23. Justin Dean
Personal Rank: 19
A 17th round pick out of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Justin Dean has proven himself to be one of the more exciting prospects to watch on the field.
This is because he plays hard every day, with superb defense and a ton of speed on the basepaths. He also includes some sneaky pop that would shock some with his 5’6 185-pound frame.
Last year in Mississippi, Dean hit .237/.345/.364 8 HR, 60 R, 34 RBI, 29 SB, .326 wOBA, and 104 wRC+. He did struggle with strikeouts (30.3% strikeout rate), but still managed to take his walks (9.9% walk rate) when they came to him.
As mentioned, the speed is what sets Dean apart. Turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples on the bases. He also stole 29 bases in 99 games with an 82.8% success rate.
He may never be a huge power hitter, but he has enough to be a gap hitter and allow that speed to play a part of his game at the plate. If he can continue that trend, he will be just fine at the plate.
That speed, coupled with a high IQ, allows Dean to play great defense in center field. It is rare to see him misplay a ball or allow one to get behind him in the outfield.
The stellar defense and speed on the bases are what make him a fan favorite at any stop. He has a limited ceiling, but he has the toolset to be a major league player in the near future.
The biggest issue with Dean’s rise through the minors is the Braves also have Cristian Pache and Drew Waters. They take up two of the outfield spots in Gwinnett, and this means Dean remained in Mississippi to get consistent playing time.
Eventually, one of the Braves outfield prospects will need to be moved or the logjam at the top will only get worse. Dean could be the beneficiary of a big post-lockout trade.