Checking in on the Braves' top 5 prospects

September 4th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Before heading into the regular season’s stretch run, here is an update on each of the Braves’ Top 5 prospects.

No. 1 RHP AJ Smith-Shawver
Smith-Shawver made the rise from High-A to the Majors within the first two months of this season. He’s posted a 4.57 ERA in five appearances (four starts) for Atlanta, but it was apparent he needed more seasoning. The 20-year-old hurler produced a 4.58 ERA over seven starts for Triple-A Gwinnett before being shut down two weeks ago with right shoulder inflammation.

No. 2 RHP Hurston Waldrep
Because he threw more than 100 innings while leading the University of Florida to the College World Series, the Braves have been limiting Waldrep to approximately 55-65 pitches per appearance. The 21-year-old hurler threw three scoreless innings after being promoted to Double-A Mississippi on Saturday. Opponents have hit .143 and he has registered a 40.3 percent strikeout rate over 18 combined innings at the Single-A, High-A and Double-A levels.

No. 3 RHP Spencer Schwellenbach
Schwellenbach was drafted in 2021 with the knowledge he would undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2022 season. He posted a 2.63 ERA through his first 13 starts for Single-A Augusta this year and then threw a scoreless inning in the Futures Game before being shut down for six weeks. He has made two appearances for High-A Rome since being activated from the injured list. He tossed five scoreless innings against Winston-Salem on Wednesday.

No. 4 RHP Cade Kuehler
Kuehler threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his professional debut for Augusta on Thursday. The right-hander was taken out of Campbell University in the second round of this year’s MLB Draft.

No. 5 RHP Owen Murphy
Murphy, the Braves’ top selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, posted a 4.71 ERA in the 18 starts he made before he was promoted from Augusta to High-A Rome. He produced a 37.6 percent strikeout rate over his final eight starts for Augusta. The 19-year-old pitcher has lasted at least five innings and allowed three runs or fewer in both of his first two starts for Rome.