William Contreras is living up to the hype of his brother, Willson, of the Chicago Cubs. He had impressed on the farm throughout the past few years as a teenager, but he really put things together in his first full season as a pro. Contreras put up much better production than his older brother in A ball and did so a year younger. Overall, last season in 390 at bats he hit .285 with 11 homers and 49 RBI, good for a .783 OPS, and these stats are a bit deflated from an adjustment period to A+ ball at the end of the season. After a disappointing season for Alex Jackson, Contreras has been deemed the catcher of the future for the organization. With the signing of Brian McCann, the Braves will not look to block this position for the long-term, at least not yet. Contreras is a ways away, but catchers who can actually hit are unicorns nowadays. Contreras is a very valuable prospect.
Braves fans had to have been disappointed when Connor Stewart did not sign with the Braves this season. However, it appears they still got a first-round talent in Greyson Jenista. A college bat from Wichita State, Jenista showed he was ready to contribute day one. He only lasted 10 games with Danville and went on to hit .333 with Rome before being promoted to the Florida Fire Frogs near the season’s end. Given how fast he has moved through the system and his older age, Braves fans may be seeing Jenista sooner than anticipated. However, he did struggle in his first action of A+ ball, and surely the Braves would like to see his power more on display. Regardless, Jenista was impressive.
CJ Alexander already looks like the steal of the 2018 MLB Draft. Getting Alexander in the 20th round was known to be an incredible value at the moment, but he has even further increased his stock after his unbelievable 2018. In his first 196 professional at-bats with the Braves, he hit .352 with 8 doubles and 7 triples while getting the call up to A+ ball in his first season alongside Jenista. Unlike Jenista, Alexander immediately responded to the late-season promotion. He went 26-for-80 in his first at-bats for the Fire Frogs. Expect him to start there next spring, but if he keeps pace with his 2018 performance, he could be a quick riser as well at already 22 years of age.
Cristian Pache is deemed by many to be the best defensive outfielder in the system, even over Ender Inciarte. It seems as if he finally grew into his power in 2018. After not hitting a home run in his first 689 professional at-bats, Pache put his talents on full display for Braves Country to see in the preseason Futures Game. He hit two home runs against the major league team and went on to display some power to match his 70 grade speed for the first time of his career. Pache can be a true 5-tool outfielder if this keeps trending in that direction.
Drew Waters is a local kid out of Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. He was very impressive in 2018, working his way up to A+ ball. If you follow the Braves farm system, you know this kid can hit the ball. He was hitting over .300 with a .867 OPS before getting the late season call to Florida. What many forget to think about with Waters is his speed. He actually had about three times as many steals as Pache did last season. Waters is developing into a well-rounded outfielder that definitely projects to be a major league regular in the future.