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Braves Farm 2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List: Cuts, honorable mentions and players that just missed the list

Friday, December 10, 2021

-Clint Manry

With the year 2021 nearing its conclusion, I’ve constructed a new Braves Prospect list here at Braves Farm. And like any updated rankings, there are some that didn’t make the cut. As sort a prelude to my 2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List, here’s a look at my cuts from the previous rankings, as well as several notable players that maybe aren’t rank-worthy but should be discussed nonetheless.

CUTS FROM 2021

The following players were featured on my last Braves Prospect List (a top-30 I put out this past August), but are no longer ranked in my upcoming 2022 rankings.

Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP

Midseason ’21 rank – 16th

Earlier this month the Braves chose not to tender De La Cruz a contract, dropping the righty from the club’s 40-man and making him a free agent. The 24-year-old has had two short stints in the majors over the last couple of seasons, but never made an actual appearance, and in 2021 he struggled mightily with Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 7.03 ERA in 56 1/3 innings. The Braves could still bring him back this offseason, but now that it’s clear he probably lacks the stuff to remain a starter, De La Cruz’s prospect stock has taken quite a dive.

Jefrey Ramos, OF

Midseason ’21 rank – 30th

Ramos went from a potential up-and-coming top-tier outfield prospect to a guy that lost his starting spot with Double-A Mississippi in 2021. After posting impressive numbers in High-A in 2019, the 22-year-old outfielder never could get going with the M-Braves this past year, beginning his first two months of the campaign by slashing just .158/.204/.274 with five XBH in 27 games. I kept thinking the kid would eventually turn things around, but a .696 OPS during the season’s final few months resulted in a middling 55 wRC+ overall at the plate – a far cry from the 97 wRC+ he managed in his last pair of minor league seasons combined. Ramos is still fairly young, so he has time to figure it out. But as of right now, he’s off my Top-35.

Cody Milligan, 2B

Midseason ’21 rank – 28th

During the first three months of 2021, Milligan improved his stock dramatically as he slashed .280/.357/.349 and slugged 12 XBH in 63 games with High-A Rome. As an up-the-middle player, his performance earned him a spot on my top-30 this past August. However, the 22-year-old finished the final two months of the campaign by hitting .153 in August and .104 in September, making him a one-hit wonder. As a second baseman, Milligan’s lack of power isn’t an issue, and he’s excellent at getting on base, but that second-half stumble resulted in a 77 wRC+, which isn’t quite going to cut it. Although we could see him back on the Braves list some time in 2022, especially if he hits well in Double-A.

HONERABLE MENTIONS

This list is Braves minor leaguers that are fringe-type guys, or players that were right on the cusp of making my upcoming 2022 list. I won’t discuss each and every one of them, but I’ll touch on the most notable ones below.

  • Beau  Philip,  SS
  • Roddery  Munoz, RHP
  • Justin  Yeager,  RHP
  • Tyler  Owens, RHP
  • Bryson  Horne,  1B
  • Landon  Stephens,  OF/1B
  • Christian  Robinson,  OF
  • Tyler  Tolve,  C
  • Caleb  Durbin,  SS/2B

Munoz was ranked 27th in my summer rankings from this past June as he came on the scene overpowering Single-A batters with his high-90s MPH fastball and wipeout slider. But the dominance was extremely short lived. The 21-year-old righty ended up only making six starts (and two relief appearances) all season, finishing the year with a 6.67 ERA in 29 2/3 innings with Augusta. I have a feeling he’ll be back in the spotlight very soon, though.

A 13th-round pick from 2019, Owens was instantly included on FanGraphs’ updated Braves prospect list, coming in at 27th and on the rise. Pitching for both rookie levels (GCL and Danville), the then-18-year-old averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine and managed a 4.28 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance during his draft year, setting himself up for a big campaign in full-season ball. But it appears the cancelled 2020 season stunted his growth a bit, and this past season Owens struggled to the tune of a 7.09 ERA with Augusta. Even worse, the kid hardly pitched at all in 2021, going on the 7-day IL on June 10 and remaining on the shelf until September 23. I don’t know what type of injury Tyler Owens suffered, but whatever it was must’ve either been serious or bad enough to shut him down for much of the season.

Robinson, Tolve and Durbin were all taken by the Braves in this past summer’s MLB Draft, and they all logged time in the minors this past season. The first of the three went straight to Single-A Augusta, where he primarily played right field and hit a decent .262 with seven XBH in 35 games. Tolve, a catcher, started out with the FCL team but after just one game he too wound up with the GreenJackets, where he slashed .294/.348/.477 with seven XBH in 23 games. Although, opposing baserunners in Single-A achieved 16 of 17 stolen bases on Tolve, which obviously isn’t ideal. Durbin spent his entire 2021 pro debut with the FCL Braves, logging a .268 AVG in 17 games, split exactly in half between second base and shortstop. The kid also stole 12 bases, so he’s evidently a speedy middle-infielder that appears to swing a solid bat. This trio of ’21 draftees will most likely find themselves on the Braves list at some point in 2022. We just didn’t get to see enough of them this past year.

GETTING TOO OLD

This list of Braves minor leaguers are guys that maybe could be ranked within the top-35, but because of their age (usually 25-years-old and up), perhaps are a bit too old to be called a prospect. You’ll notice that some of these players were once notable Braves prospects.

  • CJ Alexander,  3B
  • Nolan  Kingham,  RHP
  • Justin  Dean,  OF
  • Wendell  Rijo,  2B
  • Odalvi  Javier,  RHP
  • Hayden  Deal,  LHP
  • Matt  Withrow,  RHP
  • Brandon  White,  RHP
  • Troy  Bacon,  RHP
  • Corbin  Clouse,  LHP
  • Jake  McSteen,  LHP
  • Zach  Seipel,  RHP
  • Willie  Carter,  OF

I’ve seen a pretty good bit of Alexander in person, and I have to say, the kid does look like a naturally-born prospect. His athleticism, and the way he moves, just makes him look like a potential big leaguer. But now 25, and set to turn 26 in July, the third baseman just hasn’t been able to consistently hit in the minors, sporting a career .229 AVG and .684 OPS in parts of three seasons. Alexander’s power is coming along, shown by his 10 homers with Mississippi in 2021, but the 31.8% K rate is still a problem. This is a rather toolsy player, but he’s simply running out of time.

I was blessed to watch a Javier start for the M-Braves this past summer in Pearl, and let me tell ya, this guy hasn’t received enough attention during his career in the Braves organization. In 2021, the righty averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine on his way to a 3.20 ERA in 76 innings in Double-A, split equally between starting and pitching out of the bullpen (12 starts / 12 relief appearances). The problem is, Javier is 25-years-old and nowhere on anyone’s radar in terms of becoming a potential major leaguer. I don’t know if it’s his lack of offerings or because he has just slipped through the cracks, but to most, this isn’t a prospect. And evidently the Braves agree, because Javier was mostly a reliever during the second-half of 2021.

Deal is now 27-years-old and entering Year 5 in the minors, though he’s had quite an impressive career in the Braves organization. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he managed a solid 3.77 ERA with Mississippi in 2021, after posting a 3.24 ERA in High-A in 2019. Perhaps the Braves turn him into a reliever this coming season and see what he can do in Triple-A, but I’m afraid Deal is too old to be considered a prospect starter anymore.

Clouse, now entering his age-27 season, has been around awhile, and as a power-pitching lefty, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him in Atlanta sometime in the near future. But the guy has struggled mightily with injuries lately, so there just hasn’t been enough production, especially considering even in 2019 he only managed 31 frames.

I jumped aboard the Carter train this past season as the 24-year-old outfielder started hot with Augusta in 2021, hitting .329 in May and .310 in June. However, he cooled off pretty dramatically in July and August, posting a .232 AVG during that stretch. Carter is explosive at the plate and seems to have plenty of power, and on top of that he stole 18 bases this past season. But with so much outfield depth currently in the Braves system, and given he’s entering his age-25 season without having even reached High-A, I believe it’s a bit too late in the game for Carter. This is still definitely a player to keep an eye on though, and I’m interested to see what he does with Rome or Mississippi in 2022.

One response to “Braves Farm 2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List: Cuts, honorable mentions and players that just missed the list”

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