Ryan’s 2019 Braves Midseason Top 30 Prospects

We heard from Snowshine yesterday on his top-30 prospects in the Braves system and now it’s my turn. Our top-10 looks quite similar (with one exception) but ranking 11-30 is a guessing game of evaluating talent that isn’t fully developed yet and that’s what makes it so dadgum fun! Enough talk, let’s get to the players.

Atlanta Braves Top-30 Midseason Prospects

  1. Cristian Pache– Could be following RAJ’s footsteps as it isn’t too big of a stretch for Pache to become baseball’s #1 prospect come May of next year if he gets promoted to AAA and continues hitting. The last skill needed to show was power and it is here.
  2. Drew Waters– Still needs to develop the RH swing, but he’s right behind Pache in talent.
  3. Ian Anderson– Walking a bit too many but has been a K-monster since the end of April racking up 95 in 69.2 innings.
  4. Kyle Wright– I feel the Braves hit the force promotion button with Kyle when he likely wasn’t ready. He was a young starter when drafted with all the potential in the world, but it was still potential. Looks like he has really figured it out in his last 4 appearances with a whole lot of K’s and very few BB’s.
  5. Bryse Wilson– He’s looking more and more like a MLB pitcher even though the stats haven’t fully backed it up. He’s running up the fastball to 97-98 and is still utilizing 4 pitches. He’s a bulldog, ladies and gents, and is going to be a serious innings eater.
  6. William Contreras– Has really struggled with the bat in 2019 after breaking out in 2018 at Low-A. It might take a step backward to step forward for Contreras and I’m guessing that’s why Langeliers is now here.
  7. Kyle Muller– Driveline-aided, Muller has added some serious velocity and was putting it all together in May, but has been struggling of late as the walks have spiked again. I still believe he’s a #2-3 starter, but it’s going to take consistently harnessing that added velo to get there.
  8. Shea Langeliers– A defensive minded backstop with serious leadership ability behind the plate, the Braves think there’s more to Langeliers bat than meets the eye. Could easily argue he should be above Contreras.
  9. Braden Shewmake– The hit tool that’s been advertised has shown up as he’s rocking a .437 batting average in Rome. No doubt he’ll be promoted before the end of the season and soon he’ll see talent that matches his own.
  10. Travis Demeritte– Likely the biggest surprise on this list. I’ve watched Demeritte a whole lot this season…and last season. 2 years at Mississippi seemed to depress Demeritte as the light-tower power that he’d shown was simply swallowed. I’ll admit, I was pretty hacked off with the Braves when he didn’t get promoted to AAA in 2018, but I’m glad that he’s there..and crushing now. He’s increased his walk rate, BA, OBP, and SLG while lowering his K-rate, all the while adding corner OFer to an already impressive defensive resume. Oh…and he’s OPS’ing over 1.000.
  11. Joey Wentz– In 2018, his velo came…and Wentz. Apologies for the Dad humor. Joey went through a fun little period known as “dead arm” and it really put a damper on his prospect status. He’s been recovering that status in his last 3 outings as the velo is reportedly back and the strikeouts are piling up again.
  12. Tucker Davidson– Another Driveline guy that added velo, Davidson sat low-90s and even high-80s last year, but now is pumping mid-90s regularly and has been a consistent force for Mississippi. There’s an argument to be made that he’s surpassed Wentz as a prospect, but I’m sticking with Wentz due to pedigree.
  13. Huascar Ynoa– We saw what he could do at the MLB level with that FB/slider combo and I think we will see it again before too long. For me, that’s how I see him as I just don’t think he has the stamina to stick as a starter.
  14. Luiz Gohara– He’s here because of his name, but it’s another lost season for Gohara. I was told repeatedly how dumb I was to be upset when the Braves traded Mallex Smith for him. That’s a deal I’d like to have back, for sure.
  15. Kolby Allard– I don’t pretend to be a pitching expert, but Kolby Allard looked bottom of the barrel bad when he pitched in the MLB in 2018, with a fastball topping out at 89. Now the fastball is sitting 90-93 and that’s all he really needs to make the rest of his pitches work. His last 6 starts have been great, but I think his future lies in another franchise’s arms.
  16. Jasseel De La Cruz– Due to injury, De La Cruz was in Rome all of last year. Now, he’s in Mississippi. That tells you all you need to know about his development. An electric arm that is pushing mid-90s, a slider as an accompaniment, and the changeup is the desert. He’s got serious workhorse potential.
  17. Patrick Weigel– As with all players that are coming back from Tommy John, the Braves are slowly building Weigel’s arm strength and it’s time we started paying attention to him again because his giant fastball is darned near ready. I could see him as a multi-inning relief option later this year as he’s already occupying a 40-man roster spot.
  18. Trey Harris– A 5’10, 200 pound 32nd rounder in 2018, Trey Harris isn’t supposed to be this good and yet he’s carrying a .959 OPS on the year. It’s hard not to like a good story and that’s what Trey feels like. He’s beloved by all, works hard, and I sure do love me an underdog.
  19. CJ Alexander– Bone spur surgery kept CJ out until recently and we haven’t seen enough to gauge how real his 2018 performance was, but don’t forget he got a big league ST invite and that tells you a little bit about what the Braves thought about him.
  20. Victor Vodnik– I won’t deny that it bothered me when the Braves moved Victor out of the bullpen and into the rotation recently, as I thought for sure he was going to be fast-tracked to the MLB as a back end bullpen guy. Apparently not. The ceiling is high for this kid as he possesses an ungodly fastball and if he can develop 2 more pitches that equal that standard, look out. However, the floor for this kid is high as well and that’s where the real fun begins.
  21. Michael Harris– I have always liked guys that profile as a 2-way player (love me some Kyle Muller) and recently drafted Michael Harris is one of those guys. At 18, there’s not much to know yet, but he’s athletic and fast, and sometimes it’s necessary to trust the people that know more than you.
  22. Alex Jackson– I’ve watched a lot of Alex this year and I cannot imagine there’s another player in AAA that has suffered from bad luck at the plate more than AJax. The BABIP matches the argument too, as it currently sits at .238. Alex might be on the outside looking in when it comes to MLB catching duties, but I do believe he is an MLB player and will do well for someone. Once a bit pudgy, his physique is quite impressive and he’s monstrously strong, and I think we’ll see an uptick in his numbers for the rest of the season.
  23. Mahki Backstrom- Matt Powers is a writer over at Talking Chop and there’s no one else that puts more time and energy into the Braves draft as he does, and when he tells you that Backstrom was the steal of the draft and could’ve went as a 1st rounder in 2018, you listen. At 6’5 220, Backstrom profiles as a 1B, but Powers thinks there’s a bit of Jason Heyward in that body and wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting work in LF.
  24. Daysbel Hernandez– With a FB that sits 95-98 and a slider that leaves the strike zone with ferocity, 22 y/o Hernandez is being groomed for the back end of the bullpen and I’d be willing to bet he’ll be a fast riser.
  25. Freddy Tarnok– There’s no fun way to put this…Tarnok has been bad this year. To keep his innings in check in 2018, he built up to starting. Now that he’s been a regular in the rotation, he’s not fared well. Here’s where we get to say “trust the stuff”.
  26. Justin Dean– Like Harris, Dean was a later round pick in 2018. Also like Harris, he’s making the baseball field his playground in 2019 as he’s getting on base at a .405 clip and has successfully stolen 26 bases out of 32 attempts. Possessed with a good glove but small stature, Dean feels like a Mallex Smith story and I’m 100% here for watching that develop.
  27. Tristan Beck– Once thought of as a first round talent, Beck was considered a 4th round steal back in 2018. Just recently deemed healthy enough to pitch, Beck doesn’t possess the best stuff but is intelligent and knows how to get people out. For me, he feels like he might have a Josh Tomlin type career.
  28. Hayden Deal– Went undrafted, Deal was signed in 2017 and is making noise at High-A with his cutter. Already 24, Deal could move quickly, especially if he continues to dominate both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
  29. Beau Philip– 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft, Philip was Oregon State’s short stop this past season and is said to be raw even though he’s played competitive college ball. Only 20 years old, Philip is starting out at Danville, but I’ve a feeling he’ll be spending a whole lot of time in the offseason at instructs rebuilding his swing.
  30. Jeremy Walker– Throwing a bone here, Walker is doing something that we as Braves fans, who had to endure the bullpen walkathon the first 1.5 months of 2019, would be quite impressed were we seeing it regularly. But I HAVE seen it regularly and it’s been glorious! He’s not walking people. Yes…Jeremy Walker should be Jeremy NOT Walker as he’s allowed a miniscule 0.8 BB/9 this year. Recently promoted to AAA, Walker has had a great year for Mississippi going multiple innings piggy backing off of Ian Anderson. If he can continue his good work at AAA, he could be next in line for the bullpen shuffle.

Notable Omissions: Greyson Jenista, Corbin Clouse, Thomas Burrows, Chad Sobotka

Explanation: Jenista has been the biggest disappointment from the 2018 draft and for a guy that was already positionally challenged, he might not be given that long of a leash to get right. Both Clouse and Burrows had serious chances to become lefties in the MLB pen early this year and both crapped the bed. Burrows is on a seriously good run since being demoted to AA and has yet to allow a walk in 11.1 innings of 1.59 ERA baseball. Clouse has just recently started a rehab stint with the GCL after imploding at AAA, allowing WAY too many walks. If he can return to 2018 form, he could receive another shot in 2020. For me, Sobotka being left off is semantics. He’s 25 years old…and 25 year old players shouldn’t be prospects anymore.

Thanks for reading!

Long live, Braves Journal!

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

38 thoughts on “Ryan’s 2019 Braves Midseason Top 30 Prospects”

  1. @1,

    I would have brought DuVall up last week when the number of games reached the point where bullpen meltdown was unlikely. Then, he could be optioned down for Bryse Wilson. That way he could build some trade value, at minimum. Demeritte is not on the 40, so that would take another move (I think we are at 40 now, but it is so hard for me to find that).

    As to the need for the platoon, Markakis for 4.5 years has been about an 800 OPS guy against righthanders and a 700 OPS guy against lefthanders. This year’s small sample of even worse performance against lefthanders is not all this is based one. He should be playing LEFT field (where his noodle arm can play better).

    Demeritte should be playing 2nd and 3rd at AAA as of about two weeks ago. That way he gets in some reps for scouts for possible trade situations. Long run I would RATHER trade DuVall than Demeritte, but who knows how we match up. DuVall and Demeritte together would be a vast improvement for the Giants, and they have Bumgarner, Watson, and “that other” Will Smith who all should or could be Braves targets (depending on price).

    This performance by Demeritte means that he will have to go on the 40 by November or he is gone anyway.

    Culberson could be a Markakis platoon partner now. This is where I get irritated at the Snitker thing about deferring to veteran players. When AA signed Markakis, he should have gone over left field usage and platoon usage and made sure that Snit would do it.

    Also, meanwhile Ender went O fer again last night. I guess he can claim he is healthy and make a squawk about getting back on the ML roster in a few days and that would also force roster moves. Ender is almost untradeable until he hits at least a little.

  2. Demerritteś strikeouts have been increasing as the season goes on, which is troubling given his history. Either he or Duvall would be fine as the short side of the platoon, but Duvall is the better defender so he could be swapped in as defensive replacement for Riley in the late innings. So long as we have Culberson and Camargo there really is not a good fit on the roster for Travis. I suspect he will be filler in a deadline deal sometime in the next 3 weeks.

  3. @3
    I’m sure you are right. Still, the transition for Demeritte has been awesome to watch on a nightly basis.

  4. Just some random thoughts:

    -I don’t know yet if you should want the Mallex trade back, and it’s well documented my thoughts on Mallex. Gohara is 22 years old, and if you’re calling for Travis Demeritte to get PAs against LHP because he’s figured it out at age-24, then there’s no way you can say anything definitively about Gohara. At the end of the day, Gohara’s upside is just too high to be writing him off.
    -I agree with both snowshine and Ryan that Langeliers and Shewmake should be a tick behind somebody like Kyle Muller.
    -The system is starting to thin once you get past the top 10. We’ve now gone through stages where it was really thinning after 30 (which is just insane depth), to thin after 20, and now thin after 10. And it makes sense when you graduate generational talent the way we have, so I’m just pointing out the progression of this “Rebuilding Curve” or whatever it’s called.
    -I would definitely say that IF Pache can develop the power that Acuna developed as he advanced that he could become no worse than a top 5 prospect in all of baseball. Pache’s bat has just come on so quickly that it’ll be exciting to see if he becomes the complete hitter that Acuna has. The defense would put Pache over the top, which is just crazy to say, though Acuna was able to turn his speed into stolen bases much better than Pache has. But Pache Plus Power is a true 5-tool player, and it’s hard to argue with a .516 SLG as a 20-year old at AA.

    Love the prospect lists, guys.

  5. Johan Camargo should platoon with Nick Markakis. Man, what’s the guy gotta do to get some love?

    Yeah, Ender is now 1-16 with one walk during his rehab assignment, so I don’t know what the heck the Braves will do there. I would not want to be in AA’s shoes right now.

  6. I think they put him back on the IL. There is no place for him on the ML team and he currently has no trade value.

  7. @Rob
    For me, it’s never been about talent for Gohara but the problems that are well-documented off the field. Demeritte stalled at Mississippi. Heck, even Freddie would’ve stalled at Mississippi if the org would’ve wanted him to. Mallex just seems like he’d fit a real need on this team…a true 4th OFer that is an elite runner (which everyone has in the postseason).

  8. The All-Star break is a fun time to take inventory of the organization talent too, not just the current season. It’s crazy to think that by next year, we could potentially be trying to figure out a spot for the following under contract players: Freddie, Ozzie, Dansby, Camargo, Riley, Ender, Acuna, Pache, Waters, Culberson, Flowers, Alex Jackson (hey, he’s on the 40-man), and Demeritte (hey, he’s on the 40-man). Then on the pitching side, there’s Soroka, Fried, Folty, Gausman, Newcomb, Teheran, Anderson, Wright, Touki, Wilson, Gohara, Allard, Ynoa, Muller, and about a dozen relief candidates. That’s about 40 players who could be ready to contribute that only costs you about $60M, leaving you plenty of flexibility. I think next year could potentially be the pinnacle of talent vs. cost that the Braves will have during this cycle. I can’t see 2021 being any better, and it’s better than this year, I think.

  9. I think the only “problem” with Gohara that is both within his control and also damning to his development is his weight. But what’s frustrating is that it seems he had lost the weight that was keeping him from being effective, but then he gets injured and we don’t even see his physical condition. Call me crazy, but I feel like the moment Gohara gets back on a mound, he’s going to be right there with the prospects that are either on the Gwinnett shuffle, established in the bullpen, or even pushing for a rotation spot. It’s maddening just how close it seems we are to having him be a fixture on the staff and yet… so far.

  10. Duvall isn’t coming up until he reaches the necessary number of days in the minors for another year of team control.

    Demeritte should be up, but that 25 man roster move seems tricky.

  11. @ 11, Carl,

    I agree that is probably part of this. But I think it was at least 2 weeks ago that I remembered that as being “20 more days.” Does anybody know exactly where that stands?

    And, they had a perfect reason to option back in that the All Star break gave a break to the bullpen and another pitcher is needed and somebody had to be optioned. So, he could finish whatever is left of those 20 days at AAA AFTER being recalled.

  12. 5—The farm is thinning a bit primarily to all the Coppy-related prospect/draft/signing losses. That’s why you saw them do what they did in the draft this year, really emphasizing quantity and upside, spreading the slot dollars across a bunch of high-schoolers drafted in the 11-20 range.

  13. @9. you are right in the amazing amount of talent under team control at relatively bargain prices. although I think you left out Duvall. And although we are not obligated contractually I think it’s a given the Braves will offer another contract to McCann should he finish the year healthy. whatever they do it should NOT include bringing Markakis back. way too many better options

  14. Are we allowed to sign any Latin American prospects, or still absolutely forbidden? I recall that the max bonus was capped at something like $10K. But I can’t remember if we’re allowed to sign anybody at all in 2019.

  15. @13 Definitely provides additional benefit to getting Stewart’s slot money pushed into 2019. I liked the strategy and ultimately the execution a lot.

  16. @Alex
    Braves have no pool but can still sign guys for 10K, which doesn’t count against the pool. They signed 7-8 guys already.

  17. My two cents: Luis Gohara will be great for us. Giving up on him would bite us in the butt.

  18. We’ve been along for the ride with Luis Gohara for this long, so we might as well stick it out as long as we can. He’s an interesting lottery ticket who has just had a rough stretch for a while now.

  19. It seems like there are more mysterious shoulder injuries than there are mysterious elbow, knee, hip, etc. injuries. I know I’ve heard PTs many times say that shoulders are hard to diagnose and treat. The Braves would just do well to say, “Whatever, let’s shut him down, control his service clock, let him lift and get in better shape, and let’s start him back up if he feels good.” Probably similar with Allard. “His velocity has tanked, we don’t know why, so if it hurts then stop. Otherwise, keep throwing and let’s see if the velo comes back in a few years.” When you have so much talent, you’re probably much more loose with these guys.

  20. Demeritte is not on the 40-man roster. I thought he should be but he was left off and not selected in the past two Rule 5 drafts.

  21. @22, Unless he suffers a catastrophic downturn in his year, he’s going to have to be put on the 40-man this offseason. I would nominate TD as “Most Likely To Be Traded.” Or maybe Duvall.

    Or maybe we trade Camargo and use Demeritte as our super-sub that never gets into any actual games.

  22. ESPN is reminding us how dominant the AL has been in the ASG – last NL win was in 2012.

    Do you remember what i think i remember – a double from BMac, still a Brave, winning the game for the NL and 2012 sounds about right?


  23. MLB is reminding us how dominant the AL has been in the ASG – last NL win was in 2012.

    Do you remember what i think i remember – a double from BMac, still a Brave, winning the game for the NL – and 2012 sounds about right?


  24. got it…nice memory to keep

    good live session with both managers first on latest Cancer fund raiser where it was pretty obvious both of them had been personally strongly affected. Then it was fun when they both tried to out guess each other on what pitch Casillo would throw 3/2. ..change up

  25. “It’s a f—–g joke,” Verlander told ESPN. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you’ve got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—–g company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened.

    “Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”


  26. I’d be for trading Camargo and keeping TD. Two reasons. One, Camargo doesn’t seem as suited to sporadic playing time; and that’s important on a team where he won’t see regular ABs. TD might or might not do better, but (and this is my 2nd reason) he will be cheaper.

  27. When Omar Infante was a supersub we were giving him 500 Plate Appearances a year. Camargo is currently projected at just over half that. Less than super. As we’re using him, he’s just a sub.

  28. To bring up either Demeritte or Duvall for a tryout, the odd man out would have to be Joyce, who can only back up corner outfield. But he’s been killing it this year so you certainly can’t DFA him, but the trade value of a pinch hitter is pretty low — basically a C prospect. The only other option that I can see would be waiving Blevins.

    I’m sure that AA is working the phones.

  29. AAR at 33,

    No, you can option down a relief pitcher. A few days before the ASB to a few days after is a lot of time to spread out bullpen usage. They missed a possible management tweak that should have worked.

    As of 10 days from now, unless several starters are getting into and through the 7th, then no, you missed your shot.

    I think each of these guys (Duvall and Demeritte) would be worth a LOT more in trade if they had even 10 days of ML time, now, for scouts to see them.

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