Braves Prospects: Keep an eye on this former Atlanta Braves high draft pick in 2024

After missing all of the 2023 season, a breakout campaign could be in the works for this former Braves draft pick.

Atlanta Braves Photo Day
Atlanta Braves Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

When looking back at the Atlanta Braves' picks from the 2022 MLB Draft, which names from that group might stick out to you most?

Well, the obvious answers might be the pair of first rounders in Owen Murphy and JR Ritchie, while others such as Nacho Alvarez and Drake Baldwin have since impressed in their own right. However, what about the name Blake Burkhalter?

Could Atlanta Braves prospect Blake Burkhalter have a breakout 2024 season?

One of the Braves top picks from the 2022 MLB Draft, Atlanta selected Burkhalter with the No. 76 overall pick in the second round that year out of Auburn. With the Tigers, Burkhalter was one of the top relief pitchers in all of college baseball, and was coached by former Braves starter Tim Hudson, who was at-the-time Auburn's pitching coach.

At Auburn, Burkhalter was solely a relief pitcher, and held a combined 3.01 ERA and a 104:26 K:BB ratio across 71.2 IP across three seasons. The best single-season for Burkhalter was undoubtedly his 2022 junior campaign in which he helped lead Auburn to the College World Series, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.69 ERA, a 71:7 K:BB ratio, and 16 saves across 46.1 IP.

After being selected by Atlanta, Burkhalter would make his professional debut in limited action back in 2022 with a combined 4.2 IP between Rookie Ball and Low-A. During that span, Burkhalter owned a combined 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA and a 7:1 K:BB ratio, with a majority of those innings coming in Low-A Augusta.

After that shortened sample size, the reliever was likely expected to be a quick riser through Atlanta's system, but went on to miss the entirety of the 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery. However, with Burkhalter now set to return from injury, what should we expect from the right-hander in 2024?

Rated as Atlanta's No. 27 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Burkhalter will likely continue to be built back to full strength over the first couple of weeks at the start of the year. Assuming that happens as well, the right-hander will likely see time at the High-A and Double-A levels in 2024, with Triple-A, as well as potentially even the big leagues in a bullpen role, not likely ruled out either.

Regardless of how much he pitches in 2024, Burkhalter is still undoubtedly a name to watch for this season. Could the former second round pick potentially have a breakout 2024 season?

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