ATLANTA -- With Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaching, the Braves aren't lacking for top pitching prospects, as MLB Pipeline midseason Top 100 include six Braves pitchers.Right-handers Mike Soroka and Kyle Wright were Nos. 15 and 25, respectively, with both finding spots in the Top 10 right-handed pitchers as well.
ATLANTA -- With Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaching, the Braves aren't lacking for top pitching prospects, as MLB Pipeline midseason Top 100 include six Braves pitchers.
Right-handers Mike Soroka and Kyle Wright were Nos. 15 and 25, respectively, with both finding spots in the Top 10 right-handed pitchers as well. And though Soroka has been on the disabled list since June with right shoulder inflammation, he is dubbed the Braves' No. 1 prospect.
While Soroka has been working through his shoulder issue, Wright has made quite a run with Double-A Mississippi, especially recently. The starter from Vanderbilt, who was drafted in the first round in 2017, had one of his best outings on Wednesday. With a fastball that has the potential to top out at 98 mph, Wright threw eight innings, giving up just one run off a home run.
Fellow right-handers Ian Anderson and Touki Toussaint also made appearances in the Top 100, with Toussant recently hitting his stride with Triple-A Gwinnett. Toussaint, who was acquired by the Braves in 2015 in the Bronson Arroyo deal, came in at No. 78. In his last outing with Gwinnett, the 22-year-old threw eight scoreless innings, striking out eight.
"I've heard really good things about him this year with how far he has come," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's good to see, because that guy, he's got stuff, so it's exciting when guys with stuff start getting it."
Lefties Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard also made the Top 100, along with position players Austin Riley (3B) and Cristian Pache (CF), giving the Braves eight of the 100 best prospects in baseball, plenty of pieces to move if they want to bolster the big league club before the Trade Deadline.
Though the quality parts are there, especially on the mound, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been open about being cautious with his core of influential pitching prospects through the rebuild. The question isn't whether the Braves can make moves with these guys, it's whether they want to.
With closer Arodys Vizcaino still a couple of weeks away from throwing and relievers Sam Freeman, Dan Winkler and Shane Carle putting together lackluster performances in comparison to what they were able to do in the first quarter of the season, the need is in the bullpen. Acquiring a controllable starter could inadvertently help the bullpen, but the Braves' front office likes where its young prospects are right now and is unlikely to forgo them to acquire a rental.
Changes to the lineup
Ozzie Albies made his return to the Braves' lineup on Thursday, filling the No. 2 hole between Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Prior to Acuna's knee injury and Albies' pulled right hamstring, which he suffered over the weekend in Washington, the club had success with the two "Baby Braves" at the top of the lineup and Ender Inciarte moved down.
"I think we are confident that [Albies] checked all the boxes that they wanted to see, and he went out and ran the bases today," Snitker said before Thursday's opener against the Dodgers. "We'll re-evaluate after the game and see where he's at."
In 19 games hitting in the two-hole from June 22-July 14, Albies hit .398 with 20 RBIs.
And though Albies made his return to the lineup, that doesn't mean his replacement is moving out just yet. Charlie Culberson, who took over at second base in Albies' absence, moved over to shortstop to give Dansby Swanson Thursday off.
"We are pretty much over our break time, our down time, for the rest of the year," Snitker said. "With a doubleheader chewing up an off day I just kind of felt like Dansby had been playing every day and to give him an extra day. Charlie is swinging the bat good so it just kind of gets him out there, too."
Culberson, who Freddie Freeman tabbed the MVP of the team, hit a whopping .533 in his three games filling in for Albies. The Braves' most versatile player went 8-15 with five RBIs during that time.
"I don't know where we would be without Charlie," Snitker said.
Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.