With the 2018 Minor League Baseball season coming to a close as playoffs begin at all levels, it’s time to take a look at which prospects took the biggest jump in 2018, as well as who took the biggest step back.
In this new series, I’ll be taking a look at six players per system—three of whom rose the most in 2018, while the other three fell the most in 2018.
Up next is the Atlanta Braves.
Touki Toussaint dominated in his MLB debut pic.twitter.com/SJHfqusP2E— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) August 14, 2018
Drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Touki Toussaint has had a roller coaster of a professional career.
After just one season in the Diamondbacks system, Toussaint was confusingly traded to the Braves in the Bronson Arroyo trade. In his first couple of seasons in the Braves system, Toussaint struggled to progress and develop, up until 2018.
In 24 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, Toussaint went 9-6 with a 2.38 ERA, striking out 163 in just 136.1 innings. Toussaint’s spectacular season netted him a selection to the 2018 MLB Futures Game, and eventually a call-up to Atlanta, where in three starts, he’s 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
Toussaint entered the season as a likely bullpen piece, and now has vaulted himself to a near-lock to be a part of the Atlanta rotation for years to come.
The Atlanta Braves have shown absolutely no fear in calling up young pitchers, especially in 2018. Bryse Wilson is the epitome of a 2018 Atlanta Braves call-up.
The 20-year-old righty was drafted out of high school in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. While Wilson led all Braves minor leaguers in ERA last season, nobody could've expected the kind of season that Wilson had in 2018.
In 25 games between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A, Wilson went 8-5 with a 3.44 ERA, striking out 143 in 125.2 innings while walking just 36. Wilson’s fastball routinely sat in the upper-90s, and when mixed with his deadly slider, Wilson had little trouble getting batters out.
Wilson’s stellar season earning him a surprising call-up to Atlanta in August, where he put up five shutout innings in his debut. Wilson was recently among the Braves September call-ups, where he’ll work out of the bullpen as the Braves look to win the National League East.
Like Toussaint, Wilson went from a likely bullpen piece to a future starter in a matter of a few months. For the Braves, the rich keep getting richer (in terms of prospects).
Drafted in the second round last season out of High School, Drew Waters was easily the most surprising of the Braves position player prospects in 2018. In his first full professional season, Waters showed serious five-tool potential, vaulting himself near the top of the Braves system.
In 114 games between Single-A and High-A, Waters hit .293 with nine home runs, 39 RBIs, 39 doubles (!!), and 23 stolen bases. While Waters showed flashes of all five tools in high school, the manner in which Waters put it all together in 2018 was everything that the Braves could've hoped for and more.
Waters’ spectacular season has placed him on the MLB.com Pipeline Top-100 prospects list at 96, and a spot within the Braves top 10 prospects.
While at the age of 20, Waters still has a lot to prove, but his stellar season certainly makes him a hot prospect in the Braves system, a system in which he easily could’ve been lost underneath the premier talent.
Now, Waters is one of those premier prospects.
Entering the 2018 season, Luiz Gohara was a popular pick to be a breakout player in the Braves bullpen or rotation. The 22-year old showed out in his first big league stint in 2017 but seems to have lost most of his heat from a year ago.
In nine appearances in Atlanta, Gohara went 0-1 with a 5.95 ERA, walking eight batters in just 19.2 innings, while allowing a trio of home runs.
Unfortunately, Gohara wasn't much better in the minors, going 3-5 with a 4.81 ERA in thirteen appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. Gohara couldn't avoid the long-ball, as opponents hit nine home runs in just 58 innings, while hitting at a .269 clip.
Maybe a change of scenery would be good for Gohara. who still has good major-league stuff. The 2018 season is undoubtedly a lost year for Gohara, who needs a big bounce-back season in 2019.
Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in 2016 after two rough seasons in Seattle, Alex Jackson seemed to have turned a corner with back-to-back solid seasons in Atlanta. However, the former first-rounder had a disastrous 2018 season, one that looks extremely detrimental to his long-term development.
In 99 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Jackson hit just .201 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs. In 333 at-bats, Jackson struck out a whopping-120 times.
Jackson was once praised for his plus power, which was just non-existent in 2018, as Jackson hit just eight home runs after hitting 19 last season.
A spot behind the plate in the future for Atlanta might still be available if Jackson can bounce back, but 2018 leaves the Braves with some serious doubt that Jackson can fill that role.
After being acquired from the Texas Rangers in 2016, Travis Demeritte’s once high stock has completely evaporated after back-to-back rough seasons.
In 128 games in Double-A, Demeritte hit just .222 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs. While the power remains present, Demeritte’s plate discipline is a pure atrocity, as the former second-baseman struck out 140 times in 428 at-bats.
Futhermore, Demeritte’s speed, which was once a plus-tool, is also gone, with just six stolen bases on the season. After Ozzie Albies emergence last season, Demeritte moved from second base to the outfield, where he’s done a serviceable job in the field.
Like Gohara, Demeritte could certainly use a change of scenery, especially after finding no real progression or success in his two seasons in Atlanta