Battery Power 2023 Preseason Top 25 Braves Prospects: 21-25
Welcome all to the first installment of the Battery Power Preseason top 25 prospects list. This has been a long time coming as we skipped over last season’s midseason list and it’s our first prospect list under the Battery Power moniker. This is the minor league staff’s favorite project of the year as we all work together to make this prospect list possible. This season you may notice a difference as we’ve dropped our list from its customary 30 players down to 25 to account for the weakness of the system especially following the recent trades. Before we get started, let’s run over our process for how we make this list.
The top 25 list is made up of a composite of our current minor league staff’s individual lists (Garrett Spain, Matt Powers, and Brady Petree) as well as lists from our old friends and former Battery Power contributors Wayne Cavadi and Gaurav Vedak. After getting those lists I compile them together in a few different weighting systems, then pick median values which then ranks the prospects in the final list. Because this list is a composite of multiple people, we all do not share the same opinions. There are players that we all feel should be ranked higher or lower, and thus you may find that we have different opinions on the grades for these players.
We all feel that it’s important to draw from as many sources as possible and that this process gives us the best chance of capturing the closest list to these players’ true ability. We feel our history with former prospects justifies our rankings, but we are never one to feel that we are the sole voice in these rankings. Many of these calls are extremely close and there were a couple of tie breakers that had to happen. In general there was a consensus top three and a few tiers of prospects below that which more accurately represents these players. A player ranked at 16th may be as good in our eyes as a player ranked 12th, and there were small differences that affected the ranking that are fairly inconsequential in their actual evaluations. This ranking will be completely different by the first day of May, and while we love to refer back to these throughout the year it’s important to know that this is simply our feelings on players at this moment in time. We will each personally adjust these rankings even as soon as spring training and following our daily reports should give you a sense of how these things evolve throughout the year and who steps up in these rankings.
Before we get started, Garrett went over five prospects that just missed the list, with all five receiving at least one top 25 vote. You can check those out before we begin, and with no further adieu, enjoy.
25. Luke Waddell – IF
Luke Waddell 2022 player review
How he got to the Atlanta Braves2021 draft, fifth round
Coming in as a four year starter from Georgia Tech, Luke Waddell was one of the first draftees from the 2021 class to make a splash in the system. Waddell went off with six home runs in one week with Rome which earned him a promotion to Mississippi in his first taste of professional ball. He found himself back in Pearl for the start of the 2022 season and it was shaping up to be a big one for him. Waddell’s 12-game hitting streak in early May left him with a .311/.403/.443 slash streak on the season with more walks than strikeouts, and the conversation turned to when he would be ready to make his way up to Gwinnett. He finished out the month of May on a bit of a low note, but still had more walks than strikeouts on the season before going on an extended injured list stint. Waddell didn’t manage to make it back on the field in 2022, leaving him with a decent but incomplete first full season.
Waddell is one of the safer bets on this list to carve out a major league career, simply because teams will always value offensive talent. He has a plus plus hit tool that he could play at the major league level right now, but in the other faces of the game he shines a bit less. Outside of that one week of play Waddell has just two home runs in his other 64 games and there isn’t room to project much more than that given his swing and small frame. Certainly Waddell has the ability to put the ball in play and get on base, but with the trajectory of the league moving away from that sort of offensive profile, Waddell may have a hard time carving out a major league starting job. His arm limits him to second base defensively, further hurting his value to a major league team, but his hit tool is still so good that it gives him a high probability as a bench bat.
24. Douglas Glod – OF
Douglas Glod 2022 player review
How he got to the Atlanta Braves: 2022 international free agency
Douglas Glod signed with the Braves last January in the international free agency class that normally would have signed on July 2, 2021 but was delayed to January. Glod was the clear second best player in that Braves class, typically ranking towards the latter end of most Top 30 international lists. He came in and went right to the DSL, and while we can’t gain much from DSL stats he held his own, hitting .202/.352/.356 in 128 plate appearances. The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story, as he posted a .686 OPS in July, followed by a .730 mark in August as he started to adjust to pro ball.
Glod isn’t the toolsiest prospect in the system, but he has a higher floor than most young international signings as he is considered to be fairly polished coming into pro ball. Except for his power tool, which projects as a little below-average, he is a guy with tools that all grade as average to above across the board. He may not feel like an impact type of prospect if you look at his tool set, but he makes good contact and runs and fields well, and there is use for a guy like that at the big league level if he can keep developing his tools . He will also have some chance to add on to that below-average power grade just as a benefit of his natural bat speed and feel for making contact, so that tool can’t be written off. Of course him just turning 18 and likely ticketed for the FCL means he is still far away, and has many possible outcomes over the next few years, but will be a guy to monitor down on the farm.
23. Brandol Mezquita – OF
Brandol Mezquita 2022 player review
How he got to the Atlanta Braves: 2017 international free agency
Brandol Mezquita was one of the lesser-hyped members of the 2017 international free agent class for the Braves, but following MLB’s punishment towards the Braves and John Coppolella, he was one of the few to re-sign with the organization. Since then Mezquita has languished in rookie ball, finally posting a break out season as a 20-year-old with an .854 OPS in the Florida Complex League. This led him to be promoted to full season ball in 2022, where he was one of the Augusta GreenJackets most consistent hitters for the first three months of the season. Through 50 games, Mezquita had an impressive 131 wRC+, but his numbers were inflated by a .432 BABIP and a combination of regression and injury troubles pushed his numbers down throughout the remainder of the season. He finished with a 113 wRC+ in Augusta before getting a short and unventful taste of Rome.
Mezquita is an athletically-gifted player, but hasn’t consistently showcased his tool set at the minor league level. His strikeout rate of 26% at Single-A wasn’t egregious and he draws his fair share of walks, but he still doesn’t consistently make the high-probability contact to give him more than a fringe-average hit tool. When he makes contact he carries high line drive rates, spraying them across the field with above average exit velocity, but he struggles to lift the ball and also battles with high ground ball rates. Mezquita’s raw power gives him 20+ home run potential, but that line drive and ground ball oriented approach limited him to only three in 2022. He’s an average runner who can stick in center field, so it seems it’s just a matter of unlocking the potential he has flashed offensively. We’ve seen him crank deep home runs this past season and there are metrics to indicate that he can be an above average offensive player, but so far he has just been a guy who hasn’t managed to make an impact on even low level pitching. Yet, Mezquita is still one of the most intriguing prospects to watch because every time he is on the field you can see the flashes of offensive potential and can see a player that is one of the few in the system with high end potential.
22. Seth Keller – RHP
Seth Keller 2022 player review
How he got to the Atlanta Braves: 2022 draft, 6th round
Seth Keller was one of the many Braves pitchers picked up in the 2022 draft, and despite being one of the lesser-mentioned names, is still an arm that carries immense potential. Keller fell to the Braves all the way in the sixth round and Atlanta took the opportunity to scoop him up and hand him a $700k signing bonus. Keller’s high school career took an atypical path as he spent most of his career as a relief pitcher before rising late as a draft prospect when he joined his school’s starting rotation. His inexperience as a starter showed in his first professional outing as he faced five batters, walking four of those and hitting the other with a pitch. His second went much smoother with two scoreless, hitless innings and his first professional strikeout.
Keller is an interesting arm from a talent perspective and because we don’t often see players moved to start so late in their high school careers. This could be seen as a positive as he doesn’t have as much mileage on his arm as other players, but also means he needs to condition himself as a starter and is behind in the learning curve. Keller is undersized at just 5’10” but his raw stuff plays bigger with a developing trio of pitches under his belt. Keller tops out with his fastball at 95 mph, but his best pitches are his secondary pitches. He has a high spin breaking ball as his go-to strikeout pitch, but his development as a starter will be heavily influenced by his split changeup. It’s one of the few in the game that could be described as a bug bunny changeup, throwing up spin rates just a hair over 1100 rpm that gave it a devastating fade off of his fastball. This arsenal is enough for him to be a starting pitcher, but the concern for Keller is going to be his size. Few pitchers below 6 foot tall manage to survive as starters and it seems that the bullpen is a more likely path for Keller. In either role he has the ability to survive and prosper but it will be a project that the Braves spend more time developing in the coming years.
21. Blake Burkhalter – RHP
Blake Burkhalter 2022 player review
How he got to the Atlanta Braves: 2022 draft, compensation round B
A reliever that really took off during his junior year in college, the Braves took Burkhalter as the No. 76 picks in the 2022 draft. In his final season at Auburn, he went 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA, 16 saves, and a 0.906 WHIP. He dominated hitters to the tune of a 13.8 K/9, while showing good control with a 1.4 BB/9. The reason for this success was simple, he just up and decided to incorporate a really good cutter to combine with his low-to-mid 90s fastball that has a ton of arm side run. Add on to that a good change and you have yourself a potential dominant reliever with an overwhelming three-pitch mix.
The Braves have indicated that they will start Burkhalter out as a starting pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how he makes that transition. If it does not work out, as many suspect, he still has the potential to be a dominant reliever that could play into Atlanta’s plans as soon as this season.