Atlanta Braves: Where have all the prospects gone?!

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: Matt Wisler #45 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during the third inning against the New York Mets at SunTrust Park on June 10, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 10: Matt Wisler #45 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during the third inning against the New York Mets at SunTrust Park on June 10, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 15: Adonis Garcia #13 of the Atlanta Braves hits a sixth inning solo home run against the San Diego Padres at SunTrust Park on April 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 15: Adonis Garcia #13 of the Atlanta Braves hits a sixth inning solo home run against the San Diego Padres at SunTrust Park on April 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

As with any new regime, since Alex Anthopoulos took over for the Atlanta Braves, he’s made adjustments for the players he wants in the organization.

Any new general manager will make changes in the organization. While many in the media focus on the staff changes, like manager, scouting director, coaching staff, etc., there are players throughout the Atlanta Braves organization who have felt the effects of a new GM for the Braves.

I have been putting out top 100 prospect lists for the Braves organization for a few years now, and that means that a good portion of the players that moved were players that had been ranked prospects in the organization at some point.

We’re going to review 50 former players that have now left the organization, starting with the two guys who were never ranked in a list due to being already established as major leaguers when that first top 100 came out:

Adonis Garcia, 3B/OF

While Adonis Garcia may no longer have been a rookie by the time that first top 100 came out, he certainly was covered plenty in minor league coverage over the years. The Atlanta Braves signed Garcia after he had been in the Yankees farm system for 3 years after coming over from Cubs. His first year with the Braves in 2015, he used up his rookie eligibility, hitting .277/.293/.497 with 10 home runs over 198 plate appearances.

That would really be Garcia’s shining moment with the Braves, though, as he struggled the next two seasons, getting sent down or suffering significant injuries in 2016 and 2017. In his three years with the Braves, he played 244 games, hitting .267/.300/.414 with 29 home runs.

Adonis was released in order to sign a contract in Korea in January. He is hitting .381/.432/.597 with 7 home runs and 5 steals over 150 plate appearances with a 7/19 BB/K ratio for the LG Twins in the KBO.

Matt Wisler, RHP

When he was acquired by the Atlanta Braves before the 2015 season, Matt Wisler was a highly-regarded prospect, ranked in pretty much all top 100 lists, as high as #34 (Baseball America) entering the 2015 season.

Known to be a sinker/slider guy, Wisler didn’t put up dominant strikeout numbers in Gwinnett in 2015, but he controlled his stuff well enough to earn a promotion to Atlanta, where he tossed 109 innings, with a 4.71 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and a 40/72 BB/K ratio. Sadly, that would end up being his best season.

Wisler seemed to fall victim to Roger McDowell, who constantly tinkered and adjusted the young pitcher’s repertoire, leaving him very obviously unsure of himself on the mound. A change in pitching philosophies in 2017 saw a change in Wisler at the minor league level, but he could not translate that when he would get to the major league level.

The Atlanta Braves traded Wisler as part of the deal to bring in Adam Duvall in July. Wisler finished his Braves career with a 5.27 ERA over 324 2/3 innings, posting a 1.41 WHIP and a 107/230 BB/K ratio. The Reds have focused on using Wisler as a multi-inning reliever since acquiring him, and he’s responded very well to that role, with a 1.23 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 2/17 BB/K over 14 2/3 IP with the Reds’ AAA club since the trade.

Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves /

Players the Atlanta Braves have traded

Brett Cumberland, C, Baltimore Orioles – A switch-hitter with power, many thought the Braves would move Cumberland to another position once he got into the system, but instead, he’s primarily played behind the plate, taking some time in the outfield, but his bat has encouraged many, including me, as I had him ranked #29 in the system coming into 2018. He’s struggled with the Orioles’ AA club, hitting under .150 so far, though just in 7 games.

Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B, Baltimore Orioles – Very raw, but very talented, Encarnacion was a final cut in the list before the 2017 season, a guy I mentioned in my “other names to know” section before jumping all the way up to #23 this offseason due to his incredible performance in 2017. Encarnacion is still very raw, with plenty of discipline issues to work through, but the ceiling is very high – akin to former top prospect Edward Salcedo.

Akeel Morris, RHP, Los Angeles Angels – Acquired in one of the seemingly annual Kelly Johnson trades with the Mets, Morris showed himself to have one of the best changeups in the entire Braves system. Before the 2017 season, I ranked him #47 in the system, and before the 2018 season, he was ranked #30. He was traded April 3rd to the Angels. He’s been between AAA and the majors this year, but he’s struggled quite a bit.

Tanner Murphy, C, San Francisco Giants – An advanced defender behind the plate with a power stroke and a good eye, Murphy had struggled to make contact and fell behind a number of other catchers in the system. The Braves traded him in early May to San Francisco, and he’s been playing between high-A and AAA, but he’s not been able to hit for contact with the Giants this year. Murphy was ranked as high as #39 (before 2017) in my system rankings.

Evan Phillips, RHP, Baltimore Orioles – Relievers don’t typically rank well for me as minor league relievers typically don’t fare well in the major leagues, but Phillips had ranked in the top 100 for me while he was with the Braves before exploding in his performance this year. He’s had a rough go of it with the Orioles in his first few appearances.

Lucas Sims, RHP, Cincinnati Reds – Sims was one of the elite prospects in the system at one point, a former first-round pick. He was the #7 prospect in the first top 100 list on Tomahawk Take. After struggling to define his role in Atlanta, Sims heads to Cincinnati, and he’s already had success with their AAA club, posting a 3.31 ERA and 0.74 WHIP over his first 3 starts with an impressive 3/19 BB/K ratio.

Bruce Zimmermann, LHP, Baltimore Orioles – Not a guy with elite velocity, Zimmermann has shown incredible control and command this season, and now that he’s moved up to AA, he’s shown well since the trade, making two starts, pitching 10 innings, with a 1.80 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, posting a 1/7 BB/K ratio. His ceiling isn’t high, but he’s a fun guy to root for nonetheless.

CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 19: Mauricio Cabrera #62 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the tenth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July19, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Atlanta defeated Cincinnati 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 19: Mauricio Cabrera #62 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the tenth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July19, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Atlanta defeated Cincinnati 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Braves released players in a new home

A number of players let go by the Atlanta Braves have found new homes, some with success, and others not so much…

Zach Becherer, RHP, San Francisco Giants – The big righty that the Atlanta Braves drafted out of a small college in Illinois in the 15th round in 2016 had plenty of strikeouts in his first season with the Braves, striking out 24 in 18 innings in the Gulf Coast League. Becherer has struggled with his control, and that has continued this year, walking more than he’s struck out.

Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Chicago White Sox – Mo was never able to figure out how to harness that incredible fastball of his with his offspeed stuff. After a big showing in 2016 at the big league level when he put up a 2.82 ERA over 41 games, the signs were there in his mediocre strikeout rate in spite of a fastball that can touch 103 MPH. Cabrera has posted a 12.38 ERA over his 8 games in the White Sox system since signing, though he has struck out 11.

Matt Custred, RHP, Los Angeles Angels – A guy who always had impressive stuff but just struggled to stay on the field, Custred had an impressive 1.16 ERA over 38 2/3 innings in 2017. He’s climbed up the ranks from high-A to AAA this season for the Angels, totaling a 3.38 ERA over 56 innings with 63 strikeouts.

Luis Gamez, RHP, Mexican League – After allowing 8 earned runs in his first 8 innings with Danville this year, Gamez was released and has found a soft landing in the Mexican League, where he’s put up a 3.00 ERA over his first 3 games. Gamez is returning from injury and has been a guy who was ranked as high as #84, so he could have another shot in the future at the big leagues.

Dalton Geekie, RHP, Chicago Cubs – A Georgia boy, Geekie had big success in his draft season, working all the way to Rome as a 22nd round pick in his draft season in 2015. Injuries plagued his 2016 and kept Geekie out all of 2017. He’s yet to allow a run with the Cubs this year after they signed him away from an Indy ball league. He’s thrown 11 2/3 innings of scoreless ball with 16 strikeouts.

Drew Harrington, LHP, Chicago White Sox – Harrington had big expectations coming out of a premium school like Louisville, but after his excellent draft season showing, he struggled to put it together, primarily relying on his two-pitch combination. After a 7.39 ERA over his first 35 1/3 innings this season, he was released. The White Sox picked him up and have been working with him in the rotation primarily. He’s showed fairly well, with a 3.81 ERA, but only 38 strikeouts over 54 1/3 innings.

Jaret Hellinger, LHP, Kansas City Royals – Hellinger had excellent raw stuff from the left side, and he simply struggled with the Braves to put that stuff together outside of rookie ball levels. Catching on with the Royals advanced rookie league team, he’s moved to the bullpen, showing very good control, with a 6/20 BB/K over 20 2/3 innings, but also being hit fairly hard, leading to a 5.66 ERA.

Ryan Lawlor, LHP, Chicago Cubs – An under-radar guy that got lost among the host of college arms drafted from the 3rd-10th rounds in 2015, Lawlor was a University of Georgia arm with excellent raw stuff, and simply struggled with health. When he was able to be on the mound in 2017, his stuff was electric, resulting in 61 strikeouts over 47 1/3 innings, but he was released before the season. After initially opening with an Independent league team, the Cubs signed him, and he’s been solid for their low-A team, posting a 4.50 ERA over 16 innings with a 5/21 BB/K ratio.

Joey Meneses, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies – A pitcher in his native Mexico, Meneses was a personal favorite, a guy that I’d stated would absolutely take off when he really “got it” at the plate for a full season. It seems this year has been the season, as he’s got a chance at the AAA triple crown, hitting .314/.361/.524 with 22 home runs this year.

Dylan Moore, IF, Milwaukee Brewers – Moore was another personal favorite from the time he was acquired from Texas. He struggled mightily with Mississippi in 2017, but he was willing to play around the infield and had power and speed to offer. With AA/AAA in the Brewers system this year, he’s hit .303/.363/.519 with 11 home runs, 22 steals, 27 doubles, and 9 triples this year, playing around the infield and even getting in some work in left field.

Joseph Odom, C, Seattle Mariners – A solidly-built backstop with good receiving skills, Odom showed good power previously, but broke through in 2016 with a .758 OPS between high-A and AA, but he’s never been able to replicate that. Between the AA and AAA levels for Seattle this year, Odom has slashed .247/.309/.363.

Kade Scivicque, C, Detroit Tigers – Originally acquired from the Tigers, Scivicque has struggled to be a consistent bat in the minors, looking at best to be a backup at the big league level. Overall, he’s hit .250/.308/.366 this year over 62 games, just one of those in the Braves system before he was released.

Anfernee Seymour, OF, Miami Marlins – Originally acquired by the Braves from Miami, Seymour has used his elite speed to get plenty of chances, moving from the infield to the outfield. After 24 games, he was released from Florida and was picked up by Miami, where he’s hit .268/.321/.405 over 66 games between high-A and AA with 3 home runs and 20 steals.

Devan Watts, RHP, Chicago White Sox – Drafted in the 17th round in 2016, Watts was an instrumental reliever in the dominant 2016 Rome team, making 16 appearances for Rome down the stretch. He posted a 2.15 ERA in 2017 over 58 2/3 innings between high-A and AA, but after 20 games, he was released this season. With the White Sox, he’s put together a 2.38 ERA over 11 1/3 innings so far.

ATLANTA, GA – JUNE 24: Aaron Blair #36 of the Atlanta Braves walks off the field after being pulled in the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Turner Field on June 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JUNE 24: Aaron Blair #36 of the Atlanta Braves walks off the field after being pulled in the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Turner Field on June 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Braves released players still unsigned

The Atlanta Braves have let go of a number of players who have yet to find another team, whether that’s due to being released mid-season or injury or a lack of interest…

Leudys Baez, OF – Incredibly talented, Baez flashed those raw skills at times, with power and speed, but never able to keep health and production both. His 2017 line was tremendous when healthy, with a .300/.353/.498 line, but he also played just 56 games and posted a 17/56 BB/K ratio. He ranked as high as #25 in the top 100.

Jacob Belinda, RHP – Familiar last name due to his father, Belinda struggled to have the same success, released after a 4.53 ERA over 47 2/3 innings before being release. He’s currently pitching in Indy ball.

Aaron Blair, RHP – Blair was very highly-touted coming to the Braves from the Diamondbacks, ranking as the #4 prospect in the system after arriving and as high as the #43 overall prospect in baseball on various top 100 lists. Blair never could get things together with the Braves though, after the Diamondbacks completely altered his pitch mix the year before he came to Atlanta. He’s unsigned currently primarily to recovery from injury but will have an uphill battle once he returns.

Reilys Blanco, 3B – A consistent on-base guy in the Dominican Summer League, Blanco couldn’t break his way to the states, in spite of a 38/25 BB/K ratio over his two years with the DSL, hitting .248/.352/.287 with 13 steals over 82 games.

Austin Bush, 1B – A huge (6’6″, 225 pounds) first baseman, Bush had hit for power with Danville in his draft season in 2017, but his long swing struck out way too much for the new regime, and he was let go 42 games into his 2018 season. He’s playing in the independent Frontier League right now.

Carlos Castro, 1B – Castro had built himself from a guy with the build that looked like he should be a power hitter but was more a contact guy to a guy who seemed to do nothing but drive the ball. His walk rate was absolutely putrid, and that likely led to his release, in spite of 27 home runs over 2016/2017. He’s played 7 games with the Frontier League this season.

Anthony Concepcion, 1B/OF – A late signee, Concepcion was an excellent team guy in his time in the system, but full-season ball exposed his lack of true skills, more of an athlete than a true baseball player.

Keith Curcio, 2B/OF – A guy with an upside as a bench guy was always a personal favorite due to his excellent hustle on the field and seeming ability to make a perfect play when needed. After showing excellent contact skills the previous two seasons, Curcio dropped off in 2017, and he’s now playing independent ball.

Troy Conyers, LHP – Conyers had a big season in his draft season fter being picked in the 23rd round out of the University of San Diego, putting up a 1.91 ERA over 42 1/3 innings, striking out 43 hitters and walking just 12. Instead, he was released and hasn’t caught on anywhere.

Justin Ellison, OF – An incredibly athletic outfielder that was one of the key members of the 2016 Rome Braves, Ellison ranked as high as #49 on the top 100, but he never turned his brilliant athleticism into consistent skills on the field.

Jesus Heredia, RHP – Initially signed as an outfielder, Heredia moved to the mound due to his impressive arm strength. He was known for his impressive movement on the pitch, but he struggled to get strikeouts, more kept hitters from getting hits. After a rough season with Danville in 2017, he was let go.

Landon Hughes, RHP – A 7th round pick from Georgia Southern last summer, Hughes posted an excellent draft season line, with a 1.99 ERA over 22 2/3 innings, striking out 28, so when he was let go, it was odd to hear, but he hasn’t caught on anywhere else.

Taylor Hyssong, LHP – An 8th round pick out of UNC-Wilmington, Hyssong had two solid years for Danville, but he never bumped up in the system. He’s caught on with an independent team and struggled more there than he did with the Atlanta Braves advanced rookie league.

Jared James, OF – The most recent release, happening within the last week, James is the son of former Braves outfielder Dion James, and he’s been a solid player since being drafted in the 34th round. While James was not a likely MLB starter, he still was a solid org player, so his release came as a surprise.

Manuel Juan, 1B/OF – I had reports from good contacts that the big (6’4″, 200 pounds) teenager was a solid athlete that could turn into a very good power hitter and a steal for the Atlanta Braves. After a rough first season in the DSL in 2017, Juan was let go.

Bradley Keller, OF – A gifted athlete that the Braves got in the 15th round in 2015, Keller struggled to turn his impressive power and speed skills into on-field production in full-season ball. He’s not caught on anywhere this year.

Alay Lago, 2B – A year after hitting .303 in his first year in the Atlanta Braves system, Lago struggled in AA, and he was promptly let go. He’s hitting very well in independent ball.

Taylor Lewis, RHP – Picked from the University of Florida in 2015 in the 9th round, Lewis had an excellent first two years in the Atlanta Braves system, but he struggled heavily in 2017, and he’s not found work in 2018 after being released.

Eudis Lora, IF – Lora struck a solid impression with his athletic build, but he struggled with making consistent contact over his first two years in the DSL, hitting .201. He has not been signed this year.

Bladimir Matos, RHP – Matos was an “older” signee, coming to the Atlanta Braves system at 21, and he worked as a long man for 3 years, but he simply couldn’t find his niche. After an 11/11 BB/K ratio over 12 2/3 innings in 2018, Matos was let go.

Omar Obregon, IF – In 2015, Obregon and Ozzie Albies were an incredibly impressive middle infield duo for Rome. He struggled to hit to match his glove and was let go this spring. He’s been hitting very well in three independent leagues this year.

David Peterson, RHP – An 8th round pick in 2012, Peterson was hurt in his first full year in the season and moved to the bullpen in 2014 when he returned. That put him behind the 8-ball in development as an older player. In his fourth season spending at least some time at AAA Gwinnett, Peterson posted a 6.08 ERA over 23 2/3 innings this year before being released.

Jackson Pokorney, OF – An incredibly strong outfielder from Indiana, Pokorney was drafted out of high school in the 29th round in 2016. He hit well in the Gulf Coast League, but he was injured and missed all of 2017. After he got back on the field, the Atlanta Braves weren’t happy with what they saw and let him go.

More from Tomahawk Take

Zach Rice, LHP – After raising questions about how he was used at North Carolina, Rice was left alone by a number of teams in spite of impressive stuff. He had an impressive year with Danville in 2017, but after struggling in his first 3 games of 2018, he was let go.

Jhoniel Sepulveda, RHP – The Atlanta Braves brought up Sepulveda in 2017 to the Gulf Coast League, and he performed well, but after struggling when he was sent down to the DSL in 2018, he was released.

Gilbert Suarez, RHP – Drafted out of high school in California in the 18th round in 2015, Suarez had quality stuff, but could never put it together consistently. After struggling in his first exposure outside of the GCL in 2017, he was let go.

Ramon Taveras, RHP – Signed out of the Dominican, Taveras actually seemed to have a year that showed his value in 2017, with his best strikeout of his career in the GCL, but his hit rate and a lack of impact velocity led the Braves to release Taveras, and he’s not found another team this year.

Next. Most deserving Braves prospects to debut yet in 2018. dark

Whew! That’s a load of names to remember and recall. We certainly hope the best for each of the players now elsewhere. Once part of the Atlanta Braves family, a player always holds a special place in a Braves fan’s heart!