Bill Shanks

Braves’ top 15 starting pitching prospects

Atlanta Braves minor league pitcher Kolby Allard.
Atlanta Braves minor league pitcher Kolby Allard. Rome Braves

With the 2016 minor league season now over, here is how the Braves’ starting pitching prospects are ranked heading into the offseason:

Age as of April 1, 2017

1– Max Fried – LHP – 23 years old – Fried could skip High-A and head to Double-A Mississippi. He is not far away. This could be the Braves’ version of Cole Hamels.

2 – Kolby Allard – LHP – 19 years old – Like Fried, the first high school pitcher in his draft and from he’s SoCal. Allard could finish next year in Double-A. Could come quickly.

3 – Sean Newcomb – LHP – 23 years old – A strong finish (2.30 ERA in last 11 starts, 71 K in 62.2 IP) is what the Braves needed to see. We’ll see him in Atlanta sometime next season.

4 – Touki Toussaint – RHP – 20 years old – A strong finish (1.49 ERA in last 7 games) has front office feeling Toussaint is ready to thrive. How good could Touki be in two years?

5 – Mike Soroka – RHP – 19 years old – How about a 2.30 ERA in his last 11 starts as a 19-year-old in Low-A? Soroka will head to High-A and Braves have no reason to rush him.

6 – Ian Anderson – RHP – 18 years old – Braves love how he did well in his first taste of pro ball. Anderson will likely head to Rome for high first full season. Another Adam Wainwright?

7 – Patrick Weigel – RHP – 22 years old – Weigel did even better in Double-A than he did in Low-A. He’ll likely head back to AA, but Weigel is now in the conversation. Hard thrower.

8 – Joey Wentz – LHP – 19 years old – No reason for Wentz to not go to Rome to start the 2017 season. He had 53 strikeouts in 44 innings after being drafted.

9 – Kyle Muller – LHP – 19 years old – The Braves will likely want to put Anderson, Wentz and Muller together in Rome. It will be a fun trio to watch. A steal for the Braves in draft.

10 – Ricardo Sanchez – LHP – 20 years old – Unlike the draft picks, Sanchez has experience (197.2 career innings) for his age. He’ll head to High-A to start 2017 but could finish in AA.

11 – Lucas Sims – RHP – 22 years old – Positive signs in AA this year (2.67 ERA), but Sims struggled in AAA (7.56 ERA) and must cut down his walks (92 BB in 141 IP).

12 – Max Povse – RHP – 23 years old – Broke out in 2016 and was better in AA than he was in High-A. Povse likely back to Mississippi to start next season. Great control (29 BB in 158 IP).

13 – Chris Ellis – RHP – 24 years old – Shows signs as a potential contributor but must be more consistent. After a great start in AA (2.75 ERA), Ellis struggled in AAA Gwinnett (6.52 ERA).

14 – Matt Withrow – RHP – 24 years old – Strong finish (1.59 ERA in last 7 games) puts him on the radar. Likely to start next season in Double-A Mississippi. Chris Withrow’s brother.

15 – Bryse Wilson – RHP – 19 years old – Don’t forget about Wilson, who could join the top three draft picks in Rome next season. Solid prospect.

Again, this is not the top overall prospect list, but just how the starting pitchers are ranked in Atlanta’s farm system. There is likely not another organization with this type of talent for starting pitching prospects. This is the key to Atlanta’s rebuilding process.

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on "Middle Georgia’s ESPN" – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at and email him at