The Braves have been among the league’s worst farm systems, in terms of rankings, for a couple of years now.
Graduations and trades have left Atlanta’s minor leagues barren of talent, but the club continues to produce guys. Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II are the most notable. The next great Braves prospect could be here too — A.J. Smith-Shawver.
The 20-year-old is the organization’s top prospect because of his projectability as a frontline starter. He began the year in High-A and made it all the way to the Braves’ postseason roster. It’s why he was highlighted by MLB.com, who pointed out an insane AJSS stat.
Braves: .169 BAA
AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 53)
What a crazy year for Smith-Shawver, who entered the year as a 20-year old with 77 total professional innings on his resume. He went from High-A to the big leagues, including the postseason roster. That miniscule .169 BAA (5.4 H/9) over 62 Minor League innings came with a K rate of 11.5 per nine. He wasn’t much easier to hit on a big league mound, either (.183 BAA).
AJ Smith-Shawver only made five starts and six appearances in the big leagues, working to a 4.26 ERA but also a 6.69 FIP and 5.25 SIERA across 25.1 innings. They aren’t eye-popping numbers, but in terms of stuff and potential, there are few in the minors that compare to Smith-Shawver.
He’ll be 21 years old by the time the 2024 campaign rolls around and has only been pitching for three years. The Braves have a ball of clay and the chance to develop another ace. Smith-Shawver has stuff to work on undoubtedly, but he’s got the tools and support system to realize his full potential.
Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire