Photo courtesy of Atlanta Braves
Historically known for producing excellent prospects, the Atlanta Braves’ minor league system has plenty of talent.
In the first of a 2-part series, we’ll be looking at the club’s top 10 prospects. Here’s a look at the guys who have the best chance of contributing at the big-league level in 2021 and beyond.
10. Jared Shuster – LHP
The Braves’ first-round draft pick in 2020, Jared Shuster is a Wake Forest product. Shuster already has seen an uptick in his fastball, touching the upper 90’s, but his best pitch is his changeup. This pitch sits around 80 miles per hour — at least 15 MPH slower than his fastball.
Quickly becoming one of the most important pitches in Major League Baseball, changeups are causing many pro hitters trouble. Shuster’s quality changeup-fastball combo allows him to have a high floor, but if he wants to stick as a starter long-term, he’s going to have to improve his slider and potentially another pitch. The ability to throw a curveball for a strike, would go along way towards keeping batters honest against Shuster.
He has yet to play in the minor leagues, so it will be interesting to see at which level Shuster is placed. If he goes straight to Double-A, it will showcase the confidence the staff has in Shuster, and potentially speed up his timeline to the majors. Shuster has potential to be an impact pitcher for Atlanta in a few years.
Estimated MLB Date: 2023
9. Tucker Davidson – LHP
Last year, Tucker Davidson made his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox. Even though it did not go well, Davidson has come a long way since getting drafted in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. A Driveline (pitcher performance training program) enthusiast, Davidson has seen his velocity uptick over the last few offseasons, with it now sitting in the high 90’s.
He features a curveball, slider, and changeup to go with his high heat. His projection may be a tad below Kyle Muller’s, but they have similar qualities and upside. Davidson may contribute to the Braves’ bullpen as early as this season.
Estimated MLB Date: 2021
8. Kyle Muller – LHP
At Zion Williamson’s height and Lebron James’ weight, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, Kyle Muller is by definition a big boy. He is a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher, who will almost definitely make his big-league debut this season. His fastball is his best pitch, touching 100 MPH occasionally.
He has a good curveball and a solid changeup. Muller is being developed as a starting pitcher, but he will most likely get his first big-league action as a reliever this season, because the Braves’ starting rotation is loaded at the moment. A second-round draft pick in 2016, Muller has risen through the Atlanta farm system and he is ready to make it to the show.
Estimated MLB Date: 2021
7. Braden Shewmake – SS
After drafting Shea Langeliers ninth overall in 2019, the Braves selected Braden Shewmake, a shortstop from Texas A&M, 21st overall — also in the first round. Right after he was selected, Shewmake received a text from a liaison with the Tampa Bay Rays — who owned the next pick — that said that they would have selected him. If you can get a guy that the Rays — generally regarded as the best scouting team in baseball — want, you have done well.
Shewmake is a tall, left-handed hitter. He moves very well for a 6-4 middle infielder, which has caused some scouts to compare him to Corey Seager. He is a contact hitter with good speed. If the Braves cannot reach a long-term deal with the homegrown Dansby Swanson, Shewmake stands to be next in line.
Swanson’s contract ends after 2022, which is right around when Shewmake should be ready. Obviously, Swanson has established himself as an elite shortstop, but Shewmake’s presence in the organization allows the Braves to have some peace about the shortstop position for the next decade — even if Swanson’s contract extension demands get out of hand in a few years.
Estimated MLB Date: 2022
6. Shea Langeliers – C
If William Contreras doesn’t pan out in the majors, the Braves can rest assured, with Shea Langeliers knocking on the door right behind him. Langeliers is an elite, defensive catcher prospect; however, his bat isn’t quite there yet. Most likely, Langeliers will spend all year at Triple-A, racking up as many at-bats as possible.
As soon as his batting ability catches up to his defense, he will be in the big leagues. He is already the best defensive catcher in the organization. Langeliers has a strong arm and an impressive pop time, throwing out several runners during spring training. Langeliers played his college baseball at for Baylor and was a very good hitter as a junior.
He put the world on notice when he hit three home runs for 11 RBIs in an NCAA Tournament game. The Braves selected him ninth overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. They hope his bat will develop as a pro, like it did throughout college. Langeliers may overtake Contreras as the future everyday catcher for Atlanta.
Estimated MLB Date: 2022