Since my last recap, a lot has happened in the minor leagues. However, there has been no bigger story than top prospect Ronald Acuna being called up. This article will focus on Acuna, the Braves top prospects, along with check-ins on other top prospects around the league.
Ronald Acuna was called up last Wednesday, April 25th, despite his lackluster start to the season in Triple-A. Acuna had a .232/.321/.304 slash line in his 17-game Triple-A career with only 1 home run. However, after being called up he has shown his potential. After his first 6 games, Acuna was batting .417/.481/.750 with the Braves. Acuna started his career against the Reds, Phillies, and Mets, including games against Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola. Though he has slowed down since his hot start, Acuna remains a player to watch for the next 10 years.
Now, with Acuna in the majors, the Braves still have one of the best minor league systems in baseball with seven more prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100. The highest rated of these players is pitcher Kyle Wright who is at Double-A and the 29th prospect in baseball. Like Acuna, Wright is struggling with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He has 42 strikeouts and 20 walks in 43.2 innings. These stats are not what the Braves want, but Kyle Wright was only drafted in 2017 draft from Vanderbilt. Wright still has plenty of time to figure out Double-A and may be in the MLB by next season if he can. Wright is still over 2 years younger than the average player in Double-A leaving Wright room to grow and plenty of time to make it to the majors. The Braves next prospect is #30 overall and dominated Triple-A before earning his call-up last night for the game against the Mets. Mike Soroka had 24 strikeouts and only five walks through in 22.2 innings with a 1.99 ERA. He also looked great in his MLB debut, allowing only one run on six hits with five strikeouts and the win. Soroka is younger than Kyle Wright as Mike Soroka was drafted in 2015 out of high school. Soroka has now made three starts with a 1-1 record and 15 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. He has only walked four, but he has given up 21 hits and 6 runs. Soroka may stay for the rest of the season making him a great pitcher to watch, but if he doesn’t he will definitely be one to watch over the next year and for the future of the Braves. The Braves rotation will be extremely dangerous with the above pitchers and the #47th overall prospect, Luiz Gohara. He has had 4 starts this season in the minors, one in Double-A and three in Triple-A. He struggled in Triple-A possessing an ERA of 8.03 and giving up 5 home runs. He made his MLB debut last September, and was called up to the bullpen and earned a save on May 10th versus the Marlins. The Braves may keep him in the bullpen in a long relief role, but do not be surprised if he gets a chance or two to start by the end of the season The next Braves prospect is another pitcher who will be a force for years to come. Ian Anderson is in Advanced Single-A. He owns a 3.77 ERA through 7 starts with 38 strikeouts and 16 walks. He is a good strikeout pitcher as he has only pitched 31 innings. Ian Anderson is still young as he is only 20 and playing in Single-A so he won’t be in the Braves rotation this year or next, but he will be one to watch in the minors and down the road. The next two prospects #56 and #81 overall are both left-handed pitchers who are already up with the Braves or will be up shortly. Kolby Allard is pitching in Triple-A with a 1.71 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Allard should be given a chance this season, but his only problem is his strikeout numbers as he has 32 Ks in 42 innings. Max Fried is the other pitcher who has already gone from Double-A to the Majors in less than a month. He was a starter in the minors but is currently being roughed up in the Braves bullpen. The Braves last player in the Top 100 is not a pitcher. Austin Riley is a third baseman who has already been promoted to Triple-A. He ended Double-A with a slash line of .333/.394/.677 with six home runs in 27 games. Riley has played 10 games in Triple-A so far batting .325 with 3 home runs. Riley’s one problem is that he is striking out more than once a game with 40 strikeouts in 37 games. Austin Riley is still young and like many of the Braves prospects won’t be on the team for the majority of this season but could be an impact player next season. The Braves minor league system is easily one of the best in the majors and the Braves will be a team to be reckoned with for years to come.
Now to check in on the non-Braves prospects. The first prospect is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who is showing everything that the Blue Jays would want to see and more. He is currently hitting .415/.459/.696 with seven home runs and 14 walks. He only has 13 strikeouts in 34 games. Guerrero currently has more walks than strikeouts and more extra-base hits than strikeouts with 15 doubles and a triple. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. looks to be the next big star for the Blue Jays organization and could be promoted to Triple-A to give him a challenge as Double-A looks too easy. Like Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez is looking great in Double-A. Eloy has seven home runs in 26 games and is hitting .321/.357/.604. Eloy Jimenez, like Guerrero Jr., has time to develop as neither of them are expected to contribute this year to their respective teams. One player who is currently in Double-A is Nationals prospect, Juan Soto. However, unlike Vlad Jr. and Eloy, he did not start there. Juan Soto started in Single-A and destroyed it hitting .373 with five home runs and more walks than strikeouts. After 16 games, he was promoted to the Potomac Nationals and continued the same trend hitting .371 with seven home runs and again more walks than strikeouts. This time it only took the Nationals 15 games to promote Soto to Double-A Harrisburg. Playing seven games, Soto is “struggling” hitting only .296 and two home runs. Obviously, he is not struggling and looks to continue to dominate in a league filled with star prospects right now. Soto like Vlad Jr. is only 19, so he will not make an impact on the Nats until at least next season.
Starting pitchers have now had time to adjust and get a few starts under their belt. The top pitching prospect currently playing in the minors is Michael Kopech who has 44 strikeouts in just 33.1 innings pitched. He also possesses a higher than hoped for 4.86 ERA in Triple-A. Kopech will definitely be called up in September, but most likely before if the White Sox starters continue to struggle. Of the other nine top right-handed pitcher prospects, two are playing in the majors, one is suspended, and three are injured, leaving only three others. Mitch Keller, playing in Double-A, is doing well striking out 37 batters in 41 innings with a 3.07 ERA. Keller is the Pirates top prospect and will probably make an impact towards the end of the season on their team. Hunter Greene, the Reds #2 prospect, is struggling in Single-A with a 9.88 ERA in 13.2 innings. However, he has 23 strikeouts showing that he has some promise. Sixto Sanchez is having an average start to the season with a 3.58 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 27 innings. He is playing in Advanced-A and won’t make an impact this season. All these pitchers have promise either showing great strikeout totals or a solid ERA, but all of them are hoping to put together a streak of solid starts earning promotion to the next level.
Speaking of promotions, here are my picks for promotions of the week. May 18th at the Albuquerque Isotopes they are giving away a Taco Bobblehead. Another great promotional night was for the Round Rock Armadillos with special jerseys and t-shirts for fans. Lastly, the Richmond Flying Squirrels had a great bobblehead giveaway for mother’s day of Nutasha.