Braves Prospects on the Move
While there hasn’t been very much to root for at the major league level recently, it was an exciting week for a handful of the Atlanta Braves top prospects as four highly regarded players were given a chance to prove themselves at the next level in their development. Two pitchers and two outfielders will be moving up as RHP Patrick Weigel is going to Triple-A Gwinnett, LHP Luiz Gohara and OF Ronald Acuna are on the move to Double-A Mississippi, and OF Anfernee Seymour goes from Low-A Rome to High-A Florida.
Patrick Weigel was taken by the Braves in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. Despite being a standout in his collegiate days at the University of Houston, Weigel had some early struggles in rookie ball as a member of the Danville Braves. The struggles didn’t last long as he put together an absolutely dominant campaign through 21 starts at Low-A Rome before skipping High-A altogether to join the Double-A Mississippi Braves, where he continued his dominance. Commonly viewed as the most developed pitcher of the stacked 2016 Rome Braves rotation, Weigel made just seven starts in Mississippi this season, and 10 starts there overall, before making the jump to Triple-A. The 6’6 righty went 3-0 in Double-A this season with a 2.89 ERA, 9.16 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, 1.15 WHIP, 2.76 FIP, and an opponent average of .229. In other words, he absolutely dominated the Southern League.
The Mississippi Braves wouldn’t be starved for talent on the rubber for too long. Highly touted lefty Luiz Gohara has made the jump from the Florida Fire Frogs to the M-Braves. The Brazilian fire baller is in his 5th professional season, despite being just 20 years old, and is proving so far that slow and steady has paid off for him. The Braves received Gohara in a trade this offseason with the Seattle Mariners and so far, it is looking the Braves won this deal. He is having a similar season to Weigel, dominant, with a gaudy stat line while frustrating hitters in the highly competitive Florida State League. Gohara pitched 36.1 innings in his seven starts and went 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 9.66 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, 1.18 WHIP, 2.07 FIP, and a .243 average against.
Gohara is joined in Mississippi by one of the most hyped prospects coming into the 2017 season, Ronald Acuna. The 19 year old Venezuelan product was slashing .287/.336/.478 with 3 HR, 19 RBI, and 14 SB during his time as a Fire Frog, and he has gotten off to a hot start with the Double-A club. Acuna homered in his first two games as a member of the M-Braves and went 3/4 at the plate in both of those contests. He picked up two more hits last night to make it eight hits in his first four games. Once a player with a lot of mystery around him, all eyes have been on Acuna since he was compared to Andruw Jones this spring training. He has been living up to the lofty expectations so far.
The Fire Frogs lost their outstanding center fielder to promotion and were quickly granted a more than capable replacement. Anfernee Seymour played a full season in Low-A last year, but just 21 of his 125 games came in the Braves organization. In his first full season since his trade from Miami, the Braves decided it was best to start Seymour in Rome, especially with the stacked outfield at High-A. Now, with the promotion of Acuna, the speedy outfielder from the Bahamas has made the jump to a higher level of competition as a member of the Fire Frogs and it is safe to say, they are happy to have him. Seymour has eight hits through his first four games with one double, an RBI, and a stolen base. Seymour has a .667 BABIP and 33% strikeout rate, both of which will obviously move back towards the league average as the sample size grows, but it is an interesting start nonetheless.
It is no secret that the Braves have a loaded farm system and with the big club struggling, it seems the front office is ready to push some of the top guys to see how they handle the next level of competition. These promotions came in a wave and there is no reason to be surprised if we see more, especially as we approach the June draft.
Featured Image Courtesy of: David Conde/Legends on Deck