Braves: Prospects that impressed during Spring Training

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The latest report from MLB on Monday confirmed what most of us probably already suspected — that baseball will still have to wait, but more precisely… the 2020 season won’t begin until at least mid-May at the earliest, as the US government has now recommended restricting all events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The current coronavirus outbreak has officially impacted major league baseball for almost a week now, and the Braves have been inactive since its last game on March 12 — a 5-3 win over the Tigers. But with 19 games completed during Spring Training, there seems to be enough of a sample size to determine the team’s winners from camp; and as our own Chase Irle did with the club’s major leaguers earlier, I’m here to detail the Braves’ prospects that impressed the most over the three weeks of exhibition games.

Baseball may not be back for a while, but the following prospects sure did leave an excellent impression.

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


#1. Cristian Pache, OF

13 G, .269 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB

Wearing no. 68 during camp, Pache again showed out in Spring Training for the second-straight year (in 2019 he hit .359 in 24 games). Unfortunately, the last few weeks were cancelled, as Pache was fun to watch, but I think it’s quite evident that the Braves’ top prospect is ready for an MLB debut at some point this coming season… perhaps even earlier than initially expected. However, Pache’s struggles with plate discipline did pop back up while in Florida, and may be a severe problem for him once called up (11 K / 1 BB in 26 spring ABs). Regardless, he looks like a player that could easily contribute to the big league team right now.


#3. Ian Anderson, RHP

5.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Anderson was probably the guy everyone was most interested in seeing this spring, considering he’s both the Braves’ top pitching prospect and the fact that he struggled a bit with his Triple-A promotion at the tail end of the 2019 season. But all-in-all I’d say it was a win for the soon to be 22-year-old. Anderson kept his walks to a minimum and didn’t allow a single home run in his one start and two relief appearances, hopefully meaning a big year is on tap for the regular season; maybe even a big-league debut at some point?


#4. Kyle Wright, RHP

13.1 IP, 2.03 ERA, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 15 K

After posting an 8.69 ERA and losing his starting job with the Braves in 2019, Wright entered Spring Training this year with perhaps more to prove than any other prospect in the organization. The Braves’ former no. 5 overall pick couldn’t have bounced back any better as he struck out over 30% of the batters he faced this spring and allowed just one home run. Wright’s strong performance in Florida should give GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager Brian Snitker a lot to think about regarding the team’s no. 5 starter to start the regular season, especially given that he was the last to work an outing before Spring Training was canceled. Wright tossed a two-hitter versus the Tigers last Thursday — the Braves final Spring Training game — striking out three in five innings. 


#5. Tucker Davidson, LHP

6.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K

Perhaps the biggest riser, in terms of excitement regarding Braves’ pitching prospects, Davidson has made serious strides during the past offseason. The almost 24-year-old added muscle to his frame and velocity to his fastball over the winter, and certainly impressed during Spring Training. If it wasn’t for the Braves’ open competition in its starting rotation, Davidson probably would’ve gotten a couple of starts this spring, but instead was tasked with five relief appearances. There’s a slim chance he sees time in the Braves’ bullpen during the 2020 season, but more than likely, Davidson will get a full year in Triple-A Gwinnett with a solid shot at competing for a big-league spot on the starting staff in 2021.


#6. Shea Langeliers, C

8 G, .429 AVG, 1.110 OPS, 1 HR, 5 RBI

We knew this kid was elite behind the plate, but given his slow start in Single-A Rome last season — where he finished with a .652 OPS in 54 games — there was still some uncertainty as to how well he could swing the bat now as a pro. Well, Langeliers assured us that he’s just fine at the plate as he reached base in nearly half of his at-bats during Spring Training, while only striking out three times in 14 tries. Just picking a random day earlier this month (March 6)… Langeliers replaced Tyler Flowers in the lineup and wound up going 2-for-2 in a 7-5 win over the Red Sox. After that game, the Braves’ first pick from 2019’s draft was batting a ridiculous .556 with a 1.489 OPS. Watch out William Contreras; the Braves may have just found its new catcher of the future. 


#16. Greyson Jenista, OF

9 G, .250 AVG, 1.107 OPS, 2 HR, 2 RBI

Entering his age-23 season, Jenista seems to have shaken off a tough 2019 campaign. His numbers from this spring may not stand out as much as some of the others listed here, but Jenista’s strong performance in Florida is rather significant when taking into account how high of a draft pick he was just two years ago and how bad he regressed last season. The Braves currently have a nice selection of talented prospect outfielders, but the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jenista has the potential to become one of the best in the organization, outside of Pache and Drew Waters of course. 


#20. Patrick Weigel, RHP

7.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 8 K

Weigel capped off his spring with a laboring save last Wednesday against the Twins, allowing two runs from three hits in his one inning of work. Most importantly, though, the 6-6, 240-pounder kept with it and got the job done as the Braves held on to its one-run lead and won 3-2. Weigel may find himself working out of the bullpen often in 2020, now that the reins have been entirely removed since his Tommy John surgery back in the summer of 2017. If 2019 is any indication — when he posted a 2.73 ERA with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett — I suspect the Braves will find a role for the righty at some point during the 2020 regular season. 


Top super small-sample performers 

Here’s a look at a few Braves’ prospects that looked good this spring but didn’t quite make the cut in terms plate appearances or innings:


#12. Huascar Ynoa, RHP

3.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, 4 K

As a 21-year-old last season, Ynoa surprisingly made his MLB debut for the Braves, though unfortunately he was hit pretty hard in his two relief appearances. I’m not sure if he’s realistically an option for the team’s bullpen in 2020, but Ynoa did well in his limited time on the mound this spring.


#15. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP

2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 2 H, ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Regarded — at least by me — as the top Braves’ starting pitcher prospect, among the second-tier of pitchers, Cruz entered this spring coming off a solid 2019 season in High-A Florida and Double-A Mississippi — which at the former, featured a no-hitter. He’s still a couple of years away from making big league contributions, but Cruz held his own for the Braves in his two appearances in Spring Training and even notched a save in one of his outings.

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