My wife thinks I worry too much. It’s a fair criticism manifesting itself more plainly each day with our daughter. She’s a bit older than one, and I can’t help but freak out about every little way she’s about to hurt herself. I was raised by an insurance adjuster who taught me life was a booby-trap parade. I used to tell him he saw the world only in landmines. It’s inevitable you’ll walk the wrong way and blow some up, but by God you’d better try your best to avoid em. He never disagreed with this assessment.
I mention this because every one of Atlanta’s prospects worries me. I see the reason for optimism in a lot of them, but if I took over a dynasty loaded up with Braves, I’d be shopping a lot of them before they fall on their ass and look at me crying like it’s my fault.
1. OF Drew Waters | 21 | AAA | Late 2020
2. OF Cristian Pache | 21 | AAA | Late 2020
When I started this list, I didn’t realize how important it would be to find the right pun for prospect number one. Almost asked Grey to push back publication day. And I’m sorry to say I never figured it out. Mind waters ran dry. Couldn’t bridge that troublesome water. It was just like Thomas Jefferson said it would be, “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots. New England Patriots: Tom Brady and Gisele.”
Anyway, Drew Waters has a good hit tool. So good it allows him to swing at everything. So good he can probably keep swinging at everything and keep climbing the ladder. This would likely work in his early MLB days a la Austin Mary Riley but would face the same fate if Waters can’t turn off the swing-faucet.
Cristian Pache would be more intriguing if he hadn’t gotten caught stealing in 11 out of 19 attempts at AA. Maybe he got picked off a lot. Have to account for that with young base-runners, especially when they’re young for the level and might be facing more left-handed pitchers than they’ve ever seen on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, his success rate has to come a long way if he’s ever going to run enough to carry his profile in fantasy. It might not have to if his plate skills and power continue to develop. Might be an inevitability for such a talented youngster; might be just Ron Acuña dreaming on such a winter’s day.
3. SS Braden Shewmake 22 | AA | Late 2021
Last train to topside? The son of a coach, Shewmake has some funk in his mechanics that will be interesting to track. He was good enough with his current setup to get drafted in the first round and dominate A ball across 51 games, posting a 151 wRC+. Still, he might have a little more upside with a more synchronous base.
As is, he still profiles to hit for average, take walks, limit strikeouts, steal bases, and play a passable shortstop. Works for me. Not shopping Shewmake. In part because I don’t think he has much trade value just yet.
4. RHP Ian Anderson | 21 | AAA | Late 2020
5. RHP Kyle Wright | 24| MLB | Early 2020
Anderson and Wright are exactly the type of prospects you don’t want in dynasty leagues. Maybe that’s too extreme, but it’s not a dig at these two players. If you have any not-quite top-tier pitching prospects, you should probably be shopping them to some extent. For me it comes down to runway. They’re at the end of theirs. The fantasy community is by and large unforgiving of young pitchers who don’t perform. If you feel confident a particular prospect will succeed early and maintain, it’s worth your time to buy and hold them, especially if you’re in leagues that devalue pitching. Faith in a young arm should be the exception–not the rule, and I think Wright is more rule than exception. Anderson, I could go either way, which likely matches general perception and means he’d bring more interest and return.
6. 1B Bryce Ball | 21 | A | 2023
7. LHP Kyle Muller | 22 | AA | Late 2020
8. LHP Tucker Davidson | 24 | AAA | Mid 2020
Bryce Ball was a fun find of the process. A 24th round pick this July, he’s a 6’6” lefty listed at 235 lbs who played just one college season but thrashed older professional competition across two levels in his debut season. He might get exposed by better breaking balls, but he’s extremely quiet in his approach, tracking the ball deep with both eyes from an open, tall stance. Fast hands for an enormous human. I like him.
Kyle Muller’s just a tick of command away from taking a leap. He’s the type of pitching prospect I like: free in most dynasty leagues despite enticing topside. You could do worse with a spec spot than a 6’6” lefty with three major-league-quality pitches (fastball, slider, changeup).
A command and control, four-pitch lefty, Tucker Davidson is looking at a long major league career whether he can stick as a starter or not. He’s coming off an outstanding 2019 that netted him a 2.15 ERA across two levels and set him up for a quick promotion to the big leagues if he carries that over to 2020.
9. C William Contreras | 22 | AA | Late 2021
10. RHP Jasseel De La Cruz | 22 | AA | Late 2020
11. OF Trey Harris | 24 | AA | Mid 2021
Dynasty stock is very wild west in its fluctuations and murders. Well, in the apparent randomness of life and death anyway. William Contreras had a lot of life this time last year, but now he’s borderline droppable in all but deep dynasties coming off a year where he hit six home runs in 110 games and logged a .306 OBP in 60 AA games.
Jasseel De La Cruz has to be on the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft, so his first major league opportunity is imminent. He might not be ready to start given his reliance on two pitches in his plus fastball and slider, but that same combo could be effective in relief from the get go.
Trey Harris is a unique case. I get a Kirby Puckett kind of vibe from him. Might be profiling body types, but I think there’s a similarity to their games: precocious feel for contact and surprising athleticism.
Posting a 141 wRC+ on his way to 47 stolen bases in the South Atlantic League, Justin Dean demands some notice. He’s listed at 5’6” 185, and I’d be shocked if that didn’t hurt his draft stock. Atlanta took him out of Lenoir-Rhyne College in the 2018 draft’s 17th round, and he’s been hitting ever since. Well, he’s not hitting in the Arizona Fall League yet, but it’s indicative of Atlanta’s optimism that they sent him.