Braves: How is Bryce Ball faring so far in 2021?

Drew Lugbauer

A 24th round pick, Bryce Ball exploded on the scene in his first taste of professional baseball and quickly earned a promotion to Rome, which at the time was the Braves A-ball affiliate. That 2019 season, he played in 62 games and posted a slash line of .325/.443/.614, thanks a remarkable 18 homers and 12 doubles, resulting in him catapulting up prospect lists everywhere. No matter where you look, Ball is well within the Braves top 20 prospects.

The 6’6″ lefty was so impressive that they Braves even included him on taxi squad last season, so 2020 wasn’t a total loss. ┬áStill, the 2021 campaign was the first time most of these prospects played a meaningful game in over a year. Combine that with Ball’s promotion to high-A ball, and this season was primed to be a very telling. So how has he performed thus far?

Well, Ball isn’t quite off to the torrid start that most fans hoped for. The power is still evident, as he’s smacked five homers and eight doubles in just 40 games, but he’s currently batting under the Mendoza Line (.198 average). Still, his OPS is a respectable .709, thanks to a much more palatable .334 OBP. Ball has shown he has no problem taking his free passes, already at 28 on the season.

It’s still way too early to draw any concrete conclusions, but it appears as if the competition has finally caught up to Ball. Now, it’s time to really evaluate how he progresses throughout the season. Ball projects to be a power bat that plays either first base or serves as a DH. I don’t imagine he will ever be a .300 hitter as he rises through the system, but if he can keep hitting home runs and taking his walks, he’ll have a terrific chance to carve out a nice role for himself in the majors.

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