The draft restrictions that were put on the Braves stripped a lot of the international talent they were expecting to have in the lower levels of the minors this season. However, right now A-level Rome is oozing with talent and untapped potential. Go to Rome while the gettin’ is good. Because these kids will not last here long.
The creme of the crop right now is Drew Waters, who some believe the Braves actually lost a third-round pick for tampering with. The way he has played, it does not matter. The Etowah alumni Waters has been a sensation for the Braves, hitting for a .292 average, .857 OPS and has 13 steals. He was a Mid-Season All-Star this season for Rome.
Behind the plate, the future of the organization appears to be shifting from Alex Jackson, who has struggled mightily, to William Contreras. Contreras has been nearly as impressive as Waters. Last season, we compared William’s statistics in the Rookie ball to his brother Willson’s, who is now a star catcher for the Cubs. We found that William has actually outperformed him and that Willson had been a bit of a late bloomer himself. This is the kind of potential we could be dealing with here, and Contreras has tapped into that in Rome this year. He is shaping out to be the future of the organization post-Suzuki-Flowers.
One of the more underrated prospects in the Braves organization is Jean Carlos Encarnacion, but fans will soon become familiar with the name. He is one of the best contact bats the Braves have on the farm. There is still a lot of development time here left, but with the way Johan Camargo is playing and Austin Riley getting close to the majors, it will be interesting to see how things play out for Encarnacion.
The latest addition to Rome is Greyson Jenista, who is already playing A-ball after being a second-round pick weeks ago. Jenista tore the cover off the ball in Danville and has responded to a promotion to Rome even better, posting a .907 OPS in his first five games with the team. Jenista is an advanced college bat with elite power potential who can move through the system fast and is going to fly up prospect lists. The Braves struck out on Carter Stewart, but now is time to time to buy into the hype on Jenista. They hit big in the second round.
Do not forget about Drew Lugbauer either, who showed up on a lot of people’s radars with his play last year. He has had a down year but has some potential.
The bats in the upper levels of the system have been disappointing this summer. However, with so many of them already contributing to the big league club and so much talent in the lower levels, there is little reason to worry. The Braves are absolutely loaded at Rome, and we are not even talking about pitching.