Braves make flurry of minor-league promotions

Credit: Darron Cummings

Credit: Darron Cummings

The Braves made a series of promotions Monday, including adding their top three prospects to Triple-A Gwinnett’s roster.

Outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, along with pitchers Ian Anderson and Tucker Davidson, were promoted from Double-A Mississippi. Baseball America ranks Pache the franchise’s No. 1 prospect, with Anderson and Waters following.

Already winning with a crop of youngsters, the Braves will likely add the aforementioned four in the next calendar year. Davidson and Anderson are potential September promotions.

Pache is regarded as arguably the best defensive outfielder in the minors. His bat has progressed, with the 20-year-old hitting .278 with an .815 OPS. His 11 homers, 28 doubles and eight triples are career highs.

The defense projects as elite, meaning Pache’s offense will determine just how good he can become. Pache was off-limits in trade talks and the Braves believe he could contribute in the bigs as early as opening day 2020.

Waters, 20, has ascended through the system since the Braves selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft. The switch-hitter has had a tremendous offensive season, hitting .319/.366/.481 with five homers, 35 doubles and 41 RBIs over 108 games in Mississippi.

For those envisioning an outfield of Ronald Acuna, Pache and Waters at SunTrust Park, Monday was another step in that direction.

To some, Anderson is the most promising of all the Braves’ young starters. The 21-year-old has a 2.68 ERA with a 147:47 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21 starts. He’s held opponents to a .202 average.

Taken third overall in 2016, Anderson is a strikeout artist who boasts frontline starter potential. He has a curveball and changeup to complement a fastball that can touch 96 mph.

Davidson was a 19th round pick in 2016. The lefty has a fastball sitting low-to-mid 90s and three off-speed pitches, including a curveball that could make or break him as a starter. He’s in the midst of a breakout season but honing his command will determine the 23-year-old’s potential.

He averages over 10 strikeouts per nine with a 51 percent ground-ball rate. Davidson owned a 2.03 ERA with 122 strikeouts against 45 walks over his 110 2/3 innings in Mississippi (21 starts). He’s a candidate to join the major-league bullpen next month.