Atlanta Braves: Six Braves prospects that could debut in 2023

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Jared Shuster #14 of the National League pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the American League at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Jared Shuster #14 of the National League pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the American League at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

With it looking more and more likely that the Atlanta Braves are not going to make any more significant signings or trades, it is time to look at their internal options available to them. It seems like they spent their trade capital on acquiring Joe Jimenez that cost them Justyn-Henry Malloy and then sending a haul to Oakland (and the Brewers for some reason) in order to bring in Sean Murphy and the free agent market isn’t exactly littered with exciting roster options anymore.

One of our big projects recent was our top 30 Braves prospects rankings and one of the most prevalent questions I get about prospects is some version of “when will they be ready?” or “could they debut this coming season?”. These are fair questions, but often difficult to answer just because a lot of what goes into the decision to call up a guy for the first time are things that are not uniquely predictable like injuries to existing players, those prospects performing well at the right time, and underperformance by existing options. Nevertheless, here are six Braves prospects that COULD see time in the big leagues in 2023.

Six Atlanta Braves prospects that could debut this coming season

Quickly before we get into the names, there are going to be some of you that are not familiar with these players. Next to each player is going to be where WE ranked these players this offseason. Using the link above to our prospects list, you can getting some more detailed information on who they are and what we think of them instead of us rehashing too much of that here. The following players are in no particular order, either, so don’t read anything into where a guy is placed on this list.

Braden Shewmake – 12th ranked prospect

I’m on record as not being the biggest Shewmake fan and I stand by that until I see him make some real strides and adjustments at the plate. However, the situation in Atlanta gives him a better path towards a major league debut than you would think given where we rank them.

Currently, the Braves are going to be relying on Vaughn Grissom who is young and faded last year and Orlando Arcia who is probably better served as a part-time player. Assuming Shewmake is both healthy and plays well (which are real ifs), the guy can absolutely play the shortstop position well and if Grissom and/or Arcia falter, Shewmake is already on the 40 man roster so a call up could make sense if the team needs to make a change at shortstop during the season.

Dylan Dodd – 7th ranked prospect

There are other Braves pitching prospects that get more press than Dodd does, but make no mistake….this guy can throw and the Braves like him a lot. The lefty has an impressive arsenal of pitches and got better and better on sequencing those pitches and trusting them to get outs when he needs them.

He isn’t on the 40 man roster which does matter, but the Braves have not been shy about promoting guys when they are ready and needed regardless of their roster status. The fifth spot in the rotation seems to be a fairly open competition and you can bank on at least one pitcher having to miss some time in 2023 because, well, they are pitchers. Guys like Bryce Elder, Mike Soroka, Jared Shuster, and may be more likely…but don’t sleep on Dodd. He also has experience and the stuff to pitch out the bullpen if needed, so that is an option available as well.

Jared Shuster – 6th ranked prospect

Several other outlets have Shuster as the Braves’ top pitching prospect and/or their top prospect overall. I disagree with that assessment, obviously, and that is largely due to the fact that I am not a fan of his fastball against big league hitters. However, there is a real chance that the Braves also disagree with me on that and given he is already at Triple-A, he is a real option.

The biggest draws for Shuster are his changeup (which is among the best pitches in the system, period, especially when he is commanding everything well) and the fact that he is a lefty. Unless his fastball takes a step forward in 2023, he won’t have much room for error against big league hitters. However, I do expect him to perform well in 2023 in the minor leagues and it would not be crazy for the Braves to give him an opportunity in the need arises.

Darius Vines – 8th ranked prospect

Much of what I said about Shuster can also be applied to Vines. I love the breaking and offspeed stuff, but the fastball is a real question. He has had issues with the home run ball in the minor leagues at times and that has largely been when his fastball is left on a platter in the zone. However, 2022 was a step forward for him with his command and he gets swings and misses.

With Vines getting added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, his path to the big leagues became a bit easier. There is going to be a bit of a battle at Gwinnett amongst pitching prospects looking to be the next man up if the Braves need an arm and while Vines probably wouldn’t be looked at as a bullpen option, his performance last year lends credence to his candidacy as a starting pitching option in 2023.

Victor Vodnik – 26th ranked prospect

I am pretty firmly off the “Vodnik could be a starter” wagon at this point. I love the arm, but his smaller frame and inability to stay healthy under any real workload does not have me bullish on his chances to be a starter. However, he has a upper 90’s fastball and a changeup that plays well off of it. He’ll also occasionally spin a good slider, but that pitch has been inconsistent of late. That arsenal could play well in relief.

Ultimately, Vodnik being healthy is the biggest factor in figuring out if he is going to debut in the big leagues in 2023. Based on pure arm talent, he already has significantly more upside than several of the guys the Braves have in their bullpen. Assuming a bullpen arm goes down (due to injury or a “ruptured success gland”) and Vodnik is pitching well, he could get a look in short order.

Roddery Munoz – 13th ranked prospect

Roddery is a more speculative case for a 2023 debut, but stay with me. He is still a bit raw in terms of being a starter as he is still in search of developing his changeup and his command can come and go. I am a big fan of his upper 90’s fastball/wipeout slider combo, though, and while I think he will eventually become a starting pitching option, his stuff could be ready for the big league bullpen in 2023.

Like Vines and Shewmake, it helped Munoz out that he was added to the 40 man roster for Rule 5 protection purposes. It doesn’t seem super likely (unless he goes absolutely wild) that he would get called up as a starter with so many options at the upper levels, but his power pitching style could be very tempting if the Braves have a need for a bullpen arm with a high ceiling.