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Braves Farm 2021 Midseason Top 30 Prospect List: Nos. 30-21

Thursday, August 26, 2021

-Clint Manry

This past weekend I covered the eight players no longer included in my new Midseason Top 30, so now it’s time to start discussing the ones actually on the list. This group of ten will feature several newcomers, including those who’ve played their way onto the list, as well as a few 2021 draftees. Regarding the latter, we still don’t know a whole lot about these guys, so look at their ranking as more of a starting point based on the scout evaluations currently available.

Let’s get started. Here are nos. 30-21…

30Jefrey Ramos (OF)AA
29Brandol Mezquita (OF)RK
28Cody Milligan (2B)A+
27Drew Lugbauer (1B/DH)AA
26Tanner Gordon (LHP)A
25Greyson Jenista (1B/OF)AA
24William Woods (RHP)RK
23Darius Vines (RHP)A+
22Cal Conley (SS)A
21Daysbel Hernández (RHP)AA

*all stats below are through this past Monday

30. Jefrey Ramos (OF)

Summer rank – 28th

AA – Mississippi

I really struggled with Ramos as I’ve always been a bit higher on the outfielder than most. But this season just hasn’t gone well for the 22-year-old, evident by his overall 55 wRC+ in 52 games so far with the M-Braves. Strikeouts have really plagued Ramos as he’s currently sporting a K rate roughly 10% higher relative to 2019 (28.9% / 19.9%), when he posted a career year with High-A Rome. The month of August has been even worse in regards to his whiff issues, and even with a strong finish, it doesn’t appear likely that Ramos will get himself out of this hole.

29. Brandol Mezquita (OF)

Summer rank – N/A

RK – FCL Braves

At just 20-years-old, Mezquita is still a rather raw prospect, even though he’s been in the Braves system for several seasons now. We knew this kid was talented coming into the 2021 campaign, but his play has surpassed expectations as he’s currently maintaining a 148 wRC+ down in rookie ball, to go with a .437 OBP and a .333 AVG in 25 games so far for the FCL Braves. A lot still depends on how he approaches full-season ball, which will likely come in 2022, but at the moment I see Mezquita as another talented prospect outfielder in the Atlanta system.

28. Cody Milligan (2B)

Summer rank – N/A

A+ — Rome

This isn’t the first season Milligan has impressed as he posted 104 wRC+ in 59 games in rookie ball two years ago, which as a middle-infielder, is nothing to scoff at. Jumping up to the High-A level this year, the 22-year-old hasn’t lost much at all. In 76 games with the R-Braves, Milligan is hitting .248 with 12 XBH and 14 stolen bases, good for a solid 81 wRC+. There’s not much power in his swing, but as a second baseman with some speed, Milligan’s bat only needs to be average for him to continue his ascent within the organization.

27. Drew Lugbauer (1B/DH)

Summer rank – N/A

AA – Mississippi

Lugbauer showed signs of an above-average hitter back during his draft year in 2017, when he posted a 141 and 131 wRC+ in both rookie ball and Single-A, respectively. But his next two seasons (2018-19) just didn’t match, and the big first baseman struggled with strikeouts. Now into 2021, the whiffs are still there, but Lugbauer has also developed some patience, nearly doubling his walk-rate from four years ago. Plus, the 24-year-old still has that power stroke as he now has 16 home runs in 72 games with the M-Braves, which is as many as he had in 2019 (in a span of 127 games). I’ve already written about Lugbauer recently, but this is a guy the Braves should be paying attention to when it comes time to fill the DH spot.

26. Tanner Gordon (LHP)

Summer rank – N/A

A+ — Rome

Gordon began 2021 in Rome but struggled to the tune of a 5.32 ERA in 22 innings as opposing batters slashed .303/.370/.539 (.909 OPS), causing his first stint in High-A this year to only last about a month. However, with Single-A Augusta, Gordon really made some impressive strides, and following his first two outings there, he had a stretch in which he only allowed one run over 24.2 frames (or four starts). The 23-year-old southpaw hasn’t been as dominant lately, although earlier this month he earned himself another shot with the R-Braves. In his first outing back with Rome, Gordon struck out five in six innings, allowing just one run from three hits. This kid has the size (6’5”, 215 lbs) and the track record (sixth-round pick) to become a top-tier prospect pitcher, and he’s certainly shown flashes this season.

25. Greyson Jenista (1B/OF)

Summer rank – 22nd

AA – Mississippi

A strong July dug Jenista out a pretty deep early-season hole as the 24-year-old hit .243 with six homers in 23 games last month – good for a 153 wRC+. However, one solid month isn’t going to cut it, and as a result, I dropped the outfielder three spots on the Top 30 (and I still think I was a bit too generous). Jenista’s problem from Day 1 has been too many strikeouts, and those swing-and-miss issues have continued on into 2021. The former second-round pick sports a 37.4% K rate through Monday, which is by far a career-high for him. Fortunately, he’s also maintaining a career-high walk-rate (16.1%), and his 13 home runs so far is eight more than he had back in 2019 in roughly the same amount of games. If Jenista can ever cut down on the whiffs, he could easily become a top 10 prospect in the Braves system. Although it just hasn’t happened yet.

24. William Woods (RHP)

Summer rank – 24th

RK – FCL Braves

Woods remains at no. 24 given he just now got started this season. The 22-year-old righty is currently active with the rookie level Braves and has made just one start so far, facing only four batters in a one-inning outing. There’s still a ton of excitement regarding Woods, so I’m going to wait and see.

23. Darius Vines (RHP)

Summer rank – N/A

A+ — Rome

With the June and July he put together, I had no choice but to include Vines in my latest Top 30, especially given the fact that he was pitching so well despite moving up from Single-A to High-A. The 23-year-old has adjusted nicely to the new challenge in Rome, currently sporting a 3.67 ERA in 10 starts thus far, including a recent two-outing stretch in which he’s allowed just four runs in his last 13 innings (2.77 ERA). This kid’s repertoire has developed really well this season and he has a chance to put a nice finish to a productive 2021 campaign, giving him some momentum for next year.

22. Cal Conley (SS)

Summer rank – N/A

A — Augusta

I have Conley about where most — somewhere in the no. 20 range (FanGraphs has him 20th). And so far the fourth-round pick has adjusted beautifully to pro baseball, currently hitting .274 with a pair of homers in 15 games for Augusta (good for a 105 wRC+). The 22-year-old Conley is a switch-hitting middle-infielder with 55-grade Raw Power. But the question is whether his glove and bat can catch up with that power stroke. If so, this could be a big time prospect in the Braves system.

21. Daysbel Hernández (RHP)

Summer rank – 15th

AA – Mississippi

I’ve been a big Hernández fan for quite some time now, but unfortunately his initial stint with Triple-A Gwinnett to begin the 2021 season hurt his stock a bit. I discussed his struggles in some of my Month Prospect Check-in posts, but the 24-year-old righty was surprisingly beat up while with the Stripers. Ever since returning to the Double-A level, Hernández has been fine, and he’s coming off a damn good month of July in which he averaged 13.9 strikeouts per nine and finished with a 1.64 ERA. He’s also pitching really well in August, now up to 5.2 scoreless frames. We’ll wait and see how Hernández performs in his second stint with Gwinnett, but I still think he’s a future big league reliever.

Be sure to check back soon for the next installment, covering nos. 20-11. To see my Braves 2021 Midseason Top 30 list in its entirety, check out my personal blog, Braves Farm.

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