The Stripers will begin the 2021 season with one of the more dynamic bats in the Braves’ system in Drew Waters.
We’ll be bringing you monthly reports on prospects, scouting reports, interviews, news, the Road to Atlanta podcast, and a midseason Top 30 prospects update this season. On behalf of myself, Wayne, Eric Cole, Gaurav Vedak, and Matt Powers, I have to say we’re excited to have baseball back, excited for the new season of content we’ll provide, and thankful to have the crew back together for another season.
With that said, lets take a look at our best guess at what Triple-A Gwinnett’s roster is going to look like. Gwinnett is probably going to have one of the more exciting rosters of talent, featuring a rotation deep in prospect talent and the top Braves prospect remaining in the minor leagues.
Meet our 2021 Opening Day roster!
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 4, 2021
Kyle Wright will head up the Stripers rotation in 2021, at least until he is needed at the major league level. While his career in Atlanta has been a mess Wright should be expected to be among the top performers in the league this season. The last time we saw Wright in Gwinnett, he was dominant in posting a 2.57 ERA over his final twelve starts in a very offense friendly environment while striking out 86 batters and only walking 22 in 73 ⅔ innings. He has a chance to right the ship and get some confidence back against minor league hitters.
Bryse Wilson is in a similar position to Wright in his career trajectory, but more likely to be called up at a moment’s notice to help in Atlanta. After bouncing back and forth between Atlanta and Gwinnett in 2019 he finally got an extended run in the minor leagues at the end of the season and over seven starts he had a 2.74 ERA with 39 strikeouts to 10 walks in 42 ⅔ innings of work. Exactly how much he’ll be used will depend on the Braves needs, but with the rotation seemingly getting healthier he may be afforded the opportunity to get consistent work.
Jasseel De La Cruz makes the trek up to Gwinnett to start the season. De La Cruz is supremely talented, but questions about his delivery, command, and third pitch make it questionable if he sticks in a starting rotation. He was fantastic in Low and High-A in 2019, but his peripherals regressed some in Double-A and he was more inconsistent.
Kyle Muller is the player Braves fans have been begging to see play, and he should start his season out in Gwinnett. He was terrific in Double-A in 2019 but had some minor injuries that season and then spent most of last year struggling and working through things at the alternate site hence why he was never given an opportunity with Atlanta’s beleaguered rotation. Muller will be interesting to watch to see how explosive his pitches are after the long lay off and to see if he can have enough command to stick as a starter.
Tucker Davidson will be another of the names that could be called to Atlanta this season as he has now been twice in his career. Davidson is going to be in an important season of his career as a fantastic performance could get him in talks for a rotation spot, but struggles could leave him with little in the way of a path to Atlanta. Tucker wasn’t amazing in Gwinnett in a short stint in 2019, with only a 14.6% strikeout rate and an 11% walk rate.
The bullpen in Gwinnett is likely to be a revolving door, and any of these guys that succeed may find themselves in an Uber on the way to Atlanta to help a struggling bullpen. Thomas Burrows may have a tough road to Atlanta as he has many other left handed pitchers in front of him, but he’s the best relief prospect on the team and could be a solid middle relief option going forward. After a really good start to his MLB career, Carl Edwards Jr. has struggled to find any footing in the last few years. He struggled with his control in spring but if he can figure something out, he could have a chance to pitch in Atlanta. Victor Arano is another on the 40 man roster who could find himself earning a job if he can get right in Gwinnett. Daysbel Hernandez is a name to watch here, as he seems to have made a big move up to Triple-A and has a track record of performance.
Drew Waters is a player to watch in the entire system this season and if he performs well, he could be an injury away from his major league debut. Regardless, he’s almost certain to get a shot in 2022 if the universal DH is around and he will come up in trade talks a lot if the Braves are competing come mid-season. Waters is an athletic freak who has tremendous bat speed and barrel control and plays with extremely high energy. The question will be harnessing that energy and staying patient at the plate as he struggled with a 36% strikeout rate in Triple-A in 2019 and has never been one to draw many walks.
The Braves have a few MLB veterans that will fill out their infield and outfield. The most notable is Orlando Arcia who the Braves traded for on April 6th. He’ll likely be the primary shortstop in Gwinnett until he is needed in Atlanta. Johan Camargo will spend time in Gwinnett and given his recent performance in Atlanta could use a chance to play consistently and get at bats. Terrance Gore provides outfield depth in the system and could play a serviceable role in Atlanta if they suffer another string of injuries.
William Contreras may also get some time in Gwinnett this season if Travis d’Arnaud comes back in time or if they decide he needs more seasoning and they make a trade for a catcher. For the moment, it looks like Jonathan Morales will highlight the catching unit at Gwinnett with Ryan Casteel and Carlos Martinez seeing time as well.