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Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: 13-18

July 12th, 2017 at 12:31 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

We are over the halfway point now, as this is the fourth installment of our Top 30 prospects list. Here are links to get you all caught up with how we got to this point.

Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: 19-24

Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: 25-30

Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: Honorable Mentions

18. Drew Waters – OF

The Braves went to their backyard with the second round pick of this year’s MLB Draft with Drew Waters out of Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. Drew put up a monster line of .494/.624/1.126 (1.750 OPS) over 32 games in which 60% of his hits were hit for extra bases and collected 14 stolen bases on 17 attempts (82% SB%). He also had a great defensive year. Coming into the draft, many evaluators had Waters with 55s and 60s when it came to his grades. Waters has a plus arm, along with plus speed and athleticism, which should allow him to be a plus defender in center. With two other big name prospects (Acuna, Pache) showing plus defense in center already, should Waters move to another position, it will likely be right field, where he should be an absolute defensive star.

Waters’ bat isn’t far behind is defensive prowess as his hit tool is graded right around 50 — not bad for an 18-year-old. He switch-hits, but shows more power from the left side, and if you’ve ever seen video of him before, his swing from the left side will remind you of another NL East right fielder whose name rhymes with Fryce Sharper.

If his hit tool remains league average and he shows no improvement, you are looking at a defensively gifted center-fielder with speed to burn and the occasional pop, especially from the left side. If he continues to develop, Waters could become another true five-tool center-fielder in an absolutely loaded organization.

Waterswas assigned to the Gulf Coast League where he is already wreaking havoc, with a 1.025 OPS through 11 games, including pairs of homers and stolen bases. Keep an eye out for him, as he could be a fast riser up the prospect rankings.

17. Max Fried – LHP

Coming in at number #17 is Max Fried who, coming into the season, was among the highest rated prospects in the Braves’ system. Drafted seventh overall in the 2012 Draft by the Padres, Fried was considered one of, if not the best, left-handed pitching prospects in baseball prior to his 2014 run-in with Tommy John Surgery. The Braves, who have a bit of a history of taking gambles on injured arms, were undeterred and happily snatched him up along with Dustin Peterson, Jace Peterson, and Mallex Smith in the trade that sent Justin Upton to San Diego before the 2015 season.

It is easy to see why the Braves liked Fried. When he is at his best, he has a plus curve with lots of break that he can throw for strikes and coax tons of swings and misses, a fastball that touched the upper 90s last year, and a changeup that plays well off his other offerings. 2016, in many ways, was a coming out party for Fried: he dominated for Rome down the stretch and through the playoffs, and was arguably the best pitcher in a loaded Rome rotation by season’s end.

Even this spring, Fried looked great, and the reports about him and his stuff were incredibly positive… so much so that folks were beginning to wonder if he was going to make it to the big leagues this season. Unfortunately, the 2017 regular season has not been nearly as kind. Fried’s velocity has been down, and his curve has not had the same break it did in 2016. There have been enough minor ailments, such as issues with his back and with blisters, that have caused him to miss time, that, in addition to the steps back with his stuff, that one has to wonder if he is completely healthy. The results have evidenced his regression: he has posted a 6.69 ERA and opposing batters are hitting .275 against him. It is worth noting that Fried’s FIP on the season is 4.33, which is in line with his career norms and implies that luck has also not been on his side.

It is hard to say what to expect of Fried going forward. He clearly does not look right stuff-wise, and lacks the same aggressiveness he showcased last season. It is possible that the promotion from Low-A to Double-A simply exposed some holes in his game and that he will just have to make adjustments. It is also possible that some lingering injuries are bothering him and once he is healthy, he will be ready to go again. However, based on what we are seeing from him this season, we are far less bullish on him than we were previously. Righties in particular are crushing Fried this season (.293 batting average against so far in 2017), and given how his stuff has backed off, it is easy to see why they are seeing the ball well against him. There is no need to lose all hope, but for now, we are going to temper our expectations.

16. Austin Riley – 3B

Austin Riley is a pretty fascinating prospect who, if he can reach his ceiling, could be …

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Tags: Dario Alvarez, Dustin Peterson, Jace Peterson, Justin Upton, Lucas Harrell, Mallex Smith, Mariners, Max Povse, MLB Draft, padres, Rangers, Rob Whalen, Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: 19-24, Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: 25-30, Talking Chop’s Midseason 2017 Top 30 Braves Prospects: Honorable Mentions, We covered Bryse Wilson recently in an article here at Talking Chop

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