Braves top draft pick Hurston Waldrep makes professional debut

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 24 SEC Baseball Tournament Florida vs Alabama

The Braves recently sent the first group of players from their most recent draft class to their respective teams on the farm, including top draft pick Hurston Waldrep out of Florida, who joined the Single-A Augusta GreenJackets, making his professional debut over the weekend.

On Saturday, Waldrep got the first start of a doubleheader against the Columbia Fireflies, where he tossed three innings of two run ball (one earned), allowing three hits and one walk to go with eight punchouts, including the very first batter he faced.

Many were shocked that Waldrep fell to the 24th pick because he was one of the most highly-touted college arms coming into his junior season after transferring to Florida from Southern Mississippi.

Though he gave up a first-inning double, he settled in and went on to strike out five of the first seven batters he faced, which isn’t a surprise. He’s got nasty stuff, featuring a fastball that tops out in the high-90s, but his most devastating offering is a unique splitter that opponents whiffed on nearly two-thirds of the time in 2023.

He threw 50 pitches in his debut, 33 of which were strikes. If there’s one thing holding him back from rocketing through the Braves farm system, it’s his control. He walked five batters per nine innings for the Gators, which will not cut it at the major league level.

If Atlanta can harness his control, the kid has frontline starter potential. His fastball reached as high as 97 mph, and he displayed his other offerings, including an impressive slider and changeup in the win.

Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire

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