There really isn’t much need for more confirmation as to just how talented the current Braves’ prospect class is. We have been aware of the organization’s crop of young players for quite some time now. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice to relish in it every now and again. If you were active on the internet Saturday, then your bragging has perhaps already begun.
— Clint Manry (@clint_manry) January 25, 2020
That’s right… FIVE Braves’ prospects made MLB Pipeline’s most recent top-100 list, released on Saturday (you can check it out in its entirety, here). The Braves and seven other organizations were tied with five prospects on the list, with the Rays leading the pack with six prospects inside the top-100, including No. 1 Wander Franco. Let’s go over each Braves’ player, shall we?
No. 13: Cristian Pache, OF
2019 stats (AA/AAA): 130 G | .277 AVG | .802 OPS | 12 HR | 61 RBI | 8 SB
Pache just keeps gaining more attention each year, as he made some very impressive strides with his plate discipline in 2019 and continued to show signs that there is some power in that swing of his. However, Pache moved back two spots since Pipeline’s rankings last year, from No. 11 to No. 13 this time around. Two spots is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and Pache’s prospect stock is arguably higher than it has ever been, but that goes to show you how crazy good prospects are these days.
No. 26: Drew Waters, OF
2019 stats (AA/AAA): 134 G | .309 AVG | .819 OPS | 7 HR | 52 RBI | 16 SB
For me, all Waters lacks is the plate discipline gains of Pache from basically being a 1-B in the Braves’ system instead of No. 2 — him and Pache are that close. You can see from Waters’ 2019 batting average that he is an elite bat at the plate, and that was on full display in the first few months of the season last year, as he became the fastest Southern League (Double-A) player ever to reach 100 hits in a season, not to mention he won the league’s MVP award. Although, a career-year evidently wasn’t enough for Pipeline to move Waters up, as he fell three spots from last year’s list (No. 23 to No.26). What more can the man do?
No. 37: Ian Anderson, RHP
2019 stats (AA/AAA): 26 starts | 135.2 IP | 8-7 | 3.38 ERA | 11.4 K/9 | 4.3 BB/9
Anderson’s ability to both generate a ton of strikeouts AND maintain such consistent results in the run prevention department has enabled him to morph into arguably one of the best prospect pitchers in Braves’ history. Yes, TINSTAAPP — There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect — is a term for a reason, as the volatility of a young pitcher’s performance is about as predictable as the weather two weeks from now, but given Anderson has been mowing down batters for four years now… I think it’s safe to say the guy is legit.
No. 52: Kyle Wright, RHP
2019 stats (MLB/AAA): 25 starts | 3 app | 132 IP | 11-7 | 6.43 ERA | 8.75 K/9 | 4.35 BB/9
Of the four Braves’ prospects I’ve listed thus far, Wright is perhaps the only one that deserves to fall in Pipeline’s rankings compared to last year — which he did, down from No. 35 to No. 52. There were several different reasons for Wright’s struggles in 2019 (primarily mechanical problems), but none of that matters going forward, as he has a good bit of work to do in regaining his prospect stock. One thing about being a pitcher in the Braves’ system is there’s constant turnover in terms of hype; it comes with the territory when you’re part of an organization that’s so rich in pitching talent. Hopefully Wright doesn’t become one those many used-to-be future aces. In my opinion, his fastball and curveball shouldn’t allow that to happen.
No. 70: Shea Langeliers, C 63
2019 stats (A): 54 G | .255 AVG | .652 OPS | 2 HR | 34 RBI | 41% CS
I have to admit, after checking in on Langeliers in August of last season I began to get a little skeptical about just how smart it was for the Braves to spend their first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft on the former Baylor catcher, as he was hitting just .222 following June and July (though, granted that was only after his first 30 games as a pro). But Langeliers made a helluva comeback, slashing .281/.327/.323 in August and ending the season with a very respectable .255 AVG. I’m still a little hesitant when it comes to his bat, but Langeliers already has the makeup and the glove to potentially become an everyday MLB player behind the plate. It’s still too early to make too much of a definite assessment on the Braves’ top pick, as 54 games is a ridiculous sample size to analyze.