Outlook from previous outlook:
Two years ago, Drew Waters was considered one of the most promising prospects in all of baseball. He won the Southern League MVP title just 20 after hitting 0.319 with 49 more hits for the Mississippi Braves. The Woodstock native was seen as a five-tool athletic prospect who would eventually grow into his body, giving him more power. Waters exceeded all expectations, even for a much-touted second-round pick, but the hype has come to a screeching halt since then.
In fairness to Waters, this is not all his fault. No minor league games were played in 2020, causing him to miss an entire year of development. Who knows how much this has affected every player, but I think we’ll see plenty of prospects bounce back from sluggish years in 2021 as they continue to put their feet under them. Regardless, the issues Waters may have hidden in AA became much more apparent with his promotion to AAA.
Waters has always been a free trader, which has resulted in many strikeouts and low walk rates. Due to his natural ability with the stick, it didn’t affect his results in Mississippi. That wasn’t the case with the Stripers, as he managed to hit just 0.240 with an OPS of 0.711, striking out 142 strikeouts in just 103 games. If there is a silver lining, Waters has shown an increased willingness to take free passes, but despite everything, his high K-rate has many Scouts feeling a lot more bearish on Waters than ever before, and that has also caused many to rethink its position. within the organization of the Braves.
Atlanta has seen many of its top prospects graduate in recent years, but if there are two areas they stay very strong in, they’re in the outfield and on the mound. Michael Harris is the fastest growing prospect in the organization; Jesse Franklin is another name to watch at lower levels, and of course Cristian Pache is still highly regarded among many prospect circles. Trey Harris and Greyson Jenista are also some prospects who could potentially contribute at the major league level. With Ronald Acuña and Marcell Ozuna locked away for the foreseeable future, some of these players will need to be moved, assuming they don’t go extinct.
Like most people, I expect the Braves to be involved in the trading market after the lockdown is over. We’ve seen them take an interest in the Bryan Reynolds Pirates before, and I also think they might step up for another frontline starter. Naturally, Waters will be a popular starting point in potential negotiations, and I wouldn’t be against moving it in a win-now movement. That being said, no low value offer can be accepted.
He’s still a 22-year-old with a lot of potential. Despite his struggles at Gwinnett, he was very young for the AAA level. I have no doubt that he will make substantial progress in his second season with the Stripers. Waters has only combed through everything so far, and I expect its 2022 numbers to look a lot more like Mississippi’s.