Braves: Prospects that disappointed during Spring Training 

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On Tuesday, Chase Irle and I looked at which Braves impressed during this year’s shortened Spring Training, so it’s only natural that today we check out who struggled. Like before, Chase will tackle the major-league side and me the prospects. 

I’ve also included each prospect’s rank, per our most recent top-30 prospect list here at the site. The following qualifiers are required for the players below:

  • Batter’s minimum: 10 PA
  • Pitcher’s minimum: 5 IP


#2. Drew Waters, OF

15 G, .167 AVG, .397 OPS, 2 RBI, 3 SB

After starting camp hitless in his first two games, Waters knocked in a couple of 2-out runs in a matchup versus the Blue Jays during the Braves’ third game of Spring Training, which at the time seemed like the start of a strong spring for the 21-year-old switch-hitter. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Waters often looked lost at the plate, and as a result, he struck out 14 times in 24 total at-bats — a horrendous 58.3% K rate (he only walked twice). Also, he didn’t seem to handle his struggles at the plate very well, which for some fans just made Waters’ poor Spring Training performance feel even worse. I refuse to lose faith in the Braves’ second-best prospect after less than 25 exhibition at-bats, but I do believe Waters still has a ways to go regarding his plate discipline and approach at the plate.


 #7. Bryse Wilson, RHP

5.1 IP, 8.44 ERA, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K 

I swear Wilson cannot catch a break… and I feel bad for the guy, but this time might’ve cost him. I’m not saying hope is all lost for the former 4th round pick, but as far as remaining a starting pitcher… well, maybe it’s time to move on. Granted, roughly five innings in Spring Training probably shouldn’t be the end-all performance that ruins Wilson’s starting career. However, with Sean Newcomb, Felix Hernandez and Kyle Wright all pitching well this spring — and Ian Anderson right on the cusp — it may be time for the 22-year-old Wilson to transition to the bullpen. He’ll be on a short leash either way with Triple-A Gwinnett this coming season. 


#8. Braden Shewmake, SS

9 G, .231 AVG, .641 OPS, 2B, 2 RBI

It was a bit surprising to see Shewmake struggle some this spring, especially given how well he played after being drafted 21st overall by the Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft. This kid is a pure contact hitter with a ton of potential power once he fills in his 6-4, 190-pound frame, but the competition in Florida this spring was a little too much for Shewmake. The good news is that he only struck out twice overall, so at least he was consistently making contact. 


#13. Trey Harris, OF

11 G, .200 AVG, .733 OPS, HR, 3 RBI

Honestly, you could argue this one. Harris did finish with a poor AVG this spring, but other than a few too many strikeouts (5), he did well at the plate. Sure, three hits in 15 tries isn’t much to be proud of, but Harris made the most of his hits (1 single / 1 HR / 1 triple), and honestly, the Braves’ reigning Minor League Batter of the Year (2019) set a very high bar for himself after last season. Realistically, we should probably adjust our expectations a bit in 2020, given this will be his first full year in the upper minors.


#14. Alex Jackson, C

7 G, .071 AVG, .259 OPS

I have had quite a few arguments over the last couple of seasons regarding Jackson. Most Braves’ fans don’t look at the 24-year-old catcher as a prospect, but I always have. Although, Jackson hasn’t helped me out lately, at least when he has played against big-league competition, and this spring wasn’t any different. He is just 1-for-27 (.037 AVG) with 13 strikeouts when you count his 4-game stint with the Braves in 2019 and this year’s Spring Training performance. I swear Jackson has legit power and is capable of hitting for an at least acceptable batting average, shown by his 28 homers and .229 AVG in 2019 with Triple-A Gwinnett, but man is he making me look bad. Despite the horrible hitting, Jackson should still enter the 2020 season as the Braves’ back-up, behind Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers.


#21. Bryce Ball, 1B

10 G, .188 AVG, .691 OPS, HR, RBI

Ball’s effortless home run in a game against the Orioles this spring may have made it seem like he had a great Spring Training this year, but he actually did not. The behemoth first baseman struck out in half of his at-bats, which is sort of expected when watching how he swings at the plate. I’m not worried about Ball, though. This is a kid with extraordinary power, and as long as he can keep his K rate from skyrocketing, he’ll have a future in the majors. Ball slugged 17 homers in just 62 games last season — while batting .329 — between rookie ball and Single-A Rome.

Here’s that easy power from Ball…



Small-sample strugglers

Here’s a look at a few Braves’ prospects that didn’t look too good this spring, though they didn’t quite make the cut in terms of plate appearances or innings:


#9. Kyle Muller, LHP

1 IP, 54.00 ERA, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

Boy, it was a rough couple of outings this spring for the Braves second-best lefty pitching prospect. Muller made some strides in 2019 (other than some walk issues), but his Spring Training performance was one to forget. Whether he starts there or winds up earning a midseason promotion, I still expect to see him in Triple-A Gwinnett this coming season.


#26. Thomas Burrows, LHP

3 IP, 6.00 ERA, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K

Burrows is still hanging in there as he enters his age-25 season. The lefty pitched well in Double-A Mississippi in 2019, but once he reached Triple-A Gwinnett, he struggled with walks. Burrows is down toward the bottom of the list when it comes to potential prospect relievers that could contribute for the Braves in 2020, and his middling Spring Training performance didn’t help matters.


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