In case you missed the first 2 installments of our Atlanta Braves Top Prospects Lists, you can find them here:
A reminder that this is a cumulative list from 3 Minor League followers, Karl Ehrsam (snowshine), Matt Pocza (@Braves_Rumors), and Ryan Cothran (@baldheaded1der), and the rankings might not be reflective of each person’s opinion, of which I hope they’ll share their thoughts in the comments! Let’s get to it, shall we?
Braves Journal’s Prospect #25, Vaughn Grissom
(Ryan) If you don’t recall the story of Vaughn Grissom’s recruitment, it came piggybacked upon the recruitment of Riley Greene, 5th pick overall by the Tigers. Grissom, a big dude and another guy that could be a steal for the Braves in the 11th-20th rounds, played SS in the GCL, but likely moves off that position as he advances. Grissom had a healthy, yet unspectacular, slash line in his pro debut and has the body and athleticism that screams power potential. He also has a passion for speed on the basepaths, too, and if he can be an above average runner, he’s got real 5-tool potential.
Braves Journal’s Prospect #24, Victor Vodnik
(Matt) While Vodnik is short for a pitcher, a tick under six foot, he has arm strength like you wouldn’t believe and he just turned 20 years old. In his first full season for the Braves he displayed a 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 67.1 innings for the single-A Rome Braves. He started three games and earned three saves, showing versatility in his role as he mainly worked as a long reliever. His ERA would have been much lower had he not given up 8 of his 22 total runs in his last three outings of the year, but still a successful season nonetheless. He tops out around 96-97 mph, but his fastball is electric and clearly his best pitch. His only other pitch is a slider, but both are above average and he controls them well. He has plenty of time to grow and as long as he continues to progress he should have a bright future as a middle reliever in the big leagues.
Braves Journal’s Prospect #23, C.J. Alexander
(Ryan)- Left-handed hitting C.J. Alexander is a big dude and that big 6’5, 225 pound frame hit the ground running in 2018, mashing to a .924 OPS showing good pop to all fields and adequate, if unspectacular, defense. Unfortunately, his 2019 was injury riddled which is why his prospect status has taken quite a hit. Still, CJ has the potential to be the steal of the 2018 draft and, if he can continue to field other positions other than 1B, he’s a fast climber to keep an eye on in 2020. By the look of his Twitter feed, the dude is hungry…and hungry boys eat.
Braves Journal’s Prospect #22, Justin Dean
(Ryan)- When the Braves traded Mallex Smith, they did me a solid and found someone else I could obsess and drool over. I love these types of players. Dean is a 22 year old CFer, 17th round pick from the 2018 draft. Since being drafted, Dean has done nothing but rack up hits (122 in 109 games), walks (12.3% BB rate), with occasional pop (18 doubles, 9 triples, 9 HRs) and wreak havoc on the bases (47 SBs, 10 CS), all the while playing exceptional CF defense, although, like Mallex, his routes can get a little loopy. The power took a huge turn for the good in 2019 and would’ve likely provided reason to get promoted if he hadn’t been injured. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Dean skip High-A next year and get battle tested in Mississippi, and if his power numbers continue to increase, we will be hearing a whole lot of buzz about him next season.
Braves Journal’s Prospect #21, Greyson Jenista
(Matt)-Greyson Jenista is one of those prospects that just gets me excited! The Braves 2nd round pick in 2018, he quickly progressed to A+ in his 60 games of work. In 2019 he was able to share the outfield with Pache and Waters for most of the season, I would guess those are two excellent mentors to work hard beside. He had a bit of a down year compared to 2018, only hitting .233/.318/.349 across 130 games in A+ and AA. Looking at his OBP you can see his patience, as he walked in 13% of his at bats (MLB average is around 8%). His numbers aren’t super flashy yet, but the tools are there and as a 3-year starter at Wichita State he never had an OPS under .900. The main tool to watch will be his power; scouts believe it should continue to progress as he has the strength to do a lot more damage. Jenista should start the year in AA, but perhaps he earns a promotion later in the year if Pache or Waters join the big league club.
Thanks for reading!
Long live, Braves Journal!
If you liked this, check out former top prospect Austin Riley’s 2019 Player Review.