The Athletic names Braves prospect on the cusp of contributing

Hurston Waldrep Braves hat AJ Smith-Shawver

The Braves have a number of pitching prospects showing out in the minors early this season. Spencer Schwellenbach recently received a promotion to AA and responded with six scoreless innings and nine strikeouts. Owen Murphy might be the most impressive minor-league arm in all of baseball, recording a 1.54 ERA and 60 strikeouts over 41 innings for High-A Rome. However, the prospect The Athletic believes is the closest to contributing in Atlanta this season is 2023 first-round pick Hurston Waldrep.

Atlanta’s starting rotation contains a Spencer Strider-sized hole. (Extra points if anyone can fill the mustache.) Bryce Elder has struggled in the majors. Neither Dylan Dodd nor AJ Smith-Shawver has wowed observers in the minors. So maybe Waldrep, a first-round pick in 2023, can make a big jump from his current perch in Double-A Mississippi. He possesses a nasty splitter, which aids a fastball featuring excellent velocity but so-so movement. The splitter might be enough to merit a big-league audition unless the Braves attempt to fill that Strider-sized hole at the trade deadline. — McCullough 

When discussing Braves prospects on the cusp of contributing, there are really only two answers — Hurston Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver. I would still lean towards Smith-Shawver as the most likely to have a significant impact this year. He’s in AAA while Waldrep is in AA Mississippi. However, there’s no denying the two are trending in opposite directions.

Smith-Shawver began the year rocky, and there haven’t been many corrections. Over his last three starts, he’s surrendered 11 earned runs in 13.1 innings, moving his ERA to 6.10 on the season.

Hurston Waldrep, on the other hand, has rebounded nicely after his early season struggles. He’s fresh off his best outing of the year, striking out eight over eight innings of one-run ball. Since giving up ten combined runs in his first two starts, Waldrep hasn’t allowed more than one run in his last five outings, going at least five innings in each.

Both Hurston Waldrep and Smith-Shawver have the stuff to play a significant role in this year’s pennant race. The potential is there for them to be frontline starters one day, but I wouldn’t say either is necessarily close to becoming everyday contributors right now. They both could use some extra seasoning in the minors.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire


Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: