The Atlanta Braves are no strangers to knowing great talent when they see it. That eye for talent was on full display Saturday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia.
Atlanta's first-round pick, 24th overall, in the 2023 MLB Draft is known for having a devastating splitter. The one concern that the Braves will have is if he is able to command his fastball consistently to allow his breaking pitches to shine more often.
Fans got their first look at the talented right-hander as he made his first start for the Braves Single-A affiliate, the Augusta Greenjackets. Waldrep's start came in the first game of a doubleheader with the Columbia Fireflies.
Waldrep turned a lot of heads as he started off strong with a strikeout of his first batter faced. He allowed a double after that but was able to strike out the side and collect 3 strikeouts in his first professional inning. All of the strikeouts were swinging.
The former Florida Gator followed up that great first-inning performance with a 1-2-3 scoreless second inning. He struck out two more Firefly batters in the inning as well. To that point, Waldrep had struck out 5 batters through 2 innings with one hit.
The 3rd inning was a little tougher for Waldrep despite collecting 3 more strikeouts in the inning. Two singles and a walk allowed the Fireflies to take a 2-0 lead over the GreenJackets with just one out in the inning. Waldrep recovered well and struck out the final two batters faced in the inning.
Overall, he ended his first outing as a professional with 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 earned), 1 BB, and 8 K on 50 pitches (33 strikes). Those 8 strikeouts are the fourth most by an Augusta GreenJacket pitcher this season.
His fastball topped out at 97 mph in the outing and his breaking stuff looked very good. All 3 of his first-inning strikeouts came on the breaking ball. This was as great of a start as you could ask for in your professional debut.
Waldrep was relieved by Cory Wall who was also drafted in the eighth round of the 2023 Draft by Atlanta. Wall completed two innings of no-hit ball with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. He ended up getting the win as Augusta won the game by a 5-4 final.
It's encouraging to see Waldrep have early success but he has a way to go before being ready to touch a MLB mound. Atlanta may have something special brewing in the 21-year-old right-hander from Cairo, Georgia.