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2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List: The fourth tier (nos. 22-26)

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

-Clint Manry

Three groups down and two more to go. Today I’ll start covering the final nine prospects on my 2022 Braves Prospect List, with this post covering Tier 4, featuring nos. 22-26. Like the third tier, this fourth one is rather small, only including five players, including some you’re probably familiar with, as well as a few that are new to my list. Let’s get started.

#22. Dylan Dodd, LHP

Drafted by ATL: 3rd Round, 2021 from Southeast Missouri State University (MO)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
23-years-old6’3″ / 210 lbsL/LNR

Coming out of a small school (Southeast Missouri State), I admit, it was a bit surprising when the Braves selected Dodd in the third round of this past summer’s MLB Draft. Although at only a $122,500 signing bonus, Atlanta got him waay under-slot (Pick 96 value was $604,800 in 2021).

Regardless, the lefty was fine in his pro debut this past season. Sure, he only managed a 4.91 ERA in three starts with Single-A Augusta, but Dodd didn’t allow a single home run during that stretch with the GreenJackets as he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine and only 2.5 walks. His one start with High-A Rome in September went very poorly (3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 4 HR, 6 K), but it was simply one horrid outing.

Given Dodd will turn 24 in early June and he’s coming off four years worth of college ball, I definitely expect him to begin 2022 in High-A Rome, where he’ll be shooting for a mid-season promotion to Double-A. Dodd isn’t a hard thrower, hanging around the low-90s MPH, but reports indicate he has four viable offerings, so as long as he can continue to maintain solid command he should fit in as a potential mid-rotation starter.

#23. Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B/OF

Drafted by ATL: 6th Round, 2021 from Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
21-years-old6’2″ / 212 lbsR/RNR

This could be an intriguing prospect at third base, and still only entering his age-22 season in 2022, Malloy appears to have a bright future ahead of him, after being selected by the Braves in the sixth round of this past year’s draft. Athleticism, some solid speed, above average contact and plus power are all in play here.

Coming off a three-year collegiate career at both Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, that featured a career .279 AVG, .931 OPS and 11 homers in 82 games overall, the Braves assigned the kid to Single-A Augusta following the draft. Malloy was impressive with the GreenJackets in 2021, slashing .270/.388/.434 with 10 XBH in 37 games, likely earning himself an opportunity to jump the gun a bit and start 2022 in Mississippi.

#24. William Woods, RHP

Drafted by ATL: 23rd Round, 2018 from Dyersburg State Community College (TN)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
22-years-old6’3″ / 190 lbsR/R24th

As I’m sure you know, Woods has a chance to be one of the better pitching prospects in the system. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t been able to log many innings yet as a pro, totaling 51 back in 2019 as primarily a reliever and then only 10 2/3 frames this season. The Tennessee native didn’t start his 2021 campaign until August 19 – a one-inning opener with the FCL team. The next four starts never surpassed 42 pitches at a time as the Braves eased him back on the mound during the final month of the season with High-A Rome.

The undisclosed injury that Woods dealt with all this past season is a bit concerning, but all indicators seem to point to him being 100% in 2022. The Braves have always been wowed by his high-90s MPH (sometimes 100-MPH) velocity, and evidently there’s a future regarding his secondaries given the organization decided to transition him to a starter. The missed time has surely hurt Woods, but nearing his 23rd birthday later this month, he’s still at a young enough age that his prospect stock shouldn’t necessarily be impacted. I’ve had him at no. 24 in the system essentially since this past June, but I think by this time next year he’ll be inside the top 15. Woods just needs a full, healthy season to show what he can do.

FYI: Woods had a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League this fall, posting a 4.21 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance (21 IP), to go with 8.6 strikeouts per nine and 4.3 walks.

#25. Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH

Drafted by ATL: 11th Round, 2017 from University of Michigan (MI)

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old6’3″ / 220 lbsL/R27th

Braves Farm may be the only site that lists Lugbauer as a ranked prospect. Most in the industry look at him as more of an honorable mention, and I did too until this past season. He’s always had power, but the big guy could never seem to make enough contact to provide much value as a hitter. That changed with Double-A Mississippi in 2021.

During the first month of this most-recent campaign, Lugbauer’s power-stroke was still getting warmed up but the University of Michigan product hit .308 with a .881 OPS in his first 16 games. Over the next two months (through June and July), Lugbauer would go on to become one of the M-Braves most dangerous bats, slashing .252/.362/.531 with 10 homers and 11 doubles in 42 games during that stint. The first-half performance earned him a spot in my midseason top 30, and even though he cooled off quite a bit during the second-half of the season (.145 AVG, 10 XBH, 33 games), I believe the former 11th round pick has turned a corner.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Lugbauer, though. At 25, he’s getting old for a prospect, and he doesn’t really have a home on defense, only able to man first base or DH. Plus, despite huge offensive numbers in 2021, Lugbauer still struck out at a career-high rate (37.4 K%), which has been an issue for him his entire pro career.

A long stint in Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022 could go a long way in truly determining what kind of player Lugbauer is. Right now I believe his ceiling is a potential bench bat in the majors, but if he can cut down on the whiffs going forward, and maintain his power, he could evolve into the Braves future homegrown designated-hitter when the universal-DH comes along.

#26. Daysbel Hernández, RHP

Signed by ATL: 2017, from Cuba

AgeHeight / WeightBats / Throws2021 Midseason rank
25-years-old5’10” / 220 lbsR/R21st

I’ve been mostly alone on the Hernández hype train for a few years now, but I think more of Braves Country is beginning to come around. If you recall, the righty was absolutely incredible back in 2019 with High-A Florida, putting together a 2.76 ERA in 32 2/3 innings, which included an average of 12.6 strikeouts per nine and 4.4 walks. That performance must have really impressed the Braves. Though 2021 was his age-24 season, Hernández initially skipped Double-A and was given a Triple-A assignment to begin the year. However, unfortunately, it didn’t go very well.

Really it was just one bad appearance in Gwinnett that spoiled Hernández’s stint with the Stripers at the start of this past season. After posting a 3.86 ERA during his first three games with the team, on May 18 he allowed four runs in 2/3 innings, and a week later he found himself demoted to Double-A Mississippi.

But with the M-Braves, Hernández bounced back nicely and morphed into one of the team’s most dominant relievers. He didn’t allow a single run in his first three appearances with the team, and from July 29 through September 12 (10 1/3 innings worth of appearances), Hernández pitched to a 0.87 ERA and struck out 13 batters. Rightfully, the Cuban prospect earned another try with Gwinnett in mid-September, and remained there until the end of the season, posting a 5.40 ERA in five innings during his second stint with the team.

Now coming into his age-25 campaign, the time is now for Hernández. There’s no doubt he has the talent, it’s just a matter of putting it altogether and being more consistent. Given his age, the Braves really have no choice but to start him in Gwinnett in 2022 and see if he can get on a roll. To avoid just becoming minor league bullpen depth, Hernández needs to put up some strong numbers with the Stripers this coming season. We’ll see if he can match what he was able to do in Double-A.


Be sure to check back again soon. Next, I’ll cover the final group of prospects of my 2022 Braves Prospect List, featuring Tier 5 (nos. 27-35).

One response to “2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List: The fourth tier (nos. 22-26)”

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