Weekly Preview (Aug. 3-8): A Look At Lower-Level Stat Lines

Last week, I looked at some stat lines that stood out for better or worse among upper-level Braves prospects. This week, we will look at a few in the lower levels.

Michael Harris – High-A Rome

Harris enters the week at .296/.344/.438 with 16 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 18 stolen bases. He has walked more lately, including five last week, and is up to a 6% walk rate to pair with an 18% strikeout rate. Some will move more slowly on Harris than others because of the plate discipline he showed in the first three months, but I’ve said a few times that the advanced hit and incredible feel to make contact in all quadrants were signs that the rest of his offensive game would round into form with more reps. He just needed to get comfortable and see more pitches. Harris won’t fly through the system like many had hoped, but that’s OK. Even if it’s more of a level-by-level process, the end result is a plus-potential hit tool and All-Star-caliber center fielder. He is the best prospect in the Braves system.

Jesse Franklin – High-A Rome

Franklin is hitting .247/.318/.549 with 16 doubles, 19 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He has taken a roundabout way to reach these numbers, but it’s been an impressive pro debut for the Michigan product. Franklin doesn’t shy away from the big swing; it’s geared for pull-side power and lots of it. Combine this pop with the ability to produce double-digit steals and play an athletic corner outfield, and Franklin is a legitimate prospect worth bumping up lists. The profile’s weaknesses are obvious, though. A .318 OBP and 27% strikeout rate from a 22-year-old in High-A makes me a bit leery. The hit tool projects below-average and may relegate him to more of a platoon or bench masher role. Double-A will be a significant challenge to his hit tool.

Beau Philip – High-A Rome

There was greater optimism for Philip entering this season because of a cleaner, more optimal swing that cut down on length, produced more separation and added loft. The adjustments haven’t translated, though, as he’s hitting .190/.275/.314 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 11 stolen bases. The ability to produce is in there. It’s a tantalizing combination of up-the-middle defense and pop. But Philip is striking out 36% of the time and hasn’t been able to time velo or defend against sequencing.

Jared Shuster – High-A Rome

This one is pretty straightforward. Shuster has a 3.28 ERA with 45 strikeouts to 10 walks in 35.2 innings. His report hasn’t changed over the course of nine starts. Double-A will be a test to the depth of his stuff.

Darius Vines – High-A Rome

Vines is holding his own after a promotion to Rome recently. He has combined for a 2.90 ERA in 15 starts, including a 3.57 mark in seven starts at Rome. He has 41 strikeouts to 11 walks in 35.1 innings there. Vines has depth-starter stuff with a fastball that plays above its velo, an excellent changeup and a curve that flashes well. It’s a sum-of-parts profile that will succeed in the lower levels but faces a stiffer test at Double-A and above.

Vaughn Grissom – Low-A Augusta

If you read this newsletter or follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a huge Grissom fan. My May report pushed him into my top 10 and nothing has changed since, only solidified. He’s now hitting .306/.407/.452 with 10 doubles, five home runs and eight stolen bases in 51 games. He has a 12% walk rate and 16% strikeout rate as a 20-year-old in his first full season. He’s more than holding his own and is making adjustments, including recently showing more authority in his swing and turning on pitches with lift to tap into his plus-potential raw power. There is an advanced feel to hit here and power that will develop between gap and over-the-fence along with athleticism on defense, likely at third base. I’m not shying away from my aggressiveness on Grissom. He is one of the best prospects in the Braves system right now.

Stephen Paolini – Low-A Augusta

It’s basically been worst-case-scenario type stuff for Paolini in his first full season, hitting .159/.254/.259 with a 43% strikeout rate. I’m not going to pile on a kid going through struggles. The tools are there. He covers center field well and is a rangy athlete with length and speed, and he flashes power at the plate. But he is lost at the plate. Hopefully he can turn things around and get on track as a prospect.

Joey Estes – Low-A Augusta

Estes has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the lower levels. He has a 2.58 ERA with 94 strikeouts to 20 walks in 73.1 innings. These are outstanding numbers from a 19-year-old in his first full season. I recently revisited his report, noting there are plus signs next to every grade because of the potential to see development bumps upward as he grows. He flashes multiple plus offerings, has a quick arm, is a great athlete and is a solid competitor on the mound. It’s a relief projection for now, but as I wrote the other day, it wouldn’t surprise me if he turns a big corner and becomes a dude as he gains strength and further develops his stuff. It’s in there if it can be pulled out.

Roddery Munoz – Low-A Augusta

Munoz’s season hasn’t gone like I expected after he burst on the scene in his first outing. His stuff backed up some after that start and became hittable, leading to a 6.67 ERA with 33 strikeouts to 11 walks in 29.2 innings. He had a positive return off the IL July 16 with 3.2 hitless innings, but it again backed up next time out with three runs in two innings. The potential is in there. Munoz has a quick arm and throws easy gas. But he remains more of an arm-strength lottery ticket than I initially expected. The same applies to Rolddy.

Schedule

Triple-A Gwinnett
Aug. 3-8: vs. Charlotte (White Sox)
Aug. 3-6 at 7:05 p.m., Aug. 7 at 6:05, Aug. 8 at 1:05

Double-A Mississippi
Aug. 3-8: at Birmingham (White Sox)
Aug. 3-6 at 8:05 p.m. ET, Aug. 7 at 7:30, Aug. 8 at 5

High-A Rome
Aug. 3-8: at Greenville (Red Sox)
Aug. 3-7 at 7:05 p.m., Aug. 8 at 3:05

Low-A Augusta
Aug. 3-8: at Charleston (Rays)
Aug. 3-6 at 7:05 p.m., Aug. 7 at 6:05, Aug. 8 at 5:05

Prospects to Watch This Week

At Triple-A Gwinnett, Drew Waters continues to hold his own in the box, picking up seven hits in his past six games, including two doubles and two walks. Among those who have graduated, Johan Camargo and Kyle Wright have dominated lately on their respective sides of the ball. At Double-A Mississippi, Shea Langeliers continues to produce, recording a double and two homers in his past four games. Braden Shewmake also continues to mash. At High-A Rome, Michael Harris had a good week to get back on track, notching eight hits in six games, including a double, triple, five walks and three stolen bases. Darius Vines deserves a nod for throwing seven no-hit innings. At Low-A Augusta, Vaughn Grissom is stealing the show since coming off the injured list. He picked up 10 hits last week, including a double, three home runs, six walks and a stolen base.

Twitter Observations

July 31: Spencer Strider pitched better than the 4 ER today. He was in control of his motion and filled the zone. More competitive breaking balls and flashed a solid CH. A positive outing.

July 31: Not much more I can say about Vaughn Grissom. Barreled a hanger for a LCF homer in his first AB. Just shortened up with two strikes and poked a single to RF. I said in May it's an advanced hit and power would come as he got comfortable. Here we are.

July 30: So, Rolddy Munoz is fun. Plus arm speed, easy 96-97, t98. Firm secondaries but flashes bite on a short SL. Quite the duo between him and Roddery.

Rolddy is a pure arm-strength play. Keeps it around the zone but command and feel have a long way to go. Stuff is explosive though and arm is live. Up to 98, SL flashes late sweep in upper-80s, CH flashes firm sink around 90.

July 29: Seems like Vaughn Grissom has a little more authority in his swings lately. Lifting and turning on pitches a little better. It'll come.

And he just pulled the hands in and lined a single up the middle. Definitely seeing a quicker and more aggressive stroke. Already had an advanced eye for his age. Put it together and you get performance.

July 28: Not a lot of room for error with Shuster's FB and the breaker wasn't really there tonight, but the CH is still so good. It always is.

Recent Prospect Performances

Triple-A Gwinnett
8/1: Cristian Pache 1-4, BB, SB
7/29: Drew Waters 4-5, 2B
7/29: William Contreras 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
7/28: Cristian Pache 1-5, HR
7/28: Alex Jackson 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB

Double-A Mississippi
8/1: Justin Dean 2-4, HR
7/31: Spencer Strider 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R/ER, BB, 9 K
7/31: Trey Harris 2-4, 2 HR
7/29: Justin Dean 1-4, HR, SB
7/29: Braden Shewmake 2-4, 2B, RBI
7/29: Freddy Tarnok 5 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 12 K
7/29: Daysbel Hernandez 1 IP, H, 2 K
7/28: Braden Shewmake 1-4, HR
7/28: Shea Langeliers 2-4
7/28: Bryce Elder 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 9 K
7/27: Justin Dean 1-5, HR
7/27: Braden Shewmake 2-5, HR
7/27: Shea Langeliers 2-5, 2 HR
7/27: Victor Vodnik 3.2 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 4 K
7/27: Indigo Diaz 1 IP, BB, 2 K

High-A Rome
8/1: Michael Harris 1-4, 2B, RBI, BB
8/1: Beau Philip 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB
7/31: Darius Vines 7 IP, 2 BB, 9 K
7/30: Jesse Franklin 1-3, HR, BB
7/29: Michael Harris 1-3, SB
7/28: Cody Milligan 3-5, 2B, RBI
7/28: Michael Harris 3-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB
7/28: Jesse Franklin 1-5, 2B, RBI
7/28: Beau Philip 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
7/28: Jared Shuster 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, BB, 5 K
7/27: Jesse Franklin 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 BB

Low-A Augusta
8/1: Stephen Paolini 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
8/1: Brandon Parker 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, SB
8/1: Joey Estes 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 9 K
7/31: Vaughn Grissom 2-3, HR, BB
7/30: Vaughn Grissom 1-3, HR, 3 BB
7/30: Willie Carter 1-3, RBI, 2 BB
7/30: Jared Johnson 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R/ER, BB, 5 K
7/30: Rolddy Munoz 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 K
7/29: Vaughn Grissom 3-5
7/29: Willie Carter 2-4, RBI, BB, SB
7/29: Lisandro Santos 2.1 IP, H, 2 K
7/28: Vaughn Grissom 1-2, 2 BB
7/28: Stephen Paolini 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
7/27: Vaughn Grissom 2-3, 2B, HR
7/27: Cam Shepherd 1-3, HR, 3 RBI
7/27: Joey Estes 4 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K

Transactions

8/1: Huascar Ynoa sent on rehab assignment to High-A
7/31: SS/LF Orlando Arcia optioned to Triple-A
7/31: LHP Sean Newcomb optioned to Triple-A
7/30: C Travis d’Arnaud sent on rehab assignment to Triple-A
7/30: C Tyler Tolve assigned to FCL
7/28: RHP Malcolm Van Buren activated from IL at Low-A
7/27: RHP Bryse Wilson optioned to Triple-A
7/27: OF Jefrey Ramos activated from IL at Double-A