Who could be the next fast-rising prospect for the Braves?

Vaughn Grissom call up

We’ve seen the Braves aggressively promote young players, and for the most part, they have received positive results. Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II battled it out for Rookie of the Year; already earning big extensions. Vaughn Grissom showed some promise as well. If the Braves continue this strategy, who could be the next big name that they promote to the majors quickly — if there is one?

OF/3B Justyn-Henry Malloy

I’ll get the obvious out of the way; Malloy was incredible in 2022. He absolutely crushed Rome pitchers to the tune of an .888 OPS and 10 home runs, and he didn’t see a drop-off in production after hitting Mississippi, blasting six bombs with a .824 OPS in 54 games. Malloy even received a taste of action in Gwinnett over eight games and posted an .864 OPS. What’s most impressive about him is his approach — he doesn’t chase or whiff very often. He has a lot of potential and could be the next great bat in Atlanta’s farm system. We could even see him get some action in left field in 2023 if it continues to be a sore spot for the Braves.

RHP AJ Smith-Shawver

Kyle Muller only has one more MLB inning until he graduates from his prospect status, which means according to Baseball America, Smith-Shawver will be the top dog in Atlanta’s farm system. Smith-Shawver has some of the most upside in the system. He has an incredible pitch mix for a guy his age and was one of the two high schoolers signed by the Braves in the 2021 draft, but he’s more akin to the pitchers selected in the 2022 draft. He’ll need a lot of work, but his raw stuff and athletic ability could make him a problem on the mound. The Braves are extremely high on this kid, and so am I. He could be promoted to Mississippi quickly if he reaches his ceiling.

RHP Royber Salinas

Don’t let Salinas’ box score fool you — this kid can absolutely bring it. If you’re looking for another Spencer Strider, it may very well be Salinas. He struck out an absurd 175 batters over 109 innings in 2022, mostly thanks to his upper-90s fastball and nasty slider. He needs some refinement, but there’s a ton of potential here. Baseball America has him seventh in their prospect rankings, and I had him at eighth.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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