2018 Preseason Top 50 Braves Prospects – #40-#31

2018 Preseason Top 50 Braves Prospects – #40-#31

We love this time of year. The NFL playoffs are reaching the end, college football is done, and nobody really cares about the regular season for basketball and hockey. You know it’s true. That leaves baseball, which is still a month away from spring training kicking off. Right now, everyone is a contender. Well, not the Marlins, but if you squint your eyes, everybody else could be a contender if everything went right. That does include the Braves and if you have any hope of those dreams becoming a reality, you know it’s because of the farm system.

Last week, we started our Preseason Top 50 Prospects by looking at the bottom ten. Today, we reveal ten more names and by the end, we’ll be ready for the Top 30 starting next Tuesday. A lot has been said and written about the punishments MLB gave the Braves and certainly depth is hurt by it. Probably three-to-five of the players in this section would have been in the #41-#50 range without those punishments. Be that as it may, the prospects today still have some interesting qualities. Most of the players in this group are “next-wave” players. That means these guys will climb the charts as more spots ahead of them open via graduations and trades. Don’t expect to see many of today’s players in 2018, but don’t sleep on them either.

Methodology – each member of Walk-Off Walk submitted a Top 50. We then averaged the rankings together to give us a composite ranking. If a player was unranked on any one member’s submission, he was assigned a ranking of #55 for averaging purposes. Ties were broken by the highest individual rank by a member of Walk-Off Walk. In one case, a second tiebreaker that used the second highest individual rank was utilized. All rankings are displayed along with the preseason and midseason ranks from 2017. It should be noted that the 2017 preseason Top 50 was done entirely by Tommy Poe.

Huascar Ynoa | Ben Sacramento from YouTube

40. Huascar Ynoa@theynoaa

Tommy: #41, Stephen: #44, Ryan: #49
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: UR

A lot of people were upset when trading Jaime Garcia only brought back Ynoa, though I wasn’t one of them. Ynoa is a project, no doubt, but he’s a project worth taking a gamble on. After the trade, Ynoa struck out nearly a quarter of the hitters he faced – that’s not too shabby. That’s not to say that Ynoa’s 2017 was a great season for Ynoa – he was much better in 2016 in the Gulf Coast League. What I like about Ynoa, though, is his maturity and pitch selection. The Twins tried to get him to focus on three pitches and that’s fair – sometimes, less is more. But I really like his repertoire and believe he does have the potential to have three plus pitches – four if he keeps throwing his splitter, which I believe he used with Danville after the trade. Give him time and Ynoa could be a real climber on this list. (Tommy Poe)

-For more on Ynoa, check out this scouting report from July.

39. Drew Harrington@FinesseThrower

Tommy: #44, Stephen: #39, Ryan: #38
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: #35

Harrington is a big kid at 6-2/225 and had a really good year for the Florida FireFrogs in 2017. A 3.13 FIP and almost a 60% ground ball rate is enough to get you on this list. The Braves system has several pitchers that are potential over polish at this point, so you need guys like Harrington with a little more pitchability to balance it out. With so many pitchers ahead of him in the system Harrington seems to me like a prime candidate to be included in a trade this offseason but we’ll see what Anthopoulos has planned. If he stays, I’m guessing he starts 2018 in AA Mississippi. (Stephen Tolbert)

38. Anfernee Seymour

Tommy: #39, Stephen: #37, Ryan: #36
2017 Preseason: #47, Midseason: #28

Acquired for lefty Hunter Cervenka in August of 2016, Seymour struggled after the trade in Rome, but was off to a good start in 2017 (.287/.345/.352, 8 steals, 28 games) before he was promoted to Florida. His bat slowed down a bit, but he turned it on late, hitting .337 with a .382 OBP and nine extra-base hits over his final 112 PA. He was on his way to an appearance in the Arizona Fall League, but was suspended for a “violation of team rules.” Seymour’s 2017, while it ended on a sour note, was an improvement over his 2016. He showed a better understanding of the strikezone, though he will strike out a lot. The speedy switch-hitter was caught 20 times trying to steal in 45 attempts. That just cannot happen. On the bright side, a move away from shortstop back to the outfield seemed to take a lot of pressure off him. Though Seymour is 22, he seems like a very raw player. Coming off a career-high .699 OPS in 2017, his fourth season, it would be nice to see him advance further this year or he could tumble down the charts. (Poe)

37. Thomas Burrows@ThomasBurrows40

Tommy: #45, Stephen: #33, Ryan: #34
2017 Preseason: #37, Midseason: #UR

A lefty out of the University of Alabama, Burrows was the “other guy” the Braves acquired in the Luiz Gohara deal. He landed in Rome in 2017 and was superb with a 33% strikeout rate and 9% walk rate. Burrows works off a good, though not great, fastball and a change-up that basically only exists to keep righties a bit off-balanced. Burrows does have a potential plus-plus pitch with his slider. That pitch alone gives Burrows a floor projection of a left-hand specialist. What I hope to see from Burrows in 2018 is advancement. Atlanta played it safe with him in 2017, but it’s time to get him moving. He could be a guy who skips Florida and lands in Mississippi to begin the season with an outside shot of seeing Atlanta by the end of the year.  (Poe)

Lucas Herbert | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB

36. Lucas Herbert@lucasherbert_

Tommy: #32, Stephen: #38, Ryan: #41
2017 Preseason: #32, Midseason: #36

Left in the dust by his more famous former battery mate in high school, Kolby Allard, Herbert spent a second season in Rome after being pushed a little too much to figure out the South Atlantic League as a 19-year-old in 2016. He showed improvement across the board, with 50-90 points game in his triple slash. That said, his numbers remained mediocre in a system that is deep behind the plate. Herbert’s bat has always been a question, though the defense remains very solid. For him to not get completely lost in the shuffle – he has William Contreras gaining on him – Herbert is going to have to build on his 2017 numbers and improve them once again. If he can get to the .265/.340/.400 range, he’ll be a prime prospect with his defense. If that doesn’t happen and his Age-21 year looks a lot like his Age-20 year, he could become more of an organizational guy than a prospect. (Poe)

35. Ricardo Sanchez

Tommy: #31, Stephen: #32, Ryan: #35
2017 Preseason: #33, Midseason: #31

Sanchez is your classic young arm without a lot of polish. Fastball can range anywhere from 90-95 and he misses his share of bats but he struggles to know where it’s going a lot of the time. It’s pretty simple for him. Learn to command it and he’s a big leaguer. The team pulled a bit of a surprise this offseason when the they added Sanchez to the 40 man roster so clearly they see potential. I’m guessing he starts 2018 in high A ball, but a significant improvement in control could push him up the ladder. (Tolbert)

34. Tucker Davidson@TuckTuck6

Tommy: #29, Stephen: #36, Ryan: #33
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: UR

This section of the top 50 is our young LH with potential as next we have Tucker Davidson. Davidson, a 19th-round pick in 2016, has been lights out so far in his career for Atlanta posting a 2.32 FIP in 2016 and a 2.97 FIP in 2017. Most of that work came as a reliever but was moved to starter last year for 12 games and maintained his numbers.

The exciting thing about Davidson is, early on in his career, he’s combining missing bats and keeping the ball on the ground while having a decent idea where he’s throwing the ball. When you add that to the overall numbers he’s putting up, you can see the potential. If he has another year like he just had in 2017, he’s going to be much higher on this list than #34. (Tolbert)

Corbin Clouse | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB

33. Corbin Clouse@Corbin018

Tommy: #40, Stephen: #29, Ryan: #28
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: UR

There’s a lot to like about CC and there’s still work to do. Clouse racks up the Ks with the combination of a sinker/slider, but he also has a hard time controlling the zone which causes whole outings of not finding it. He hasn’t pitched long (started late in college, I believe) therefore the control will likely come, but it’s an absolute necessity if he wants to make it to the next level. I compared his ceiling to Eric O’Flaherty before, and I feel that’s about right. By no means am I calling this a comp though as a lot has to go right for this to happen. Look for Clouse to put some work into command, but don’t expect for his numbers to show well while he’s working on it as he’ll likely find more of the plate at first before he can master the corners. However, when it finally clicks, he’ll move quick. (Ryan Cothran)

For more on Clouse, check out this Profile and Scouting Report from last August.

32. Devan Watts@D_Watts7

Tommy: #37, Stephen: #31, Ryan: #27
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: #48

I wrote about Watts in our Relief prospects piece and he’s not the reliever that I ranked at the top, but he’s likely my favorite type reliever. I’ve suggested on several occasions that it’d likely be in Mike Foltynewicz‘s best interest to drop a pitch from his 4-pitch arsenal and work on perfecting 3. If Folty was a reliever, I’d even suggest to drop to 2.  That’s what Watts is…a 2 pitch relief pitcher and both of them are frickin’ nasty. With a fastball sitting mid-90s, and a slider that dances up and down on the velo chart, he’s reminiscent of a healthy Shae Simmons and there was one point in time where Shae was predicted to become a back-end bullpen guy for many years before injuries sidelined his career. I think Watts gets his shot in Atlanta sometime this year and I think Atlanta’s going to really like him. (Cothran)

31. Brett Cumberland@bcumboslice

Tommy: #23, Stephen: #34, Ryan: #37
2017 Preseason: #25, Midseason: #26

I’m lower than the other 2 on Cumberland which leads you to likely wonder why I chose to write about him and this is the reason: I could be totally wrong. Cumberland was drafted in 2016 out of UC-Berkley 76th overall as a catcher.  Right away, many thought he was a good pick as he was considered the best (or next, depending on your source) hitting catcher available.  But this deserves an asterisk as many that were stating the above also thought he’d likely not make it to the bigs as a catcher. That’s one sticking point that brings his prospect luster down. If he’s not a catcher, he’s likely a 1B and a LFer and if that’s the case, he has to hit A TON! But there are also other aspects of his game that leave me scratching my head:

  • Carried a crazy high BABIP, but also carries a high fly-ball rate. Most of the time screams fluky.
  • Power dissipated upon promotion to High-A
  • As a 22 year old, he carried a high K-rate considering he’s been facing younger talent.

But there’s also the fact that he works his butt off, is seen as a team leader, has a good BB-rate, and is currently sporting a .980 OPS in Australia. Point being…he confounds me and when that happens, I error on the side of caution.  There’s a lot to like here and I hope, for the Braves sake, he can stick at catcher and continue hitting at an elite level for a catcher. If not, a 3rd catcher, LF/1B backup that can come off the bench and provide quality at-bats could be his path to the MLB. (Cothran)

2018 Preseason Top 50
On the Outside Looking In


I will comment about this prospect post later this evening…however I cant help but post this little ‘gut feeling nugget’ of mine:

I have a GUT FEELING that The San Francisco Giants may be in ‘secret negotiations’ with The Braves…about acquiring Ender Inciarte from The Braves.

I heard an interview on MLB Radio with Mike Kurkow (one of The Giants announcers) who was commenting on The Andrew McCutchen Trade…and he stated that The National League West all have fields that require a really good centerfielder (Dodger Stadium, Coors Field, AT&T Park, Petco Park, Chase Field…..all have vast fields that a centerfielder has to patrol if a team is going to win games in that division).

With The Giants only $4.8 mil under The $197 mil Salary Cap Tax Threshold….Ender Inciarte’s $4 mil 2017 salary would be PERFECT for them. The next 4 years, Inciarte is only owed $5 mil, $7 mil, $8 mil and a team option $9 mil owed to him in 2022.

For it to make sense for The Braves to trade Inciarte…The Giants would have to do a SERIOUS OVERPAY (giving up AT LEAST their 3 best prospects in Helliot Ramos, OF…Chris Shaw, OF/1st….Tyler Beede, P) for it to make sense for Atlanta to give up one of its building blocks in Inciarte!

Ramos and Shaw would both provide power/youth with the corner outfield positions (with Acuna slated to play center)….and Beede would provide another arm to either compete with our PLETHORA of starting arms in The Minors (a team can NEVER have too many arms) OR be a potential trade piece down the line.

Just to make it clear, I’m not saying that this is going to happen….just saying that The Giants are clearly trying to ‘go for it’ in 2018….and if they want to avoid being a tax payer for the 5th year in a row (in addition to resetting the tax after 2018)…than the only way that they can upgrade centerfield WITHOUT going over the $197..is to acquire Inciarte! The Braves have the leverage here….to extract A HELLA PACKAGE (those three players would be worth trading Inciarte)!

Any thoughts?

Certainly, I’d be interested. My preference would be to deal with a team with a much better farm system if I was going to deal Inciarte. I don’t know if the Giants are all that interested, though I imagine we’d have to take back Span if they were.

Tommy….Span was already dumped to Tampa in The Longoria Trade!

All things being equal, I’d like to keep Inciarte (a hella affordable building block the next 5 seasons). However, if a team was willing to OVERPAY for him (The Giants would be a natural candidate to OVERPAY for Inciarte…because he would be PERFECT for them, especially from a defensive standpoint AND with how his contract keeps them right under The $197 mil Salary Cap Tax Threshold).

All these trades that The Giants have made this offseason…have shown that they are serious about ‘going for it’ in 2018. However right now, they have A GLARING HOLE in center. Inciarte would solve that for them..IN SPADES! However, if they want this ‘perfect fit’…then would need to SERIOUSLY OVERPAY for it!

That’s why I suggested that they send Ramos, Shaw and Beede…who not only represent their top three prospects…but Ramos and Shaw provide The Braves with two position prospects with SERIOUS POWER (something that we lack in our system)…as well as another arm in Beede who will either compete for an eventual rotation spot OR be a valuable trade chip.

But barring an overpay…we should happily keep Inciarte.

Tommy…..while a lot the attention goes to The Braves Top Prospects
(particularly The Top 10/Top 20)…..I feel that this list of prospects #31-#40 offers a number of potentially ‘valuable role player/bullpen pieces’ that any playoff aspiring team needs to have IF they are going to be able to compete year in and year out (during The Braves 15 year run from 1991-2005, they had key contributions from these type of players that ‘seemingly’ came out of nowhere to help us win/make The Playoffs).

Thomas Burrows..#37. Not only did we get Luiz Gohara…but Burrows was ‘a throw-in’, lol! This guy strikes out a lot of hitters/has a live arm. In a few years, he could be a valuable bullpen piece on the cheap for a few years.

Tucker Davidson…#34. Davidson could very well be one of those sleeper type starting pitchers who fills in when one of our more talented/high ceiling type pitchers gets injured…as well as fill in as a long reliever who can eat up innings. Or…he may end up being a trade piece (while I feel that he’s capable of being a very decent MLB starter…The Braves simply have too much depth/too many high ceiling starting pitching prospects).

Corbin Clouse….#33. Clouse may end up teaming with AJ Minter and Dan Winkler to form a formidable bullpen down the line.

Devan Watts…#32. I’d put Watts in the same category as Clouse.

If The Braves can get bullpen production from these guys I listed…wow, lol! That would be absolutely sick…given what lies ahead on our prospect list and the expected/hoped for production that those ahead of them have!

What Coppy (regardless of what happened with his Latin American efforts..I still LOVE what he did overall/will NEVER FORGET how he rebuilt The Braves) accomplished with The Rebuild/The Domestic Drafts…is incredible! I heard on MLB Radio earlier today that the last decent Marlins Draft Pick…was Jose Fernandez back in 2011! 2011? Before The Marlins decided to embark on their current fire sale after Jeter and Company bought The Marlins….I wonder how high Brett Cumberland (#31 on your list) would have ranked in The Marlins System? Top 3 maybe?

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