On July 23rd, both John Sickels and myself released our thoughts on the Braves midseason top 20 prospects. John looked back on his preseason selections, while I reranked them accordingly to how they have performed thus far in 2018.
Well, new GM Alex Anthopoulos had a busy trade deadline. While he improved the big-league club without costing a single top 10 prospect (at least according to Minor League Ball), there was certainly a shakeup in the top 20. AA, as he has become known in the baseball world, has also been surprisingly aggressive.
Today, let’s take a look at the updated top 20. Some will be new entrants, others will simply show their promotion since last published.
20. Patrick Wiegel (replaces Bruce Zimmermann who was traded to the Orioles)
Weigel was No. 21 in “the next five” so his promotion was easy. Here are two entirely different prospects that had big seasons for completely different reasons. Zimmermann broke out in a big way, dominating the South Atlantic League to earn an All-Star nod and then looked pretty good in his Double-A stint. Weigel is throwing the ball again after recovering from Tommy John surgery. While Zimmermann became a fan favorite thanks to his mustache and breakout, there is no denying that Braves fans are excited to see Weigel throwing again.
369 days I walked off the mound, today I got back on it. pic.twitter.com/KwEJAJzb0n— Patrick Weigel (@Pwags42) June 22, 2018
19. Tristan Beck, GCL Braves (was not assigned in first listing)
The righty out of Stanford finally made his pro debut, tossing one inning and striking out two. Don’t expect a fast rise this season as the Braves will take it slow with their fourth-rounder coming off a lost sophomore season due to injury.
18. Jasseel De La Cruz, Rome Braves (replaces Jean Carlos Encarnacion, also traded to the Orioles)
De La Cruz is still raw, and his second half has not been as exciting as his first half after being sidelined with an injury. Still there is plenty to like in his future. His arsenal, as reported here in a April 12 report:
His fastball sat 93-94 for the entire outing, touching 95 most of the time in the early going. It is a dangerous pitch to right-handers with some nice run to it as well. His slider is nasty. It bites hard and can swoop across the plate or break with curve-like action. I saw it hit 81-83 and as high as 87. The changeup was his most seldom-used pitch but seemed to have some nice fade and confuse hitters, landing around 86-89.
17. Freddy Tarnok, Rome Braves
No change here. Still raw and developing into a pitcher, but the Braves are continuing with him in the rotation.
16. Kyle Muller, Mississippi Braves (promoted since first edition)
Muller’s first two games in Double-A have come with good and bad. He’s allowed a bunch of runs, but has struck out 14 and walked just three in his first 11 innings pitched, including a 10-strikeout performance his last time on the bump.
15. Isranel Wislon, Florida Fire Frogs
No change here. Same thing. A lot of tools, not a lot of production just yet.
14. Greyson Jenista, Florida Fire Frogs (promoted since last edition)
Jenista began his Fire Frogs career just like he began his Rome career; with an extra base hit. Jenista has now advanced three levels since being drafted in the second round this past June. While he is still ground ball and line drive heavy, expect his fast rise to continue as a professional hitter.
13. Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
The only change here is that the oft-injured Fried is back on the DL. He continues to yo-yo between Triple-A and Atlanta as needed.
12. Bryse Wilson, Gwinnett Stripes (promoted since last edition)
Wilson has struggled to keep runners from scoring in his first two games at the highest level of the minors. Still, Wilson is just 20-years-old with very promising stuff as one of the fastest risers left in the minors.
11. Joey Wentz, Florida Fire Frogs
Wentz left his start injured right the original publication of the midseason top 20 and hasn’t pitched since. Nothing’s changed but the injury status, he still has some of the more exciting stuff in the system.
10. Kolby Allard, Atlanta Braves (promoted to bigs since previous edition)
Allard’s first two appearances, one as a starter and the other in relief of the injured Fried, has gone as expected. He’s been hit often and hasn’t overpowered big-league hitters with strikeouts. That said, he is still a young, promising lefty still honing the art of pitching to his stuff.
9. William Contreras, Florida Fire Frogs (promoted since previous edition)
He’s moved one level up and is still the best catching prospect I’ve seen in the system since I began covering the Braves minors in 2015. He’s slashing .345/.394/.448 since promoted.
8. Ian Anderson, Mississippi Braves (promoted since previous edition)
Another fast-rising 20-year-old, Anderson makes his Double-A debut Monday.
7. Drew Waters, Fire Frogs (promoted since previous edition)
This was the most peculiar promotion. The previous Braves front office usually left the teenagers in Rome for the entire season to develop. Waters, who’s tools are undeniable and right-handed swing showed some improvement, is now leading off in the Florida State League.
6. Kyle Wright, Gwinnett Braves (promoted since previous edition)
Wright has been rocked in his first two starts at Gwinnett. At least I can finally see him pitch.
5. Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves (promoted since previous edition)
Monday marks Touki Time in Atlanta. It will be short-lived apparently, but here’s what to expect.
4. Cristian Pache, Mississippi Braves
You have to love his tools. He’s hitting well in his first ten games in Double-A and still doing Cristian Pache things.
3. Luiz Gohara, Gwinnett Stripers
No change. Still working things out after a rough offseason in Triple-A.
2. Austin Riley, Gwinnett Stripers
No change. Still the GOAT.
And that leaves Mike Soroka at No. 1. No change here either as we all await his return from the disabled list.