Baseball America updated their Top 100 Prospects in baseball rankings yesterday, and two Braves came tumbling down the list. Once considered Top 20 prospects according to Baseball America, Cristian Pache and Drew Waters found themselves outside of the Top 50 in the latest update.
Pache’s tumble is understandable. It didn’t take long for the world to figure out he wasn’t as far along as many prospect evaluators believed. He began the season hitting .111 in Atlanta before being permanently moved to Gwinnett, where he has also struggled offensively. In 40 games for the Stripers, Pache is batting .246 with a .724 OPS. Defense is always going to be his calling card, but he’ll never be able to stay in a major-league starting lineup if he can’t show a better approach at the plate. I have plenty of faith Pache will turn this around and become a great pro. After all, he’s only 22, and Baseball America still has him ranked the highest of any Braves prospect, but it might be at least a year before he starts contributing in the majors.
Right behind Pache in the rankings, coming in at #52, was Drew Waters, who also took a nosedive. He was previously ranked #19, and I’m not sure this ranking is as warranted. Waters got off to a sluggish start and even dealt with a minor injury, but he’s been on fire as of late and still has pretty good numbers as a whole. For the season, Waters is hitting .256 with eight homers, leading to a .786 OPS. He still strikes out too much, but that’s always been a concern, and his walk rate is up significantly this season. I would say those are pretty good results for a 22-year-old in his first extended stint of AAA ball, especially after a tortoise-like start.
It wasn’t all bad news for Braves prospects on Baseball America’s list, though. The two other Braves featured — Michael Harris and Shea Langeliers — rose substantially.
Harris has taken Atlanta’s farm system by storm, but he’s cooled off quite a bit in A-ball after a scorching hot start. Still, he rose all the way up to #68 after being previously ranked #90. Harris is the definition of a five-tool prospect, and we could see him in Mississippi before long.
Langeliers is currently in Mississippi, and he’s quickly generating momentum towards becoming the Braves’ top prospect. Baseball America ranked him #72, up from #85 in their last rankings, but if he keeps mashing, they won’t be able to keep him out of the Top 50 for long. Langeliers currently has 15 bombs and an .818 OPS in 60 games for Mississippi this season. I wouldn’t rule out a promotion for him later in the year, either.