Atlanta Braves 2017 Top 100 Prospects: #21-40

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 17: Starting pitcher Lucas Sims
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 17: Starting pitcher Lucas Sims /
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35. Corbin Clouse, LHP, Florida/Mississippi

Born: 6/26/1995
2017 Stats: 41 G, 57 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 34/72 BB/K
Info: Clouse is one of the most intriguing relievers in the system. A 27th round selection in 2016 out of Davenport University, he’s developed into one of the best left-handed arms in the entire system. Clouse has a dominant sinker/slider combination, though the sinker has so much movement that even Clouse admitted that sometimes he struggles to control it. He uses two different sliders, one with a looping break more like a curve, and one with a sharp, hard break. He’s mixed in a change that has made big strides, and he also offers a four-seam fastball, giving him a full repertoire, but Clouse is going to remain in the bullpen, not work in the rotation, meaning he has plenty of weapons to attack hitters from both sides.

34. Akeel Morris, RHP, Mississippi/Gwinnett/Atlanta

Born: 11/14/1992
2017 Stats: Minors – 36 G, 54 1/3 IP, 2.65 ERA, 25/62 BB/K; Majors – 8 G, 7 1/3 IP, 1.23 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4/9 BB/K
Info: Morris has arguably the best change up in the entire organization, but he can fall in love with it a bit, and he did get tagged a few times with Gwinnett when he pushed the pitch a bit too much and it lost its deception. Morris works with a fastball that can run to the upper 90s with a wicked change. He does have a long arm motion, which can lead to some times when he gets off timing by just a tick. However, he’s gotten much more consistent with his stuff since being acquired by the Braves in the summer of 2016. He should open 2018 in the big league bullpen.

33. Huascar Ynoa, RHP, Danville

Born: 5/28/1998
2017 Stats: 13 GS, 51 1/3 IP, 5.26 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 29/50 BB/K
Info: Ynoa was acquired in the Jaime Garcia trade with the Minnesota Twins this summer. Many thought due to his distance from the majors that he was a major risk type of a pickup, but on the contrary, Ynoa may be one of the rare Latin teens with a fairly high floor due to his high floor if he would move to the bullpen. The brother of former big-time signing bonus baby Michael Ynoa, Hector is less top-end stuff and more blend of pitches. Ynoa threw as many as 7 pitches when he was signed. The Twins had Ynoa cut back his repertoire to a fastball/change/curve. He threw a two-seam, four-seam, split, and cut fastball, along with a pair of curves and a change. While adding in the cut or his spike curve may not be something in the cards soon as he works to really solidify consistency in his delivery, Ynoa’s split, from those who have had the opportunity to see him throw it in side sessions, is a WICKED pitch. One former scout told me that Ynoa’s split is second only to Hector Neris in quality in split-finger fastballs that he’s seen in the last decade or so. That gives Ynoa a high floor if he is allowed to use the pitch, but the Braves will continue to focus on getting Ynoa comfortable and consistent in his delivery.

32. Freddy Tarnok, RHP, GCL

Born: 11/24/1998
2017 Stats: 9 GS, 14 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3/10 BB/K
Info: Tarnok was a two-way Florida high school player who was more of a threat at the plate coming into his junior season, when he sprouted multiple inches, reaching 6’3″-6’4″, and he started to fill in over the course of his senior year. His growth spurt seemed to all come in his arms and legs, giving him tremendous leverage, and also allowing him to generate premium velocity, bumping up against triple digits in exhibitions and reaching 97 in games. Tarnok is very raw as a pitcher, but he has an extremely high ceiling, and the Braves have the depth of pitching in the system to allow Tarnok to take his time through the system, though that likely will get many prospect lists and online prospect fans impatient with his progress because he’s unlikely to accelerate more than a level per season, and he may even repeat a level or two along the way. Tarnok showed surprising control and command in his work off the mound in his short stints in 2017. It would not surprise at all if Tarnok repeated GCL in 2018, and he’s a guy that is more of a 2022 MLB arrival as he’s allowed to truly develop slowly to maximize his ceiling.

31. Lucas Herbert, C, Rome

Born: 11/28/1996
2017 Stats: .243/.308/.368, 414 PA, 8 HR, 3 SB, 26/74 BB/K
Info: It’s not often that you’ll see me (or many others) wax poetic about a guy who sported a sub-.700 OPS in low-A ball in a repeat season at the level. However, Herbert is a whole different ball game. Herbert struggled in his defense in 2016, his absolute calling card, to such a level that he was being neglected in defensive replacements for Jonathan Morales. His hitting was such that some were worried that he could be a lost cause altogether. Instead, he came out in 2017, and while he didn’t look like a top-100 MLB prospect, he certainly improved his stock within the organization with a much better showing behind the plate, and everything at the plate was significantly better as well. Herbert showed much better zone recognition and pitch recognition, shortened up his swing when needed, and he exhibited tremendous growth at the plate year-over-year. Just for an idea of the level of growth Herbert had, if he would take the same level of step forward again in 2018, he’d likely be a top 50 prospect in all of baseball, hitting for power and average with a near-even BB/K ratio. Herbert will be a guy to track as he moves up to Florida this season, and continuing the growth he has shown could allow him to assert himself as the top pure catching prospect in the organization, as in he can excel defensively at the position and provide value with the bat.

Next: #26-30