Braves most MLB ready prospect could be a surprise

Spencer Schwellenbach Braves hat Ray Kerr Owen Murphy

The Braves’ top prospect AJ Smith-Shawver returns to the major-league squad tonight to face the Cubs. It will be the first time he’s pitched for Atlanta since Game 3 of last year’s NLDS. The hope is that Smith-Shawver can show some promising stuff and become a permanent fixture in the Braves rotation; however, there might be another prospect that’s more prepared to make that happen later this year.

On the farm yesterday, Spencer Schwellenbach made just his second start for AA Mississippi, and it was a dandy. He tossed seven scoreless innings with eight punch outs, and perhaps most impressively, he didn’t walk anybody.

Schwellenbach has not allowed a run for Mississippi in his two appearances, surrendering just five hits and one walk with 17 strikeouts over 13 innings. On the season, he’s made eight starts between High-A Rome and AA Mississippi, boasting a 1.80 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 51 strikeouts over 45 innings.

The Braves are an organization known for pushing their top talent through the system quickly, and that could be the case for Schwellenbach this year. He’s a bit of an older prospect, set to turn 24-years-old at the end of the month, and got a late start to his professional career because of Tommy John surgery. Since his return, his run prevention has been elite, in large part thanks to his control. He doesn’t give up many free passes, and now the stuff is really starting to come together as he’s missing a ton more bats this season.

AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep deservedly received most of the hype coming into the season after what they accomplished last year, but they’ve each faced some adversity early in the season, and development is never linear, especially when discussing pitching prospects. Don’t be surprised to look up later in the year and see Spencer Schwellenbach on the mound for the Braves.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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