Because of graduations and trades, the Braves feature arguably the weakest farm system in baseball. The Athletic’s Keith Law recently ranked it 29th out of 30 teams, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t prospects in the minors worth monitoring. Here are a few names we could see make their MLB debuts in 2023.
Shuster was the Braves first-round pick in the shortened 2020 MLB draft, which only consisted of five rounds. Despite that, the Braves made great use of it, as that draft has already produced two major-league talents in Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder. Shuster could be next. He spent last season primarily in Mississippi but ended it in Gwinnett, posting a very respectable 3.29 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) across the two levels. The Braves have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their rotation depth, so it will be difficult for Shuster to earn a permanent role, but if he continues to make strides in Gwinnett, he should at least earn a spot start or two in Atlanta during the season.
Dodd was a third-round selection in the 2021 draft, but while he might not have the first-round status of a guy like Shuster, he’s just as likely to make his MLB debut at some point in 2023. He’s a 6-2 southpaw that recorded a 3.36 ERA across three levels last season (A+-AAA). In his only start for the Stripers in 2022, Dodd struck out seven over 6.2 innings. I expect him to begin the year with Gwinnett, and if he thrives, he has just as much of a chance as Shuster to make a spot start at some point next season.
Vodnik has the potential to make an appearance out of the Braves bullpen in 2023. The excitement surrounding him stems from his fastball, which tops out in the high-90s. Vodnik is a high strikeout guy that went 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA and 10.7 K/9 over 27.2 innings with the Stripers last season. He’s one of the more exciting arms in the system, but he will need to harness his control if he wants to make a significant impact this season.
Shewmake was a first-round draft pick in 2019, but he hasn’t panned out as the Braves hoped to this point in his career. He followed up a dismal 2021 campaign with a respectable season in Gwinnett last year, hitting .259 with a .715 OPS over 76 games. The power the Braves thought he would grow into hasn’t been realized, but there’s a chance he figures it out and makes his MLB debut in 2023.
Vines is another spot start candidate for the 2023 season. He really impressed after being called up to Gwinnett, posting a 3.21 ERA over seven appearances (five starts). What’s impressive about Vines is his control. He’s only walked 2.6 batters per nine innings over his minor league career while striking out 10.1 batters per nine.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire