Get to Know a Prospect: Muller, Davidson, Yepez, Wilson, Severino

Braxton Davidson. (Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times)

The Braves farm system is incredibly deep right now, and even into the 20s there are significant, talented players. However, the prospects at this point either have some significant issues with their game that they will have to overcome, or their upside is not as high as the prospects in the previous installments of the series. That said, a lot of these prospects would be in the Top 10 prospects in other organizations. So, Let’s Get To Know A Prospect!

Kyle Muller. (Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News)

21. Kyle Muller, LHP

Age: 19
2016 Level: Gulf Coast League

0.65 ERA
1.88 FIP
10 G, 9 GS
27.2 IP
3.90 BB/9
12.36 K/9

The History: Muller was a 2nd-round pick for Atlanta in the 2016 draft out of Dallas Jesuit Prep, TX, another over-slot signing to grab a consensus top-25 talent. Muller pitched to a 0.46 ERA his senior year at high school, striking out 133 batters in 76 innings, including a national high school record 24 consecutive batters over a two-game stretch. His professional début was similarly successful, and he was named the #11 prospect in the Gulf Coast League by Baseball America.

The Report: Muller is very athletic and was one of the top high school power hitters his senior year, but scouts mostly agreed that Muller’s future would be on the mound. Muller’s fastball is a heavy sinker that runs 89-91, but can reach 94. Muller is 6’-6”, 225 pounds, and his fastball has gained velocity as his body has filled out. He has a curveball and change-up in various stages of development. The curveball is a little farther ahead, showing good snap. His change-up is underdeveloped, and will be the major focus of Braves attention. Muller does a good job of repeating his delivery and shows decent control already.

What’s Next: Muller will likely start next season in extended spring training, followed by an assignment to Danville. However, there’s some chance he may go straight to Rome if he continues to impress this spring.

Braxton Davidson. (Photo: Tom Miller/Carolina Mudcats)

22. Braxton Davidson, OF

Age: 20
Bats: L
2016 Level: A+ Carolina

.224/.344/.360
100 wRC+
10 HR, 4 SB
13.8 BB%
35.7 K%

The History: Davidson was the first round pick for Atlanta in the 2014 draft out of T.C. Roberson HS in Asheville, NC. Atlanta projected Davidson as a potential power bat with elite on-base skills. While Davidson played first base in high school, the Braves felt like Davidson was athletic enough to play a corner outfield spot. In his first professional season with the Gulf Coast and Danville Braves, Davidson showcased the on-base skills, with a combined .387 OBP. Promoted to Rome in 2015, Davidson continued to get on base despite a low .242 batting average with a league-leading 84 walks. The expected accompanying power didn’t quite manifest itself as expected, with Davidson only putting 10 over the fence. Promoted to class high-A Carolina for 2016 with a mandate to be more aggressive at the plate, Davidson struggled the first half of the season, hitting only .233/.333/.352 and only 3 HR. Most alarming was that his strikeout rate, already fairly high in 2015, ballooned to 32%. The second half of the season saw Davidson try to go back to his more patient approach and his on-base average climbed slightly; waiting on his pitches also helped him in the power category as he hit 7 homers after the All-Star break to bring his 2016 total back up to 10. However, his strikeout rate was still dangerously high.

The Report: Davidson’s swing is big and violent, but with a bat plane that doesn’t generate a lot of loft. When he connects, the ball is smoked, and when he’s seeing the ball well he can pepper the field with line-drives. However, this approach does make it more difficult for him to translate his plus raw power into over-the-fence power. At his best, Davidson is a patient hitter, and if he can have a +.375 OBP in the higher levels, it will be tough to argue against his inclusion in any line-up. It can feel at times that Davidson can be too passive, waiting for that perfect pitch to drive, but efforts to make him more aggressive at the plate this year did not improve his game at all. His long swing can make him vulnerable to the inside breaking ball. Defensively, Davidson has adapted to right field extremely well; he has a good first step to the ball and runs surprisingly well for his size. He has a strong and accurate arm and should rate as an above average fielding corner outfielder.

What’s Next: All the elements are in place for Davidson to be successful, but he hasn’t put it together yet. True power hitters sometimes develop a little more slowly, and Davidson is still very young compared to his competition; he still has yet to bat against a pitcher younger than him. I believe the Braves will keep Davidson at the high-A level to start 2017; it will be interesting to see how Davidson will do with a better projected line-up around him.

Juan Yepez. (Photo: Jeff Morris)

23. Juan Yepez, 1B/3B

Age: 19
Bats: R
2016 Level: A Rome

.261/.320/.348
95 wRC+
1 HR, 0 SB
7.0 BB%
23 K%

The History: Yepez was the Braves top international signee in 2014, garnering a bonus of about $1 million. Yepez was signed to play third base, but his size and poor defense had scouts and evaluators speculating that a move to first base would occur. Yepez started his professional career in 2015 with the Gulf Coast Braves, hitting .306/.402/.449 in a month’s worth of games. Yepez was promoted to Danville, and was forced to first base because of the presence of 2015 first round pick Austin Riley. Yepez continued to hit well, with a .291/.324/.466 line against more advanced competition. For 2016, the Braves elected to hold Yepez back in extended spring training rather than move him on to Rome. The idea was to create some space between Riley and Yepez so that both could play games at third, but the plan was put on hold when Rome experienced a rash of injuries to their first basemen. Yepez was promoted to Rome in May and started out well in 11 games before he succumbed to injury himself, and did not return until August. By that time Carlos Castro had established himself at first base and Riley was still manning third, so playing time was scarce for Yepez down the stretch.

The Report: Yepez is an advanced hitter for his age, with quick hands and wrists and a compact stroke that can turn on hard inside pitches. Yepez has shown a tendency to chase balls out of the zone, which has led to strikeout issues, but he was noticeably better in this aspect of his game in his short sample of games played this season. Defensively, Yepez is a work in progress at both third and first base. At third, his range is somewhat limited and his hands are not the best. At first he’s shown to be better, but is still learning the position. Yepez did some serious off-season conditioning between 2015 and 2016 and came to camp without a lot of the baby fat that seemed to be a problem in his first season. Unfortunately, because of the circumstances of his early call-up to Rome and subsequent injury, it can’t be determined if that would help with his third base defense. On the bases, Yepez is aggressive and surprisingly quick, always looking for the extra base or a pitcher that’s not paying attention to him, allowing him his fair share of stolen bases despite not having blazing speed.

What’s Next: Still very young, Yepez will likely return to Rome in 2017 and hopefully get his chance to either prove or play himself off third base. With his hitting skills, if he can stay at third base he could give the Braves yet another high-upside option at the position.

Bryse Wilson (Photo: Jeff Morris)

24. Bryse Wilson, RHP

Age: 19
2016 Level: Gulf Coast League

0.68 ERA
2.05 FIP
9 G, 6 GS
26.2 IP
2.70 BB/9
9.79 K/9

The History: Wilson was a 4th-round draft pick in 2016 out of Orange High School in Hillsborough, NC and was lured from a strong commitment to the Tar Heels with a $1.2 million signing bonus, well above slot. Wilson was a football player as well and has the body to prove it, listed at 6’-1”, 215 pounds. In his senior year of high school Wilson threw three no-hitters, including a perfect game. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Wilson’s innings were kept low, but he was impressive.

The Report: Wilson is mostly a fastball/change-up pitcher. Wilson can run the fastball up to around 97 mph, but usually sits 92-94 with good movement. His change-up is a strong weapon against left-handed batters, and both pitches can be thrown with good control. Due to long arm action, he does not get good spin on breaking balls, but his other stuff was good enough that it wasn’t a problem in high school or in the Gulf Coast League. The Braves will prioritize getting Wilson to throw a reliable breaking pitch; without a third pitch, his ceiling is probably as a reliever.

What’s Next: Wilson will likely stay in extended spring training when camp breaks and will be assigned to Danville in 2017, but there is a chance that a strong showing in spring training may see him assigned to class A Rome. The Braves will give him every opportunity to remain a starter.

Yunior Severino. (Photo: Jeff Jones)

25. Yunior Severino, SS

Age: 17
Bats: S
2016 Level: Instructional League

The History: Severino signed with the Braves out of the Dominican Republic in the 2016 signing period for a $1.9 million bonus. Severino was rated as the #8 prospect of the 2016 international signing class by Baseball America. Severino cemented his rating by playing well in international tournaments, and was 2-for-6 for the D.R. junior national team in their championship match with Canada in May.

The Report: Severino’s calling card is power from both sides of the plate. While only 5’-10” and 160 pounds at signing, Severino generates power with very good bat speed. Severino had a high leg kick and and a lot of moving parts to his swing as an amateur, and the Braves will likely work to try to simplify his mechanics. Unlike so many shortstops brought into the Atlanta organization recently, Severino isn’t particularly fast and won’t be a stolen base threat. That lack of speed hinders his range in the field, and many scouts believe he will end up moving to second or third, especially as his body fills out. He does have a good feel for the game, as well as a good arm and should be able to handle second or third base well.

What’s Next: Severino will likely start 2017 in the Gulf Coast League alongside fellow high-profile international signees like Kevin Maitan, Abrahan Gutierrez, and Yenci Peña. One of the things to watch in the early going will be the playing time mix at shortstop between Severino, Maitan, and Peña.

Outfield Fly Rule Prospect List:

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS
  3. Kolby Allard, LHP
  4. Mike Soroka, RHP
  5. Sean Newcomb, LHP
  6. Kevin Maitan, SS
  7. Touki Toussaint, RHP
  8. Max Fried, LHP
  9. Ian Anderson, RHP
  10. Ronald Acuña, OF
  11. Austin Riley, 3B
  12. Dustin Peterson, OF
  13. Rio Ruiz, 3B
  14. Patrick Weigel, RHP
  15. Alex Jackson, OF
  16. Travis Demeritte, 2B
  17. Cristian Pache, OF
  18. A.J. Minter, LHP
  19. Lucas Sims, RHP
  20. Joey Wentz, LHP
  21. Kyle Muller, LHP
  22. Braxton Davidson, OF
  23. Juan Yepez, 1B/3B
  24. Bryse Wilson, RHP
  25. Yunior Severino, SS
About Andy Harris 89 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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