Braves: Travis d’Arnaud comments on Hurston Waldrep’s splitter

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2023 Braves first-round draft pick Hurston Waldrep made a statement in his first eight starts of professional ball last year, recordig a 1.53 ERA and 12.6 K/9 across four levels (A-AAA). The success earned him an invite to major-league Spring Training this year, as he hopes to leave enough of an impression to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“Yeah, absolutely, you see this organization, they like moving guys fast, and obviously last year everything moved really fast, and so seeing what they’ve done in the past and realizing there is always the chance for any spot,” Waldrep said.

Waldrep features a heater that can approach triple digits, but what scouts have raved about since his collegiate days at the University of Florida is the splitter. It’s one of the best pitches in the minors right now, and it’s already being talked about at Braves camp by catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

Waldrep’s splitter is an offering that’s going to be raved about consistently as more eyes become familiar with his stuff. I’ve seen it described positively in a number of different ways, but nobody has put it more perfectly than Michael Baumann of FanGraphs in an article from last July. 

Waldrep’s splitter, or split-change, or forkball, or whatever you want to call it, is a grotesque, hateful thing. It drops ferociously, because the very air is disgusted by it and will not hold it aloft any longer than necessary. When first I witnessed this pitch, I was enraptured and repulsed in equal measure — perhaps one led to the other — as its essence lingered in my sinuses like the aftertaste of a particularly pungent horseradish. College hitters swung and missed at Waldrep’s splitter more than they did Skenes’ slider this past season. It is a weapon.

Waldrep’s fastball/splitter combination gives him an incredibly high floor as a prospect. If, for whatever reason, he doesn’t work out as a starting pitcher, those two offerings alone should allow him to carve out a successful career in the bullpen. However, Waldrep also has a well-developed slider, giving him a helluva three-pitch mix.

Don’t count him out in the battle for the Braves fifth spot in the rotation. This is an organization that loves to give their young talented players opportunities quickly, and Waldrep could be the next in line.

Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire


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