Outfield prospect Drew Waters could soon join them, but he didn’t make this list because there isn’t a clear path to playing time for him, assuming the Braves add another outfielder and want Waters to further develop in Triple-A. Nonetheless, Waters could make his MLB debut this season.
Braves catcher William Contreras gets lose while preparing to play in the Future Stars Exhibition Game on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Atlanta. (Curtis Comptonemail@example.com)
Catcher William Contreras: Travis d’Arnaud will handle the bulk of catching duties for the Braves, but his backup hasn’t yet been determined. Veteran Tyler Flowers is a free agent, and if the Braves want him back, they likely could re-sign the Roswell native to a short-term deal. But they also could bet on the unknown and make Contreras the primary backup.
Contreras, 23, joined Pache in making his long-awaited MLB debut last season. Manager Brian Snitker and teammates raved about Contreras’ maturity and athletic profile. He went 4-for-10 with a double and an RBI in four regular-season games. Contreras hadn’t played a game above Double-A before making his debut, so perhaps the Braves are more inclined to let him play regularly in Triple-A.
Shea Langeliers, the Braves’ first-round pick in 2019, is another young catcher on the horizon. A Langeliers-Contreras combo might be the Braves’ future at the position. Whether Contreras is part of their present is yet to be determined, but there’s logic in rolling with the youngster behind d’Arnaud – who’s a free agent following the season – and seeing how it goes.
Atlanta Braves' rookie starting pitcher Tucker Davidson, makes his major league debut against the Boston Red Sox Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (John Bazemore/AP)
Left-hander Tucker Davidson: Because we’re limiting ourselves to three prospects for this exercise, it’s safest to pick Davidson of the remaining candidates. He debuted in the 2020 regular-season finale and is well-positioned to see more innings in 2021 as a starter and reliever.
Davidson, 24, broke out in 2019 when he had a 2.15 ERA in 25 games across Double-A and Triple-A. Despite the Braves’ rotation woes throughout the shortened 2020 season, they opted against promoting him, instead letting Davidson develop at the alternate training site. They rewarded him with his first start in the regular-season finale, when he recorded only five outs and allowed seven runs (two earned).
The Braves’ rotation is set when healthy: Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly. They also have Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson as capable starting options. But Davidson will have opportunities, be it in the rotation or bullpen, to establish himself as a major-league contributor.
Other prospects to watch:
OF Drew Waters
C Shea Langeliers
LHP Kyle Muller
INF Braden Shewmake
RHP Jasseel De La Cruz
RHP Patrick Weigel
LHP Jared Shuster