With Vaughn Grissom, Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider all being directly promoted from the Braves AA team in Pearl, MS, it’s becoming pretty clear that putting up numbers in AAA isn’t a must from this scouting department, and honestly, I don’t blame them. Gwinnett, while they’re winning, is mostly compiled with players that can be called up from AAA in dire situations, play for a week or 2, then be DFA’d, moved off the 40-man, and either head back to Gwinnett, get claimed or traded, or become a free agent. In 2022 alone, this has occurred to Danny Young, Travis Demeritte, Ryan Goins, Mike Ford, Phil Gosselin, Silvino Brancho, Touki Toussaint, Jesus Cruz, Kramer Robertson, Jacob Webb, Joe Dunand, and Chadwick Tromp. Both Alex Dickerson and Sean Newcomb were also DFA’d, but were on the MLB club and Dickerson went to Gwinnett while Newk was traded for Jesse Chavez. In baseball terms, I think that’s no small sample and it’s apparent Gwinnett is where the retreads go and Mississippi is where the talent is tested, and the latest talent, Justyn-Henry Malloy, could be following Grissom, Harris, and Strider’s footsteps from Pearl to Atlanta.
Malloy, drafted out of Georgia Tech in the 6th round of the 2021 MLB draft, is a 22 y/o 3rd baseman turned OFer. He made his professional debut in August of 2021 and carried a strong slash-line of .271/.388/.434 in 147 PAs for the Greenjackets, who are the Braves Low-A affiliate. That was enough to gain a push to High-A for the beginning of 2022 where he continued his good work, carrying an .889 OPS that was carried by a bat that finds a lot of barrels and a remarkable eye that produced a 14.7% BB-rate.
On July 12th, not even a full year into his professional career, Malloy received his 2nd promotion to AA in Pearl, MS where power goes to die. Malloy wasn’t phased by the notorious pitching friendly park and has continued his same patient approach, sporting an .869 OPS through 147 AA at-bats. And while the K-rate has increased at AA, the walks have as well.
For me, the comp is easy. His approach seems very much like a Justin Upton type, but with less hype and, yes, likely less talent . His power and patience is undeniable (it has that sound) and that combo could be something that this Braves team could use at the big league club.
My estimation for his arrival would be mid-2023 when an injury prompts the team to make a bold move. However, I would not put it past AA to make a bold move in September should Eddie Rosario continue to play well-below expectations. I mean, who would’ve ever guessed that Michael Harris or Vaughn Grissom be promoted when they were? Not many. Make no mistake though, Pearl is where the real test lies, and thus far, Malloy is acing his exams.