Waddell ends Fall League on high note

November 19th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The calendar seems to be the only thing that can stop Luke Waddell these days.

The Braves’ No. 29 prospect has been on a tear of late and finished the Arizona Fall League with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance in Peoria’s 8-0 win over Salt River on Friday at Salt River Fields.

“Just trying to swing at good pitches,” Waddell said. “I’ve been playing a little bit more lately, which is nice, finding a groove. It’s cool to be with all these good hitters and you can learn a lot. Cage work, and all fall I’ve taken in a lot of information from other guys, and it’s turned out to be good on the field.”

After drawing a walk in his first trip to the plate, Waddell started the scoring with a two-run single in the fourth, then added a double to left in the fifth. Although he popped out in his final at-bat, Waddell finished the season with three straight multihit games.

He also collected at least one hit in 12 of the final 13 games he played and heads into the offseason riding an eight-game hitting streak.

Waddell got off to a slow start in Arizona and found himself batting just .059 (1-for-17) through the first five games. However, he caught fire in November, hitting .411 over 11 games and posted a .311/.394/.393 slash line over the final 18 games.

“It’s really just swinging at good pitches,” Waddell said. “I can kind of get out of the zone sometimes, and you put yourself in a bad situation when you swing at bad pitches. It’s been really nice to be out here and play and see all these arms and just get better.”

After he hit .309/.402/.474 during his senior season at Georgia Tech, the Braves selected Waddell in the fifth round of this year’s Draft. He began his career with High-A Rome, worked his way up to Double-A and hit a combined .260/.324/.450 with six homers and 15 RBIs over 29 games before finishing the year in the Fall League.

A left-handed hitter, Waddell doesn’t hit for much power, but he makes plenty of contact and is difficult to strikeout. The second baseman drew nine walks and struck out just eight times in Arizona after fanning 17 times over 100 at-bats in the regular season.

“Just this year, the little amount I was with the Braves toward the end of the year, I learned a lot from the staff there and the players there,” Waddell said. “I’m excited for the future and next year.”

Victor Vodnik, the No. 20 Braves prospect, picked up his second win for Peoria after twirling five scoreless innings. The right-hander threw 41 of his 63 pitches for strikes, yielded a pair of hits and walked four.

Bryson Stott (Phillies No. 2) and Cade Marlowe (Mariners No. 27) also put together multihit efforts. Stott, who finished the AFL batting .318, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Marlowe went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.