Welcome to the mid-season prospect list for the Atlanta Braves, compiled by the team at Last Word on Baseball! Atlanta certainly has one of the best farm systems in baseball, and they have added to their system with a strong showing in the draft. What remains to be seen is whether or not the club will buy or sell at the trade deadline. It is likely that the front office will continue to add young, controllable players while also making moves to bolster the minor league system. With that being said, here is the first half of Atlanta’s top-20 prospects at mid-season.
Atlanta Braves Mid-Season Prospect List 2017, Part One
Minter continues to look like Atlanta’s best relief pitching prospect in their system. Unfortunately, Minter’s debut this season was delayed due to an arm injury at the start of spring training. He appeared in his first game on April 11, but he did not pitch again until June 12. The good news is that Minter looks to be getting stronger at this point of the season.
Minter has a 2.70 ERA in 14 appearances this season. He has been overpowering with 19 strikeouts in 13.1 innings pitched and a .213 BAA. Three of Minter’s four earned runs this season have come at the Triple-A level, but it looks more like a rough stretch than a major indicator of deeper struggles. With the state of Atlanta’s bullpen, it remains very likely that Minter could debut at some point this season.
Weigel used an incredible 2016 season to make a big jump up many prospects lists heading into the off-season. He was named Atlanta’s organizational pitcher of the year after serving for the ace of the staff at Rome and posting a successful Double-A debut.
This season has been a tougher battle for Weigel. He holds a 4.14 ERA in 15 starts across Double-A and Triple-A. Batters have fared better against Weigel at Triple-A with a .269 BAA and five home runs in 41 innings pitched. Despite the fact that Weigel is coming off a start where he allowed nine earned runs, he still has demonstrated signs of growth at Gwinnett. Weigel has two starts of eight or more earned runs at Gwinnett, but those have been his only struggles. He has not allowed more than three earned runs or completed less than five innings in any Triple-A start.
Sims almost feels like the senior member of Atlanta’s farm system. He is only 23-years old, but was drafted right out of Brookwood High School in 2012. Sims has slowly worked his way through the various levels of the minors, and he now stands on the brink of a MLB debut.
His numbers do not blow anyone away, and he has struggled more over his past 10 starts. Sims has allowed three or more runs in eight of his past 10 starts, and he has made it past the sixth inning just twice in those 10 games. A growing cause for concern is the amount of home runs he is giving up. With that being said, Sims has shown good strikeout and walk numbers this season. He has 104 strikeouts in 97.1 innings pitched with just 30 walks. It remains to be seen when Sims may get a big league opportunity, but he has a good opportunity to contribute on the back end of a MLB rotation.
- Drew Waters – OF
Waters is one of two 2017 draft picks to appear on this mid-season list. He is a hometown kid out of Woodstock, Georgia that Atlanta drafted in the second round. Waters signed soon after the draft and has already begun playing in the minors.
Waters did not last long in the Gulf Coast League before receiving a promotion. In 14 GCL games, Waters slashed .347/.448/.571 with two home runs, three doubles, a triple, 10 RBI, and 13 runs scored. Waters notched more runs scored than strikeouts (11) to go along with two steals. He has just played one game at Danville, but he did notch two hits, including a double and a run scored, in his debut. It is always difficult to project 18-year old kids, but Waters certainly looks polished with a balanced game beyond his age.
Peterson, like Minter, had the start of his season delayed. He showed up to spring training with legitimate aspirations of making the big league roster as a bench player and fourth outfielder. Unfortunately, an early broken hand and surgery sidelined Peterson until May 19.
Peterson had a somewhat slow start once he was activated, though that is to be expected after missing two months at the start of the season. After 51 games played in Triple-A, Peterson is slashing .284/.344/.361 with 23 runs scored, 22 RBI, and 10 doubles. He appears to have found his groove and eye at the plate, which means his power numbers should slowly but surely creep back up. Peterson will likely never have elite power, but he has displayed gap power and ability to get on base thus far. The issue for Peterson is a current logjam at the corner outfield positions in Atlanta. Another issue is the insane ascension of fellow outfield prospect Ronald Acuna. Acuna has positioned himself as the outfielder likely to receive a promotion if an injury or trade does occur.
Jackson came to Atlanta via trade this past winter for pitching prospects Rob Whalen and Max Povse. (The Braves would also receive pitching prospect Tyler Pike as a PTBNL in the deal.) Jackson’s development, along with a position change from catcher to outfielder, had stalled him as a member of Seattle’s farm system. Nevertheless, he had enough value as an intriguing power prospect for the Braves to take a chance on him.
Jackson was off to a hot start this season before a trip to the DL slowed him down. He has not been as impressive since his return, but his overall numbers this season still look strong. Jackson is slashing .275/.340/.520 at Advanced-A Florida with 14 home runs, 41 RBI, and 119 total bases. It should be noted that the position of catcher has become a loaded position for Atlanta’s farm system. With that being said, Jackson’s power potential makes him the most tantalizing prospect of the bunch. Unfortunately he still has some kinks to work through before a promotion.
Demeritte is another prospect who is not having the kind of season one was hoping for. Demeritte is impressive at times, but he has turned his inconsistencies into a season-long struggle. He is hitting just .212 in 88 games with Double-A Mississippi. Demeritte does have 11 home runs, 16 doubles, and 124 total bases, but he has not gotten on base enough to indicate progress. His 99 strikeouts to 36 walks are a huge red flag moving forward, and it is hard to determine what the next step will be for Demeritte. His power potential and versatility in the field are the reasons why he is on this list, but Demeritte needs a revolution to maintain his high status.
t-12. Touki Toussaint – RHP
Toussaint may just be having the most confusing statistical season of any prospect out there. Toussaint holds a 5.46 ERA and 2-9 record across 17 starts for Advanced-A Florida. Yet somehow he ranks second in the Florida State League (FSL) with 104 strikeouts in 2017. The issue for Toussaint remains his walk rate. Toussaint has the fourth most walks in the FSL with 42 while also allowing seven home runs. The numbers are not impressive, but Toussaint’s raw stuff and strikeout numbers are tantalizing. At just 21-years old, it would be unwise to write off Toussaint without more time to develop his craft.
t-12. Cristian Pache – OF
Acuna is the young outfielder getting all the headlines, but the 18-year old Pache has put together quite an impressive season at Single-A Rome. The young Dominican has appeared in 80 games for Rome while slashing .284/.343/.355 with 44 runs scored. It is evident that Pache does not have the same power as Acuna, but he makes up for it with impressive speed and a decent approach at the plate. Pache does have eight doubles, seven triples, and 20 steals this season and has been one of Rome’s more consistent performers. He may have a more limited ceiling than some due to his skill set, but his performance this season has put him in a good position moving forward.
11. Joey Wentz – LHP
Wentz’s first full professional season has gone about as well as hoped for. He has been very impressive while making 17 starts for Rome. Wentz has a solid 2.73 ERA in 82.1 innings pitched. An even better sign towards Wentz’s future development is his 2.52 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). Wentz has 92 strikeouts, 27 walks, and has allowed just one home run so far this season. There are a lot of things that go into pitching, but maintaining a solid ratio in these three categories gives any pitcher a solid chance at success.