As the champagne bottles popped and the Cinderella story became reality, the Atlanta Braves celebrated a World Series title in 2021. It doesn’t seem that Atlanta plans to lose anytime soon, and a spark from their young talent can go a long way. The Braves have several stellar prospects who are scattered across the diamond. From star catcher Shea Langeliers to flamethrower Ryan Cusick, the champs are stacked with young talent and hope to see them in Truist Park sometime soon.
After the monster season from the Braves, several recently graduated rookies deserve a shout-out. Ian Anderson and William Contreras each were huge assets that helped pave the way towards a ring. The Braves’ farm system appears strong, and several prospects plan to make their debut in the near future.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
1. Cristian Pache, Outfielder
The Dominican Republic native was selected during the 2015 international signing period. Pache began his professional career in 2016 with the Danville Braves in the Appalachian League. He flourished in Danville with just 30 games under his belt and slashed .333/.372/.404. The youngster bounced around in the minors until reaching Triple-A to play for the Gwinnett Stripers in 2019. Pache spent the rest of the season in Gwinnett and demonstrated his big league potential. In 2020, he joined the majors for just two games and held a respectable .250 average. In 2021, Pache played 22 games in the majors and still has plenty of time to reach his full potential.
The No. 1-ranked Braves prospect has a ton of upside to his game. The 23-year-old has a stellar glove and is lighting quick. He spends most of his time in center field and many consider his glove to be “golden”. While still having plenty of room for improvement, he hopes to see more of the majors in the near future. Although, Pache has spent solid time in the majors and could take on a heavy workload depending on his performance in Triple-A.
ETA: Debuted 2021
2. Shea Langeliers, Catcher
After the Braves selected Langeliers back in 2019, the young catcher went to work. He put on a show in Single-A with the Rome Braves and quickly impressed the Braves management. In 2021, the promotion came and Langeliers got his shot at Double-A. Down in Mississippi, he smacked 22 dingers with 52 RBI in 92 games. The 24-year-old then spent the last five games of the season in Triple-A with the Stripers. Langeliers has a fabulous arm behind the plate and can gun down pretty much anyone, while also considered a ‘brick wall’ and doesn’t let anything get by his glove. The star catcher’s game has many stellar attributes, along with some that need improvement. On the offensive side, the Portland native needs some work. While his bat is considered above-average, Langeliers needs some touching up at the plate in order to contend in the majors.
The star backstop doesn’t have much experience at the minor league level. However, his improvement in all facets has proven his MLB qualifications. He is an all-around fabulous catcher and will be trouble for MLB pitchers in the near future. Langeliers might have a rough time finding a spot in Atlanta as the position is currently occupied by backstops Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras. Langeliers has a big shot towards the majors, depending on how things work out.
3. Drew Waters, Outfielder
A switch-hitter who was taken by the Braves in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Waters began his career with the Danville Braves (Advanced Rookie-level) in the Appalachian League. After just 36 games in Danville, the young outfielder moved to the GCL Braves. Down in Florida, Waters slashed .347/.448/.571 with two home runs. The Atlanta native bounced around in the minors for a time, until 2021. That year, Waters spent the entire season in Triple-A with the Stripers. The young prospect was roughed up and held a poor .240 batting average with 11 home runs.
The outfielder can play pretty much anywhere, and has a strong arm along with a respectable bat. He is proven to be more dominant on the left side of the plate, but can still perform from the right side. It seems that Pache will win the center field position battle, but Waters can adjust to left or right field. The 23-year-old has a ton of talent but still needs improvement to see the next level. Whether this season or the next, Braves fans hope to see the new and improved outfielder in the majors.
4. Michael Harris, Outfielder
Drafted in 2019, Harris has a bright future ahead of him. The lefty has not seen higher than Single-A, but has performed at a high level consistently. Harris began with the GCL Braves in 2019 and flourished. He smoked a .349 batting average with 16 RBI. He then upgraded to the Single-A Rome Braves for the remaining 22 games. After the canceled 2020 season, Harris was promoted to the now High-A Rome Braves. He performed to his fullest potential and slashed .294/.362/.436. Harris is similar to Pache and Waters but is much less experienced. The kid from Georgia has lighting speed along with an exceptional glove. He has raw power and is a machine when it comes to stealing bases.
Harris is young and skilled but has plenty of time before his debut in the majors. Being only 20 years old gives Harris plenty of time to improve. His raw power and lighting-quick motor can turn him into a superstar one day. With Pache and Waters sharing positions with Harris, it could be complicated when all three are in the majors. Nevertheless, the Braves should expect Harris to join their squad seemingly soon.
5. Ryan Cusick, Right-Handed Pitcher
The right-hander out of Wake Forest University was selected by the Braves in the 2021 MLB Draft. Cusick has not had much experience at the minor league level this far, as after being selected he went straight to the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets. In just six appearances, the 22-year-old held a 2.76 ERA along with 34 strikeouts. This performance jolted Cusick and seeks for a shot at a higher level in 2022. The young right-hander has many great qualities to his game, along with a few rough patches. Cusick has a flaming fastball, ranging from 94-97 MPH, and has reached 102. He has a respectable curveball as his secondary pitch which ranges from 79-82 MPH. To complete the repertoire, Cusick has a changeup and slider that deals a great bite to his opponents. He has struggled with hitting the strike zone, a huge factor at the next level.
The young flamethrower has a ton of upside to his game, and yet seeks improvement. Whether his control or his back-end pitches, Cusick can master his game by patching those things up. While only 22, Cusick has plenty of time to reach his full potential and contend in the majors. He isn’t expected to make the majors for a while, but the Braves will be waiting when the time comes.
What Does the Future Hold?
While the Braves’ top five prospects seem unstoppable, there are a few players who didn’t make the cut that deserve some recognition, as well. Shortstop Braden Shewmake and left-handed pitcher Jared Shuster are both huge assets to the future of the organization. Atlanta has a deep and thorough farm system and hope to ready their young stars for the big show. As of now, the World Champs have a stellar organization and seek to contend for a repeat in the fall.
Follow Rephael Negnewitzky on Twitter @RephaelN613
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images