Braves: Hurston Waldrep experiencing growing pains in AA

Braves roster moves

It didn’t take long for Hurston Waldrep to make himself a household name across Braves Country after he was drafted in the first round last year.

A former star for the Florida Gators, Waldrep impressed the entire organization in his first taste of professional baseball, turning heads at every stop with a fastball that could reach the high 90s and a devastating splitter, which many scouts called the best secondary offering from any pitcher in the 2023 draft class. It only took Waldrep seven starts to reach AAA Gwinnett, and he was virtually unhittable at every level.

A: 1 starts, 3 innings, 3.00 ERA, 8 strikeouts

A+: 3 starts, 12 innings, 0.75 ERA, 17 strikeouts

AA: 3 starts, 10 innings, 2.70 ERA, 11 strikeouts

AAA: 1 starts, 4.1 innings, 0.00 ERA, 5 strikeouts

Waldrep’s impressive performances earned him his first opportunity to join the Braves at Spring Training, and there wasn’t a soul watching that didn’t come away thinking he would be an impact player in Atlanta sooner rather than later.

Most expect Hurston Waldrep to make his MLB debut at some point in 2024, and the injury to Spencer Strider only makes that more likely. With that being said, he did begin the year in AA and is experiencing his first bit of adversity as a professional.

Through three starts, Waldrep has only made it through 13 innings and has already given up 11 earned runs (7.82 ERA). His strikeout rate is also sitting well below 20%, and opponents are hitting .390 against him. The issue has been the fastball, an offering that’s getting crushed early and often this season.

It’s only a few starts, so there’s absolutely no reason to be too concerned, but it does serve as a stark reminder that Hurston Waldrep entered the season with just eight professional starts under his belt. There’s still a chance he makes his MLB debut this year, but it may not be as sure of a thing as we all thought about a month ago, especially if some of the other young arms step up. Like we’ve seen with Darius Vines recently.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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