Tomahawk Take’s Atlanta Braves Second-Ranked Prospect: Spencer Strider

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves makes his Major League debut during the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park on October 1, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves makes his Major League debut during the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park on October 1, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves second-rate prospect is Spencer Strider! The young righty vaulted up prospect rankings with a big 2021!

The 2020 MLB draft for the Atlanta Braves looks like a masterclass in scouting. Especially when one realizes Spencer Strider out of Clemson was the 4th round selection!

He was a former top prep arm that was originally drafted by Cleveland back in the 2017 draft in the 35th round. He chose to go to college instead and faced a tough road.

He mostly pitched out of the pen in his first year, missed 2019 due to Tommy John, and only pitched 12 innings in the shortened 2020 season. Strider was not projected to get drafted by many in 2020, but the Braves saw something they liked, and it looks like they got a steal.

He made his pro debut in Low-A Augusta at the beginning of the 2021 season. By the end of the year, he made two appearances out of the Atlanta Braves bullpen. A quick rise through the system.

Here are the numbers for Strider at each stop:

  • Low-A Augusta: 4 starts, 15.1 innings, 0.59 ERA, 0.78 FIP, 1.49 xFIP, 0.72 WHIP, 56.1% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate
  • High-A Rome: 3 starts, 14.2 innings, 2.45 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP, 38.7% strikeout rate, 9.7% walk rate
  • AA Mississippi: 14 starts, 63.0 innings, 4.71 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 1.22 WHIP, 35.3% strikeout rate, 10.9% walk rate
  • AAA Gwinnett: 1 appearance, 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks
  • Atlanta Braves: 2 appearances, 2.1 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 strikeouts, 1 walk

Overall, in 94 minor league innings, Strider appeared 22 times, started 21 games, with a 3.64 ERA, 1.106 WHIP, 39.3% strikeout rate, and 10.3% walk rate.

A great season for the young righty, and one that has a lot of people excited about Strider’s potential in Atlanta.

Spencer Strider’s Potential

Right now, Strider has middle of the rotation upside with the potential to grow into something more. The two biggest roadblocks will be the command and developing the secondary pitches.

Strider’s fastball is elite and can touch 100 MPH. He also has elite strikeout potential, as seen with the 39.3% strikeout rate.

However, we see as he rose the minors the walks ticked up. He spent the most time in AA, and those hitters are slightly more disciplined than the batters faced in Augusta and Rome. Strider will need to work on his command, but this is not viewed as a major issue currently.

The bigger issue is needing a consistent secondary pitch. While he has a breaking ball and changeup, they are both in need of more development. The breaking ball is further along, but the changeup could become key to his progression, as it would work well off the fastball.

This is where Strider’s command is the issue, he does not always trust his secondary pitches and struggles to throw strikes with them.

It is hard to predict any pitcher to become an “Ace.” It can be easier to see a guy who has top of the rotation potential and that could become something “special” down the line. While Strider’s most likely outcome is a middle of the rotation arm, it is easy to see why some are excited about his arsenal as a top of the rotation pitcher.

If the control and secondaries come around, it is easy to see Strider taking that next step within the next few years.

The big fastball has some thinking he could be a backend guy in the future if starting does not work out. With baseball trending in the direction of multi-inning relievers becoming more prevalent, and Strider’s history as a starter, there could be a potential fit for Strider there. His fastball could really play up in multi-inning appearances out of the “arm barn.”

2022 Expectations

Strider would benefit by starting in Gwinnett. He is still a young pitcher who needs some refinement.

A return to Atlanta could be in the cards rather quickly if he is impressive or if injuries/struggles arise at the major league level. It would not shock anyone to see him in Atlanta as a starter or reliever in 2022.

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Long-term, there is potential for Strider to become a great starting pitcher. Hopefully more development in Gwinnett will push him towards that next step.

There is a lot of hype around this young arm and rightfully so.