastball sits in the low 90s with sinking action, resulting in a ton of ground balls, as can be seen by his 56.8% groundball rate with Rome — but he gets the job done. Elder’s repertoire also consists of a slider, changeup, and curveball.
However, Elder found out last night that AA ball is quite the step up in competition, and the jump can sometimes take some getting used to. In his first start for the M-Braves, he tossed four innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits to go along with five strikeouts. It’s not the best final line, but if Elder mimics his performance in Rome, it won’t take him long to figure out his new competition.
The 22-year-old right-hander had a similar outing in his first start of the season, going 4.2 innings and surrendering five earned runs on seven hits and four walks to go along with six strikeouts. However, he bounced back magnificently after that. In his final eight starts for the R-Braves, Elder posted a 1.79 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 40.1 innings while holding opponents to a .205 batting average. There’s a lot to like about this young man; he’s undoubtedly a prospect to watch in the upper levels of the minors throughout the remainder of the season.
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