The Atlanta Braves have seen several high profile prospect graduations over the last couple of seasons, but there is still an intriguing group left in the system. Up next in our predictions series is which prospect will surprise the most in 2021?
Which Braves prospect will be the biggest surprise?
Scott: Great question. I know Ian Anderson and Cristian Pache are both technically rookies, but that seems too easy. I’ll go ahead and say Tucker Davidson pitches well enough to draw a handful of appearances during the season, giving the Braves another young arm to work with.
Eric: I think people are sleeping on Kyle Muller and forget how valuable a hulking lefty that throws in the mid 90’s can be. He has had command issues in the past, there is no question about that. However, he has real upside, is a physical specimen, and puts in the work. Also, keep an eye on Mahki Backstrom….the secret is out on Michael Harris now (that top 5 ranking we gave him feels good these days), but Mahki has the ability to make some loud contact that could draw attention.
Daniel: I mentioned him above, but I think Huascar Ynoa is going to find a way to make a strong impact on this team in 2021. Ynoa has an electric arm and has been striking out the world in spring. He does seem to struggle once he gets to 60+ pitches, but he could be an impact multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen or a guy who fills in for an injured starter and can give you four strong innings.
Brent: Trey Harris will continue raking against any pitcher who dares stand on a mound opposite him, and somehow that will register as a surprise.
Ivan: Ian Anderson isn’t really a “prospect” anymore, nor would him being awesome surprise anyone at this point… so I’ll go with Braden Shewmake, not so much because I know anything about his potential quality firsthand, but because the Braves’ infield bench situation is so grim that it wouldn’t take much for them to call upon him if he’s playing well in the summer and the backup infielders are floundering.
Kris: I think everyone has completely forgotten about Drew Waters. Sure there are questions in regards to his approach, but he skipped High-A completely and then dominated the Southern League in 2019. Yet all we seem to hear about is a 26-game Triple-A stint at the end of a long season. An oblique injury sidelined him through the majority of the spring but I can’t think of another prospect who needs the minor league season more. I think by the end of the season, Waters will reestablish himself and will be in position to grab an outfield spot in 2022 provided the DH returns to the National League.
Shawn Coleman: My pick is Shea Langeliers. William Contreras has certainly generated more buzz among the duo of intriguing young Braves backstops. However, I feel Langeliers will be ready to show his power potential along with his advanced feel of handling a pitching staff, defensive ability, and steal-stopping arm talent. With Travis d’Arnaud a free agent after this season and the going rate of catchers over the past few years, Atlanta needs at least one of the two to clearly show they can be a big part of the picture behind the plate going forward. I feel with his best chance to showcase what he can do for the first time in his career in front of him this season, Shea will shine.
AB: Can Pache surprise? The bar is set too high for him I guess. I think Bryse Wilson will impress at every opportunity this year, and may make the rotation outright by September depending on how the season plays out.
Dillon: The Braves bullpen has some solid options for the late innings, but could use some reinforcements. Kyle Muller seems like the type of arm who could thrive in that role, assuming his command holds up. I’ll bet on the big Texan to figure things out and contribute to the relief corps this season.
Cory: Cristian Pache can’t be a surprise if he’s the starting center fielder on Opening Day, and we can’t call Ian Anderson that either given his historic postseason. But Kyle Muller? The lack of innings starters built up last season is going to put an even bigger stress on bullpens, so the Braves will have to hit the minor-league ranks for reinforcements and Muller figures to be exactly that as a bullpen supplement who will stoke even more conversations about what the rotation could look like down the line.
Wayne: ANOTHER tough question. The Braves farm system has been so good for so long — and hyped up equally over that time — it’s tough to say any of us would be surprised if a William Contreras or Kyle Muller gets a good chunk of playing time and does particularly well. While I do think Muller gets a chance to make a significant impact this year, I’ll throw out Trey Harris. I think he can be a solid fourth outfielder and may get the chance to prove it this year.
Demetrius: I feel like every season recently, the Braves have gotten a call-up that serves as a reminder that “Oh yeah, they’ve still got a ton of talent on the farm — and not just the obvious names, either.” I think this year, the example is going to be Braden Shewmake. I’m not suggesting that he’s gonna set the world on fire and be the Rookie of the Year, but I do think that he can come in as a bench player and contribute some quality production at the plate when called upon. It definitely seems like he could be another one of those bench options where you can just plug him in anywhere and see good things happen.
Gaurav: I will go with Cristian Pache. Not because he will put up a ~ 4 fWAR season because of absurdly good defense, but because he shows a roughly league average bat and a near 100 wRC+ season which makes him a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Matt: Cristian Pache is better with the bat this year than what anyone is reasonably expecting from him. The guy we saw in October felt like he was ready for the big stage and he just keeps working on improving himself.