If you feel like you’re reading one of these every day, it’s because you are. The Braves went back to their bread and butter during the 2023 MLB Draft, focusing on high-upside college pitchers throughout, and the results are already extremely promising.
First-round pick Hurston Waldrep out of Florida has dominated each time he’s stepped on the mound. He’s given up just one run over five outings (18 innings) while punching out a ridiculous 29 batters. After starting the year in Low-A Augusta, he’s already worked his way up to AA Mississippi. It’s not absurd to say he could be in AAA early next year, and given the way the Braves have been aggressive with their young arms, he could make his MLB debut next season.
Yesterday, I talked about Cade Kuehler and Spencer Schwellenbach — two other top 5 prospects within the Braves organization. Kuehler — a second-round pick in the 2023 draft — has yet to allow a run in his first seven innings of professional ball. While Schwellenbach — a second-round pick in the 2021 draft — continued his stellar first season in the minors after undergoing Tommy John surgery, tossing six perfect innings on Wednesday.
Today, the conversation is about another second-round selection from the 2023 draft, Drue Hackenberg. After just 5.1 innings with Low-A Augusta, where he recorded 12 strikeouts, he’s making the jump all the way to AA Mississippi to join Hurston Waldrep.
RHP Drue Hackenberg has been promoted to Double-A Mississippi
Hackenberg, drafted in the 2nd round in the 2023 Draft, made two starts with an ERA of 0.00 and 12 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. pic.twitter.com/TyHU1csIRi
— Augusta GreenJackets (@GreenJackets) September 7, 2023
Hackenberg was a bit of a surprise pick in the second round, especially considering the Braves went over slot to sign him for $2 million. He struggled this year with the Virginia Tech Hokies, posting an unsightly 5.80 ERA and 1.629 WHIP. However, the Braves clearly saw something in the 21-year-old, and he’s obviously impressed enough in just a couple of outings to skip High-A altogether.
Everywhere you look, Atlanta’s farm system is ranked near the bottom of the barrel, but you can’t argue with the results. Few organizations can hold a candle to the way the Braves draft and develop. These are some young arms to get excited about, and a couple of them could reach the majors in the near future.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire