Atlanta Braves 2023 Preseason Top 30 Prospects List: 26-30
By Eric Cole
Hello everyone and welcome to our Atlanta Braves 2023 Preseason Top 30 Prospects List. Ever since I began covering the Braves, the minor leagues have been a labor of love. While the Braves’ system isn’t in the best state after several trades and successful promotions in addition to the usual attrition, there are still a ton of interesting prospects throughout the minors. In case you missed it, here are the honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut.
Prospect rankings are, at their core, a very qualitative and subjective thought exercise and nothing more. I do take a lot of data and information from scouts into account, but at the end of the day, a lot of who gets ranked above or below who is based on feel. I take into account proximity to the majors, upside, floors, reliever risk, future defensive homes, available information, and a whole lot of other things.
Saying all of that, it is extraordinarily likely that we will get a whole lot of things wrong and/or change our minds as all positions on the list are fluid. Prospects surprise us in good and bad ways all the time and that is okay. As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t get too hung up on small differences in rankings as it is like that the #12 and #13 (for example) players are very similar in value.
Below you will find our Braves prospects 26-30. Of the course of the next several days, we will be rolling out the entire list. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to include links to the previous installments in each post so you can catch up if need be. Enjoy!
Atlanta Braves 2023 Top Prospects: 26-30
30. Cedric De Grandpre – RHP
13th Round Pick – 2022 MLB Draft
De Grandpre really got on teams’ radars before the draft thanks to a strong perform in the Draft League. The curveball is a plus pitch and his fastball is a low 90’s offering that he has pushed a tick higher at times. There is significant reliever risk with Cedric as he lacks a third pitch that we have a lot of confidence in (his slider is currently significantly better than his changeup for what it is worth). His pro debut was a mixed bag in a very small sample as he did get hit around a bit, but he was also missing bats. Either way, the Braves seemingly got some tremendous value for a middle of day three of the draft pick here.
29. Drake Baldwin – C
3rd Round Pick – 2022 MLB Draft
To start the second day of the 2022 MLB Draft, the Braves went with catcher Drake Baldwin out of Missouri State. Baldwin put up strong numbers in college and, more importantly, the advanced metrics and data absolutely love him. However, it sounds like scouts are in split camps on him with some thinking that picking him that high was a bit of a reach. Catcher is a position of scarcity and Baldwin looks like he should hit a decent bit and performed reasonably well behind the plate during his pro debut.
Baldwin has upside at a difficult position, but we are hedging a bit here as he doesn’t have an offensive tool that really stands out (with his game power being the biggest question) just yet and we want to see how he develops as a defensive catcher and caller of games.
28. Luis De Avila – LHP
2017 IFA Free Agent (originally signed by the Colorado Rockies) – later a Braves’ MiLB Rule 5 pick
Some of the best games thrown last year by Braves prospects weren’t by the big names near the top of the prospect rankings, but were instead by Luis De Avila. The Braves nabbed De Avila in the minor league portion of the 2021 Rule 5 draft and he put up a very respectable 3.49 ERA in 24 starts at high-A with 129 strikeouts in 126.1 innings.
Despite dealing with injuries earlier in his career, the Braves clearly saw something they liked and they were rewarded with one no-hitter and several other outings where he gave up two hits or less. De Avila has decent stuff that plays up thanks to good tunneling and some deception in his delivery. Its unclear as to how he will develop now that he is healthy and will have to move up the ladder reasonably quickly, but this is an interesting arm.
27. Tyler Collins – OF
8th Round Pick – 2021 MLB Draft
The Braves took the VERY speedy Collins as an overslot pick on day two of the 2021 MLB Draft. Again, Collins can absolutely fly and got some comparisons to Kenny Lofton that were both unfair and also exciting. After a strong debut in his draft year, 2022 was essentially a lost season as he was clearly dealing with some sort of injury as he played in just four games.
Our suspicion is that assuming he has no lingering long-term issues from whatever was ailing him, this ranking could look very soft by midseason as there is some real talent here, although losing development time like he did is never good and increases the risk of his profile especially since he is already not likely to hit for much power.
26. Victor Vodnik – RHP
14th Round Pick – 2018 MLB Draft
You’ll see Vodnik ranked higher by other publications and that is because they still have Vodnik projected potentially as a starting pitcher. If I had any confidence that he could start, I would be right there with them as this is an electric arm. Vodnik’s fastball is an upper 90’s offering with life and while his offspeed stuff is only average to above average most days, they play well off his fastball which allows them to play up a bit when he is commanding them.
The issue with Vodnik is injuries…he is hurt a lot with nagging issues here and there. He is a smaller framed pitcher with big stuff, so it isn’t super surprising that he could struggle to stay on the field with a starter’s workload. If somehow he figures out how to start and stay healthy doing so, this ranking will not look great. However, for us, he is a reliever and that bumps him down in the rankings considerably (although he could end up being a good one).