The Braves farm system has received a lot of hate in the rankings from prospect outlets. A large part of that is because of the amount of talent that has graduated recently. However, a couple of years ago, nobody thought Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, and Vaughn Grissom would be what they are today. It’s all about development, and the Braves are arguably the best at preparing their guys for the majors.
Atlanta’s farm system lacks depth, but there is still MLB-ready talent at the top. I expect several new faces to contribute for the Braves at some point next season.
Muller is barely hanging onto his prospect status and is an obvious answer, but I included him anyway. The 6’7″ southpaw will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training next year, and even if he doesn’t win that battle, the Braves could decide to use him out of the bullpen. Although, I wouldn’t expect to see that until later in the season.
Another southpaw, Jared Shuster quietly went about his business this season, ending the year in AAA, where he hit a few bumps in the road. Given all the starting pitching the Braves have, I think it’s more likely we see Shuster in 2024, but if he takes the next step in Gwinnett next season, I’m sure we will see him at some point.
I’m calling my shot and saying we will 100% see Justyn-Henry Malloy at some point next season. In my opinion, he’s the most talented prospect in the system, and prospect guru for The Athletic Keith Law also has some high praise for the Georgia Tech product.
Malloy started in High A this year at age 22 and ended up in Triple A for the last week-plus of the season. Like the other older hitters I mentioned above, Malloy showed excellent plate discipline at all levels, with 97 walks and 138 strikeouts in 133 games this year. He’s the best hitter of this cluster, though, showing better off-speed recognition and ridiculous strength, driving a slider from a right-hander (so he didn’t have the platoon advantage) to right-center for a hard-hit double and turning on average velocity whenever he saw it. I didn’t get him against plus velocity, but didn’t see any issues with his bat speed. I’m surprised he only hit 16 homers this year because everything I saw him hit was loud.
The Braves need to sort out their left field situation because I don’t think Marcell Ozuna or Eddie Rosario is the answer. But if for some reason they don’t add to the position in free agency, it might be because they expect Malloy to contribute sooner than expected.
Tarnok had a cup of coffee in the bigs this season, but he’ll be battling for a roster spot next Spring Training. In Gwinnett, Tarnok posted a 3.68 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 44 innings. I think he has a bright future ahead of him, but the logjam of major-league starting caliber pitchers may prevent him from having much of an impact with the Braves next season.
I had to put Shewmake here because he could potentially contribute if injuries arise, but I’m really down on him. He was not good in Mississippi in 2021, and he was not good for Gwinnett this year. If he doesn’t have a bounce back season with the Stripers in 2023, you’ll see him tumble way down a lot of prospects lists. I already have him outside my top-ten prospects in the organization.
I expect to see Vodnik at some point next season out of the bullpen. The Braves could be without Kenley Jansen, Tyler Matzek, and Luke Jackson next season. They’ll need to replenish their relief core, so it wouldn’t shock me if Vodnik began 2023 on the major-league roster.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire