When will Braves prospect Hurston Waldrep make his MLB debut?

Atlanta's top pick from the 2023 MLB draft is already turning heads within the organization.

2023 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship
2023 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages

Hurston Waldrep is one of the most exciting arms from the 2023 MLB Draft. Waldrep has some of the best stuff amongst pitchers taken during last year's draft. The only concern with his performance lies with his command.

He's already been picking the brains of the veteran pitchers on Atlanta's staff and reportedly has impressed the coaching staff. Waldrep currently sits as MLB's 90th-best prospect and sits at the top of the Braves best prospect list. We recently published our list of the 30 best prospects in Atlanta's farm system.

He has a chance to force the hands of Atlanta's front office if he performs to the standard many think he will despite 2024 being his first full season with the organization.

So, when can Braves fans expect the talented right-hander to reach the big league level? Well... it may be sooner than later.

When will Hurston Waldrep make his MLB debut for the Braves?

Hurston Waldrep was taken by the Braves as the 24th overall pick in the 2023 Draft from the University of Florida. The Cairo, Georgia native showed a lot of promise during last year's season and helped lead the Gators to the NCAA baseball finals against LSU.

Waldrep pitched for Southern Miss during the 2021 and 2022 seasons and pitched pretty well with a 7-2 record including a 3.22 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 106.1 innings. He then transferred to Florida and gained even more recognition during his Junior season.

His ERA increased a bit to 4.16 over 101.2 innings but he struck out 156 batters while walking 57 of them. Opponents batted just .228 against him over that time frame so he seemed to figure some things out in Gainesville

Once being drafted by the Braves, Waldrep moved quickly through the minor league system. His first assignment was with Atlanta's Low-A affiliate, the Augusta GreenJackets. Waldrep debuted with 3 innings of work allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts on just 50 pitches.

This led to the Braves quickly promoting him to High-A where he made his next start with the Rome Emperors. Waldrep started 3 games and completed 12 innings of work with a 0.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

He then moved to Double-A Mississippi making 3 more starts and completed 10 innings allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out 11 batters. After that, Waldrep completed his final start of 2023 at Triple-A Gwinnett. He impressed again, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing no runs on four hits with five strikeouts.

He's shown the ability to pitch well at each level, albeit with small sample sizes but he had success in college so it shouldn't surprise anyone. If there's any knock against him it's that he walked 16 batters over the 29.1 innings pitched last year. That is the main area Atlanta needs him to improve in as command is the main weakness he has.

So with that knowledge, it's safe to assume Waldrep will begin the season with the Gwinnett Stripers to work on honing his command and developing his repertoire. If he does that and continues to excel the way he has early in his career, there's a chance he could pitch for the Braves sometime after the 2024 All-Star break.

Atlanta could take a similar path with Waldrep that they did with Strider and get him some reps in the bullpen so he can get a taste of the big leagues before being thrust into the starting rotation. Waldrep has some of the best stuff from last year's draft class, receiving comparisons to former Brave's pitcher Kevin Gausman.

His splitter is filthy and if he can throw more strikes and improve that pitch along with his other ones, Braves fans are in for a nice treat. Maria Martin from local Atlanta news station 11 Alive reported that Waldrep has already seen an improvement with his splitter and even Travis d'Arnaud had praise for how good the pitch is.

Hopefully, the Braves won't need him and he can just take the full season to develop into the talented starting pitcher many think he will be. Adding Waldrep to the middle of the Atlanta rotation would be a dangerous combination to have alongside Strider, Sale, and hopefully, Fried in 2025.

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