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Pipeline names Braves Prospects of the Year

@mlbbowman
September 19, 2019

ATLANTA -- Drew Waters has swag like Chipper Jones. Ian Anderson possesses Tom Glavine’s poise and John Smoltz’s athletic frame. Together, these two young stars headline the next wave of prospects who have the potential to allow the Braves to enjoy another long run of success. Waters has been named

ATLANTA -- Drew Waters has swag like Chipper Jones. Ian Anderson possesses Tom Glavine’s poise and John Smoltz’s athletic frame. Together, these two young stars headline the next wave of prospects who have the potential to allow the Braves to enjoy another long run of success.

Waters has been named Atlanta’s Minor League Hitter of the Year and Anderson was named the club’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB Pipeline. Both of these highly-regarded prospects could make their respective Major League debuts at some point next year.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Waters ranks as the No. 2 prospect within the Braves organization and the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball. The 20-year-old outfielder was recently named the 2019 Southern League Player of the Year. That’s an impressive accomplishment for someone who is just two years removed from leading suburban Atlanta’s Etowah High School to a state championship.

Anderson ranks as the No. 3 prospect within the Braves organization and baseball’s No. 31 prospect. The 21-year-old right-hander gained more notice this summer when he produced a perfect inning while serving as the National League’s starting pitcher in the Futures Game.

Looking ahead to 2020, there will be anticipation regarding how Anderson might eventually fit in Atlanta’s rotation. There will also be further intrigue about the possibility of Atlanta eventually having a regular outfield mix that includes Ronald Acuna Jr., Waters and Cristian Pache, who is the club’s No. 1 prospect and baseball’s No. 10 prospect.

Waters slashed .309/.360/.459 over 134 combined games with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this year. The young switch hitter tallied six of his seven homers from the left side of the plate. He produced a .866 OPS in 440 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers and a .664 OPS in 133 plate appearances against lefties.

After being promoted to Gwinnett in early August, Waters produced a .710 OPS and tallied just seven extra-base hits (five doubles and two home runs). The former first rounder could continue to make a quick rise. But the 36.1 percent strikeout rate he produced at the Triple-A level showed he will need at least a few more months of Minor League seasoning next year.

Anderson constructed a 3.38 ERA while totaling 135 2/3 innings over 26 combined starts for Mississippi and Gwinnett. The tall right-hander produced a strong strikeout rate (11.4 per nine innings), but his walk rate (4.3 per nine innings) shows some room for improvement.

This was a big year for Anderson, who tallied 147 strikeouts while producing a 2.68 ERA over 111 innings for Mississippi. He, too, showed the need for further development, when he produced a 6.57 ERA over the five starts he made after being promoted to Gwinnett. He allowed eight homers over 21 starts at the Double-A level and five more over 24 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.