In the past few weeks, the Braves have seen several prospects make appearances in the majors. Most notably, Tucker Davidson and Kyle Muller put together several high-quality performances on the mound. Unfortunately, Davidson had to hit the 60-day IL with left forearm tightness, but when he returns, he and Muller look like they could be critical pieces to the pitching staff moving forward.
The train of Gwinnett pitchers making the short drive to Atlanta in recent weeks doesn’t stop there, though. Kyle Wright was called up on Wednesday to make a start after Max Fried hit the IL with a blister issue. Hell, the Braves even had 37-year-old journeyman Jesse Chavez pitch last night, making a spot start in a bullpen game.
The combination of poor pitching, particularly out of the bullpen, and injures has the Braves turning everywhere for some help, so here are a few other prospects they could turn to in the not-too-distant future.
Jasseel De La Cruz
De La Cruz is sort of the forgotten pitcher in the Braves group of top 10 prospects. However, he’s next in line to receive an opportunity on the major-league mound, and while the Braves likely aren’t itching to call him up for a spot start, they may not have a choice if injuries keep piling up. De La Cruz has a 6.28 ERA for Gwinnett this season, but the sample size is small, just 28.2 innings; plus, his peripherals are much more encouraging. He’s striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings compared to 3.5 walks per nine, which is palatable, and he boasts a much more respectable 1.360 WHIP. De La Cruz’s problem has been the long ball, surrendering 1.6 per nine innings, but that’s typical for a young pitcher making the jump to AAA ball.
Remember this guy? Yeah, he’s still the Braves’ #1 prospect after an abysmal first extended stint in the big leagues, but he’s been better in 14 AAA games, recording a .742 OPS with two homers and four doubles. Given the current construction of the Braves outfield, they could probably use Pache now. However, the Braves likely think it is best for him to continue to get at-bats in AAA and build confidence. They know they will need him later this season, so I don’t expect them to rush him back to the majors.
I certainly wouldn’t call this situation likely, but Langeliers has been mashing in his first 35 games of AA ball. He already has ten home runs for Mississippi, and his OPS sits at a healthy .872. The strides we’ve seen from Langeliers in AA should have Braves fans salivating. This is a guy that was drafted for his defense — which has also come as advertised; Langeliers has a silly 53% CS rate — and was never thought of to be this type of offensive prospect, at least not this early in his minor league career. Yes, the sample size is small, and I am in no way advocating for this to happen, but if Travis d’Arnaud suffers a setback in his recovery and another catcher suffers an injury, the Braves may go with Langeliers and hope they catch lightning in a bottle.
The people are ready to see what Drew Waters can provide the team in the outfield; however, I don’t think that’s on the table just yet. They already rushed Pache to the bigs too early, and I’m sure that’s not something they also want to do with their second-ranked prospect. Like Pache, Waters has some learning to do at the plate before he’s ready for the majors. I’m confident he’ll get there, and it could be as early as this year, but I feel like it’s much more likely that the Braves roll with what they got and add an outfielder at the trade deadline before turning to Drew Waters right now.
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