Friday, November 12, 2021
The offseason is here and it’s a perfect time to recap the 2021 season of each of the Braves top 30 prospects. In this series, I’ll discuss each player’s performance from this past year, as well as what’s needed for them to continue to rise in the organization. All rankings are derived from my most-recent 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect List, which came out this past August. Following this series, a fresh top 30 will be constructed, primarily based on the notes I’ll provide in this column.
#28. Cody Milligan, 2B
2021 stats: 96 G, .230 AVG, 17 XBH, 15 SB, 77 wRC+
A hot month of July put Milligan on the map this past season, as he hit .281 in 24 games with High-A Rome, which complimented his even-better May rather well (.323 AVG / 19 G), earning him a top 30 rank in my mid-season rankings. But the second baseman’s prospect title didn’t last too long. From Aug 1. to the end of the year (33 games), the 22-year-old hit a lowly .133, spoiling what was beginning to look like a career-best performance as a pro.
The problem for Milligan is his evident inability to hit same-handed pitching. As a lefty-batter, the kid hit just .143 with three XBH versus southpaws in 2021 (equaling a .427 OPS), compared to a .263 AVG and 13 XBH against righties (.698 OPS). A roughly 250-point difference in OPS is an issue he’ll certainly need to fix. Fortunately, though, Milligan also provides speed, and as a second baseman, he won’t be required to post huge numbers on offense. In fact, his 2019 rookie-level campaign is a pretty solid threshold he should strive for. During that season, Milligan hit .252 with eight XBH and tallied a dozen stolen bases in 59 games with the GCL (now FCL) team – good for a respectable-for-his-position 104 wRC+.
Milligan was a one-hit wonder in 2021, going unranked in my summer Top 30 but cracking the mid-season list due to the hot July mentioned above. His second-half decline will almost assuredly push him off the next set of rankings, though he’ll continue to remain as a relevant prospect given how thin the Braves system is when it comes to middle-infielders (especially true second baseman).
What’s really hurting Milligan right now is that come the end of December he’ll be a 23-year-old with not even 100 games of full-season ball under his belt, of which aren’t very inspiring to begin with. I don’t necessarily believe he’ll go down a step, but there’s no question that Milligan should probably spend at least another half-season in Rome, or at least a period of time long enough to show he can consistently hit lower-minors pitching.
But it’s not all bad for Milligan. Though his numbers this past season weren’t ideal, the kid appears to have a solid approach at the plate. He doesn’t strikeout a ton (23.7 K% in 2021) and for the second year in a row he posted a double-digit walk rate (11.5 BB%). It’s obvious that there’s not much power in his swing (2 career homers), but if he can perhaps develop some doubles-power, his speed (along with what seems to be at least average defense) could still make him a top 30ish prospect in the organization. The Braves don’t exactly have a surplus of second basemen hanging around in the minors right now, so Milligan doesn’t have much competition.