State of the Minors (AA Mississippi) and Game Thread

Since Austin Riley’s promotion, you’ll have to look past Gwinnett to the unfriendly, near torturous, confines of Pearl, Mississippi to find the 2 most exciting position prospects in the Braves system.

A little history of the stadium that the Double-A Braves call home: Trustmark Park opened in 2005 and immediately made its impact known as one of the most pitcher-friendly/hitter’s nightmare stadiums in all of affiliated baseball. It ranks near the bottom (or top) every year in power suppression, averaging about 0.65 HRs per game over the course of its history. In his lone year at Trustmark, Freddie Freeman hit 2 HRs in 169 plate appearances after swatting 18 in 540 PAs the previous year, so fair warning:

Any power numbers that seem off at AA should be taken with a grain of salt.

However, on the opposite end, any player that overcomes the curse of the Southern League and maintains a good SLG% should be highly praised and two eyes, as often as you can spare them, should be used to track said player’s progress. And that brings us to the meat and taters of today’s piece…the players that are overcoming adversity to find success at Trustmark.

Top Offensive Performers, Mississippi Braves

Drew Waters– .903 with 21 doubles, 8 triples, and 4 home runs

That’s right. Switch-hitting Drew Waters is sporting an .903 OPS in the most hostile park (and league) for hitters. He’s also providing above average defense in the corners, and it shouldn’t be overlooked that he can still go get it in CF, but has moved over for Pache. At only 20 years old, the Braves have the luxury to let him stay at AA and develop with a call-up in late 2020. However, there could be a scenario where he sees time at the MLB level come September should Braves have an injury or find a need for a defensive replacement/pinch runner for the postseason, but I wouldn’t expect it.

Cristian Pache– .848 OPS with 16 doubles, 5 triples, and 8 home runs

Fangraphs #15 prospect and the player that most prospect gurus call the best defensive outfielder in the minors, Pache is worthy of our excitement. Like Waters, Pache is only 20 and is likely in the same scenario as far as timeline is concerned. He could get a September cup of coffee with visions to take over in 2020, or he could be held back until September of 2021. Regardless, he’s the CFer of the future and the numbers he’s putting up at Mississippi is a testament that he’s getting his man growth and all of those prospect gurus that said his power would come, were right.

Ryan Casteel– .817 OPS with 9 doubles and 7 home runs

Casteel spent his professional career in the Rockies and Mariners organization before coming to the Braves system this year. A true 1B/C type, Casteel has put up good numbers for his MiLB career, and is a good guy to have around the younger guys, but he’s likely just organizational depth at this point. At the time of the signing, I thought he’d have a chance to be the 5th bench spot should Braves go that route, as it would allow them to burn Tyler Flowers or Brian McCann in a PH role, but unfortunately for Casteel, that seems highly unlikely.

Tyler Neslony– .794 OPS with 4 doubles, 3 triples, and 3 home runs

Drafted in 2016 as a senior sign out of Texas Tech, Neslony has not hit much in the minors, but is breaking out at Mississippi, which is bizarre. Neslony has primarily been a RFer for his MiLB career and at 25, he’ll have to hit a whole heck of a lot these next 2 years to get a shot in the bigs.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

79 thoughts on “State of the Minors (AA Mississippi) and Game Thread”

  1. Quick notes on Huascar Ynoa:

    Throws upper 90s gas, and has swing and miss stuff but likely isn’t ready to stay up for a while. Pitching solely out of the bullpen now and that’s likely where he’ll stay if he sticks. His call-up is thought to be more of a necessity for an extra arm rather than a desire to see what he can do.

  2. Pache and Waters continued performance at AA is why I changed my mind and am now firmly team Markakis over team Harper.

  3. Thank you, Ryan. Great read. Waters being a switch hitter, he intrigues me more than Pache, though I’d be delighted if either becomes a fixture in the Truist outfield and ecstatic should both.

  4. Take this with a grain of salt as it is from late april — I saw Mississippi for 2 games at Tennessee. Waters looked all world as a left handed bat and just a bit better than Dan Winkler as a righty. Any consideration of his timetable needs to factor in he would be a platoon-only option at this point in MLB. Pache, otoh, just needs more game time repetition of his new swing to be MLB bound. I expect Pache to go to AAA after the all-star break and waters to continue to work on his righty swing mechanics in AA.

  5. @3 Agree 100%. I think Waters is the pure leadoff hitter that we’ve been looking for for so long. Pache is definitely an Ender replacement. When these two guys come up and establish themselves (along with Contreras/Langeliers), this team will be truly complete. After that, it’ll be all about the pitching.

  6. When I saw the M-Braves a couple of weeks ago here in Pensacola (Twins), Waters was leading off and playing LF while Pache played RF and batted second. Pache gets great jumps and glides toward the wall. To paraphrase the author John McPhee, Pache definitely has a sense of where he is—always.

  7. @12–it was a terrific play by Flowers. But was it a violation of the blocking the plate rule? He pretty clearly blocked it so that Kingery couldn’t reach the plate, but does he have the right to do that if he is receiving the ball there?

  8. I really hope this is true:

    As near as I can tell, the Riley part is true, as Bowman basically said postmortem after Reamuto’s trade to the Phillies that the Braves were offering Riley, but were also haggling over what pitcher they’d sent to the Marlins.

    I hope the rumors are true, and I hope the Marlins feel stupid.

  9. @4 – And Pache ups his OPS by homering in the seventh. Looking forward to seeing Pache and Waters with the AAA balls, next year.

  10. Sean’s lucky to be breathing.

    DO NOT let these inherited runs score, Touki, please.

  11. Did it hit him in the head or the top of the back???

    Realmuto had a real look of horror on his face.

  12. JD kicks a lot of balls for a supposed good defender.

    Touki is almost like putting up the human white flag in this game

  13. Yeah, I thought the Phillies defense was bad but it’s the Braves that have 5 unearned runs in 2 days.

    Looks like the only way the Phillies can win is to try to nearly kill our SP. Ugh….

    We really need to work Nola’s pitch count. Hope the guys can stay patient.

  14. Chip- “fly ball hit right at Nick Markakis”…as Cakes runs 20 steps to catch it

  15. The pitchers who trouble our offense most are ours. We can’t score often enough to stay ahead.

  16. Death by a thousand pitches. This is worse than Chinese water torture.

    And Tyler may be a framer and a plate blocker, but he’s not a great catcher.

  17. Glad to see Donaldson in the batting cages working on breaking balls. Bomb city!!! 3-3, HR and a 2B. Way to go!!

  18. says Newk was hit in the head. I’m not sure – hoping it was a little lower than that.

  19. OMG, where did that kid get those glasses? Look like something out of Revenge of the Nerds.

  20. Throw strikes!

    Just shoot me.

    Thank you, Snit. Please whoever’s next, get the ball in the strike zone. Please!

  21. Words I never expected to utter: I love you, Jacob Webb. Thank you for throwing strikes.

    Get him some more runs, bats.

  22. Eight runs allowed in his last 10 appearances ensures that it is perfectly cromulent to not be flooded with confidence at seeing Luke Jackson in a one-run game.

  23. It’s hard to blame the bullpen tonight. They have really done a stellar job. The errors have hurt really badly.

  24. It’d be 5-5 going into the bottom of the ninth right now had Jackson been able to throw the ball to first.

  25. Hey, if we lose this game, it will be after giving up 1, that is still spelled “one”, earned run. We hit well, we pitched well, but the defense sucked.

  26. I will always maintain that runs scored because of an error by the pitcher should be “earned.”

    Luke Jackson is basically the Angel Hernandez of closers. He keeps the job despite proving every day he shouldn’t have it.

    Also, Jackson now leads MLB in blown saves by his lonesome, breaking out of a tie with Craig Stammen. Congratulations, Luke!

  27. jackson has given up runs in 7 of his last 11 appearances.

    we can’t keep saying that he’s just unlucky

  28. Well, they weren’t going to keep winning forever, but what a sucky way to lose, though they didn’t really deserve to win yesterday so I guess it evens out.

    I wish AA would hurry up with acquiring a closer. It’d be nice to get him before July 31.

  29. Jackson…something is there, there were too many outstanding saves/holds to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Overuse, tiredness the most likely cause. The General looked a worthy candidate himself tonight. I was kinda hoping Snit might let him stay but then we had to pinch hit which removed that option.

    Markakis, PLEASE SIT HIM. WHY DO WE HAVE TO KEEP ON SAYING THIS? It is so blatantly obvious on a night like this where we lost a one run game and he, Nick, left a bunch of runners on base, several of whom were in scoring position, early. Again, it is not fair on him let alone us.

  30. A closer who wanted to end it
    let his pace and his slider defend it
    but fielding a bunt
    he continued to hunt
    had nothing at all to commend it.

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