Checking in on the Braves prospects for July: The top 10

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Because I’m just chomping at the bit to update my Braves Top 30 prospect list, I’m going to go ahead and wrap up this month’s check-in series. Over the last few days I’ve covered nos. 30-11, so now it’s time to examine how the organization’s top 10 prospects performed during the month of July. But just know… this list may be very different in the coming days as I put out my updated rankings.

*All stats mentioned below cover only games played in July

10. Bryce Elder, RHP↑

AA – Mississippi

Elder’s start on Tuesday was his fifth­-straight outing in which he lasted exactly seven innings, which is pretty damn impressive if nothing else because of how hard it has to be to hit that same mark that many times in a row. Obviously having made it so far into his starts means the kid is pitching well. Elder posted a solid 2.73 ERA for the month of July, his first full month at the Double-A level. He did have one rough outing in which he allowed five runs during that seven-inning streak, BUT overall, there’s absolutely nothing to critique here. The 22-year-old is progressing nicely and should definitely be a prospect to watch during the 2022 season, when he’s most likely facing Triple-A batters.

9. Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP ↓

AAA – Gwinnett

While Elder has mostly dominated in Double-A, Cruz has mostly struggled in Triple-A. The 24-year-old Cruz just had a start on Tuesday, and like many of his outings this season, he didn’t pitch very well. He ended July with one of his worst performances of the year when he allowed five runs in five innings, a start I saw in-person in Memphis. I of course didn’t get to watch all of Cruz’s starts last month, however, in that July 28 game against the Redbirds, the righty spent way too much time inside the strike zone (plus the heat index was nearly 110 degrees at first pitch). Regardless, I’ve been disappointed with Cruz in 2021. The more he pitches, the more I’m beginning to believe he’ll have to move to the bullpen. There just hasn’t been enough there to 1) generate enough swing and miss… and… 2) consistently allow him to go deep into his outings.

8. Braden Shewmake, SS ↑

AA – Mississippi

What a month it was for Shewmake, who has done a complete 180-degree turnaround lately. The star shortstop finished July with a .357 AVG and 1.022 OPS to go with eight XBH (four HR) in 14 games – by far his best month of the 2021 season. In fact, of the 14 games Shewmake played in, he finished with at least one hit in all but two of them (that’s a good way to dig yourself out of an early-season slump). It looks like the former first-round pick dramatically simplified his approach at the plate, which has allowed him to really improve his quality of contact altogether. And all of this improvement really started in late-June, not too long before I watched him live during the M-Braves series versus Tennessee (June 22-26). In the final few games of that series, Shewmake was seemingly squaring up everything, and evidently, he never slowed down even on into July. Hopefully he can keep it up, because this time next season he needs to be showing that advanced bat against Triple-A pitchers.

7. Kyle Muller, LHP↑

MLB – Atlanta

Muller spent all of July with the big league team so that right there should tell you he at least had a decent month. Although, the lefty had more than just a decent month. In four starts with the Braves, Muller compiled a 2.29 ERA to go with 20 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. And it appears he’s only getting better the more he pitches, shown by the combined 0.90 ERA in his last two outings, both of which came versus contending teams (Mets and Brewers). I have to say, as good as Muller has been as a prospect in Atlanta’s system, I didn’t see this coming from him. I’ll gladly take it, though!

6. Michael Harris II, OF↔

A+ — Rome

July was Harris’ worst month this season, but his bad isn’t really all that bad to be honest. The kid still owns a 109 wRC+ overall in 2021, and sure we know he’s capable of even better production with the bat, but a .250 AVG during a 23-game stretch is nothing to worry about. In fact, Harris actually tallied more walks than he has in any other month so far this year, and he still ranks within the top 10 in the East League in both doubles and triples. Also, his 27.4% line-drive rate is the fifth-highest rate in the league, another indication that he’s doing just fine.

5. Shea Langeliers, C ↑

AA – Mississippi

Langeliers peaked in June with nine home runs, but his performance didn’t drop very much in July. In a span of 22 games, the former top pick by the Braves hit .247 with seven XBH (four HR) and ended the month with six multi-hit finishes. By now, I think it’s evident that Langeliers is the real deal as a hitter. But what’s been even more impressive is just how incredible he is behind the plate as well. The 23-year-old has thrown out 45% of would-be base stealers this season, and it wasn’t too long ago that that rate was upwards of 50%. I tell ya, this kid has it all and there’s no doubt that he has a great shot at becoming the Braves future homegrown starting catcher.

4. Tucker Davidson, LHP ↔

MLB – Atlanta (60-day IL)

Davidson has been on the shelf since mid-June and was transferred to the 60-day IL on June 24 (forearm). This has to be super frustrating for him given how well he was pitching in the majors this season. Davidson had tallied a 3.60 ERA in 20 innings for Atlanta in 2021, and just imagine if the Braves still had him in the rotation for the complete second-half of the regular season. Maybe he returns in a few weeks, but there hasn’t been much news regarding his ailment. The team definitely needs him.

3. William Contreras, C ↑

AAA – Gwinnett

Ever since getting optioned to Triple-A back in early July, Contreras has gone absolutely nuts at the plate. The kid has played 20 games with the Stripers and already has eight homers, five doubles and 25 RBI, with all but one of those games coming last month. He’s slashing .351/.400/.743 and has shown no signs of slowing down. Travis d’Arnaud is back in the mix and in the process of rehabbing so we certainly look forward to him being back in the lineup. But damn, Contreras sure looks like a viable backup.

2. Drew Waters, OF ↑

AAA – Gwinnett

Waters had his best month yet in July, slashing .301/.351/.573 with 17 XBH (five HR) in 24 games with the Stripers. His 11 doubles in that span were more than he managed to hit in both May and June combined. Waters’ impressive performance, coupled with the Braves outfield issues prior to the deadline, made many feel that he should’ve gotten a big league call-up. However, it’s important to understand that the 22-year-old is still striking out at a 30% clip, and though his walk-rate has increased dramatically this year, his overall plate discipline isn’t quite there yet. Still, with a 108 wRC+ at the Triple-A level in 2021, it’s definitely accurate to say Waters is getting better. I think FanGraphs’ ETA of 2022 is still very accurate.

1.. Cristian Pache, OF ↓

AAA – Gwinnett

Man 2021 has been a disaster for Pache, who currently owns a 41 wRC+ combined in 70 games between the majors and Triple-A Gwinnett. And it’s not just that… the star prospect has struck out in roughly 33% of his PA at both levels, which is by far his worst K rate as a pro hitter. Pache spent all of last month with the Stripers, and though his numbers weren’t ideal, they also weren’t horrible. In 26 games he hit .232 with six XBH to go with a 29.9% K rate. Maybe he figures it out again. Hopefully he does. But it’s most likely going to have to happen in the minor leagues this year. Maybe a fresh start in 2022 is what Pache needs.

Ian Anderson Update

Checking in on the New Guys

The Braves made 5 additions to the roster at the trade deadline in Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Richard Rodriguez. 4 of the 5 have played in Atlanta and here are their stats:

  • Duvall: .583 OPS
  • Soler: 1.162 OPS
  • Pederson: .864 OPS
  • Rodriguez: 3 G, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA

Touki Toussaint Discusses Grips

Braves Lineup

Braves are entering tonight’s game only 2 games behind the New York Mets for first in the division. A win tonight knocks that deficit down to 1.5 and get the Braves above .500 for the first time in the 2021 season.

74 thoughts on “Checking in on the Braves prospects for July: The top 10”

  1. Good job, Clint.

    A shout out to Alex R. (No longer merely”another”) . Great metaphysical take on IWOTM in the previous thread.

  2. Kevan Smith…my hopes are low

    UnF-ing believable. Again, I don’t give two craps about his pitcher era when he catches. He costs us so many runs offensively we wouldn’t need a great era if he could hit a lick. He is as bad as the Hamster was

  3. Turns out that Kevan Smith is Pittsburghese for “Corky Miller.”

  4. How much longer is that rally killer gonna be on team .. please .. Contreras or D Arnaud .. please .. he is killing us .. he has hit into I don’t know how many DP .. I was saying please strike out .. please

  5. I continue to believe that Touki doesn’t have the command to be a starter long term.

  6. Has there ever been a runner thrown out trying to take an extra base who has not immediately called for a replay?

  7. Ian Anderson was a little rusty in his first rehab start giving up 2 runs in 2.1 IP, 3 BB, 2 K. Then Nolan Kingham continued to get lit up by Triple A hitters giving up 7 runs.

  8. Pederson hits a HR off a lefty, thus proving once again that I shouldn’t fill out the lineup card.

  9. d’Arnaud has caught 2 full games and half of another. Let’s get him up here.

  10. It doesn’t look like Touki trusts his stuff at all. Way too much nibbling with non-competitive pitches

  11. @5 Corky could put on a show in BP, allegedly. I dunno if Kevan could hit a ball hard enough to leave a bruise.

  12. Francoeur says nobody is up in the bullpen, so Touki gets to see the top of the order for the 3rd time next inning. Why Snit?

  13. Ozzie continues to produce in the lead off spot 2-15 since last week.

    A six pitch inning for a guy you need to make throw strikes

  14. I wonder if Lucroy is just an ornery guy. He didn’t last long in Atlanta.

    Maybe Smith gets along great with the pitchers?

  15. 26 — Yeah, that’s really the only explanation. The pitchers have been good when he is the catcher.

  16. Another annoying thing about Chip: he always butchers the pronunciation of Latin players’ names. He said “Genesis” Cabrera like the pronunciation of the Bible book. I remember he called Anibal Sanchez “Anna Belle.”

  17. @29 And of course, he gets Arenado but not O’Neill.

    Chavez is a weird looking human with those glasses.

  18. Francoeur points out the Braves caught a break by O’Neill not taking an extra base on Carpenter’s single to right, and it costs the Cardinals when Bader flies out on a would-be sac fly.

    But then Smith whiffs on a pitch and the run scores anyway.

  19. This might be a good time to say I expect d'Arnaud to be activated by Tuesday. He's currently scheduled to play these next four days for Gwinnett. But there's always a chance he could come up a day or two earlier than scheduled.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 6, 2021

  20. @35 tomorrow is “by Tuesday” so we can only hope

    But we will probably dfa Vogt and keep Smith though…lol

  21. Smith has had a terrible offensive and defensive game. His pitcher era thankfully won’t be harmed due to his passed ball, so I can see why pitchers like him since he is such a team guy like that

  22. @9 I recall the same comments made about that Sandy fellow. We loved him four and three games ago. Maybe we should wait to get more examples, than decide if it’s love or not.

  23. WOOHOO!

    Now that’s the kind of magic you can get when you take Kevan Smith out of the game.

  24. Oh my goodness gracious. I almost had a thought where I felt sympathetic for the Cardinals.

    But on second thought, the hell with ’em! This is a blast.

  25. I am so used to watching the Braves bullpen pull this kind of stunt. It sure is nice to be on the winning side of it for once. This reminds me of the early 2018 Braves bullpen (but not Braves, ya’ know) – the Sam Freeman experience.

  26. Something tells me that the Cardinals deadline acquisitions are not going to propel them to make up a 10 game deficit and win the pennant. In all seriousness, I can’t believe they are so close to. 500. They are either playing in much weaker competition than Atlanta or they’ve regressed a whole lot since the all star break. They actually don’t look much different than when we played them in June.

  27. I gotta say, Giovanny Gallegos sure has lost a lot of points for my fantasy team this week. I can live with that.

  28. I quit watching when they went down 4-2 so imagine my surprise when I just checked the score.

  29. #62 – Given all those walks and all that scoring, did you notice the game was only 3 hours and 12 minutes? Let’s see if we can learn from what used to be done instead of game changes like 7 inning doubleheaders and 3 batter minimums.

  30. 67 — Widening the strike zone would help pitchers get outs quicker if you want a faster game. But chicks dig the long ball.

  31. Oh my, all that anxiety for nothing. I will concede there is a void at catching.
    And why did Smith pitch the ninth?
    Hopefully the Nationals will continue to stink.

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