Atlanta Braves Next Young Superstar – Drew Waters

Drew Waters
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 07: A detailed view of the New Era hat of the Atlanta Braves during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 7, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves are cruising right along as the hottest team in the league. Most of their success is coming from a young formerly belonging to the number one farm system in baseball. And now they have more young talent emerging. Atlanta, sitting atop the National League East Division, still has the third ranked farm system according to MLB.com. Their No. 5 prospect, Drew Waters an outfielder for the Double-A affiliate Mississippi Braves, may be their next young star.

Quickly Moving Up

A 2017-second round pick, Waters spent time between A ball and Advanced A in 2018. He slashed .293/.343/.476 with 39 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs, and 23 steals over the season. He is now advancing through the minor league ranks at a Ronald Acuña Jr-like pace. The 20 year old has been mashing the AA Southern League and looks to be promoted to AAA Gwinnett in just a matter of time.

In 68 games this season, Waters is leading the SL in batting average (.338), runs (42), hits (93), doubles (23), triples (8), and OPS (.916). His numbers propelled him into a starting position for the SL All-Star Game with teammate Cristian Pache. Naturally, Waters continued his pace, hitting a home run for the South Division.

Drew Waters Wins Player of the Week Honors

Over the last week, Waters has an OPS of 1.182, 16 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, and 7 RBI in 37 plate appearances. That was enough to earn him the Southern League Player of the Week. On Sunday, after a 2 for 5 performance, he extended his on base streak to 25 games and now has a league leading 27 multi hit games on the season. Since the beginning of June, he’s sporting a 1.301 OPS with 7 2B, 4 3B, and 2 HR in 17 games.

Where Does Drew Waters Fit?

The Braves current starting outfield is Austin Riley (LF), Ronald Acuña Jr (CF), and Nick Markakis (RF). Ender Inciarte was starting in center early in the season, but a lower back injury has shelved the gold glover. Triple A-Gwinnett has seen a resurgence in outfielders Adam Duvall and Travis Demeritte. Some speculate those two may be used as trade chips when the trade deadline approaches. However, if the Braves elect to hang onto them, they can be used as valuable bench bats as the season continues.

Next season may provide some opportunity for Waters, though. Atlanta has a team option for Markakis in 2020, and with a slight regression since last All-Star break, he may eventually find himself in a non-starting role. Riley is naturally a third baseman and appears to be the front runner to start there when Josh Donaldson becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Braves’ No. 1 prospect Pache could be ready to start in CF for the 2020 opener, which would slide Acuña to a corner position. This would leave one spot open, potentially for Waters if he continues to produce in the minors.

The Braves have graduated many of their prospects in the last couple of seasons, but still have a plethora of talent left in the minors. It’s only a matter of time before these kids are called up and Waters is proving to be ahead of schedule.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images