The MLB Draft wrapped up a week ago, and the Braves went back to their bread and butter, selecting high powered college arms with several plus-offerings. Some of these guys have warts, but this is an organization that has proven they can develop college pitchers with elite stuff, and do it quickly, just look at Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder.
So, when ESPN’s David Schoenfield came up with his list of players that will make their MLB debuts first for their respective organizations, it’s no surprise that first-round pick Hurston Waldrep was the choice for the Braves.
First-round pick: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
First to majors: Waldrep
As McDaniel noted, Waldrep fits the Atlanta profile of leaning toward starting pitchers, especially those with a clear plus pitch. In Waldrep’s case, it’s a plus-plus splitter (or split change), but his fastball, slider and curve are all potential plus offerings as well. Given how quickly Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder (both drafted in 2020) reached the majors — and made the All-Star team in 2023 — Waldrep could arrive in a hurry, although there is reliever risk here due to his delivery and control.
Like most people, I was shocked Waldrep made it all the way to the Braves with the 24th pick. He was one of the most highly-touted college arms coming into his junior season after transferring to Florida from Southern Mississippi.
Waldrep features a fastball that he can run up into the high-90s, but his most devastating offering is a unique splitter that opponents whiffed on nearly two-thirds of the time in 2023. Waldrep also features a slider and curveball that have a chance to develop into promising offerings at the major-league level, so there’s a lot here for the Braves to work with.
What will determine how quickly Waldrep makes it to the bigs is his control. He walked five batters per nine innings for the Gators. That’s not going to cut it if he is to become a starting pitcher at the next level. However, if the Braves can fix that, he has the upside to be a frontline starter in Atlanta, and it might only take him a couple of years to make his MLB debut.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire