Atlanta Braves minors: 5 biggest offseason storylines
2. The backup catcher battle
With Brian McCann retiring right after the Braves NLDS elimination, the Atlanta Braves almost have to pick up Tyler Flowers‘ option.
As Braves’ beat writer Mark Bowman said last week in one of his Q&A pieces: You should never willfully enter an offseason looking for two catchers.
Expect the Braves to be on the market for a major league catcher this Winter to assist Flowers.
Ninth-ranked prospect, Alex Jackson, is the minor league frontrunner right now, as he showed some impressive power in Gwinnett in 2019 (28 HR) and he already has some major league familiarity with the team (4 games in 2019).
William Contreras (No. 6 prospect) made some small plate discipline improvements in 2019, but is still a below-average hitter in Triple-A.
I think he has a higher ceiling, pure-hitting wise, than Jackson, but he’s probably still a couple of years away.
And of course there’s 2019’s No. 1 draft pick, Shea Langeliers (No. 8 prospect), who started off slow as a pro but wound up posting a respectable first pro season — .255 batting average in 54 games for Rome.
I’m expecting the Braves to push Langeliers quite a bit in 2020, as they attempt to see exactly what they have with him.
You don’t usually take a guy with your first pick in the draft without at least partially believing he will one day contribute for you at the major league level. We may see Langeliers as high as Gwinnett by the end of 2020.
Logan Brown, who is very rarely brought up, has been a great hitter, maintaining a .272 batting average in his two seasons in the organization.
In 2019, Brown played his first 51 games in Rome, slashing .301/.351/.383 while the team’s starting catcher, earning a promotion to High-A Florida.
He didn’t have quite the same success in Florida, but Brown still managed a .240 average in 48 games there.
The 23-year-old and former 2018 draft pick (35th round) from Southern Indiana isn’t really expected to ever become a contender, but he could at least help push the other Braves’ candidates and offer some competition.
Altogether, the catching situation will be something that we all need to pay close attention to.
Being able to provide at least backup catching duties from a player within your system is always beneficial. And the rewards from being able to develop your OWN guy into your future major league catcher are obvious.
Even though I expect the Atlanta Braves to spend some money on a player outside the organization to play alongside Flowers (maybe even someone to take over as the primary catcher), the progression of the Braves’ minor league catchers will still be important.