Braves Farm System: Believe in Michael Harris and Others

Michael Harris Atlanta Braves 2020 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs G

A lot of ink has been dropped over the last 6 months about the Braves farm system. Many have discussed how “top-heavy” much of the system is, and I’ve been a very vocal contrarian to this idea. In an odd 2020 where most evaluators were stuck with slim reports coming out of alternate sites, farm system rankings were all over the place and the Braves seemed to be at the forefront of polarization, ranking anywhere from 5th to 19th.

While I think 5th might be a stretch, don’t undersell the depth in this farm. Miraculously, the Braves still have a great farm system with future stars and above average role players and have had to build it without the luxury of high draft picks and international signings. The biggest helium prospect in the system is, without question, Michael Harris. When the right people start talking, we should pay attention.

While there hasn’t been much national hype with the Braves drafts, they did an outstanding job in the later rounds of 2018 and 2019:

Most of these guys are players that have made themselves into household names in Braves fandom, but have received little recognition nationally. What would have been if 2020 were not in the shadows? Sure, every team has a few of these guys that are under the radar, but 8 or 9? Highly unlikely.

  • Would the triple digits fastball of William Woods be getting national attention?
  • Would Backstrom’s body transformation and massive power potential have turned Keith Law’s black heart?
  • Would Victor Vodnik’s arsenal bypass Jonathan Mayo’s list? * Probably*
  • Would the contact/power potential of a mountain like Bryce Ball made it into Baseball America’s Top-100?

Who knows, but the guys listed above combined with Drew Waters, Cristian Pache, Ian Anderson, Tucker Davidson, William Contreras, Kyle Muller, Braden Shewmake, Jasseel De La Cruz, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Shea Langeliers, Jared Shuster, Freddy Tarnok, Bryce Elder, Jesse Franklin, Daysbel Hernandez, and so many more have me expecting great things and not the big dropoff that’s been predicted after 3-4 of the top guys graduate the system.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

82 thoughts on “Braves Farm System: Believe in Michael Harris and Others”

  1. I gotta say, before this offseason I’d never heard of Michael Harris, but Bravda has made me into a believer and I’m incredibly excited.

    Regarding Backstrom, official Friend of Blog David Lee had this to say about him versus Ball:

    I have Ball as a potential everyday player and Backstrom on the Others list as a raw hitter whom I need to track. So my gap between the two is large at the moment. Ball’s spring has only solidified my high stance on him as a corner slugger who could impact a lineup in a couple years. There are several questions I’d like Backstrom to answer in his first full pro season. I should be putting eyes on him very early this season to help create a better projection.

    I think Waters is in danger of becoming where Riley is for me today: a guy with a hole in his swing who I no longer feel excited about. Obviously, he has tons of loud tools and there’s a pretty strong chance he can at least be a backup outfielder, if not a starting center fielder, but I really need to see what he does in a full year and if he can really progress forward as a prospect. The same is true for Riley, of course. I think both of them need to take 2021 to show the team that they belong in the long-term plans.

  2. And to expound, my list doesn’t include Ambioris Tavarez, Patrick Weigel, Trey Harris, Spencer Strider, Nolan Kingham, Tyler Owens, Greyson Jenista (not surprising as I’m way low on him), Stephen Paolini, Kasey Kalich, Riley Unroe, Jared Johnson, Alex Jackson, and several others.

  3. David’s best attribute is his eyes and it’s also something that he relies on nearly 100% which is why he’s the best. However, there are other guys that I trust (namely Matt Powers of Talking Chop) that is full steam ahead on Backstrom.

    I’m really excited for 2021’s MLB season, but almost equally excited for 2021’s MiLB season. I expect the Braves will shock a lot of people in both categories.

  4. I really like the way you brought out the Braves’ effective use of low-round draft picks. That was something the Wren regime was awful at, and I think Schuerholz wasn’t able to do a good job in low rounds after the end of draft-and-follow. Most of those guys will never do anything, but the ability to find major leaguers and trade chips on the second and third days of the draft is a major differentiator.

    Not saying that you have to find Jacob DeGrom, but you can’t just punt the low rounds. In previous years, that seems to have been what we did. Now, it looks like we’re grabbing interesting guys from top to bottom. Whatever happens to a lot of these guys in the upper minors, it’s great to see that the organizational depth continues to be pretty strong.

  5. There’s definitely been a strategy of spreading out the funds to embiggen the chances of adding premium talent without premium costs.

    I like the word embiggen. It feels made up. Don’t judge.

  6. Ryan, has Boxcar Wino used up rookie status? Oversight? Don’t think highly of him?

  7. Rank these prospects (suspects) in the order of IYO most likely to pan out to least likely to pan out/be productive MLB positive WAR players:

    Waters
    Shewmake
    Langeliers
    Harris

    Other than none of them, which I would guess…, I’ll go

    Langeliers (easiest for a catcher to ‘pan’ out in the first place, IMO)
    Waters (pedigree vs attitude)
    Harris (very very very doubtful)
    Shewmake (no)

    Pick between Ball and Backstrom?

  8. My barber said the following could go down:

    ATL Gets: Ian Happ and Aledmys Díaz
    Cubs Gets: Newk, Carlos Correa, Inciarte
    Hou Gets: Camargo, Waters, Javy Baez

  9. I will go Langeliers, Waters, Shewmake and Harris with huge error bars on Waters and Harris. I still see a 10+WAR career for Shewmake by the by. Ball will be better sooner but Backstrom is more likely to have a career

  10. @7:

    Really? Every state in the country is going to have some controversial, recently-passed law or pending bill…

    Maybe next time there’s a mass shooting, they can refuse to have the All-Star game in the states with MLB teams that don’t ban assault rifles.

  11. @7/15 – For the good of all of America the cancel culture crap has to stop. There are a lot of people I disagree with including some on this blog but I enjoy discussing and not trying to tear others down. If people don’t start pushing back we can enjoy a politically correct series with only select players from the Giants, Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox deemed worthy to participate.

  12. Excited about Michael Harris. Not sure I love the amount of pressure that Chipper’s comparisons can have on a young player, but it seems the love is warranted. I’m afraid Covid really hurt the fans’ ability to see where a guy like Harris is. He wore out Rookie ball in 2019, but it would have been nice to know how he would have done in A- or A+ in a hypothetical 2020 minor league season.

    Is there any indication of how teams are advancing guys after 2020? For instance, Harris would have likely been at A- or A+ as a 19-year old, and judging by today’s hype, he probably did something in 2020 behind closed doors to generate hype. So where does he start this year?

  13. I’m a little late to the Kirby Yates story, who apparently will be getting Tommy John surgery. But it shows a couple of things: (a) you can talk all you want about canny GMs and sabermetric value and lineup juggling, but a lot of the value in baseball franchises comes from pure talent evaluation and having a medical staff that knows what they’re doing. There’s some doctor or sports physiologist out there who saved the Braves $9 million and he deserves a little bonus.
    (b) The downside of paying Yates half of what he’s worth when healthy in order to save cash explains why lower-market teams have to be so lucky to succeed, much luckier than the Dodgers or Yankees. Yo, Toronto! Instead of saving $5 million on Kirby Yates only to lose $5 million instead, hire a better medical staff, which I suspect could be done for under $100K.

  14. @7:

    They should move the game. Enacting Jim Crow laws in the year 2021 to keep African Americans and other minorities from voting. That’s an abomination. I’m guessing Georgia will lose a lot of business just like NC did over their LBGTQ discrimination laws. NC learned their lesson.

    We should be making it EASIER to vote.

  15. I have an opinion on this issue, too, but I’m not going to share it. I’d rather we just leave this topic on the other side of the no-politics line.

    Agree 100% with JonathanF. One thing about the Anthopoulos regime is that while we criticize them for not going as far as we’d like – not loading up and even overloading like the Dodgers adding Bauer to a world champion team – he has a very high hit rate on the moves he makes, and he’s also generally avoided big screwups.

    Maybe he’s overcautious and a slightly higher error rate would indicate a healthier willingness to take chances, but I’d say that so far he’s done a good job avoiding both errors of omission and commission.

  16. And I agree with AAR relative to the discussion of moving the ASG. I have extremely strong views, but they’re not going to be expressed here and I fear it’s going to take some editorial willpower to keep it out of this bar when and if the issue picks up steam.

  17. Yeah…let’s leave it.

    The bench openings got smaller figuratively and literally as Panda made the team. Ervin DFA’d and Kipnis released.

  18. I’m getting flashbacks to Rusty Staub on the Mets — looking forward to Panda stalking the dugout, bat over shoulder at all times.

  19. I’m surprised Sandoval made the team over Lamb. The roster looks set except for backup catcher and the 9th reliever.

    RF Acuña
    2b Albies
    1b Freeman
    LF Ozuna
    C D’Arnaud
    SS Swanson
    3b Riley
    CF Pache

    Bench

    UT Camargo
    UT Adrianza
    OF Inciarte
    3b/1b Sandoval
    C Contreras/AJax

    Rotation

    LHP Fried
    RHP Morton
    LHP Smyly
    RHP Anderson

    Right handed relievers

    Martin
    Jackson
    Jones
    Tomlin
    Ynoa?

    Left handed relievers

    Smith
    Minter
    Matzek
    Dayton

  20. @27 By my count, there are still 33 in camp (not sure I could list them, though without some thought). Your roster accounts for 27. Still have to figure out what to do with Lamb. I have a feeling based upon recent coverage that Newk might beat out Dayton. I am guessing that Panda’s roster spot is very temporary. As soon as the 5th starter is needed, Panda may go (i.e. the 5th rotation spot replaced by a bench spot until needed). I also still think Camargo will go down. With Adrianza on the roster, my guess is that Panda got Camargo’s spot.

    I never thought Ervin would stick. Opening up his roster spot gives us some flexibility – especially if a trade is in the offing. Maybe he’ll come back on a MiL contract.

  21. I may have miscounted. Based upon last roster post, might be only 29 left. If so, then one of the two catchers, Soroka to IL. and one of Newk/Ynoa/Dayton goes down (or out). I still think Dayton might be dropped – especially if a trade is coming. Maybe Newk was a showcase or maybe the bullpen game being planned will have multi-inning outings from both Ynoa and Newk and one of those two will go down when Soroka is recalled.

  22. All the pitchers I listed above made it plus Newcomb

  23. There it is. The “options” game in full swing. Dayton/Jackson over Camargo due to no options remaining. And still one open slot on the 40-man.

    On the other hand, a few interesting types newly freed = Dietrich, Chirinos, Yasmany Tomas, Renato Nunez, Boxberger, Dee Gordon, the Toddfather, Tony Watson, and, of course, Shane Greene.

  24. Wow I have some major opinions on boycotting states and sports for laws that some don’t like. However I agree this is not the place for politics and will stand down. Thanks for keeping the baseball discussion going. Sorry if I veered where I shouldn’t have.

  25. A four man bench of Ender, Panda, Ajax, and Adrianza is an even weaker bench than we imagined a week ago when we were discussing bench options. Who do you turn to for a big hit in a pinch? None of these guys inspire a lot of hope in that regard.

    OTOH, I’m assuming that AA will be signing a couple of guys who were just let go by other teams. And Camargo and Contreras were sent down because they had options. We will see them again.

    The big disappointment to me is that Lamb didn’t work out. I was sort of counting on him to spell Riley and be a strong lh pinch hitter.

  26. Your periodic reminder that the trouble with carrying 14 pitchers is that, sooner or later, you are going to use them.

  27. I second @37 on Lamb. I figured he was a shoe-in, but it seems like Panda took his spot. I hope Panda shows something interesting.

  28. At least we can bring back the old tradition of the pitcher batting for himself before getting pulled in the next half inning.

  29. @9

    You may have missed it but a few weeks ago the term Boxcar Wino was deemed unacceptable here for its racist connotations. BLM.

  30. Bye bye Johan? If it stays this way that’s going to be a tough swallow for this fan. He should be on the bench.

    Johan Camargo
    this has to be some kind of embargo?
    throw it across, performing the mime
    our human rubber band, showtime.

  31. Freddie @ .183…march 28

    Now comes the time says Captain Fred
    when swings and misses in my head
    translate to actual outs
    and opposition shouts
    of hit into the shift instead.

  32. We all say that spring training stats are meaningless but this year we have lived and died on them. Panda and Adrianza are solely on the team based on a good spring. We’ll see how it works.

  33. One billion or two, she said, up front?
    Two would be better, I replied. For both of us. Here’s why.
    Say one third of the second billion was surplus at closing. Three hundred and forty million. Enough for two years in the Free Agent market.
    That also saves us the embarrassment of acknowledging the ask for a billion a year for the first 5 years was somewhat over the top and would destroy the FA market.
    Would have been fun though.
    Aah, she said, I love fun. Jeff would have been so jealous.

  34. Would like the record to show that I abstained from the political discussion, so as I may not be branded the primary instigator once more.

    Our man Julio Teheran didn’t have a great spring, but he seems to have earned himself a spot in the Tigers’ rotation. I’ll continue to cheer for that junk-balling SOB.

  35. Darvish and Bauer both had an awesome couple of months last year, and that seems to have been enough to decidedly change the general perception of their overall ability.

    I think they’ve both got tremendous stuff, but they both have had pretty high variance in their outcomes. We’ll see how they do. Meanwhile, I like our guys.

  36. I enjoy listening to him but does Frenchy really have to start every sentence with “Look”?

  37. @42. I missed that signal of virtue. Never have I had the slightest thought Mr Ynoa’s cute and clever nickname had the faintest hint of a racial connotation. Every portrayal I’ve ever associated with the nickname gave me a mental image of a white hobo. I must be not be fully awake. ALM. Mea culpa.

  38. @55 – That’s because there are no racial connotations to that nickname unless you squint real hard and stand on one leg. I’ve just called him Boxcar, but I see no reason to change it.

  39. I never liked the nickname Boxcar realizing it’s just a play on the pronunciation of his name. I’d rather call him “Husker” or “Husker Du”.

    I think the only thing I don’t like about the roster we’ve got is the decision to send Webb down. Kept too many lefties and the RH bullpen looks very weak behind Martin. We are going to see Minter, Matzek, and Smith facing a lot of RH hitters. Maybe that’s OK, but you’d think it’d be pretty easy to dig up some cromulent RH relievers. I hope Nate Jones turns out to be magic. I’m afraid we’re going to be seeing a lot of Luke Jackson.

  40. Y’all know I like a good conspiracy and here it is:
    1. Kipnis’s release is on MLB website but not Braves website.
    2. All other Braves transactions listed on MLB’s website are on Braves website.
    3. Kipnis is on Twitter asking for help to find a home in Atlanta.

    Something’s afoot.

  41. Hmmm. I don’t think Kipnis would play much and I think his ceiling is basically his 2019 season, which was .245/.304/.410-.715 OPS. With the defense of a 33 year old, I don’t see anything he brings us. Are you thinking he may retire and go into coaching? That’s about all the value I can see. Anything I’m missing?

  42. Just found this on MLBTradeRumors:

    “The Mets also announced a series of roster cuts today. Jerry Blevins, Jerad Eickhoff, Caleb Joseph, Jose Peraza, Mallex Smith, and Arodys Vizcaino were informed that they will not make the opening day roster, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter).”

    That’s quite a set of familiar names.

  43. @63,64 Really makes you wonder why these teams are so much worse at identifying talent than me.

    In all seriousness, what’s odd about Mallex is that it’s 4 years after I made my absurd proclamation — from age 23 to 27 — and he’s not added a modicum of power even as the game has become much more conducive to do so. Most odd.

  44. @ 55

    Thanks. ALM indeed and yours was a fine example.

    @ 56

    Alex, you are testing an old man’s memory, but…it did not strictly approach the level of a conversation, more a rat-a-tat-tat… some clever chap posted it, one or two congratulated him for his verbal dexterity and then a couple more pointed out the downside for these pages that we all place a certain value on. It was all over, boom. No recriminations I can recall. And no, you know me, I never look anything up! For the moment, my friend, ever for the moment.

  45. A fun little link here from Spin.com, which offers MLB 2021 predictions from 62 different musicians:
    https://tinyurl.com/RockMLBPicks

    Fave response from X drummer, DJ Bonebrake, a Dodger fan…
    Q – What are your reasonable hopes? What’s the ceiling/floor?
    A- My reasonable hope is to be entertained, eat some hot dogs and drink some beer. If we make it to World Series, all the better!

    Best picture: Randy Johnson towering over Eddie Vedder & Kim Thayil

    A handful of Braves fans in there, including the singer of Athens band, The Whigs… and yes, they’re rather optimistic (be sure to check the WS prediction from the Escape the Fate drummer – OK, I chuckled.)

    Let the real games begin.

  46. Bleacher Report had our lineup ranked #3 in baseball behind the Dodgers and Yankees, so we have that going for us

  47. OOTP is bullish on our lineup, not as much on our SP. I’m about 3/5 through the 2021 season and I’m in first place by about 2-3 games.

    Rob will be elated to hear that Dansby is doing great!

  48. I’ve said it before… but I love this bar. I’m ready for some baseball! I don’t think I’ll take for granted the option to attend in person once I can get my hands on some tickets. They can call that place Truist or whatever they like. Get me some popcorn and a hot dog, please.

    Also, y’all can look for me in the standings this week as MLF arrives at Dale Hollow reservoir. The water’s high and entire trees are floating down the Obey right now, and it’s going to get a lot colder with lows dropping into the mid-20s by Thursday night. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, Braves fam.

  49. Ububba, that piece is tremendous. Alice Cooper predicting the Tigers would finish third was incredibly heartwarming.

  50. Ok…maybe I’m pretty good at this detective thing.

  51. @80 I’ll let you know when I get there this evening. From what I’ve seen so far, the water is up… as in up and into the camping spots at the campground near Sunset marina. I’m glad I opted for the hotel room as opposed to the camping spot I had originally planned!

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