Braves: Examining the most interesting non-roster submissions on the 60-man roster

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As we inch closer and closer to finally having baseball back, Sunday brought us the deadline for MLB teams to submit their 60-man player pools. Just seeing all of these Braves’ names in an official capacity already gets me excited. 

 

Of the 56 players included on the Braves’ roster, 17 are labeled as non-roster submissions, meaning they currently aren’t part of the team’s active roster (though non-roster players can be promoted to the big league club later). 

 

Braves’ 2020 Non-roster Players

  • Tyler Matzek — LHP
  • Kyle Muller — LHP
  • Chris Rusin — LHP
  • Jared Shuster — LHP
  • Ian Anderson — RHP
  • Felix Hernandez — RHP
  • Josh Tomlin — RHP 
  • Logan Brown — C
  • Shea Langeliers — C
  • Jonathan Morales — C
  • Drew Waters — OF
  • Yonder Alonso — 1B
  • Charlie Culberson — UTIL
  • Pete Kozma — INF
  • Peter O’Brien — OF / 1B
  • Braden Shewmake — SS
  • Yangervis Solarte — INF

 

We’re fully aware who the 39 “active” players are, as I’m afraid introductions aren’t needed for guys like Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna. However, what about these 17 non-roster players? Some are elite prospects, while some are recent draftees and career journeymen, but at least a few deserve our attention heading into what’s bound to be quite an exciting 2020 season.

Here’s a look at the most interesting names from the list of 17 I’ve provided above, ordered from most to least compelling. I’ve also added a few other notable players that most likely won’t get an opportunity to contribute at the big league level this year, but whose 2020 season should be significant nonetheless.

 

Ian Anderson — RHP

  • 22-years-old
  • 4 seasons w/ATL

Perhaps you’re more excited to see a certain prospect outfielder on this list (hint: his first name rhymes with BLUE), but it’s Anderson that I’m most looking forward to in 2020. Anderson was sharp during Spring Training back in February/March of this year (1.59 ERA) and is coming off a 2019 campaign that featured 26 starts as well as a 3.38 ERA, including 11.4 K/9 combined between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. With the minor league season all but canceled at this point, there’s a solid chance Anderson earns some innings with the Braves in 2020. In fact, of the organization’s top-3 prospects included on the team’s 60-man roster, Anderson appears to have the best shot at debuting given all the traffic within the Braves’ outfield. 

 

Drew Waters — OF

  • 21-years-old
  • 3 seasons w/ATL

While Anderson enjoyed a fantastic Spring Training earlier this year, Waters certainly did not. Through 15 games and 24 at-bats, the toolsy outfielder struck out 14 times and hit just .167 with zero extra-base hits. Let’s just say his spring performance was quite the opposite of what he put together during the 2019 season when he won Double-A’s Southern League MVP and finished with a .309 AVG, 7 home runs, and 16 stolen bases while playing for Mississippi and Gwinnett. In terms of Waters’ chances at debuting for the Braves in 2020… I’d say there at 50-50. 

 

Felix Hernandez — RHP

  • 34-years-old
  • Zero seasons w/ATL

I don’t have to remind you how great Hernandez’s MLB career has been, or the fact that he was incredible in Spring Training for the Braves (1.98 ERA / 4 starts), but perhaps there is room for improvement when it comes to being aware of how critical the next month of his life will be. As a seasoned veteran with the Braves, this may just be King Felix’s very last shot to prove he’s still at least a small portion of what he once was in Seattle, and thus far, he has done about as great a job as one could ask for. We’ll see if the momentum continues because Hernandez can cover some meaningful innings for the Braves in 2020. 

 

Charlie Culberson — UTIL

  • 31-years-old
  • 2 seasons w/ATL

We almost lost Charlie for good over the winter, but GM Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves quickly brought the fan-favorite back with a MiLB contract and a shot to make the big league team. Well, considering the circumstances now, Culberson’s essentially a lock to provide infield depth for the Braves at some point in 2020. Despite a rough Spring Training (.115 AVG), he’s coming off a strong last couple of seasons, including a 2018 campaign in which he finished with a dozen homers and a .270 AVG. The outfield is full for the Braves, but Culberson is just an injury away from covering the team’s infield.

 

Philip Pfeifer — LHP

  • 27-years-old
  • 4 seasons w/ATL

Set to turn 28 on July 15, Pfeifer has received a ton of attention lately thanks to a career-year as a pro in 2019. Across three minor league levels last season (High-A Florida, Mississippi, and Gwinnett), the Vandy product posted a sparkling 2.97 ERA, striking out 10.97 batters per nine in 133.1 innings. Pfeifer started and pitched out of the ‘pen in 2019 (18 starts / 12 app.), but his future in the majors will most likely come via the latter. 

 

Josh Tomlin — RHP

  • 35-years-old
  • 1 season w/Braves

Many of us forget about Tomlin and the fact that he put up 1.0 bWAR and a solid 3.74 ERA last season, making 51 appearances out of the Braves’ bullpen. Sure, he’ll turn 36 in October, but this is a guy who knows how to generate weak contact, not to mention he’s coming back from a great (first) Spring Training in 2020, featuring a 2.70 ERA in four games. Pitching depth… pitching depth… pitching depth. The Braves need all they can get.

Other notables

These are guys that most likely won’t factor into the Braves’ 2020 season but will need whatever development they can get during the remainder of this year. Players not included on the Braves’ active roster, but part of the 60-man, are slated to participate in intra-squad scrimmages and other forms of practice at Coolray Stadium (Gwinnett’s home ballpark). These players will continue to train throughout the regular season and be expected to contribute if/when needed. 

 

Kyle Muller — LHP 

  • 22-years-old
  • 4 seasons w/ATL

A step just behind Anderson above, Muller is at least a year away from debuting in the majors and still has yet to log any time in Gwinnett. However, after nearly 30 starts combined in Mississippi over the last two seasons, featuring a 3.12 ERA, he’s right on track to join Anderson soon.

 

Jared Shuster — LHP

  • 21-years-old
  • Zero seasons w/ATL

He’ll turn 22 at the beginning of August, and the Braves drafted him with their first pick this month intending to develop him quickly. A resurgent performance highlighted Shuster’s time at Wake Forest during a shortened junior season in 2020, but as a hard-throwing lefty with a killer changeup, he also has the tools to be a quick riser in the Braves’ organization. If there were a minor league season this year, I would’ve expected Shuster to receive the Braden Shewmake treatment and find himself in Mississippi before the season’s end. 

 

Braden Shewmake — SS

  • 22-years-old
  • 1 season w/Braves

Speaking of the Braves 21st pick in 2019, Shewmake is coming off an awesome first-season in the Braves’ farm system, hitting .300 with 13 stolen bases across Single-A Rome and Mississippi. I wouldn’t expect him in Atlanta in 2020, but another year of elite contact and defense will have him knocking on the door in 2021. 

 

Shea Langeliers — C

  • 22-years-old
  • 1 season w/ATL

Not all of the Braves’ first-round draftees last year hit the ground running as a pro. Langeliers struggled for a bit, but by the end of the 2019 season, he managed a .255 AVG in 54 games at Rome, including an above-average 41% caught-stealing rate. I feel we have yet to witness Langeliers’ full potential as a professional ballplayer, so his training in 2020 will be crucial. 

 

Logan Brown — C

  • 23-years-old
  • 2 seasons w/ATL

Jonathan Morales — C

  • 25-years-old
  • 5 seasons w/ATL

I’ll cover both Brown and Morales in one excerpt, given they’re both in similar positions (literally) inside the Braves’ organization. Brown was once upon a time a top-30 Braves’ prospect after he hit .272 in rookie ball in 2018. And Morales is a former 25th round pick (2015) who’s a career .254 hitter through five minor league seasons, (having played 40 games combined for Gwinnett in the last two seasons). Neither players are part of the Braves’ organizational depth chart for potential catchers, but both are still hanging in there and hoping to one day get their chance. Brown probably has the higher ceiling of the two, but he hit just .240 in Florida last season, so I’m afraid he still has a bit of work to do. 

 

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