The 2021 minor league season may have ended several weeks ago, but for the players chosen to participate in the Arizona Fall League, a new campaign has begun. This past Wednesday, the 2021 AFL season started up, and for the seven Braves prospects representing the organization, it’s an opportune time to continue working on their craft.
In case you missed his write-up earlier this month, our own Ryan Cothran provided the list of Atlanta players featured on the AFL’s Peoria Javelinas team this fall. And starting with today’s post, I’ll put out a brief update on how those players are performing once a week.
A rough start to the fall season
With games each of the last three days, the Javelinas have started their AFL season 0-3 and outscored 24-19. The opener on Wednesday didn’t feature a single Braves player, but Thursday and Friday did. Here’s a look at which Atlanta minor leaguers have gotten in on the action over the last several days.
Jesse Franklin V (OF)
20th ranked prospect
The prospect outfielder started in right field in each of the last two games, contributing as the lineup’s primary power-hitter. Franklin kicked off his AFL season by going 1-for-4 with an RBI on Thursday, but in Friday’s loss, the former 2020 draft pick finished hitless in eight tries as he struck out twice. The University of Michigan product is in Arizona simply because the Braves see a ton of talent in this kid’s bat; given he performed so well in High-A Rome this past season, he should be able to post solid numbers this fall.
Luke Waddell (3B/2B)
Waddell, who played incredibly well with Rome during the regular season after being selected in the fifth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, started Thursday at third base and batted seventh in the Javelinas lineup, where the 23-year-old went 1-for-5. Waddell then went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in Friday’s game, though this time, batting second and playing at second on defense.
The kid played shortstop during his collegiate career with Georgia Tech, but he played a few games at third and second while a pro in 2021. I’m not sure if it’s significant that Waddell is moving around, but I do know that he has more power in his bat than initially thought. Before moving up to Double-A Mississippi this year, Waddell hit six homers in just 21 games with the R-Braves.
William Woods (RHP)
24th ranked prospect
Woods started Thursday’s game and went three innings, striking out two and walking three, to go with two earned runs (two homers) from three hits. It wasn’t his best outing as the righty needed 66 pitches to get through 15 batters. Honestly, I’m just glad Woods is playing right now, given he missed so much time during the 2021 regular season. This is a guy that many had enormous expectations for entering this year, so the work this fall will be crucial.
Victor Vodnik (RHP
18th ranked prospect
Following Woods’ three-inning start on Thursday, Vodnik came in to work the 4th through 6th innings. It was a rough day for the young righty as he allowed six runs (three homers) from seven hits while striking out four. Vodnik has always been one of my favorite Braves prospects. He’s an undersized player, but he throws in the high-90s MPH. So far, the only problem has been him staying healthy, but hopefully, this AFL season can give him some much-needed work.
In the future, on Saturday of each week, I’ll provide an update on how the Braves players are doing this fall in Arizona. The AFL season will run through November 19, with the championship beginning on Saturday, November 20.