Braves Prospects: Drake Baldwin promoted, Elder surging, Burkhalter returns

The Atlanta Braves are starting to see a portion of their farm system make impressive strides in their professional careers.

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves continue to see great performances from their minor league system and this week we will examine some of the most notable news coming from the farm. We see promising pitching performances, player promotions, and returns from injury just to name a few. Let's get things started with a familiar face.

Bryce Elder's return to Gwinnett Stripers met with success

After an 11-strikeout game on the first day of June, Bryce Elder continued to succeed down in the minor leagues for the Gwinnett Stripers. This time, Elder faced the Durham Bulls and arguably had just as good of a start.

Elder cruised through six innings where he struck out nine while walking two, allowing just four total hits and one unearned run. Over his last two outings, Elder has averaged seven innings, with a 1.29 ERA and just a .426 OPS against.

With the carousel that has been the Braves pitching staff over the last few weeks, with mediocre performances by some young players, Bryce is a pitcher to watch as his return to Atlanta surely isn't far away.

Drake Baldwin promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett

It has not been the greatest year for Braves positional prospects, including the likes of talented catcher Drake Baldwin. He got off to a poor start in 2024 but over the last seven games, Drake has hit .276/.364/.414 (.777 OPS), an uptick from his .628 OPS from the previous 45 games of the season, which is positive.

This uptick has resulted in Drake being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. While the bat has not progressed the way we had hoped this year. Getting out of Trustmark Park will definitely help those numbers as well and there's no denying his ability behind the plate.

Drake has earned the respect of his pitching staff, and coaches, and has continued to be an extremely valuable player for the organization. It will be interesting to see how the bat progresses in Gwinnett and what his role will be in the long term with the organization. He is a prospect that fans should monitor.

Blake Burkhalter returns from Tommy John

Drafted, in 2022, with the compensation pick the Atlanta Braves received in the departure of Freddie Freeman, Blake Burkhalter found himself sitting out the 2023 season after needing Tommy John surgery.

Finally healthy, Blake worked a pair of rehab games for the FCL Braves where he got shelled in his first outing (0.1 IP 2 H 3 ER 2 BB 1 K), but then came back out and shoved in his second rehab appearance (2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 5 K). Following this outing, he was finally activated from the injured list and made his highly anticipated professional debut for the Rome Emperors. Blake threw 41 pitches and gave up six hits over 3.1 innings with his final line being 3.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 2 K.

Burkhalter never started in college, but word out of camp, immediately following his draft, was the Braves were interested in stretching him out as a starter following Tommy John. it will be interesting to see if the Braves continue that train of thought, or if he will be fast-tracked as a reliever within the organization.

Lucas Braun continues great work with Rome Emperors in 2024

A sixth-round pick in 2023 out of Cal State Northridge, Lucas Braun projects well as a starting pitcher with a future on the big league squad. Over his last six outings, Braun has a 2.15 ERA and a .637 OPS against. In his last start, he pitched 6.2 innings and struck out six, and gave up just one earned run on three hits. Braun gets it done with a three-pitch mix including a fastball, slider, and changeup. His fastball does a majority of the heavy lifting and sits in the low 90s. While nothing jumps out at you, Lucas can control all three pitches which gives him a major advantage over a majority of Minor League arms.

Jeremy Reyes earns promotion to Augusta GreenJackets

A $250,000 signing bonus as an international prospect doesn't put you in the top tier of bonuses. However it's sizable enough that you have plenty of people watching your progression. At 18 years of age, most of us enjoy our senior year of high school, but instead, Jeremy Reyes is making a move up Braves Top 50 charts as he has put together a really fine season.

Typically, and especially for international players, 18-year-olds stay a full season in the FCL but Reyes has shown Braves brass enough that he earned a promotion to Low-A Augusta. In five starts, Jeremy has a .496 OPS against and meager 1.25 ERA. He's got a huge arm, routinely sitting in the high 90s, and at 21 innings pitched, he's already at a professional ball high so it will be interesting to see how much he pitches as we enter the summer months. One thing is for certain, Jeremy has impressed the Braves and is a pitcher to watch in the organization.

Isaiah Drake breaks out for Augusta GreenJackets

An incredibly toolsy draft pick in the 2023 MLB draft, Isaiah Drake got off to a horrific start for the Augusta GreenJackets hitting .100/.213/.150 over his first 11 games. Drake then picked up an injury that saw him make five rehab appearances for the FCL Braves before returning from injury on May 19.

It has been a struggle but it appears Isaiah may be turning a corner. Over his last five games, Drake is hitting .294/.400/.765 including a pair of homeruns (his first and second of his career) in a thrilling win for the Augusta GreenJackets.

That's all for now but it shows just how promising the Braves farm system is despite it appearing rather thin. We will continue to update throughout the system so fans can get a taste of what the future holds for the organization.

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