Smith-Shawver and De Avila Headline Braves’ Organizational All-Stars

MLB: JUN 09 Nationals at Braves

As the offseason unfolds, MiLB.com meticulously assesses each organization, acknowledging players who delivered exceptional performances in the Minor League circuit. The Atlanta Braves’ farm system takes center stage with a formidable trio of standout pitchers, consistently showcasing their talent and potential.

Leading this impressive ensemble is right-handed pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver, holding the coveted position as the Braves’ No. 1 prospect and securing the 53rd spot in MLB rankings. Smith-Shawver’s rapid ascent from High-A to the major leagues in less than half of a season highlights his remarkable prowess on the mound. Standing beside him is left-handed pitcher Luis De Avila, an acquisition through the Rule 5 Draft before the 2022 season, illustrating steady progress within the Braves’ organization.

Further strengthening this pitching triad is the dependable 27-year-old right-hander Grant Holmes, a stalwart in Gwinnett’s bullpen, amassing an impressive 13 saves and four holds. Together, these three pitchers embody the depth and skill present in the Braves’ pitching prospects.

RHP: AJ Smith-Shawver (ATL No. 1MLB No. 53)

A+/AA/AAA: 4-2, 2.76 ERA, 62 IP, 79 K, 33 BB, .169 BAA, 1.13 WHIP

Making an impressive ascent from High-A to the major leagues, Smith-Shawver has proven himself to be a formidable force. His pitching arsenal primarily consists of a high-velocity fastball and a sharp slider. To keep hitters guessing, he also incorporates a changeup and a curveball into his repertoire.

During his six appearances with the Atlanta Braves, including five starts, Smith-Shawver showcased his prowess on the mound by limiting opposing batters to a mere .183 batting average and .696 OPS. Additionally, he maintained an impressive 1.11 WHIP, underscoring his ability to control the game and keep runners off the bases. Smith-Shawver’s swift transition and remarkable performance at the highest level of play attest to his skill and potential impact in the majors. The fresh-faced 21-year-old looks to become a permanent fixture of the Braves rotation as early as next season.

LHP: Luis De Avila (ATL No. 13)

AA/AAA: 6-10, 3.26 ERA, 127 IP, 128 K, 65 BB, .224 BAA, 1.32 WHIP

De Avila’s journey within the Braves’ organization has been marked by significant strides since his acquisition through the Rule 5 Draft before the 2022 season. Known for his assertiveness on the mound, De Avila wields a formidable repertoire featuring a sinker, a sharp curve, and a deceptive changeup.

According to Braves assistant general manager of player development Ben Sestanovich, De Avila possesses a remarkable “ability to compete on the mound,” particularly excelling in inducing ground balls. His unique proficiency as a left-handed pitcher who consistently generates ground ball outs sets him apart in the league, earning him the designation of a rare “lefty ground-balls guy.”

RP: Grant Holmes

AAA: 7-3, 3.54 ERA, 61 IP, 74 K, 26 BB, .232 BAA, 1.30 WHIP

At the age of 27, Holmes demonstrated consistency in bolstering Gwinnett’s bullpen. His 3.54 ERA marked a notable improvement, standing as his best performance since 2019.

Reflecting on Holmes’ contribution, Sestanovich remarked, “[Holmes has] had a really solid year pitching important innings for [Gwinnett]. He’s an exemplar of dedication within our system, showcasing diligent efforts that have resulted in tangible progress and improvement over time.”

These standout pitchers are complemented by a promising group of Minor Leaguers, including Drake Baldwin (ATL No. 26) at catcher, David McCabe at first base (ATL No. 14), Keshawn Ogans at second base (ATL No. 30), Luke Waddell at third base, Ignacio Alvarez at shortstop (ATL No. 7), and outfielders Jesse Franklin V (ATL No. 20) and Forrest Wall. Together, they form a dynamic and promising cadre within the Braves’ organization, poised to make their mark in Atlanta.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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