Breaking down Keith Law’s Top 20 Prospects for the Braves

Vaughn Grissom call up

Keith Law of the Athletic has released his Top 20 prospects for each team, and the Braves have a few surprising entrants:

You should absolutely go check out Law’s full rankings — there’s some good stuff in his article. Here’s how the Braves stack up in his rankings:

20. RHP AJ Smith-Shawver

19. LHP Dylan Dodd

18. RHP Indigo Diaz

17. RHP Darius Vines

16. RHP Victor Vodnik

15. RHP Joey Estes

14. RHP Spencer Schwellenbach

13. RHP Bryce Elder

12. RHP Spencer Strider

11. SS Vaughn Grissom

10. SS Braden Shewmake

9. LHP Jared Shuster

8. LHP Tucker Davidson

7. OF Drew Waters

6. RHP Freddy Tarnok

5. RHP Ryan Cusick

4. LHP Kyle Muller

3. C Shea Langeliers

2. OF Michael Harris

1. OF Cristian Pache

For starters, I’m shocked Spencer Strider is as low as he is on this list. Strider has the makeup of an elite shutdown relief arm. I do understand some of his criticisms, though:

He doesn’t have much of a third pitch to get lefties out, and the fastball-centric approach probably won’t allow him to turn a major-league order over three times, or maybe even twice … but it might be a grade-70 fastball when you consider velocity, spin and movement. He’ll still need a better changeup, or maybe a splitter, which I think would work with his arm slot and hand position. If he gets that, he’s a league-average starter, with a small chance for more.

Law was extremely critical of Drew Waters, and while I like Waters’ upside, his concerns do have some merit:

Scouts have long questioned Waters’ feel to hit, and those concerns proved valid last year, as Waters hit .240/.329/.381 in Triple A with a 31 percent strikeout rate, as he could no longer fatten up on weaker pitching as he had at the lower levels. His tools are unchanged — he’s a borderline plus runner who can play center, shows above-average raw power in BP, and has good hand-eye coordination. He just couldn’t hit better stuff before last year, and then in 2021 he saw a lot more of that better stuff and less of the bad stuff. The main issue is the lack of any approach, which very few hitters can get away with no matter how talented they are. It’s not unfixable, but he has a long way to go to hit.

Law absolutely has Freddy Tarnok ranked higher than any other scout or publication I have seen. I do understand liking the upside, but it feels like Tarnok could be an odd man out in a crowded system. Overall, I’m not too shocked by any of these, but I think we’ll all be getting a closer look at some of these guys with the MLB season possibly being delayed.

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