Braves GM expects 2023 first-round pick to contribute in 2024

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The Braves don’t have a great farm system, but the club somehow continually produces MLB talent, and the next crop is in the form of two starters with frontline potential — A.J. Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep.

AJSS has already made his MLB debut and will be in line to potentially contribute in Atlanta this season. He features a fastball that kisses triple digits and a wipeout slider but still has plenty to work on, especially if he wants to realize his full potential.

I’m higher on Waldrep, and Alex Anthopoulos expects him to make his big league debut in 2024.

The 2023 first-round pick has all the potential in the world, and a lot of it is because of his splitter. Waldrep’s splitter is a unicorn pitch, inducing a swing-and-miss 64% of the time.

Just a couple of months after the Braves took Waldrep with the 24th overall pick, the University of Florida pitcher posted a 1.53 ERA over 29 1/3 innings across four levels, striking out 41 batters and walking 16.

Waldrep has front-line starter potential, featuring a fastball in the high 90s, that devastating splitter, and a plus-slider. As is with a lot of young arms, control has been a problem for him in college. Those issues flashed in the minors, but the stuff is absolutely elite and should get him to Atlanta in no time.

The Braves rotation is beginning to take shape with Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Bryce Elder returning. The club acquired Reynaldo Lopez, who they want to try out as a starter, but there are plenty of arms waiting in the wings for that fifth and final spot, including Hurston Waldrep.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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