Whether the MLB lockout ends or not, minor-league baseball will take place, which is nice considering that it hasn’t always been guaranteed in the current world we live in. Over the years, the Braves have seen many prospects graduate to the majors, resulting in a World Series title, so it’s no surprise the farm system is much thinner than it was a few years ago. Still, there’s a ton of talent with this group, especially at the top, meaning we should see plenty of new faces in Atlanta over the next couple of years.
*I’ll be using our own Jake Gordon’s recently posted list of the Braves’ top prospects for the rankings.
10. Braden Shewmake (AA)
Shewmake burst onto the scene red-hot after being drafted in 2019, but an underwhelming season in 2020 was followed up by a year to forget in 2021. He did turn things around a bit after a dreadfully slow start, but there’s no doubt he will have to begin the year in Mississippi again. Hopefully, we see Shewmake in Gwinnett by the end of the season, but he’s a couple of years away from the majors.
9. Jesse Franklin (A+)
I was very impressed with the pop Franklin showed in his bat with Rome in his first professional season. He mashed 24 bombs in just 101 games, leading to an .842 OPS. Being a college bat, we could see him rise through the system quickly. Franklin should begin 2022 in Mississippi, but unless he gives the Braves no other choice, he probably won’t end up being promoted, given all the other outfield options the Braves have in the upper levels.
8. Bryce Elder (AAA)
Elder was tremendous in his first professional season, starting the year in Rome and ending it in Gwinnett, where he posted a 2.21 ERA over seven starts. I feel very confident in saying he will make his major-league debut this year.
7. Ryan Cusick (A)
Cusick was the Braves’ first-round draft pick in 2021. There’s a lot to like about his potential, but it will be a few years before we see him in Atlanta.
6. Spencer Strider (MLB)
Well, technically, Strider has already made his MLB debut, as he appeared in the final series against the Mets last season. I’m not sure if he will begin the 2022 campaign in Atlanta, but by the end of the season, he should be a staple in the Braves bullpen.
5. Drew Waters (AAA)
Waters underachieved mightily with the Stripers last season. He needs to make some serious adjustments to his approach at the plate, but that’s not all that unusual for players his age at the highest level of the minors. I still believe in Waters’ major-league potential, but it might be a little longer than we originally expected before he’s a permanent major-leaguer.
4. Kyle Muller (AAA)
Like Strider, Muller has already spent some time in the majors, and I expect him to play a role in Atlanta at some point this year as well.
3. Cristian Pache (AAA)
Pache began last season as the Braves starting centerfielder, but his terrible results at the plate resulted in a demotion. He was better in Gwinnett, but there is still a lot to be desired with his offense. There’s a chance he becomes a contributor in Atlanta this season, but I think it’s best if he spends another year with Gwinnett.
2. Shea Langeliers (AA)
Langeliers is a prospect I can’t wait to see in the majors. Initially drafted for his defensive ability, which has been fantastic so far, his bat has come along much quicker than expected. Langeliers has the potential to be one of the best catchers in the majors one day, but he’s probably at least a year away from making his MLB debut.
1. Michael Harris (A+)
Harris is the most electrifying prospect in the system — a true five-tool player that could one day hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the bigs. There’s a reason he’s the top prospect in the organization, but I still think it will be at least a couple of years before we see him in Atlanta.
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