The Braves won their second straight National League East title in 2019 with help from homegrown players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka and Freddie Freeman. The next wave isn't far behind.Atlanta extended non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training to No. 23 overall prospectDrew Waters, No. 31
The Braves won their second straight National League East title in 2019 with help from homegrown players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka and Freddie Freeman. The next wave isn't far behind.
Atlanta extended non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training to No. 23 overall prospectDrew Waters, No. 31 Ian Anderson and No. 63 Shea Langeliers, the organization announced Wednesday.
Waters showed impressive offensive skills in his second full season in 2019, climbing to Triple-A Gwinnett before his 21st birthday. The switch-hitting outfielder hit .309/.360/.459 with seven homers, nine triples, 40 doubles and 16 stolen bases over 134 games between Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi. His 163 combined hits ranked second in the Minors while his 40 doubles tied for third.
A second-round pick in 2017, Waters has climbed up prospect boards by showing a plus run tool as well as the promising bat and 60-grade glove and arm tools. Those latter skills make him capable of playing center, but most of his time was spent in the corners in 2019 due to the presence of teammate and top Braves prospect Cristian Pache. The recent Major League signing of Marcell Ozuna to play the outfield should allow Waters and Pache to spend more time developing in the upper Minors.
Anderson continued to build on a promising career that started as the third overall pick in the 2016 Draft. The 21-year-old right-hander tied for fourth among all Minor League pitchers with 172 strikeouts over 135 2/3 innings between Mississippi and Gwinnett last season. He also posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in his 26 starts.
Anderson throws his fastball in the low-to-mid-90s while his curveball and changeup also earn above-average grades. His control and command can be inconsistent, but the overall package points toward a future in the middle of a Major League rotation.
Langeliers will head to Major League camp in his first Spring Training. The former Baylor catcher was selected ninth overall last June and signed with the Braves for $3,997,500. He was assigned directly to Class A Rome and batted .255/.310/.343 with two homers during a 54-game stint in the South Atlantic League.
Langeliers' defensive abilities behind the plate are much more advanced than his offensive ones. His arm is rated plus-plus, and he showed why with a 41.0 percent caught-stealing rate for Rome. In a recent update, MLB.com ranked the 22-year-old as its No. 6 catching prospect.
The other ranked Braves prospects to receive non-roster invitations Wednesday were No. 7 Kyle Muller, No. 9 Braden Shewmake, No. 11 Greyson Jenista, No. 16 Thomas Burrows and No. 18 Trey Harris. The other Minor Leaguers to get the same news were right-handers Félix Hernández, Kurt Hoekstra, Connor Johnstone and Ben Rowen; left-handers Chris Nunn and Chris Rusin; catchers Carlos Martínez and Jonathan Morales; infielders Bryce Ball, Charlie Culberson, Sean Kazmar Jr., Pete Kozma, Jack Lopez, Peter O'Brien, Yangervis Solarte and Riley Unroe and outfielders Rafael Ortega and Shane Robinson.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.