After a year of nothing, we finally have some data to go by for Braves prospects. With this past weekend concluding the fourth week of the 2021 minor league season, many players within Atlanta’s system have roughly 30 games worth of stats so far. Though that’s obviously not very much, it’s enough to update the site’s top 30 prospect list.
Today is the first part of a three-part series revealing the new top 30 list. For length purposes, we decided to roll out the update by groups of 10, with today’s post covering nos. 30-21.
Disclaimer: Because I have neither the time nor the knowledge that guys at places such as FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, or Baseball America do, my rankings are much more performance-based rather than being compiled from personal scouting reports, video or tool grades. I feel it’s better to stick with what you know, and I will in no way pretend to be an expert on all the ins and outs of these players. So because of this, my list may seem a bit different than others, and that’s ok. Also, I plan to keep this list current, perhaps with another update after the season since many of these players could either move up or down.
Be sure to check out the list of honorable mentions and graduates as well.
Let’s get started…
SportsTalkATL’s 2021 Summer Top 30 Prospect List (Nos. 30-21)
|21||Vaughn Grissom, SS||A|
|22||Greyson Jenista, 1B/OF||AA|
|23||Joey Estes, RHP||A|
|24||William Woods, RHP||Extended spring|
|25||Justin Dean, OF||AA|
|26||Willie Carter, OF||A|
|27||Roddery Munoz, RHP||A|
|28||Jefrey Ramos, OF||AA|
|29||Kasey Kalich, RHP||A+|
|30||Nolan Kingham, RHP||AA|
30. Nolan Kingham, RHP ↑
- 6-4, 210lb
- 12th RD / 2018 MLB Draft
As has been the case for many pitching prospects, Kingham’s ascent in the Braves system has stemmed from an uptick in velocity. As a collegiate player, and even during his first season as a pro, Kingham barely registered in the 90s MPH with his fastball. A below-average heater and the lack of a whiff-generating secondary still didn’t prevent him from succeeding, though, and in 2019 the Las Vegas native posted a 3.92 ERA in 165.1 innings combined across three minor league levels (A, A+, AA). Obviously, there is no 2020 data to go by, but now Kingham is regularly throwing his fastball in the mid-90s MPH. And though his middling K rate isn’t exactly ideal, the 24-year-old righty has become a must-watch when he’s on the mound for Mississippi this season. I’m not the only one that’s interested in Kingham either: FanGraphs also ranked him 30th in its 2021 list from late March.
29. Kasey Kalich, RHP ↑
- 6-3, 220lb
- 4th RD / 2019 MLB Draft
Kalich was a big-time pick for the Braves back in 2019 and a guest on SportsTalkATL’s Podcast last year. During his interview, he revealed that he had broken a bone in his wrist, a very unfortunate bit of news given he was so sharp during his pro debut season with both the Gulf Coast Braves (rookie ball) and Single-A Rome, where he combined to log a 1.25 ERA to go with 10 strikeouts per nine in 21.2 innings. Well, the injury hasn’t appeared to impact Kalich’s performance in 2021. This season, while again with Rome, except at a level higher than in 2019, the Texas native is again pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA as of this past weekend. This is a pure reliever type, which the Braves could use down in the lower levels. As a two-pitch pitcher, Kalich wields a high-90s MPH fastball and a whiff-inducing slider.
28. Jefrey Ramos, OF ↓
- 6-1, 185lb
- 2016 INT signee
I have probably been the sole writer to continue ranking Ramos as a prospect for the Braves, although this might very well end up being the final time. Ramos wasn’t a very highly-regarded signee back in the summer of 2016 as he was part of the international class that included the teenage sensation Kevin Maitan. Atlanta signed 13 prospects during that year’s international period, and I don’t remember seeing one write-up on Ramos. However, as a 19- and 20-year-old in 2018 and ’19, the outfielder combined to hit .245 with 25 home runs over a 250-game stretch with Rome and High-A Florida, suggesting he was on track to become much more well-known within the Braves organization. But 2020 never happened, and boy has Ramos struggled this season in Double-A. As of this past Sunday, the native of the Dominican Republic had just a .102 AVG in his 14 games with Mississippi, including only one XBH to go with 17 strikeouts and one walk.
27. Roddery Munoz, RHP ↑
- 6-3, 190lb
- 2018 INT signee
If you have no idea who Munoz is and would like an overview, Garrett Spain over at Talking Chop wrote up an excellent profile on the kid back in May. This what you call a raw and incredibly talented young pitcher with a ton of upside. Munoz really hasn’t gotten any attention until this season because he’s spent the last two years playing at the Braves Dominican Summer League. Hell, I covered that league back in 2019, and I didn’t even know how good he was. In 2021, Munoz is being challenged with a full-season affiliate assignment, and though he has been a bit inconsistent at times, the kid is turning heads with his near-100 MPH fastball.
Roddery Munoz 99mph fastball up pic.twitter.com/5IlfKczrGk
— Atlanta Braves Farm System Updates (@BravesMILB) May 9, 2021
As I said, this is still a very raw young player. But if Munoz can continue to develop command, as well as somewhat viable secondaries, he’ll be a top-tier prospect pitcher in no time.
26. Willie Carter, OF ↑
- 6-0, 205lb
- 34th RD / 2019 MLB Draft
Carter was a latter-round draft pick and a kid coming out of a small college in Florida, so he really hasn’t been on the radar of many Braves prospect followers. However, in his pro debut season in 2019, the outfielder played well with Danville, and now this season, he has taken off to become the best player on the org’s new Single-A affiliate in Augusta. Carter has the contact, power, and speed to be labeled as a toolsy player with potential, and even better, his approach at the plate is excellent; as of this past Sunday, Carter was sporting a 14.7% walk-rate and 23.5% K rate with the GreenJackets.
25. Justin Dean, OF ⇔
- 5-6, 185lb
- 17th RD / 2018 MLB Draft
The speedy Dean is certainly enjoying his first stint at the Double-A level this season. Though his .213 AVG (as of this past Sunday) isn’t necessarily otherworldly, the 24-year-old outfielder continues to positively impact the M-Braves with his defense in the field and speed on the basepaths. Entering Sunday’s game, Dean had a 90% success rate (9 of 10) on stolen base attempts, and his gap-power had resulted in six doubles so far in 2021.
24. William Woods, RHP ⇔
- 6-3, 190lb
- 23rd RD / 2018 MLB Draft
The Braves invited Woods to spring camp this year, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t assigned to a full-season affiliate entering the season. Many of us predicted this kid to be an under-the-radar bullpen addition in Atlanta; instead, it appears he’s somewhere in a minor league camp, as Grant McAuley reported way back on March 12. Anyways, Woods is a dude with near-100 MPH velocity, and he mowed down opposing Single-A batters two years ago, striking out 58 in 51 innings. My guess is as good as yours as to why he isn’t doing the same in 2021.
23. Joey Estes, RHP ↑
- 6-2, 190lb
- 16th RD / 2019 MLB Draft
Estes had a rough pro debut down in the Gulf Coast League as he wound up allowing nine runs in 10 innings worth of starts in 2019. However, this season with Augusta, he has found his groove and has become nearly unhittable. For a 16th rounder, Estes received a nice payday — $500K signing bonus — because he came straight out of high school with four usable pitches, including a 95 MPH fastball that should only get filthier as he grows into his body. This kid doesn’t turn 20 until next offseason, so the sky’s the limit for him, and I could see Estes as a big riser in the system over the next couple of years.
22. Greyson Jenista, OF ↓
- 6-4, 210lb
- 2nd RD / 2018 MLB Draft
This is actually where we had Jenista ranked back in January as we continue to hold out hope that he’ll live up to his 2nd round selection from 2018. So far, he simply hasn’t, and now into his age-24 campaign, he’s running out of time. Jenista’s biggest bugaboo has been strikeouts with a career K rate of 32.2%, which is a bit bloated right now due to the 43% clip so far in 2021. But Jenista also knows how to draw a walk, which is often not the case for guys with a lot of swings and misses. Regardless, this is the kid’s second stint in Double-A, and even two years ago, he mostly struggled there, so Jenista needs to get things going… preferably soon, to remain inside the top 30.
21. Vaughn Grissom, SS ↑
- 6-3, 180lb
- 11th RD / 2019 MLB Draft
There’s a lot to like about Grissom and how he brings several different skills to the table. The Florida native can play essentially anywhere in the infield, he has solid speed, and though his power hasn’t really shown up so far in 2021, he also has a strong bat. Grissom is handling his first taste of full-season ball rather well right now. As of this past Sunday, he was hitting a respectable .253 with four XBH and was successful in four of his five stolen base attempts; not bad for a 20-year-old over a 22-game stretch.
Be sure to check back for the next installment, featuring nos. 20-11.