Drew Waters just wrapped up his first week in AAA Gwinnett, and the Braves #3 prospect according to our list has only continued his breakout 2019 campaign. After batting .319 with 49 extra-base hits in AA, the switch-hitting, five-tool outfielder out of Etowah high school racked up ten hits (.333 average) in seven games, including his first home run for the Stripers and two doubles.
What separates Waters has become glaringly evident throughout this year – his hit tool. He sprays lasers all over the field from both sides of the plate. When we talked to him a couple of months ago, Waters wasn’t shy about why he plays the game – to hit. At 20-years old, he still has room to grow in the power department. The weight room will be a crucial part of his development from 2019 to 2020, but with Nick Markakis and even Ender Inciarte’s future in doubt after this year, there’s a substantial chance he is starting in the outfield to begin next season.
As for seeing him in Atlanta this year, I doubt that will come to fruition, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. A determining factor will be the health of the current Braves squad. There is no timetable for Nick Markakis’ return, but Austin Riley received some magnificent news earlier this week from Dr. James Andrews. He will not have to undergo surgery and should begin rehabbing in the minor leagues before the calendar turns to September. That makes it that much more unlikely Waters makes it to the majors this year; however if Nick Markakis is deemed unable to return this season and Waters continues to mash, the Braves might have a dilemma on their hands.
The National League runs through Los Angeles. That has been clear since about May. To beat the Dodgers, you’re going to have to do everything right, but more than anything, you need loads of firepower. Thus far, Waters has shown he can hit well over .300 at any level. With the Braves on the cusp of being something special, it may be worth it for Atlanta to give him a stint in the majors during September to see if he can help come October.
It is pretty obvious Adam Duvall is not the answer, and with no Markakis, Waters might be the second or third best outfield option in the entire organization. At the very least, he will put loads of pressure on the Braves to call him up if he keeps performing at this level in Gwinnett.