Braves: Could this under the radar prospect make his MLB debut in 2024?

Braves roster moves

The Braves farm system remains one of the worst in baseball, particularly when it comes to position players. They have some pitchers that could make an impact this year — like AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep — but it’s difficult to pinpoint many position players right now that could ever become regulars in Atlanta, especially after the injury to David McCabe, one of the brightest bats in the system.

The good news is the Braves don’t have a lot of openings in the field that need to be filled anytime soon. If the Jarred Kelenic trade works out in their favor, the entire outfield is under contract through at least 2028. In the infield, Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Austin Riley, and Sean Murphy are all under contract through at least 2027. Pitching staff aside, the only questionable area when looking towards the future is the shortstop position, currently held by Orlando Arcia, which just so happens to be where the top position prospect in the Braves system plays, Ignacio Alvarez.

Depending on where you look, Alvarez is already a top 100 prospect in the game, and the outlets that don’t have him in their current top 100 — like FanGraphs — recently put him in a piece of players they expect to be a top 100 prospect this time next year. The 2022 fifth-round selection impressed with his glove at shortstop, has a tremendous contact bat that should translate to the upper levels and even showcased some improved power last season.

Alvarez is not even 21 years old yet and ended last season in High-A Rome. He’s not going to make an immediate impact in Atlanta, but he’s showcasing some of his promise early on in Spring Training, going 2-for-2 with a double in the Braves first game against the Rays. The AA test he will likely face to begin the season is critical. If he shows he can handle the stick and the position defensively in Mississippi, he’ll be knocking on the door of the majors in no time.

I find it unlikely it will happen in 2024, but a lot of it will depend on how Orlando Arcia performs. The veteran was spectacular during the first half of last season, making his first All-Star Game. The second half was a different story, however, looking much more like the offensive player he was for his entire tenure in Milwaukee. If that trend continues into the first half of this year, and Alvarez progresses rapidly, the Braves have shown they aren’t afraid to let their young players eat.

It is a storyline to watch in 2024, especially if Arcia starts to struggle.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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