On top of providing a season review for every player on the 2023 Atlanta Braves, we are going to churn out a season review for each of the Braves top 30 prospects. We begin with the first round pick by the Braves in the 2023 MLB June Draft.
Visiting the Swamp
Hurston Waldrep's 2023 season began down in the swamp at the University of Flordia. Waldrep was one of many talented starters for a loaded Gators team. That Florida team made it all the way to the College World Series Finals before falling to LSU. In 19 starts for the Gators, Waldrep went 10-3, had a 4.16 ERA and 13.8 K/9 thanks to his 156 strikeouts in 101.2 innings.
Waldrep had some of the nastiest stuff in NCAA baseball in 2023. However, it was his spotty command (57 walks in 101.2 IP at Florida) that allowed him to slip to 24th overall and get scooped up by Atlanta. For a full scouting on Waldrep report click here.
Rising quick through the system
After Waldrep was selected in the first round in June, the Braves assigned him to the Low-A Green Jackets of Augusta. In his pro debut he pitched three innings and struck out eight batters. Honestly, in was probably a step down in competition compared to SEC baseball, so the Braves decided one start at Augusta was enough and promoted him to High-A Rome.
In Rome, Waldrep made three starts and pitched a total of 12 innings. In those starts he struck out 17 men, and allowed just one earned run. Once again his promotion was short-lived as the Braves wanted to test his repertoire out against Double-A hitting.
Following the same pattern, Waldrep would make three starts with Double-A Mississippi. In those three starts he pitched ten innings, allowed eight hits, three runs, seven walks, and recorded 11 Ks. His final start in 2023 came with Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate the Gwinnett Stripers. In his start with Gwinnett, Waldrep threw 4.1 scoreless innings, walked three and struckout five.
As we have mentioned in our coverage since we drafted Waldrep, his command is the biggest question mark surrounding him. The increase in walk rate in the upper minor league levels leads you to believe he still has a way to go before becoming a viable arm for the big league team. With that said, his stuff is some of the most electric in all of the Braves organization, and any STRIDES he makes with command in 2024 could put him on the same quick ascension track we saw from our favorite mustached ace in Atlanta.