The Braves have one of the youngest and most talented rosters in baseball.
Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuna Jr., Sean Murphy, Ozzie Albies, Max Fried, A.J. Minter, and Kyle Wright are under 30. Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider are under 25, and both made the Athletic’s MLB All-Under-25 Team.
Harris joins Corbin Carroll, Julio Rodriquez, and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the outfield, while Strider leads a rotation made up of Hunter Greene, Roansy Contreras, Edward Cabrera, and Reid Detmers. Here’s what the outlet said about the pair of Braves’ up-and-coming superstars:
Harris, who jumped from Double A to the majors mid-season in 2022, would’ve taken NL Rookie of the Year voting in a landslide if not for a certain mustachioed teammate who we’ll get to shortly. Harris hummed along with a .300 batting average for most of the season — despite an elevated chase rate — and showed power (19 homers), speed (20 steals) and top-tier defensive skill in center (7 OAA, tied for 13th among outfielders). Stretch those hitting totals across a full season and Harris would come close to a 30-30 season; most projections models, however, have him closer to the low 20s in homers and steals in 2023. Either way, after signing an eight-year extension plus two option years with Atlanta, Harris is not going anywhere.
This team’s next ace is Strider, who was the Braves’ swingman early last season and forced his way into their rotation by late May. From that point on, in 20 starts, Strider had a 2.77 ERA, a minuscule .183/.252/.274 opposing slash line while averaging better than a strikeout and a half per inning. Preposterous stuff. While Strider has three pitches to serve lefties (four-seamer, slider, changeup), right-handed hitters step into the box knowing they’ll see one of two offerings: fastball or slider. And they can’t touch either. Righties hit .156 against him last season and struck out in 44 percent of their plate appearances. As a rookie, Strider reached 200 strikeouts in 130 innings, faster than any other pitcher in MLB history, followed by Randy Johnson (130 2/3 innings) and Gerrit Cole (133 1/3 innings). What Strider has in store for an encore is anyone’s guess.
Several Braves made honorable mentions at their respective positions. Vaughn Grissom just missed out as a utility infielder, but the 41-game sample size and starting the year in Triple-A Gwinnett was the deciding factor. Still, it’s hard to ignore the .291/.353/.440 slash line. Grissom will be on this list sooner or later.
A pair of Braves’ starters were also honorable mentions. Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder were among several starters that just missed out, but it’s no surprise either of them didn’t make the list. Anderson has struggled since the start of the 2022 season and will begin the year in Gwinnett after several abysmal outings in Spring Training. Elder’s Spring Training debut went terribly, but he bounced back in a significant way; his demotion was far more surprising than Anderson’s.
The Braves could see several other players join this list following the 2023 season. Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd have a legitimate chance to contribute in a significant way for the major league club this season as both prospects begin the year in Atlanta. The Braves have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talented youngsters.
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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