Young Braves speedster Drake shows off in Spring Breakout

Baldwin showing more than just his solid bat; Murphy starts strong

March 16th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II and AJ Smith-Shawver each recently experienced a meteoric rise to Atlanta. So as many of the Braves prospects participated in Spring Breakout on Saturday at JetBlue Park, there was reason to wonder which of these future stars might be the next to reach the Majors.

, and were among the Braves prospects who grabbed attention during a 7-2 loss to the Red Sox. This was part of the first Spring Breakout, an MLB event that gives fans a chance to see their organization’s prospects compete against another club’s future stars.

Here are some top takeaways from the game.

Hometown speed
Drake showed his incredible speed as he stole a base in the second inning and tripled in the fourth inning. Unfortunately, the outfielder’s day prematurely ended in the bottom of the fourth, when his right calf cramped after he attempted to make a diving catch in foul territory. He limped toward the dugout without assistance after being evaluated by the medical staff, but he was all smiles and feeling great after the game.

“It was a great experience going out and playing against the top prospects from the Red Sox,” Drake said. “We were out here playing in front of so many fans and just having fun playing baseball.”

Fans are going to have a lot of fun watching Drake when he is at top speed. He graduated from North Atlanta High School in May and was selected by the hometown Braves in the fifth round of the 2023 MLB Draft less than two months later. His brother, Kenyan Drake, was a star running back at the University of Alabama before playing in the NFL.

Drake easily stole second base against Kyle Teel, who ranks as baseball’s No. 40 prospect and the No. 5 catching prospect. It appeared he then successfully stole third base before it was ruled the home-plate umpire interfered with Teel’s throw, resulting in a dead ball ruling. His next attempt to steal third resulted in him getting caught too far away from second base. Red Sox center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela ranged into left-center to catch Sabin Ceballos’ flyout and then made an accurate off-balance throw to second to complete a double play.

Within this sequence of events we saw both Drake’s speed and youth. The speedster won’t turn 19 until July. He ranks as the Braves' No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Braves manager Brian Snitker was reminded of how young Drake is after the young outfielder was invited to participate in the intrasquad games Atlanta played before last year’s postseason began. As Snitker left the stadium that night, he saw Drake waiting just outside the stadium gates.

When asked if he was OK, Drake told Snitker he was just waiting on his mother to pick him up.

“I just got my license in December,” Drake said.

More than a bat
When the Braves took Baldwin in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft, there were questions about his defense. But he has quickly shown he is much more than just a bat-first catcher. He impressed Atlanta catching coach Sal Fasano with the athleticism he showed during big league camp this year.

Along with improving his mobility behind the plate, Baldwin has also shown improved arm strength. He certainly drew some attention in the second inning Saturday when his strong throw easily denied Nick Yorke’s attempt to steal second base. Yorke was successful with 18 of 23 stolen-base attempts at the Double-A level last year.

“It was pretty cool with this game being on TV,” Baldwin said. “That was the biggest focus this offseason, to improve arm strength. So to be able to show it off and get an extra out for [Murphy] really helped.”

Baldwin ranks as the Braves’ No. 11 prospect. He produced .845 OPS over 476 plate appearances at three levels last year. He ended the season by playing three games for Triple-A Gwinnett. He spent most of the year with High-A Rome.

Good start
Murphy got the start for the Braves and it looked like he was rolling in the right direction when he retired some of the game’s top prospects during a scoreless first inning. Boston’s lineup began with three of baseball’s top 40 overall prospects. Roman Anthony (No. 24) flew out and Marcelo Mayer (No. 15) grounded out before Teel (No. 40) singled.

Murphy, who is the Braves’ No. 5 prospect, recorded one strikeout while being charged with five runs over three innings. He was pulled during the third inning, just before Rafaela greeted Patrick Halligan with a three-run homer. The re-entry rule allowed Murphy to return and record two outs in the fourth.

Murphy's fastball consistently touched 94 mph, which is an improvement from last year. The 20-year-old was taken in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft, and he’s prepping for his second full professional season.

“It was so fun,” Murphy said. “To be out there in front of fans who are excited about the prospects in this game, it’s unlike any other. It was great.”