Braves: Ten rising prospects to watch going into 2023

Daniel young Braves

The Braves don’t have much in terms of a farm system anymore, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re in a World Series window, and most of their roster is comprised of good, homegrown talent. Other pieces have been traded away to bolster the Major League roster. Atlanta also just brought in twenty-one new international prospects to help out. One of the reasons the Braves have continued to pump out talent from a weak farm system is development. Guys like Michael Harris, Vaughn Grissom, and Spencer Strider have made huge impacts, and they weren’t exactly at the top of the Braves’ prospect rankings immediately. Here are ten guys I have my eye on going into 2023:

 

RHP JR Ritchie (A)

Ritchie had an impressive debut for the Braves, climbing up to Low-A Augusta before their season finished. There’s a reason the Braves were so high on this high school talent; Ritchie dominated his competition at the prep level. That’s mostly thanks to his hard fastball. Ritchie has a very developed changeup and slider for his age, which is probably why he posted a 0.30 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 39.1 high school innings. So far, Ritchie has a 1.88 ERA over 14.1 innings. He looks to move through the system quickly, especially if he starts off 2023 strong in Augusta, or possibly even Rome.

RHP Owen Murphy (A)

Murphy was the first pick the Braves made in the 2022 draft, making five starts. He had one bad start in Augusta, but other than that, he was pretty solid. He threw four innings of shutout ball with five strikeouts in his season finale. Murphy was a monster in high school, going 9-0 with a 0.12 ERA. He struck out 132 batters and threw four no hitters, including two perfect games. He has a ton of potential on the mound — Murphy, Phillips, and Ritchie really helped the Braves refill the lower levels of the minors.

 

RHP AJ Smith-Shawver (A)

Smith-Shawver has some of the most upside in the system. He has an incredible pitch mix for a guy his age and was one of the two high schoolers signed by the Braves in the 2021 draft, but he’s more akin to the pitchers selected in the 2022 draft. He’ll need a lot of work, but his raw stuff and athletic ability could make him a problem on the mound. The Braves are extremely high on this kid, and so am I.

 

RHP Spencer Schwellenbach (ROK)

We haven’t gotten a look at Schwellenbach yet, but there’s a reason the Braves liked him so much in the 2021 draft, even before his Tommy John Surgery. The shortstop and closer out of Nebraska is one of the best athletes in the system, but the Braves want to use him as a starter. His fastball touches 100 with ease — so there’s a ton of projectability here.

 

RHP Adam Maier (ROK)

Maier was one of the big mysteries of the 2022 draft. Expected to return to the University of Oregon, the Braves gave Maier a bag in the 7th round to sign with Atlanta. While he doesn’t have many innings of work, he has a wicked slider, two-seamer, and changeup combo that creates a ton of weak contact. He may be a bit of a project, but he had some of the best stuff in the 2022 class. He’s recovering from surgery, so he’s a guy the Braves will have to wait and see on.

 

LHP Dylan Dodd (AAA)

Dodd had a rocky start to his limited pro career in 2021, but he bounced back in 2022 and has shown what makes him so interesting as a prospect. The big lefty has an athletic delivery and a nasty changeup, and so far, he has passed AA Mississippi with flying colors (3.11 ERA). He even earned himself a short stint in Gwinnett. Scouts are really high on this kid.

 

SS Cal Conley (AA)

Conley has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2021 MLB Draft. After being seen as a high floor guy, he exploded in 2022, putting up a .738 OPS and 43 extra base hits, including 16 home runs and seven triples. Along with stealing 36 bases, Conley looks like he could be an above average utility player — especially as a switch hitter.

 

RHP Cole Phillips (ROK)

We haven’t seen Phillips yet, but the Braves gave this kid a huge bonus for a reason. Some scouts believe he could have been a top ten pick before he got hurt during his senior season of high school. The 6’3 righty is armed with an athletic delivery, 98 mph fastball, a hard slider, and a developing changeup. If the Braves can unlock this kid’s potential — they got an absolute steal in the third round.

 

OF Brandol Mezquita (A+)

Right now, Mezquita is a little more sizzle than steak, but the Braves don’t have a lot of sizzle in their system. Mezquita is a strong defender with gap-to-gap power — the type of player the Braves have had success developing in recent years. After posting an .854 OPS in 2021, his .710 OPS in 2022 is another step in the right direction as he adjusted to Augusta and Rome.

 

SS Diego Benitez (ROK)

Benitez was the prize of Atlanta’s last international signing class — the 17-year-old is built like a brick house. He has pretty good bat speed, but like most prospects his age, he’s very raw. He profiles as a true five-tool threat, but he’ll have to improve on his .646 OPS before he earns a promotion.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswir

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