It’s finally here. It feels like a dream, but we finally are just mere days until minor league baseball will begin. We’ve waited 20 months to finally get to this point and I couldn’t be more excited to get the season rolling. We’re going to start here with roster predictions and previews for the season, which is our best guess on assignments given our expectations and information we’ve been made privy to. Follow along with Talking Chop’s minor league crew this season as we’ll bring you daily recaps, except for Tuesday mornings (no Monday games) when Wayne Cavadi will be doing a weekly article previewing the upcoming weeks games and talking about the prior week’s game.
We’ll be bringing you monthly reports on prospects, scouting reports, interviews, news, the Road to Atlanta podcast, and a midseason Top 30 prospects update this season. On behalf of myself, Wayne, Eric Cole, Gaurav Vedak, and Matt Powers, I have to say we’re excited to have baseball back, excited for the new season of content we’ll provide, and thankful to have the crew back together for another season.
We’ll see a lot of players at Augusta this season that we simply have no information on as professionals yet. If there are names you end up not seeing initially on rosters, they are likely at extended spring to either work on something first or are rehabbing an injury, so don’t draw too many conclusions just yet. There’s a lot of players to watch here with many that could vault up the rankings quickly with strong performances. Lets take a look at Augusta’s roster.
Tyler Owens is undersized for a starter at 5’10 but he has tremendous arm strength and utilizes an upper 90’s fastball as his primary offering. He also has a slider that can be a major league quality offering and is working on developing his changeups. Owens had a ton of success in his professional debut and has the potential to strike out a lot of batters. Whether he develops into a starter will depend on his changeup and whether his size becomes a detriment.
Joey Estes has the two pitch mix to be a middle reliever throwing a mid 90’s fastball and an above average slider. His overall potential depends on the development of his changeup and curveball, both of which have shown flashes of being major league quality offerings but need more work. He got in a lot of work in 2020 with his friend and fellow prospect Mahki Backstrom, and he’ll be exciting to watch in 2021.
Vaughn Grissom is by far the most notable offensive player on an Augusta team that isn’t going to feature many high profile ones. Grissom was fantastic at the alternate site last season and he has the potential to be a really good offensive player. He has power in his six foot three inch frame, and though he has some question marks with the bat there is growing optimism he will hit. The question mark is defense. The Braves think Grissom is a shortstop long term. Most others do not. I fall into the latter category. There will be a ton of pressure on his bat if he has to move to third base, and that’s looking more likely than not at this stage.
Cam Shepherd was a fantastic undrafted senior sign for the Braves, a player with an above average glove at shortstop and enough bat to be a good backup. If he hits enough, he could be a low end starter, but either way is not a bad pickup as an undrafted player.
Extended Spring Training
Mahki Backstrom is the most notable player headed to extended spring training, though with a solid performance there he could find himself in Rome by season’s end. He has tremendous power and there’s some belief he will hit, but he’s raw and just needs some time.
Kadon Morton is probably even more athletic than the previous two, with more raw power than Paolini and more speed than Backstrom. He’s extremely raw, but has a tremendous ceiling if he can ever get there. There’s a ton of swing and miss, but the talent is legit.