Intriguing notes about the Braves top 10 prospects from Baseball America

Braves farm system taking a hit

Due to graduations, the Braves system isn’t what it once was when it was regarded as the best farm system in baseball. Still, there’s plenty of talent, especially in the top 10, and there are several new guys that are already flashing major league potential. Recently, Carlos Collazo and Kyle Glaser of Baseball America, one of the best outlets for prospect information, broke down the top prospects in the Braves farm system, and here were the most intriguing talking points, along with my thoughts.

Michael Harris

Baseball America has Michael Harris as the Braves’ top prospect, which is a popular take among many prospect outlets these days. He’s athletic, possesses one of the best hit-tools in the entire system, and he’s also a plus-defender. Next year will be a critical year for Harris, who should begin the season in AA. If he succeeds there, it won’t be much longer before he’s major-league bound.

One of the most intriguing things this podcast talks about is how Harris was looked at as a pitcher by most teams in the draft. The Braves liked him in the field, which has been a constant among some of the best prospects to ever come through the system. Freddie Freeman was primarily viewed as a pitcher coming out of high school and so was Austin Riley. For some reason, that seems to be the key to finding success in Atlanta.

When discussing why Harris has overtaken Waters and Pache as the star prospect of the organization, Collazo and Glazer made it clear it all comes down to offense. While Waters and Pache each have some holes that need patching if they want to become consistent with the stick, Harris doesn’t have any obvious weak points offensively. He hits for a solid average, doesn’t strikeout an overwhelming amount, can hit for power, and even steals bases. That’s why many believe he will be the next homegrown star for the Braves.

Christian Pache and Drew Waters

Like most prospect outlets, Baseball America dropped both Pache and Waters in their prospect rankings, and it’s pretty simple as to why. They each struggled with the bat last season, and despite their defensive upside, they won’t get too many more opportunities if they don’t turn things around offensively.

I’m not as down as many people are on Pache and Waters following a forgetful 2021 campaign, but obvious changes need to be made. Pache needs to make very similar adjustments that Austin Riley made, and Waters’ entire approach at the plate needs a makeover. Still, these are very talented young players that have burst through the system quickly. It may take them a couple of years to figure it out, but they have plenty of time, which is why I am nowhere close to hitting the panic button.

Bryce Elder and Spencer Strider

The two pitchers the podcast chose to focus on, and for good reason, were Bryce Elder and Spencer Strider — two 2020 draft picks that made it all the way to AAA (Strider even made his MLB debut) in their first professional seasons.

In regards to Strider, Collazo talks about how many scouts from outside of the organization believe Strider is “destined for a bullpen role,” and I am right there with those scouts, at least for now. His fastball/slider combination is electric, but it won’t hold up as a starter, and it looks like the Braves are interested in him contributing as fast as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Strider became a staple of Atlanta’s bullpen as early as this season.

On Elder, there seems to be a consensus on this podcast and amongst scouts that he is bound for the back of a rotation — a role he should thrive in. That could be true, but a lot of these narratives we put on prospects come from explosive stuff. Elder might not have eye-popping offerings, but some guys just know how to pitch, and Elder proved he was one of those guys in his first professional season, dominating at every level. I’m interested in some of those expectations starting to change if he follows it up with another really impressive 2022 campaign.

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