Atlanta Braves Prospect Report: Mississippi Braves Edition

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We know how the Atlanta Braves are doing, but how are things going down on the farm? How about we take a look at some of the Braves minor leaguers, now moving over to AA Mississippi.

There are a few top prospects in Mississippi, although none are currently considered high profile prospects. How are these prospects doing and what can we expect from them?

As always, prospect rankings based on MLB Pipeline.

Victor Vodnik

The Braves 11th ranked prospect joined the organization as a fourteenth round pick in 2018. Victor Vodnik is arguably one of the more peculiar prospects in the Braves organization.

He reached AAA in 2022, pitching to a 2.93 ERA over 27.2 innings. However, the 4.01 FIP & 4.03 xFIP suggested a bit of luck, plus a 13.2% walk rate is never ideal. He did strike out 27.3% but that was not enough for the Braves to start him back in Gwinnett. Instead, he went back to AA Mississippi to start 2023.

In 22 innings, Vodnik has a 4.91 ERA, however, this time the 3.54 FIP & 3.89 xFIP suggest he has gotten a bit unlucky. He has also cut the walk rate down to 9.9% while increasing the strikeouts to 30.8%.

Vodnik is mostly a two pitch pitcher with a great fastball and a plus changeup. He throws a slider that looks more like a slurve as a third pitch but it is not something seen too often. The injury history also means he will certainly stick to the bullpen.

Reliever propsects are always tough to predict. Vodnik is technically rule 5 eligible and not on the 40 man roster. However, when the Braves needed a bullpen arm at the major league level, they instead turned to AJ Smith-Shawver, in what is probably a telling sign of how the organization views Vodnik currently.

Is there a future for Vodnik in Atlanta? If not, maybe a team would be interested in him for a more minor trade at the deadline. He might not sneak through the Rule-5 draft again, so the Braves might try to get something for him.

Cal Conley

The Braves drafted their 13th-ranked prospect in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. Cal Conley does not necessarily do anything special but relies on doing many things well to be successful.

A switch hitter that is more contact driven and uses the entire field to his advantage. He does have more power than his stature appears as well. Several scouting reports suggest that Conley is one to always go full throttle, which explains why he is consistently posting high steal totals despite not being graded as a fast runner. Defensively he is fine but is not projected to be a shortstop long-term, looking more like a second baseman.

Unfortunately for Conley, it has not been a great 2023. Over 200 plate appearances, Conley is hitting .230/.312/.292 1 HR, 21 R, 6 RBI, 17 SB with a .285 wOBA & 72 wRC+. His 10% walk rate is nice, but if he is not going to hit for any power, he has to hit for a better average. Hard to say it might be tough luck either, as he currently has a .296 BABIP.

I imagine if he remains in the organization past the trade deadline, he will spend the entire year in Mississippi. Maybe there is a team out there that would take him as the second or third piece of a trade though.

Jesse Franklin V

Jesse Franklin V currently sits as the Braves 15th ranked prospect and was drafted by the organization in the third round of the 2020 draft. Franklin's calling card is his raw power and he provides plenty of power when he makes contact. The biggest issue for Jesse is his injury history that has prevented him from consistently playing dating back to his time at Michigan.

He recently returned after missing a full year due to Tommy John surgery. In just 56 plate appearances, he is hitting .231/.268/.423 2 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI with a .306 wOBA & 85 wRC+. This includes a lot of strikeouts (33.9%) and very few walks (3.6%). I do not want to overthink his stats this year (or last year for that matter) due to the injury and long layoff.

Franklin is best fit for left field long term if anywhere defensively. He might be best fit as a fourth outfielder or platoon bat but he does get the benefit of being the strong side platoon in that scenario.

If he can put it together, the power will give him an opportunity. He is a guy worth monitoring as the year progresses to see if he can get going.

Alan Rangel

Alan Rangel possesses one of the more interesting journeys through the Braves system. After being signed by the Braves out of Mexico in 2014, he spent two years in rookie ball and three in Low-A. He finally started climbing the ranks, even getting added to the 40-man roster and making it to AAA. The Braves would non-tender him last offseason though, but he would re-sign with the organization on a minor league deal.

So far in Mississippi, Rangel has pitched 39 innings with a 3.92 ERA, 5.31 FIP, 4.16 xFIP, 30.4% strikeout rate, and 8.9% walk rate. He has always been a solid strikeout guy but the walks have plagued him over the last couple years.

He works with a mid 90s fastball that is good enough to miss bats. Rangel adds in a solid changeup and useable curveball. He also started throwing a slider some in 2022.

Rangel's ceiling is a backend starter. I also wonder if maybe he will eventually transition to the bullpen at some point in his career. It has been a long winding road for Rangel, but he has perservered so far. Hopefully for him, it ends with him one day reaching the majors.