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A look back at Atlanta Braves’ players to debut at age 19 and 20

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A look back at some significant and not so significant Braves’ debuts

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

It has been quite a season for the Atlanta Braves who have exceeded just about every expectation anyone had for them coming into 2018. If you have followed this rebuild from the start, then one of the most exciting things has been watching the advancement of the many prospects the Braves have accumulated through the minor league system to the major league level.

Atlanta has already had four players in 2018 make their debuts as 20-year olds. That came after Ozzie Albies and Luiz Gohara both did so last season. That got me wondering about other players who debuted with the Braves as 20-year olds or younger. Below is not a complete list as I used 100 plate appearances or 20 innings pitched as arbitrary cutoffs just to cut some filler. For that reason, you will notice that neither Bryse Wilson or Kolby Allard are listed but could be added later. Unsurprisingly, four of the 13 players listed debuted this season or last.

Age 19

1970: Mike McQueen - P - 22 G, 8 GS, 1-5 W-L, 66 IP, 5.59 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 0.3 fWAR

Mike McQueen appears on this list twice and actually made his major league debut in 1969 as an 18-year old where he made one start throwing three innings. He began the 1970 season in Triple-A but was called up to Atlanta in June where he was mostly used as a reliever. He joined the rotation in September and threw a complete game against the Reds in his final start allowing seven hits and one unearned run.

1996: Andruw Jones - OF - 31 G, 113 PA, 5 HR, 11 R, 13 RBI, .217/.265/.443, 0.0 fWAR

Perhaps the most famous player on this list to date, Andruw Jones made his major league debut on August 15, 1996. He went 1-for-5 in his debut and hit his first career home run in his second game. He appeared in 31 games hitting five home runs while seeing more starts in right field than in center. Jones would of course make his mark in the postseason with a pair of home runs in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series.

Age 20

1969: Bob Didier - C - 114 G, 397 PA, 0 HR, 30 R, 32 RBI, .256/.321/.307, 0.3 fWAR

Bob Didier finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1969 for the Braves when he appeared in 114 games. Unfortunately due to various injuries, that would be the most extensive action of his career as he totaled just 133 games over the next five seasons. Didier played a part in Atlanta winning the NL West in 1969 and was often paired with Phil Niekro.

1971: Mike McQueen - P - 17 G, 3 GS, 4-1 W-L, 56 IP, 3.54 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 0.1 fWAR

McQueen opened the 1971 season in Atlanta’s bullpen but injuries limited him to just 17 appearances. He was solid when healthy posting a 3.54 ERA and a 106 ERA+ in 56 innings.

1978: Glenn Hubbard - 2B - 44 G, 179 PA, 2 HR, 15 R, 13 RBI, .258/.309/.319, 0.3 fWAR

An all-time favorite Atlanta Brave, Glenn Hubbard made his major league debut in 1978 as a 20-year old. He appeared in 44 games that season hitting .258/.309/.319. He would go on to play in 1,196 games in an Atlanta uniform between 1978 and 1987.

1978: Bob Horner - 3B - 89 G, 359 PA, 23 HR, 50 R, 63 RBI, .266/.313/.539, 2.3 fWAR

The Braves drafted Bob Horner No. 1 overall in 1978 and he skipped the minor leagues entirely, making his major league debut on June 16, 1978. He would go on to earn the NL’s Rookie of the Year award after hitting 23 home runs and 17 doubles in just 89 games.

1990: Steve Avery - P - 21 G, 20 GS, 3-11 W-L, 99 IP, 5.64 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.5 fWAR

Steve Avery made his major league debut on June 13, 1990 where he allowed eight earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings. He would take some lumps as a 20-year old rookie but there was enough bright spots to show the promise he held as a prospect. Avery would go on to emerge as a key piece of the Braves rotation over the next several years including going 18-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 1991.

1997: Andruw Jones - OF - 153 G, 467 PA, 18 HR, 60 R, 70 RBI, .231/.329/.416, 3.7 fWAR

Andruw still wasn’t fully developed as a hitter in his first full season in 1997 but he was well on his way to becoming a mainstay in Atlanta’s outfield. His 3.7 fWAR is the second highest on this list and he was still a year away from taking over the centerfield job on a full time basis.

2010: Jason Heyward - OF - 142 G, 623 PA, 18 HR, 83 R, 72 RBI, .277/.393/.456, 4.7 fWAR

It is easy to forget just how good Jason Heyward was as a 20-year old rookie in 2010. His 4.7 fWAR is the highest on this list as he put together a solid season at the plate and in the field for the Braves. In most ways, his rookie season was his best offensive season to date, though he hit more homers in 2012.

2017: Ozzie Albies - 2B - 57 G, 244 PA, 6 HR, 34 R, 28 RBI, .286/.354/.456, 1.9 fWAR

Ozzie Albies has taken off in 2018 with an All-Star season but the signs were there last year when he made his major league debut in August. Albies posted a 1.9 fWAR in just 57 games while totaling 20 extra base hits. He has proven that his rookie campaign wasn’t a fluke and looks like he will be a fixture in Atlanta’s infield for a long time.

2017: Luiz Gohara - P - 5 GS, 1-3 W-L, 29.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 1.0 fWAR

Luiz Gohara made his debut in September of 2017 and while his numbers overall may not have been impressive, his peripheral stats were enough to be excited for his future. Unfortunately, groin and ankle injuries in spring training derailed his season and he never really has gotten back on track.

2018: Mike Soroka - P - 5 GS, 2-1 W-L, 25.2 IP, 3.51 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 3.63 xFIP, 0.6 fWAR

Mike Soroka is currently on the disabled list due to a shoulder problem and it is looking more and more likely that he won’t be returning before the end of the season. However, he made a solid impression when he was available to pitch showing poise and confidence along with pinpoint command in his five starts for the Braves this season.

2018: Ronald Acuña Jr. - OF - 72 G, 308 PA, 19 HR, 53 R, 43 RBI, .290/.354/.566, 2.5 fWAR

With a strong finish, Acuña could challenge Andruw and Heyward for the highest fWAR total on this list. It makes you wonder what his numbers would look like had he not lost a month due to a freak knee injury. He came in with all of the hype as baseball’s top prospect and has lived up to the billing. Acuña has the chance to be the best player on this list and given Jones’ presence here, that is saying a lot.