Keith Law of The Athletic released his annual and highly anticipated Top 100 prospect list heading into the 2020 season, and he’s higher on the Braves than most, as six players made the cut. However, he did leave off one guy altogether who is consistently mentioned among the top 50 prospects no matter where you look — Drew Waters. Here’s a look at the six players that did make the list:
- #5 Cristian Pache
- #27 Ian Anderson
- #61 Kyle Wright
- #65 Bryse Wilson
- #75 William Contreras
- #94 Braden Shewmake
Let’s talk about the good first. Law is in love with Cristian Pache. The Braves consensus top prospect will be found among the top 20 on any list — sometimes even as high as 10 — but Law views him as even better than that, ranking him behind only Wander Franco, Jo Adell, MacKenzie Gore, and Gavin Lux, and ahead of Luis Robert. Here is a tidbit of why Law views him as one of the best prospects in baseball:
Pache is an elite defender in center field, often compared by scouts to Andruw Jones, in part because he’s also in the Atlanta system but largely a testament to how easily Pache plays the position. The last two years have seen substantial growth in Pache’s development as a hitter. He’s gone from zero pro home runs in his first year and a half in pro ball to 21 in the last two years as he’s marched up to Triple A. He has 25-homer power; the issue has been getting himself into counts where he can take advantage of it.
Law is also pretty high on Anderson, although that’s about where I would expect him. The 21-year-old dominated the Southern League last season and will begin this year at AAA Gwinnett.
Kyle Wright remains relatively high despite his rocky 2019, and I give Law a lot of credit for that. Wright still has elite potential with a fantastic pitch-mix. This could easily be the season where we see him turn the corner and become a major league starter.
A name that I was pretty shocked to see on the list at all was Bryse Wilson. Like Wright, Wilson had an up and down 2019, but it is the questions about his secondary stuff that have me worried about him making it in the big leagues. Fastballs can only get you so far at the top level. However, the fact that he is only 22 years old and spent short stints in the majors over the last two years says something about what the Braves think of him as well.
William Contreras is another name that I was a little surprised made the list. He’s come a long way as a defensive catcher, but his struggles with the stick had him fall off most Top 100 lists. Contreras only posted a .669 OPS with Florida and Mississippi last year.
The sixth Brave in the Top 100 was one of last year’s first-round selections, but probably not the one you expected. Braden Shewmake came in at #94 after he lit up Rome in his first taste of pro-ball. An advanced college bat, he could rocket up the system pretty quickly, as he already ended last season in AA Mississippi. Many fans and some “experts” were not thrilled with the selection of Shewmake in the first round, but he’s quickly proven himself worthy.
Drew Waters- I’m all for people going with their gut and being high or low on specific prospects, but not having Drew Waters in the Top 100 is blasphemy. The toolsy switch-hitter won the MVP of the Southern League as a 20-year-old and finished the season as one of the youngest players in AAA. Over those two levels, he hit .319 with a .847 OPS, and some scouts have even called him one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. Law’s trying to make a statement here, but it’s one that could easily bite him in the ass.
Shea Langeliers– I’m a bit surprised Law left out Shea Langilers as well, especially since he had William Contreras at #75. Last year’s #9 overall pick is an elite defensive backstop, but his struggles with the stick are noteworthy. Law must not believe it is something he will be able to overcome. But with that being said, if Langeliers can just become half-decent with the bat, he will be a really good major league catcher.