While there have been a lot of really strong performances in the Braves’ minor league system this year, the two hottest players almost undoubtedly have been pitcher Bryse Wilson down in high-A for the Florida Fire Frogs and third baseman Austin Riley for Double-A Mississippi.
While not the most heralded of the Braves’ pitching prospects (even though he really should be), Bryse has been outstanding since he was drafted in the 4th round by the Braves in 2016. After a stellar full season debut for Rome that saw him post a 2.50 ERA in 26 starts, 2018 is shaping up to be his real coming out party as he has posted a 0.34 ERA in 26.2 innings while striking out 26 batters and walking seven.
As for Austin Riley, his stock has steadily been climbing for quite some time, but he has shown out for Mississippi since he was first promoted to the level last season. He picked up right where he left off in 2018 as he is currently slashing .333/.394/.677 in 27 games with six homers and 20 RBIs. He ranks among the league leaders in most offensive categories despite being just 21 years old in Double-A.
It appears that the Braves have seen enough out of the two young phenoms and are going to challenge them even further.
Former Panther Bryse Wilson has been called up to AA Mississippi Braves. pic.twitter.com/oXdTjuaaSM— Orange Baseball (@baseballorange) May 5, 2018
For those that thought that the Braves player development decisions would be a little more on the cautious/slow moving side under the new front office regime, this is a bit of a surprise. Riley has 75 games in Double-A under his belt and he has excelled basically from day one there, so his promotion isn’t altogether surprising. However, Bryse only has five starts at high-A under his belt so promoting him this quickly is both encouraging and surprising. That said, based on his performance in Rome, he was on a similar track that saw Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard skip high-A altogether in 2017, so its possible that the Braves just wanted to get confirmation that he was ready before making the aggressive move.
One move that absolutely should not be lost in the shuffle is the rumored promotion of Kyle Muller to high-A from Rome. After a 2017 that saw concerns about his velocity and control issues that meant he had to spend the year in Danville, Muller has been great for Rome. Kyle has posted a 2.40 ERA in six starts with 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 innings. Most importantly, it appears that his velocity has ticked back up after some mechanical adjustments and getting completely healthy.
One last note: this promotion puts Austin Riley very close both in terms of level as well as location to the major leagues. With third base in Atlanta consisting of hoping Ryan Flaherty’s BABIP-driven heater continues, that Jose Bautista has something left and can actually play the position well (which is very much to be determined), and Johan Camargo, Riley should see enough at-bats at Triple-A that a 2018 debut for him is at the very least on the table assuming he continues to do his thing at Gwinnett.