Atlanta Braves Pitching Prospects are Lights Out in Double-A

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Max Fried #66 poses for a portrait during Atlanta Braves Photo Day at Champion Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Anyone with an eye toward the minor leagues knows the Atlanta Braves stock of pitchers is just plain scary. Each level has a starting rotation that sits among the top of their respective class. The most formidable rotation in the Braves system is in Double-A. The Mississippi Braves feature Kolby Allard, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Patrick Weigel, and Matt Withrow. The first four are among the Braves top 15 prospects.

Atlanta Braves Pitching Prospects are Lights Out

The each member of the Mississippi staff has made two starts now. These prospects have thrown 49.1 total innings through the first ten games. Their collective WHIP equates to 0.957, better than excellent by major league standards. The staff has only surrendered 11 earned runs, while logging 50 strikeouts. The five pitchers have collectively faced 192 batters and walked 14 of them for an above-average 7.3% walk rate.

It’s important to note both Allard and Soroka are just 19 years old. Soroka has, surprisingly, performed the best of the five. He leads the group with 11.2 innings, 14 strikeouts, no walks, one run allowed, a low 0.77 ERA, and a minuscule 0.43 WHIP. He’s a big contributor to the 2.00 ERA for Mississippi’s starting rotation. It’s as expected from the 73rd overall prospect.

Allard has done well for himself as well. Through ten Double-A innings, he’s given up nine hits, a home run, and three walks in his two starts, and still just two runs scored. The lefty has struck out eight so far, and even notched his first hit in pro ball.

The Bullpen Holds Its Own

Mississippi isn’t just home to good starting pitching. The team has a pen capable of protecting a lead. Headlined by Akeel Morris, the 27th prospect in the Braves Top-30, the bullpen full of arms who could have futures in Atlanta’s pen at SunTrust Park.

Morris has thrown 4.1 innings of one hit ball for a 0.00 ERA. He has yet to walk a batter. Jesse Biddle has been impressive as well. The 25-year-old has allowed one run on five hits in 6.1 innings, good for a 1.42 ERA. Florida native Chad Sobotka has put in 6.1 innings on the mound, walking five and striking out five. He’s allowed two runs for a respectable 2.84 ERA, despite his walks.

Wes Parsons, Michael Mader, and Phil Pfeifer are a few arms to keep track of as well. Parsons was originally a starting pitcher, but he’s slowly been seeing more work from the pen. The transition has gone well enough so far. He’s thrown more relief innings than anyone else at 8.1, and sports a 3.24 ERA.

Mader was a decent left-handed starter and the 24th prospect in the Miami Marlins system. He was acquired in a deal that also brought over Marlins number eight prospect Anfernee Seymour.

Pfeifer is destined for fan-favorite status when he reaches Atlanta, if only for the name. He’s a lefty who racks up serious strikeout numbers, and would probably be a top-30 prospect in another organization, as would Mader.

Dan Reynolds and Evan Phillips shore up the group. Reynolds is the oldest of the relief corps, at 26. A sixth rounder in 2009, he’s in the process of reviving his career after being rescued from independent ball in 2016.

Phillips is a fair-sized righty out of UNC-Wilmington. Chris Hatcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers comes from the same school, and Phillips mirrors him in many ways. They’re inconsistent at times, but when they’re on, they’re valuable pieces.

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