2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List, 1-9


#1. KYLE MULLER, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2016 from Dallas Jesuit College Prep (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’7″ / 250 lbsR/L2nd

With Cristian Pache’s reign as the top prospect now over, someone had to take over the no. 1 spot, and for me, that guy had to be Muller. The lefty had an incredible 2021 season, not only getting his first taste of the big leagues but also dominating it for a bit; during his first six major league starts, the southpaw averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine, allowed just one home run and posted a 2.43 ERA – showing us that he’s definitely ready to begin contributing in Atlanta. Sure, the final two outings with the Braves wasn’t ideal. Muller got rocked a bit, allowing nine runs from seven hits combined versus the Nationals and Reds in August, but overall his performance this past year provided what we’d all been waiting for, and that’s that Muller had arrived.

The outlook for the Braves 2022 starting staff looks strong right now, and there’s no doubt that Muller will play a big role. With Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson as locks for the nos. 1-3 spots in the rotation, I’d be surprised if Muller doesn’t fit right in as the fourth or fifth starter by the time Spring Training is over. For me: even though his prospect title will most likely disappear early in 2022 because of innings, this is the Braves top prospect as we enter a new campaign.

#2. CHRISTIAN PACHE, OF

Signed by ATL: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’2″ / 215 lbsR/R1st

I’ll admit, it feels odd not having Pache ranked first on this list, even though the difference from no. 1 and no. 2 is so small it really shouldn’t matter. And even though ineffectiveness and injuries derailed his 2021 season, it doesn’t mean his future has necessarily been negatively impacted. Pache struggled mightily in Atlanta last year, putting together a minus-8 wRC+ in 22 games with the Braves. And though he displayed some much-improved power with Triple-A Gwinnett, it’s not like he raked there either. Which begs the question: what kind of expectations should we have regarding Pache as a hitter moving forward?

After last season, I believe patience is most important. Not every prospect comes up and takes the league by storm, and for Pache, he still has some time to figure things out (remember, he’s only 23).

Pache has played a whopping 24 games in the majors over parts of two seasons, so I highly doubt the Braves are going to open 2022 with him as the team’s starting center fielder. Although, solid numbers with the Stripers during the first few months of the campaign could perhaps go a long way in getting him back where he was at the start of last year. Sure, Pache’s poor performance humbled us a bit, but I’m in no way concerned about this kid. He’s the real deal and I believe he’ll turn this around. Patience. We must have patience.

#3. SHEA LANGELIERS, C

Draft by ATL: 1st Round, 2019 from Baylor University (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
24-years-old6’0″ / 205 lbsR/R4th

It’s crazy, but during his draft year — when Langeliers debuted as a pro with what used to be Single-A Rome — I worried whether or not he’d be able to hit. All the scouts went on about his glove behind the plate, so I just assumed this was going to be a defense-first catcher. But boy did he prove me completely wrong in 2021.

With Double-A Mississippi this past season, Langeliers led the team in homers (22) and finished the year second in long balls in the South League. And it wasn’t as if he was just going up there trying to launch either – the kid posted a 9.7% walk-rate with the M-Braves and sported a solid .258 AVG. Perhaps even more impressive was Langeliers’ work behind the plate – you know the thing that got him drafted first by the Braves two years ago. Amazingly, would-be base stealers at the Double-A level were thrown out 42% of the time by Langeliers, which is ridiculous.

Because of his incredible performance for much of 2021, Langeliers was rightfully promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett towards the end of September, where the catcher only got in on five games. However, Gwinnett is where Langeliers will likely spend all of 2022. And with many believing that William Contreras is a potential trade candidate this winter, there’s a scenario where Langeliers works his way to becoming a back-up catcher in Atlanta this coming season. I wouldn’t simply expect that, but it’s not out of the cards. Me personally: I think we should see how he handles Triple-A pitching first.

#4. DREW WATERS, OF

Drafted by ATL: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’2″ / 185 lbsB/R3rd

You may think because Pache had a bad showing in Atlanta that Waters deserves to jump ahead. And that’s probably a fair argument, but that would also mean that Pache’s future value has taken a hit… and I don’t believe that.

But to be fair to Waters, he had another great year in 2021, spending all season with Triple-A Gwinnett where he hit .240, slugged 11 homers and stole 28 bases in 103 games. The numbers are obvious: like Pache, this is a very toolsy outfielder who still appears to have an ultra-bright future ahead of him. But with Waters (and Pache to an extent), I’m still worried about that approach at the plate. This past season makes two consecutive years in which the former has struck out over 30% of the time, and with his wheels on the base paths, that high of a K rate really holds him back. Waters did raise his walk-rate by 1% in 2021, which is good to see.

As far as Waters’ outlook in 2022, it’s hard for me to get a good read on what the Braves are thinking. I still believe that Pache is the next young outfielder on the cusp and that Waters is directly behind him. But, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter prospect given an opportunity instead. We saw what Pache could do – maybe it’s time to see what Waters can do? Regardless of the prospect depth chart, though, Waters still needs to cut down on the whiffs, for he doesn’t wield quite the same athleticism as his fellow outfield mate is so famously known for.

There’s also another notable storyline, though we won’t get into it here. But, given the two are essentially interchangeable talent-wise, wouldn’t it make sense to trade one of Pache or Waters? I don’t really have an opinion on that right now, but considering some of the other outfielders the Braves have drafted recently, you could make the argument that the organization has plenty of depth at the position to move one of its top players.

#5. MICHAEL HARRIS II, OF

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2019 from Stockbridge HS (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
20-years-old6’0″ / 195 lbsB/L5th

Harris is no. 1 in the Braves system, according to Baseball America’s 2022 list. And I can certainly understand the reasoning, given Harris is both young and coming off a 2021 campaign in which he put literally every tool on display, hitting .294 with seven homers and 26 doubles, to go with 27 stolen bases – good for a 114 wRC+ — at the High-A level. And to top all of that off, he was the most-hyped Braves prospect heading into last season, so he did a great job of meeting and exceeding expectations.

There’s really nothing to critique here. Harris is developing almost perfectly, displaying an impressive approach at the plate that featured just a 18.1% K rate this past season. There’s no doubt that he has perhaps the highest ceiling of all the top-tier prospects in Atlanta’s system, as at only 20-years-old, he was three years younger than the average player in High-A last year (per Baseball Reference).

The only thing that’s really holding me back from ranking him higher is that he lacks any time in the high-minors, which isn’t his fault. However, it’s extremely likely that Harris begins 2022 in Double-A Mississippi, so if he’s able to continue his numbers there, he’ll once again start moving up the list. Just FYI: Harris finished last season with the third-highest line drive rate in the High-A East league, at 25.9%. That tells me his numbers should translate rather well in Pearl, Mississippi.

#6. TUCKER DAVIDSON, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 19th Round, 2016 from Midland College (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old6’2″ / 215 lbsL/L6th

It was an unfortunate season for Davidson in 2021 as he was shutdown in June because of a forearm injury, which came after a pretty solid performance in Atlanta, including a 3.60 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 innings (four starts). It was a nice showing by the lefty and had to of given him some confidence for next season.

I’m keeping Davidson right where I had him on my mid-season list from back in August. Despite only logging 43 total innings between the majors and minors this past season, I do believe he has a solid shot at earning a spot within Atlanta’s starting rotation this coming spring. The Braves desperately need another lefty on its staff and Tuck seems like the perfect candidate if he can stay healthy. He and Muller will have quite the competition in Florida this year.

#7. BRYCE ELDER, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 5th Round, 2020 from University of Texas (TX)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’2″ / 220 lbsR/R8th

Elder pulled a Trey Harris from 2019 and totally dominated at three minor league levels in 2021, posting a 2.60 ERA in High-A Rome, a 3.21 ERA in Double-A Mississippi and a 2.21 ERA in Triple-A Gwinnett. Overall, the righty logged a stingy 2.75 ERA in 25 starts this past season, while averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine and just 3.7 walks per nine. Those are the numbers of a stud prospect pitcher, especially considering it was his first year pitching in the minors.

Given he only made seven starts for the Stripers in 2021, I expect Elder to spend much of his time in 2022 with Gwinnett. However, at his current rate of development, it’s not far fetched to expect him to crack the majors at some point next summer. Injuries happen all the time in the big leagues, and in my opinion, Elder is a just a few injuries away from getting his chance to show what he can do in Atlanta, which is crazy to say for a kid who’s tallied just 137 2/3 innings as a professional.

#8. SPENCER STRIDER, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 4th Round, 2020 from Clemson University (SC)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’0″ / 195 lbsR/R7th

Armed with a grade-A mustache, Strider silenced all the critics that said on draft day he hadn’t posted impressive enough numbers as a college player at Clemson. The righty began his impressive campaign all the way down in Single-A Augusta, where he didn’t stay long after posting a 0.59 ERA in four starts. Then it was three starts in High-A Rome, where he managed a 2.45 ERA. And after that, Strider put together a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts with Double-A Mississippi. The Braves moved him up to Triple-A Gwinnett, and following one relief appearance there, they called him up to the big leagues, where Strider pitched out of the bullpen in two games and allowed a run from two hits in 2 1/3 innings. What a busy year.

The outlook is pretty simple for Strider: like Elder, the former will do all he can to try and crack the Braves starting rotation during spring camp, but if that’s not in the cards, he (along with Elder) will help make up probably one of the most dominant starting staffs in Triple-A. I’m not sure many realize this, but the Braves are still absolutely loaded with arms in the minors… and Strider is certainly one of them. The 2022 campaign will be a huge year for the Clemson product, and I believe we’ll see him in some sort of role in Atlanta before the regular season is over.

#9. FREDDY TARNOK, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2017 from Riverview HS (FL)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’3″ / 185 lbsR/R9th

Tarnok’s 2021 season didn’t get going until early June and he sort of struggled during that first month or so in High-A Rome. However, by the end of July the righty was in Double-A Mississippi, where he went on to post a 2.60 ERA and average 12.2 strikeouts per nine in a short nine-start stretch. Overall for this past season, the 23-year-old logged a 3.44 ERA with a tremendous rate of 13+ K/9 in 14 starts and two relief appearances (73 1/3 innings). It wasn’t a full season showing, but it was solid nonetheless.

Tarnok has always been hard for me to peg down. If you read about his improvements from this past season, the added velocity and how he now has three viable offerings, you’d suspect that he’s on his way to becoming one of the top arms in the system. Although, as shown with the guys ranked ahead of him on my list, there are several other prospect pitchers in the Braves organization that are doing the same thing… and doing it even better.

Basically, I want to see Tarnok stay healthy for a full season AND put all of his improvements on display, which I’m hoping will happen as soon as next season. With 45 innings in Mississippi in 2021, I expect Tarnok’s first assignment in 2022 to be a return to the M-Braves, and then go from there depending on how he performs. Essentially, in terms of where they are on the prospect pitcher depth chart, I have him perhaps a rung behind guys like Strider and Elder, which means he’s two-ish rungs down from guys like Davidson and Muller (which is pretty much what I thought of Jasseel De La Cruz a year ago). However, a strong (and healthy) year in 2022 could help Tarnok dramatically.

49 thoughts on “2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List, 1-9”

  1. Reminder to all that Clint created this list before the big trade and has since updated his list to include 4 more prospects on the back end, moving everyone up from there.

  2. Our farm is a little gutted. I’m not saying it should be circa 2017-2018, but one of Waters and Harris and one of Muller and Davidson probably need to work out.

  3. @ 2, 3–I tend to be pretty optimistic about prospects, but in this case I think 3 of those 4 working out is unduly optimistic. Waters has great athleticism and skills, but his approach needs a lot of work. I’ll be surprised if he becomes a productive major league regular. Harris has more potential, but until he demonstrates success at AA ball I wouldn’t count on him either.
    As to Muller and Davidson, TNSTAAPP. I’ll be thrilled if 2 of the 4 work out.

    I agree with Rob that the system is not nearly as exciting as it was 4-5 years ago. On the other hand, we are World Series champs! And there is a lot of talent on the major league club that’s controlled for several years.

  4. Agreed. We have been good, we are currently really good, and will be good for a very long time. But we’re already at the point of the quote unquote competitive cycle where sustained success becomes difficult. As of the Olson trade, we’ve hit the trifecta: young players getting older and more expensive, picking at the back of the draft, and trading away prospects. I definitely think we have 4-5 more really good years left, so it’s not like there’s anything to be alarmed about at this point. Late round picks like Michael Harris becoming starters would extend the window.

  5. Michael Harris was a 3rd rounder Rob, you must be thinking of Trey.
    I am cautiously optimistic about the farm over the next few years despite picking low and trading guys for two reasons:
    1) The front office has absolutely killed it over the last 2 drafts. Nobody else was on Strider for instance.
    2) We are finally back in Latin America. Acuna was signed 8 years ago. I think this years top guys will be our stars of the future

  6. @7

    very apropos…funny and timely…

    could we hear your evaluation of the slap…out of ten?

  7. Jacob Webb got optioned. His work in game 2 of the LCS was huge and it’s maybe the 18th most important moment of our crazy postseason.

  8. Not to be outdone, our Will Smith punched out TWO people today.

    1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K’s for Smith.

  9. Contreras hit an absolutely mammoth home run to right center. If they’re concerned about his defensive ability, they’re getting him work in right, his bat has improved, and Acuna is still injured, does Contreras break camp as an outfielder?

  10. I think they are trying to make Contreras more versatile to carry him on the expanded roster as a utility man in April.

    I do question his ability to stay at catcher long term.

  11. I’m still pretty high on Contreras. I think his bat will play at the big league level, and I’m not sure what we saw last year was really indicative of his defense at catcher.
    Positional versatility is a plus, and I’m very pleased they are trying him in the OF. But being a regular catcher who can hit is even more valuable. With Langeliers gone, I suspect he will catch a lot of games at AAA this season in order to determine whether he can handle the position. That’s more important than being a bench bat in the bigs this year.

  12. Oh boy.

  13. Forearm tightness is usually a symptom of UCL injury or pre-injury. We have depth down there but would prefer him to be healthy.

  14. @18 The path between forearm tightness and Tommy John surgery is dreadfully short.

  15. Hate to hear that about Luke. I once wrote a paper on TJ surgery (even spoke to Frank Jobe), and I don’t think biology wants people to throw a spherical object really hard a whole lot of times.

  16. For the record, sometimes forearm tightness is just forearm tightness. Don’t count your demon chickens before they hatch.

  17. @ 21 – Agreed. I know there have been some that end up having TJ issues, but that isn’t always the case. Who was it that went through forearm tightness last year but ended up okay? Was it Will Smith or Matzek?

  18. Let’s raise a glass to those we sacrificed last year to fly that flag:

    Kasey Kalich
    Pablo Sandoval
    Chad Sobotka
    Patrick Weigel
    Deivi Estrada
    Tyler Neslony
    Bryce Ball
    Mason Berne
    Alex Jackson
    Bryse Wilson
    Ricky DeVito

    Hail and farewell

  19. @27: Made me realize that RichRod is still available, right? That trade for Bryse Wilson (and DeVito, I guess) is the only one I really worry about as having been not worth the price.

  20. @29 I can’t imagine Bryse would be a significant upgrade (or even an upgrade at all) over Ynoa, Davidson, Wright or Muller.

    Time for him to learn to fly in a place where he can spread his wings.

  21. Good work. Even though I follow the team daily, off the top of my head, I can only recall who Bryce Ball, Bryse Wilson, Alex Jackson and Pablo were traded for. The others, not so much, although some must’ve gone to the Royals for Soler. I have no memory Mason Berne or Kasey Kalich.

    Ah, Rich Rod. I was happy go get him at the time. His arm must really be shot if no-one has signed him yet.

  22. @13

    DOB said on the 755 Podcast that Contreras played a lot of OF during the 2020 intersquad games and opened some eyes, and that he looked good in RF during his game this week. I think it is possible he breaks camp as an extra OF/C/DH.

  23. While I intend to remain Braves Journal’s resource for statistics, I do not need a monopoly. For anyone interested, Stathead.com is offering a free access day from 9am Thursday-9 am Friday. There are a lot of things you can’t do with Stathead, but there’s a lot you can do, and it’s all presented with links for sharing, as you’ve all seen. It’s a great product, and for $80/year, all you have to do is save a tank of gas somewhere over the year…. or maybe downgrade to the bleachers for one game.

    http://www.stathead.com

    PS: I spent a couple of days of last week updating my database which can answer almost any question, so I’m ready for this year! (Last year, I actually got a thank you tweet from Jayson Stark!)

  24. I don’t really see the point of bringing up Contreras and playing him out of position so he can get one plate appearance a week. Pitchers don’t hit anymore, the team has a surplus of crummy-fielding corner/DH guys, and god knows Snitker is not going to manage some kind of complicated position time-share. (Remember the Carmago Saga?) The Braves need to know if Contreras is their catcher of the future (especially with Langeliers gone), and they won’t find that out if he’s bumbling around in right.

  25. I know there is no value in spring training stats, but there has to be some concern about Washington. The Nats are 1 and 9 and have been outscored 56 to 29. I’m hoping this carries over into the regular season.

  26. Just tuned in to todays game. What happened to Ian in the first? He’s not injured is he?

  27. RichRod didn’t necessarily help us win the division (won it by 6.5 games) or improve our seeding (we were the worst division winner, by far), but he filled meaningful innings and was really effective for a little while, something Wilson will never do. Haven’t like Danny DeVito since the 90’s.

  28. 34 — I agree with this. I think odds are he won’t play much if he is carried on the bench in April.

  29. Am I missing something? There are 3 outfield spots and a DH. You have Ozuna (a DH), Rosario, and Duvall. Acuna is injured, technically. So if you don’t DH Acuna, why not just stick Contreras in RF, Duvall in CF, and Rosario in LF? Heredia is now injured, Dickerson and Demeritte (sadly) probably suck, and we play a game every day for 28 days. I think there’s definitely a spot for Contreras almost full time.

  30. @43

    Related:

    ::The scene opens with Snit, Wash, Weiss, etc. in Snit’s office::

    Snit: Guys, we won the World Series, but it’s going to be tough to repeat. What can we do to improve as a coaching staff to get this team over the hump this year.
    Weiss: Well, we could look at giving guys days off, keeping them fresh, and that also helps get young guys with potential like Contreras into the lineup semi-regularly.
    Snit: You’re fired.

  31. @43 Per DOB, Heredia is OK after the hit by pitch. That said – even presuming Heredia was iffy to start the year, I just don’t know if the Braves would roster Contreras on Opening Day. We have two veteran catchers (D’Arnaud and Pina) and there’s isn’t as much room in the OF as you suggest. Rosario and Duvall will probably play every day, and the Braves acquired Dickerson specifically to play OF and bat against righties. Ozuna will play every day, primarily DH but potentially a little LF too. That leaves only a platoon spot against lefty pitchers, and only then potentially until Acuna is ready to DH (at which point the Braves could easily choose to put Ozuna in LF for the month-ish until Acuna can play defense again).

    Contreras has high offensive ceiling as catchers go, but has never played outfield at the MLB level. I presume the Braves will stick him in AAA and have him catch (and maybe play some OF) and see how things develop. He’d be first up if/when D’Arnaud or Pina get hurt.

    PS – Is it just me or does Dickerson’s swing read as “less athletic JD Drew” to anyone else?

  32. I kind of low-key love that this trope of our clubhouse as a sweat shop somehow survived us winning the World Series when the point of the trope when it reached a fever pitch last year was that we were going to collapse under exhaustion and crash out of the playoffs. Every other annoying Braves playoffs trope died last year, but that’s the one that survived for some reason. How delightfully absurd!

  33. Brock Holt got released. I thought he would make the 28 man roster. They may carry 15 pitchers. The bench will probably be Dickerson/Heredia (whoever isn’t starting that day), Piña, Arcia, and Gosselin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.