Braves: Top players from Week 1 of the Minor League season

Vaughn Grissom

We’ve made it to the first Monday of the 2021 season, so let’s take a look at the hottest Braves minor league players through the first week of play…

 

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers

This year’s Gwinnett club has started off hot, winning five of its first six games. You could probably list the entire Stripers’ lineup as hot as the offense as a whole squad kicked off the 2021 season on fire. Gwinnett isn’t just winning games… they’re crushing opponents, outscoring teams by a score of 58-31 (+27 run differential) through its first six games. 

 

Tucker Davidson, LHP

1 start, 1-0, 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K

One of the organization’s top left-handed pitching prospects, Davidson started his 2021 campaign with a gem this past Friday versus Charlotte. 

 

Blessed with a 7-0 lead in the opening inning, the 25-year-old Davidson put together a quality-start as he allowed just one run from three hits in seven strong innings of work, while also striking out six Knights batters — good enough to earn the win. Davidson was one of the top arms in Double-A and Triple-A back in 2019, and it’ll most likely be that way again at the latter level this season. 

 

Johan Camargo, 1B/3B

6 G, .348 AVG, 3 HR, 7 RBI

Johan has hit safely in each of his first six games for Gwinnett this season, which includes a two-homer game on Saturday…

 

Camargo has always enjoyed his time in the minors as a pro, as he’s currently hitting nearly .350 in 2021, after hitting .483 with the Stripers in 2019, .268 in High-A and Triple-A in 2018, and .301 in Rookie ball and Triple-A in 2017. In parts of nine minor league seasons, Camargo sports a .285 AVG with 20 homers and 209 RBI in 567 games. It would be great if he could figure out his approach at the plate in Gwinnett and eventually become a contributor in Atlanta again. 

 

Abraham Almonte, OF 

6 G, .400 AVG, 3 XBH, 11 RBI

The 31-year-old Almonte is currently 8 for his first 20 so far in 2021, and his Week 1 performance featured a pair of three-hit games, one last Friday and one Sunday. Friday’s hat trick also included the outfielder’s first home run of the season…

 

In the majors, Almonte is nothing more than a career .237 hitter that’s only tallied 18 homers over parts of eight seasons. However, in the minors, he’s an above-average player and one Gwinnett will count on for his production at the plate. 

 

Connor Johnstone, RHP

2 G, 1-0, 8 IP, 2 H, 6 K

Johnstone made a scoreless three-inning relief appearance on Opening Day against Charlotte and then started Saturday’s game, tossing a one-hitter in five innings. The 26-year-old is having a much-needed strong start in his second stint in Triple-A, coming three years after his first try when he posted a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings with the Stripers back in 2018. Johnstone isn’t considered a prospect, but he’ll still be a crucial arm for Gwinnett in 2021.

 

Orlando Arcia, SS

6 G, .370 AVG, 5 HR, 8 RBI

After starting the 2021 season in the majors with the Brewers and going 1 for 11 in his first four games there, the Braves acquired Arcia via trade in exchange for a pair of relievers (Chad Sobotka and Patrick Weigel). Well, the veteran shortstop has done nothing but absolutely crush the ball in Gwinnett as he leads the Triple-A East league with five home runs already, including three during Sunday’s win. 

Here’s one of Arcia’s three long balls from Sunday — a 466-foot bomb…

 

Like Camargo above, Arcia has hit safely in all six games he played in during Week 1, including three multi-hit games already. With some decent speed, plus defense and a little pop, this is a fun player to watch at any level. 

 


 

AA – Mississippi Braves 

Mississippi’s 2021 season started a day late as rain spoiled its Opening Day matchup with the Blue Wahoos of Pensacola last Tuesday. Offensively, the M-Braves have started a bit slow, and in turn, the team’s first win didn’t come until this past Saturday night, their fifth game of the year. However, the pitching has been pretty solid, and recently, the bats are beginning to wake up. 

 

Shea Langeliers, C

5 G, .188 AVG, 3 XBH, 4 RBI

I know the sub-.200 AVG doesn’t exactly jump off the screen like a lot of these other players listed, but I’ve got Langeliers here simply because his swing and approach at the plate looks excellent already in 2021… and this is a guy that topped out at the Single-A level two years ago. I mean, look at how Langeliers sits on this slider for a home run this past Saturday…

 

As a catcher already blessed with above average skills behind the plate defensively, mashing mistake pitches is something that will earn him a ton of money as a big leaguer. We should start seeing that AVG creep up some in Week 2. 

 

Trey Harris, OF

6 G, .263 AVG, SB, 2 BB, 2 K

Jumping three levels in a single season usually means a hitter is tearing it up… and Harris did just that two years ago, posting a .323 AVG with 14 HR, 26 doubles and eight stolen bases in 131 combined games between Single-A, High-A and Double-A in 2019. He’s not off to exactly that type of start this year, but it’s still exciting to see that his .281 AVG in 41 games with the M-Braves a couple of years ago was no fluke. As Mississippi’s no. 3 hitter and starting right fielder, look for Harris to finish with big numbers in 2021. 

 

Victor Vodnik, RHP

1 start, 4 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K

At just 21-years-old and with just 67 ⅓ innings pitched above rookie ball under his belt, Vodnik was impressive during his start this past Saturday, allowing only three singles against Pensacola…

 

Vodnik is an arm to pay close attention to as it appears the Braves — after he spent all of 2018 and ’19 as a reliever — are planning to develop the righty into a power-pitching starter. He may be built small but his arm is certainly big. 

 

Hayden Deal, LHP

1 start, 0-1, 5 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 2 K

Deal was given the assignment of starting Game 1 of Mississippi’s double-header last Wednesday, and though it wasn’t necessarily a dominant outing, the southpaw still managed to give the M-Braves a chance to win. 

 

Deal is also in his age-26 campaign, though this is his first shot in Double-A, having turned in an excellent season with High-A Florida two years ago, featuring a 3.24 ERA in 119 ⅔ innings. With most of the organization’s top pitching prospects having already reached Gwinnett, Deal will be an important starter in Mississippi this season.

 

Matt Withrow, RHP 

2 G, 6 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, 7 K

Withrow started Mississippi’s series finale against Pensacola on Sunday, going four innings and allowing just two hits with a pair of strikeouts. The righty also worked in relief last Wednesday, tossing a couple of hitless innings and striking out five. 

 

There are several minor league arms in the Braves organizations that work under that hybrid role of being both a starter and reliever, and Withrow is probably one of the top guys that we’ll see do both in 2021. This is the 27-year-old’s second stint at the Double-A level, so it’s crucial he posts some solid numbers this season. 

 


 

A+ – Rome Braves

Like Gwinnett above, Rome has started off hot this season, thanks to an offense that’s seemingly scoring at will. The R-Braves kicked off 2021 3-0, losing their first game just this past Friday against Winston-Salem. Rome scuffled a bit to finish Week 1, losing their last two of three, including an extra-inning loss on Sunday. 

 

Michael Harris, OF

6 G, .280 AVG, 2B, 5 RBI

The hype regarding Harris this offseason was Acuna-like, and so far, the 20-year-old has lived up to the excitement. 

 

After playing in just 22 games at the Single-A level in 2019, Harris has managed to hit safely in all but one of his six games in High-A this season, including a 3-for-4 performance on Opening Day last Tuesday versus Winston-Salem. Watch out, this kid could be in Mississippi in a few months. 

 

Cody Milligan, 2B

5 G, .438 AVG, 5 RBI, 2 SB 

Maybe you haven’t heard much about Milligan, and that would be quite understandable given he was a 9th round pick two years ago, and so far hasn’t done much as a pro (he hit .252 in 59 games in Danville in 2019). However, Milligan is having a nice start to the 2021 campaign, and his approach at the plate is strong, featuring two walks to go with three strikeouts. 

 

Logan Brown, C

5 G, .286 AVG, 2 XBH, 7 RBI

We don’t talk about Logan Brown enough, who owns a .273 AVG in 140 games over the last few seasons. The 24-year-old and former 35th round pick has been a consistent performer during his time as a pro, and he’s continued with that quality into 2021. Brown also appears to be swinging a more powerful bat so far as he slugged a grand slam for Rome last Wednesday…

 

For Week 1, Brown has at least one hit in all but one of his five games, including back-to-back two-hit performances last Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Rickey DeVito, RHP 

1 start, 5 IP, 5 H, ER BB, 6 K

DeVito started Thursday’s matchup versus Winston-Salem and made the headline of that day’s farm report here at SportsTalkATL. The 22-year-old former 8th round pick allowed just five hits — all singles — in his 68-pitch outing and looks like a fast riser within the Braves organization this year. This is DeVito’s second stint with Rome, although his previous stretch with the team came back in 2019 when the club was a Single-A affiliate. 

 


 

A – Augusta GreenJackets

The Braves brand new Single-A affiliate played some good ball this past week, winning its first two games by a combined score of 9-1 against Columbia, before beating the same team 13-2 on Saturday night.

 

Willie Carter, OF

4 G, .538 AVG, 3 XBH, 6 RBI

If you’ve been keeping up with Augusta this season, then I’m sure you’ve already read plenty about Carter as he’s been involved in essentially every offensive play for the GreenJackets in 2021. And the dude does it with Ozuna-like swag. I mean, look at this home run/bat flip…

 

Carter has hit safely in all four games so far, and in his last three games, he’s 6 for 11 (.545 AVG) with a homer, a double and six RBIs. This kid is a lot of fun to watch. 

 

Ricardo Rodriguez, C

4 G, .385 AVG, 4 XBH, 5 RBI, 1 K

I mentioned in a tweet a few days ago about how essentially every catcher in the Braves organization is doing well at the plate, and Ricardo Rodriguez was one of them…

 

Rodriguez had a huge game this past Saturday against Columbia when he finished 4-for-5 with a home run and two doubles to go with three RBIs. Rodriguez actually played at the Single-A level in 2019, but an underwhelming .238 AVG with no homers in 67 games forced him to repeat the level this season. 

 

Alec Barger, RHP

1 start, 4 IP, H, ER, 4 BB, 5 K

Last Wednesday (Augusta’s Opening Day), the 23-year-old Barger took the bump and, despite some obvious control issues (four walks), the former 17th round pick pitched well enough to allow just one hit in his 70-pitch outing. Barger struggled in his first taste of pro ball two years ago, posting a 5.85 ERA in 40 innings with Rookie-Advanced Danville in 2019. 

 

Roddery Munoz, RHP 

1 start, 4 IP, H, BB, 7 K

Munoz was all over Twitter on Sunday as the 21-year-old impressed with his big league gas.

 

Munoz struck out all three opposing batters to open up the game, and followed up with three up-and-three down in the 2nd inning as well. A double in the 3rd and a walk in the 4th was all the Fireflies could muster versus Munoz as his upper-90s MPH heater was just too much. 

 

The Domincan threw 61 pitches during his outing, 39 of which were strikes. This kid is must-see TV for Augusta. 

 

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