Two Braves fall down Baseball America’s list of top 100 prospects

Spencer Schwellenbach Braves hat

Coming into the season, the Braves had two prospects that were featured on nearly every top 100 prospect list, AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep. Per Baseball America, both were ranked in the top 50 less than two months ago. Smith-Shawver clocked in at #42 and Waldrep was #49. However, after some shaky starts to begin the year, both have fallen just outside of the top 50. Smith-Shawver is now ranked 66th with Waldrep right behind him at #68.

This probably has more to do with guys behind them performing well early in the season rather than the Braves top prospects struggling, but they did produce some forgetful outings to begin the year. Smith-Shawver surrendered six earned runs on six hits and four walks over his first three innings of the season, and Waldrep gave up 10 earned runs on 15 hits and five walks in his first seven innings of work.

However, both have eased all concerns as of late. Smith-Shawver is coming off an outing in which he tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Over his last 14.2 innings, he’s allowed just four runs. Hurston Waldrep is also coming off his best outing of the season, going 5.2 innings and allowing no earned runs with five strikeouts. He’s now surrendered just two earned runs over his last 17.2 innings of work.

Smith-Shawver and Waldrep remain the two most exciting arms in the Braves system by a country mile. Both could potentially play major roles in Atlanta as early as this season, especially Smith-Shawver. However, these early season struggles serve as a reminder that expectations should be tempered. These are two extremely young pitchers with a lot of raw ability. The tools need to be sharpened before we see them take the next step. Adversity can be a good thing, especially with the way they have responded to it as of late.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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