The Braves entered Spring Training with one spot open in their rotation and numerous youngsters battling to fill it. With Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman primed to open the year on the IL (as is Mike Soroka) suddenly there are three available spots (though it will quickly turn to two, with Gausman only expected to miss one start). Lucky for Atlanta they are loaded with options and it’ll be Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright and Max Fried stepping in and filling the holes. While none of them may be long-term solutions for 2019, could they provide value short-term? Let’s take a quick look:
2019 Spring Stats – 13.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 13 K, 2 BB
Wilson had often been overshadowed by the slew of pitching prospects in Atlanta’s system, but he’s quickly gained attention of his own. He made it impossible to ignore him last season, going from High-A all the way to the Majors (7.1 IP) and impressing along the way. Over 125.2 IP in the minors he posted a 3.44 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, showing off the skills we look for from any pitcher (10.24 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, 46.8% groundball rate). It all sounds good, but as he reached the upper levels of the minor leagues he saw his groundballs drop:
- Double-A – 44.0%
- Triple-A – 44.6%
He also saw his control take a step backwards (3.04 BB/9), and while it’s still solid if he can’t rediscover either (or both) of those there could be some struggles. Being listed at 6’1” there were already questions about his ability to start, and the control is going to be the true key to his success. Can he get back to the elite levels? That remains to be seen, but he’ll need to in order to thrive.
2019 Spring Stats – 12.2 IP, 7.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 18 K, 4 BB
It’s been a quick rise for the man selected fifth overall in 2017. It’s actually been a rough spring overall, and he’s given up 10 ER over his last 7.2 IP. In that regard it’s a bit of a surprise that he was handed a rotation spot, and a poor first time out could lead to him being the first one sent back to the minors for further development.
It’s not to say that he can’t do it, as he’s considered the best prospect of the three to be named to the Atlanta rotation (and we had him ranked as the team’s second best prospect, which you can see by clicking here). He showed a strong groundball rate, with a 53.7% mark between Double and Triple-A last season, and an 11.8% SwStr% shows more upside in his 8.67 K/9. Throw in solid, yet unspectacular, control (3.33 BB/9) and the total package is there.
He has the highest ceiling, but also the least experience and the rough spring numbers. Long-term he likely makes the biggest impact, but for the early part of ’19 it’s hard to bank on.
2019 Spring Stats – 15.1 IP, 2.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 16 K, 5 BB
There was a time when Fried was considered a highly touted prospect, but injuries have helped to take a little of the shine away (he missed all of 2015). He also has consistently shown lackluster control, regardless of the level, including a 4.83 BB/9 over 59.2 IP in the Majors the past two seasons. That’s going to hold him back, though it’s hard to argue against the strikeouts (9.96 K/9) and groundball (58.6%) stuff.
In 66.1 IP at Triple-A last season he posted a 9.63 K/9 and 56.9% groundball rate, showing the marks aren’t necessarily the function of spending time in the bullpen (especially when you add in his 11.7% SwStr% at Triple-A). It all comes down to his ability to consistently throw strikes, something he’s never proven capable of. That said would it be a surprise if he was the most impressive of the three, at least early in ’19?
Long-term he’s not the best solution, but given his spring production and the general upside, he’d be our top choice if you are targeting one of the three early on this season (though he also may be the riskiest, being names the fifth starter and not guaranteed a turn through the rotation).
Waiver Wire Priority (Short-Term):
- Max Fried
- Bryse Wilson
- Kyle Wright
Waiver Wire Priority (Long-Term):
- Kyle Wright
- Bryse Wilson
- Max Fried
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com