No. 11 prospect owes Futures Game nod to Braves' backstops

July 8th, 2024

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.

ATLANTA -- represented the Braves at the 2022 All-Star Game and did the same in 2023. They can take credit for helping another catcher from the organization draw the honor of participating in this year’s All-Star festivities.

(the club’s No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline) will be the Braves’ only representative at the All-Star Futures Game, which will be played at Globe Life Field on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET. The game can be watched live on MLB Network, MLB.TV, or the MLB App.

Baldwin has made a quick rise since the Braves took him in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft, and the 23-year-old made a strong impression during big league camp this year. He was extremely thankful for all of the support he received from Murphy and d’Arnaud, who interacted with him both at the field and away from it throughout Spring Training. The rounds of golf and meals proved as beneficial as the lessons about mechanics or game calling.

“I couldn’t ask for a better duo to be helping me,” Baldwin said. “They want to help us at the field and get to know who we are away from the field. I’ve learned a lot from them. I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for them.”

Baldwin hit .244 with four homers and a .650 OPS over 217 plate appearances for Double-A Mississippi this year. He has batted .310 with five homers and a .943 OPS in the 102 plate appearances he has tallied since being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on June 11. He homered on Saturday and Sunday against St. Paul.

Scouts have repeatedly pointed out the decline in talent at the Triple-A level this year. Still, Baldwin’s success at the top Minor League level has created reason to think he could be deemed MLB-ready within the next year.

Baldwin was always viewed as a talented and capable hitter. The Braves were one of the few teams who believed the Missouri State product could succeed as a catcher. The gamble has proven fruitful as the young backstop has displayed an improved arm and athleticism behind the plate.

“The style of catching here really helps me,” Baldwin said, in reference to the one-knee approach. “It allows me to stay athletic. It’s just the way they go about things with their consistent routines throughout the season; [it] helps you get closer to perfecting those routines. That allows me to be more confident and to make quicker moves with receiving and blocking and throwing to all bases.”

Getting to play with many of the other game’s top prospects in the Futures Game will give Baldwin another reminder of how far he has come since being drafted just two years ago.

“I’m going along for the ride, so I don’t notice a huge change,” Baldwin said. “But then watching video, it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m a whole different person now.’”

Elsewhere on the farm

Double-A Mississippi: Left-hander (Braves’ No. 20 prospect) has posted a 2.19 ERA over his past six starts. He has gone 1-3 during this span and is 1-9 with a 3.97 ERA through 15 starts overall.

High-A Rome: Right-hander (Braves’ No. 8 prospect), who was promoted on June 25, walked four, allowed eight hits and surrendered eight runs in three innings in his Rome debut on June 30.

Single-A Augusta: Righty Didier Fuentes is impressing during his second year with Augusta. The 19-year-old hurler has produced a 2.26 ERA through 13 appearances (12 starts). He has a 4.25 strikeout/walk rate and a 31.1 percent strikeout rate.