Monday was a big day for Minor League Baseball as most opening day rosters were released, including three of the four full-season affiliates for the Braves. Save for Triple-A Gwinnett, we now know exactly who will be where within Atlanta’s farm system this season, and some of these names may surprise you. With the minor league season set to begin on Tuesday, May 4th, below is a look at each opening day roster for the Braves full-season farm clubs…
Mississippi Braves (AA)
The M-Braves will open their season with a six-game homestand versus the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, starting Tuesday at 7:35 PM (ET).
Meet our 2021 Opening Day Roster!
More Info > https://t.co/M1Qsld7Lvb pic.twitter.com/6ODGjd1Fdp
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 3, 2021
- The M-Braves opening roster mostly looks like we probably all expected, especially on the offensive side. Outfielders Trey Harris and Justin Dean were practically a given to start 2021 in Double-A as the former hadn’t played at the level yet and the latter only participated in 41 games back in 2019.
- I’m really glad to see Jefrey Ramos starting in Mississippi, which if you don’t recall, is a guy that — as a 20-year-old — hit .241 with nine home runs and 16 doubles (92 wRC+) with the High-A Florida Fire Frogs, and this was following a 2018 campaign in which he slugged 16 homers in Rome. I’m interested in seeing what Ramos really is… and we’ll surely find out with him in the upper-minors now.
- Shortstop Braden Shewmake will need to do better in Mississippi than his .217 AVG (53 wRC+) from 2019, and I’m confident he will, now two years later. The former no. 2 pick for the Braves in the ’19 draft, Shewmake is one that could move up to Triple-A really quickly if he plays well to start the season. He’s essentially the only true shortstop — even though he could potentially move to third as he progresses — in the Braves minor league organization that has real MLB potential, so Atlanta will want to keep him challenged in 2021.
- The pitching looks right in line with what many expected, though there are a few I was pleasantly surprised to see on the M-Braves to start the season. Southpaw starter Mitch Stallings is one I didn’t think would begin 2021 in Double-A, given he only had three starts at the Single-A level from 2019. Stallings was a mid-tier prospect coming out of Duke, but he’s been dominant so far as a pro, posting a 2.62 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 primarily at Danville. This will be a great challenge for him.
Rome Braves (A+)
Rome will begin its inaugural 2021 campaign as the Braves High-A club (replacing the Florida Fire Frogs) with a 12-game road trip facing both the Winston-Salem Dash (six games) and Greensboro Grasshoppers (six games). The R-Braves opener is set for Tuesday, May 4th at 7:00 PM (ET).
#Braves top prospects No. 7 @JaredS_14 & No. 10 @MoneyyyMikeee headline our 2021 Opening Day Roster! 7 of the @Braves top 30 prospects open their 2021 season with new High-A affiliate! #BaseballIsBack
FULL ROSTER: https://t.co/ELfWFf4TfW pic.twitter.com/Xvzwh1dSOK
— Rome Braves (@TheRomeBraves) May 3, 2021
- Three of the Braves 2020 draft picks — pitchers Bryce Elder and Jared Shuster, and outfielder Jesse Franklin V — will get the rare opportunity this season to kick start their pro careers at the High-A level. Franklin had the better collegiate career of the three, hitting .287 with a .905 OPS in two seasons at Michigan, while Shuster managed a 6.17 ERA in 128 ⅓ career innings at Wake Forest and Elder posted a 3.42 ERA at Texas; but all of these guys have plenty of upside entering 2021.
- For obvious reasons, both Bryce Ball and Michael Harris are two players in Rome that everyone will be following closely, with the former drawing excitement because of what he’s already done as a pro hitter… and the latter because of what he’s capable of doing both as a hitter and a defender. Ball may not be in Rome very long in 2021 given his age (turns 23 in July), but Harris — 20-years-old — could be with the R-Braves for most or all year.
- You may have never heard of Kevin Josephina, but this is a guy that can play everywhere in the infield and has shown a solid bat so far. He is 24 and coming off a 2019 campaign in which he hit .258 with 26 XBH at High-A Florida.
Augusta GreenJackets (A)
Expanding into South Carolina, the Braves new Single-A affiliate, the GreenJackets, will begin its inaugural season as Atlanta’s affiliate with a six-game series at home versus the Columbia Fireflies. You can check out the Braves newest farm team on Tuesday, May 4th at 7:05 PM (ET).
The Roster is set for Opening Night! Take a look!
Read More Here: https://t.co/oRkWxFXNDZ pic.twitter.com/G1dc6qWDVC
— Augusta GreenJackets (@GreenJackets) May 3, 2021
- As you can see in the graphic above, pitcher Tyler Owens and shortstop Vaugn Grissom are expected to be the main leaders for Augusta to start 2021 as both are ranked prospects within the Braves system. Owens is coming off a solid first pro season back in 2019 as an 18-year-old, pitching to a 4.28 ERA in 27 ⅓ innings combined in the GCL and at Danville. He could become much more well-known by the end of 2021. Then there’s Grissom, who like Owens, impressed in his first taste of pro baseball. The former 11th round pick hit .288 with 11 XBH in 44 games with the GCL Braves two seasons ago, and now 20-years-old, he has an opportunity to become a potential shortstop-of-the-future for the organization if he can continue to wield a plus-bat over a full season.
- Stephen Paolini and Willie Carter are also two outfielders that should garner some attention with the GreenJackets. Paolini didn’t perform exactly as expected in his inaugural season in 2019, hitting just .192. But as a 5th round pick two years ago, he could improve his stock in a full season in 2021. Carter wasn’t a well known prospect in the 2019 draft, taken in the 34th round from a small college. However — albeit a bit old for the level (22-years-old) — he posted a .242 AVG with 15 XBH and seven stolen bases in 52 games with Danville two years ago.
I don’t know about you, but after a whole season of no minor league baseball, I’m beside myself with excitement that we finally get to see these young guys play again in 2021. I think Chase put it best in his 10 Prospects to Watch post from Monday, by saying “it almost gives you a sense of accomplishment when you watch a kid you’ve been keeping track of burst onto the scene and have success at the top level.” These kids are the future of the Braves big league team, and it’s obviously crucial they’re given a chance to develop… which unfortunately wasn’t able to happen in 2020.
Also, be sure to check SportsTalkATL daily during the minor league season. This year, I will be posting farm reports daily, providing a brief recap of each Braves affiliate and its top performers. These reports will start hitting the site on Wednesday morning and will continue every morning throughout the 2021 season, covering all Braves minor league games from the night before. So stay tuned.
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