The top prospect in the Braves organization has become clear

Spencer Schwellenbach Braves hat

Atlanta’s farm system is decimated, but that’s what happens when you graduate pretty much an entire team to the majors over a five-year span, and then trade the rest of the spare parts for two All-Stars in Matt Olson and Sean Murphy. It is slim pickings down on the farm; with that being said, the Braves have been fantastic at drafting and developing talent, and one of their 2021 selections is starting to look like a star in the making.

AJ Smith-Shawver was taken in the seventh-round out of Colleyville Heritage High School. He’s still just 20-years-old, but he’s one track to have a Spencer Strider-esque rise through the Braves minor league system.

A couple of weeks ago, Smith-Shawver was promoted to AA. That’s quite a bump for a player so young, but he’s proving the Braves smart for their decision. Through his first seven innings in Mississippi, he’s yet to allow a run, striking out nine batters with a 1.14 WHIP. In his last outing on Saturday, Smith-Shawver tossed five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

I’ve been on the Smith-Shawver train for a bit now. I had him as the Braves top prospect coming into the season, and I don’t think there’s any doubt about it now. He’s the one guy in Atlanta’s farm system I think has star potential, featuring heat in the high-90s with loads of swing-and-miss stuff.

There’s some Spencer Strider in Smith-Shawver’s game, and that should excited Braves fans everywhere, especially given their need for starting pitching. Unfortunately, it’s foolish to think he will contribute anytime soon.

Smith-Shawver is only 20 and just arrived in Mississippi. He’s going to stay there for a while; however, the Braves have been very aggressive with their prospects in the past. It’s not unrealistic to think he could earn a promotion to Gwinnett by the end of the season, and it’s very possible we see him in Atlanta at some point next year. Smith-Shawver won’t be the answer to the Braves rotation woes in 2023, but he’s a bright spot in an otherwise dreadful farm system, and the hype train is just getting started.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire


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