Breaking down MLB Pipeline's 2023 Top 30 Braves prospect rankings

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

While most of the focus when it comes to the Atlanta Braves is what is going on with the big league club now that spring training is well under way. However, we are already starting to see some of the faces of the future make appearances in spring training games and impress while doing so.

That gives us plenty to at least be interested in when it comes to the 2023 minor league season as it, too, is right around the corner. The fine folks over at MLB Pipeline are rolling out their team prospect rankings this week and it just so happens that their Braves prospect rankings dropped today.

Going line by line and critiquing list placement just make much sense to me as little quibbles over a couple of spots especially when actual talent levels of these guys are reasonably close. However, just for the sake of the thought exercise, I will be noting where significant deviations between our prospects list we posted back in late December (which you can find right here) and Pipeline's along with some potential explanations for the differences.

Braves prospects who are higher on Pipeline's rankings

I have maintained for a while that Jared Shuster has been overrated and this is coming from someone that loves a good changeup as much as anybody, however I have found myself to be in the minority especially when compared to the national outlets. The changeup is legitimately very good and his proximity to the major leagues is important. However, the slider is too hit and miss for me and I don't see a major league quality fastball there unless he is really commanding the crap out of it. It is especially important to get nice separation between a fastball and a changeup to disrupt the timing of good hitters and right now it just isn't there for me.

Braden Shewmake is a strong defender at short, but I don't see what he has done as a pro at the plate to justify being #6 on Pipeline's list other than getting drafted highly. He is talented, though, and if he remembers how to hit and stays healthy, then this ranking makes more sense. Victor Vodnik is essentially a bullpen only guy who can't stay healthy and I'll never rank a guy like that as high as Pipeline did (#11). However, Pipeline has historically been more willing to rank bullpen guys and Vodnik's arm talent is legitimately special.

I'm also not a huge fan of Cal Conley as I find his approach at the plate maddening and his defense weirdly sloppy at times. However, once you start getting into the teens of this farm system, personal preference is going to weigh heavily and Conley did have a nice AFL stint. I love that Nacho Alvarez is higher Pipeline's list as I am quite a fan of his (especially if he makes some swing adjustments). Good to see him getting appreciated.

Braves prospects who are lower on Pipeline's list

Dylan Dodd at #10 just does not seem correct to me, but some of that is a product of guys like Shewmake and Ambioris Tavarez getting pushed ahead of him. I do wonder if some of the information that Pipeline has isn't entirely correct as Dodd hits the mid-90's enough (he hit 95 just yesterday in the Braves' spring training game) to be worth noting. Not a crazy huge difference in the rankings, so not a huge deal although I am already regretting not pushing Dodd a spot or two higher on our list.

Pipeline does not seem to be a fan of Roddery Munoz as they had him at 21 whereas we had him at 13. I can certainly understand if some folks have Roddery pegged as a relief arm down the road (I'm not there personally, but I can understand it). However, I'm not sure I can justify putting Vodnik at 11 when he has had several injuries AND isn't on the 40 man roster whereas Roddery is on the 40 man and doesn't have the injury issues (the arm talent divide isn't that big here even though I would still give an edge to Vodnik).

Blake Burkhalter is the other name that stands out as having a significant gap (along with several other members of the 2022 draft class), but I am not putting much stock in that mainly because I had a devil of a time giving those guys a ranking I was supper happy with in the first place. Burkhalter only pitched out of the bullpen in college and while my ranking of him prices in a chance that he does end up as a decent starting pitching prospect, you won't get arguments from me if you think that is unlikely.