With seemingly everyone’s top 100 prospect rankings released over these last several weeks, for the fourth-straight year, FanGraphs wrapped up its prospect coverage with its annual Picks to Click column, highlighting the site’s list of current non-top 100 prospects expected to make next year’s Top 100.
Eric Logenhagen (prospect expert at FG) and former teammate Kiley McDaniel (now at ESPN) have chosen 163 players combined since 2018, with just over 27% (45 players) of their picks making the following year’s list. It’s a tough list to predict, made even more challenging by their rule of not picking the same player twice. Even so, Logenhagen — joined this year by former Astros executive and new FG writer Kevin Goldstein — picked two highly talented Braves prospects (out of 47 players overall) in this year’s column, catcher Shea Langeliers and first baseman/DH Bryce Ball.
FG has yet to cover Atlanta’s prospect list this offseason, as part of the site’s extremely detailed reports published each year, however, both Logenhagen and Goldstein do provide a bit of commentary regarding Langeliers and Ball.
The report on Shea Langeliers
Langeliers, FG’s 7th ranked Braves prospect in 2020, and our 6th ranked player in SportsTalkATL’s 2021 Top 30, is coming off a solid showing from two seasons ago. After being drafted first-overall by Atlanta in the 2019 draft, Langeliers played 54 games with the system’s former Single-A club, the Rome Braves, where he hit .255 with 15 XBH, 34 RBI, and threw out 16 of 39 would-be-base stealers (41 caught-stealing%). The former Baylor star is looked at as a defense-first player, and his 92 wRC+ in 2019 shows that he could be a little better with the bat than originally projected. Although, compared to some of the other top prospect catchers in the sport, Logenhagen and Goldstein still believe it’s Langeliers’ glove that gives him the best shot at soon cracking the next Top 100.
Langeliers joins four other prospect catchers that made the “Behind the Dish” portion of Picks to Click. Here’s what Logenhagen and Goldstein had to say:
“Shea Langeliers and Antonio Gomez are the glove-first guys in this group. Gomez has the higher ceiling (mostly because we know less about his offensive talent and tend to fill in those gaps with positive projection) while Langeliers is a higher-probability prospect. Langeliers’ pro debut left something to be desired in terms of the numbers, but he was pushed to full-season ball and there’s more power in there.”
The report on Bryce Ball
Ball, who was 24th on FG’s 2020 list and 12th in our rankings this offseason, had a much more exciting pro debut. After being selected all the way back in the 24th round of the 2019 draft, Ball started his Braves career in rookie ball, playing 41 games for the now-contracted Danville Braves. With the D’Braves, the big-bodied Ball maintained a .324 AVG, slugged 13 home runs, and tallied 38 RBI on his way to an incredible 177 wRC+. His outstanding hitting resulted in a promotion to Rome, where Ball played his final 21 games. There he kept the momentum going, and in 90 PA, he hit an even better .337 with 4 homers (163 wRC+). Overall, Ball’s above-average power at the plate has many already calling his name to one day become the Braves future designated-hitter once the universal DH returns (probably as soon as 2022).
Ball’s name was included in the final position-player group of Picks to Click, a four-player list of prospects titled “Deep Cuts.” Here’s what Logenhagen and Goldstein had to say about Ball:
“Bryce Ball has objectively big power and needs to hit at an age-appropriate level to be in the mix of 50 FV corner bats typically on the list. Ball is a personal favorite. There are tons of gargantuan, big power, bat-only prospects out there, but he has potentially special power to go with a very good approach and an impressive feel for contact for a long-levered slugger.”
Ball was invited to Atlanta’s spring camp on the same day as Langeliers above. The former Dallas Baptist star isn’t expected to contribute for the Braves at the major league level this coming season. But with an ETA of 2022, if Ball can build off what he accomplished from two seasons ago, we could see him as high as Triple-Gwinnett by the end of this year.