Following a busy trade deadline the Braves have elected to promoted four of the Top Prospects in their system, #1 Cristian Pache, #2 Ian Anderson, #3 Drew Waters, and #10 Tucker Davidson from Double-A Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett, as reported by our own Eric Cole. Speculation has been floating recently about the potential for all of them to be promoted given their performance this season, and Atlanta has finally pulled the trigger.
As I mentioned on the Twittersphere and the @TalkingChop pod yesterday, there is a lot of movement coming in the Braves minor leagues. By all accounts, expect Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, Ian Anderson, and Tucker Davidson to be on Gwinnett's roster.— Eric Cole (@leprekhan) August 5, 2019
Cristian Pache is the biggest name nationally and is universally considered the top prospect in the Braves system and a top 20 overall prospect in baseball. Pache has seen a drop off in production over the past few weeks, but has overall been one of the most productive players in the Southern League this season. He has already topped his career highs in doubles, triples, and home runs and is slashing .278/.340/.474 on the season. Pache is most notable for being perhaps the top defensive player in minor league baseball, a rangy center fielder with elite speed, jumps, routes, instincts, and arm strength that make him a complete package with the glove. Package that with elite overall athleticism, plus raw power, and a feel for hitting that continues to take strides and there is plenty of reason for optimism for the 20 year old center fielder.
Drew Waters has been the second piece of the best outfield tandem in the Southern League, and the Braves seem fit to move the two together through the system to allow them to work together. Waters checked in for Talking Chop at number three on our midseason top thirty list, but some have him at two just behind Pache. Waters has been a huge pickup since being a second rounder in 2017, and has been leading the Southern League in batting average for most of the season. Waters also has plus raw power, though it has yet to play as much in games, and is also an above average defensive center fielder with a strong arm. Strikeouts have been a problem for Waters, but he’s made significant strides this season and over his final 53 games in Double-A he struck out 22.4% of the time while posting an .868 OPS. Waters has hit at every level he has played at so far, and his career slash line is .310/.355/.469.
Ian Anderson has been dominating headlines of late with one of the best runs of pitching in recent memory. Anderson is another consensus top-50 prospect and has easily lived up to the hype as a third overall pick in 2016. Anderson is currently dominating the Southern League’s leaderboards, topping the league in strikeouts, strikeout rate, strikeout to walk rate, FIP, and ranks fourth in ERA with a 2.68. His 147 strikeouts are fourth in all of minor league baseball, and despite his being the youngest pitcher in the southern league he has also been the best of late and over his past 12 starts has a 2.07 ERA with 95 strikeouts to 19 walks in 69 2⁄3 innings. Even more impressive have been his last five, a span during which he struck nine or more batters four times and set a career high with fourteen on June 28th. In this span he has a 1.39 ERA, a .497 OPS against, and has struck out 48 batters with only 6 walks and one home run in 32 1⁄3 innings. Anderson is easily the best pitching prospect in the system, and is one of the few guys they have that possesses true top of the rotation potential.
Tucker Davidson seems a bit of a throw in to all of these moves, but all he has done this season is post a league-leading 2.03 ERA with nine starts in which he didn’t allow a single earned run. Davidson struggled in 2018 due to some mechanical changes he was toying with, but he made the final adjustments this season and has returned to the player that was dominant in 2017. He has seen an uptick in velocity and his pure stuff across the board and this has made him one of the biggest risers in the system. Davidson doesn’t trail far behind Anderson with 122 strikeouts, enough to rank fifth in the league this season. Davidson is one of the better ground ball throwers in the system, and this has aided him in suppressing home runs and hard contact. Tucker has been a consistent performer in Mississippi’s rotation all season and will be another piece to an extremely talented Gwinnett rotation.