After a while, the shine tends to fade on top prospects around the league. It happens all the time. Many would label a situation like this as prospect fatigue. According to TheDynastyGuru, this term is described as: “when a prospect has been in the public consciousness for so long that they appear to have lost some of their lusters when in reality they contain the same potential we initially assessed.” However, this might not always be the case as we know progression is not linear.
Over the years, there has been much anticipation for the potential impact that high-profile prospects could have on their Major League Rosters. Refer back to names such as Mike Olt, Kevin Maitan, Mark Appel, and Jon Singleton just to name a few.
This article is going to highlight one of the more recent cases in the game. This player was said to be a big-time difference-maker for their ballclub yet, whether be by injuries or lack of production, this has not been the case. In fact, he has yet to make their debut in the majors. Is there any hope left for him? What sort of production can we expect should be able to break out of the minors?
Will Fortune Favor this Atlanta Outfielder?
Once labeled as the top outfielder in the Atlanta system, by some publications, Drew Waters has not lived up to the high expectations that were placed on him when the organization took him with the 41st overall pick of the 2017 Amateur Draft.
Waters was progressing quickly through the Atlanta farm system once he became a part of the organization. He was able to make it up to AAA in 2019 as a 20-year-old. Many of the recent concerns surrounding him are valid. However, Waters has been able to hit at every level he’s been at from High School to AAA.
Most of his success is drawn from his ability to hit the ball hard, drive it to all fields, and produce high-quality exit velocities on all of his batted balls consistently. Waters has a knack for finding the barrel and possesses the ability to take advantage of power alleys in every ballpark he hits in.
Braves RF Drew Waters just unloaded on this pitch… monster HR to deep left center pic.twitter.com/kpkIouMqH7
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) March 18, 2022
The 40/60 hit grade given by Fangraphs is not something to scoff at. The one glaring issue with Waters is the climb in his strikeout rate as he has continued to climb throughout the system. To date, he is currently striking out at a 27.3% rate and is pairing it with a 4.8% walk rate.
His current slash line at AAA-Gwinnett is .250/.287/.398 with only three home runs and six other extra-base hits to go along with it. Water is currently sporting a 79 wRC+ to pair with an elevated BABIP of .329.
The past two seasons have had Atlanta begging for production from the outfield. Last season, they revamped the entire position at the deadline by acquiring Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, and World Series MVP Jorge Soler. If that did not tell you what the organization thinks of Waters at this point, I do not know what does. Cristian Pache was allotted an opportunity to make an impact at the big-league level solely because of his defensive ability.
Even currently, Atlanta lost Eddie Rosario early to his injury, Duvall has gone through his struggles, and Soler and Pederson are no longer in town. They even decided to promote their blue-chip outfield prospect Michael Harris II from Double-A instead of promoting Drew to the show.
Though they have not been eager to give him the call, they have been reluctant to involve him in any trade talks around the league. Are they hopeful that he can figure it out? This could be the case.
This organization does still have a gluttony of options in the outfield after mentioning Rosario and Duvall. Ronald Acuña Jr. looks to have picked up right where he left off before going down last June with a torn ACL. Marcell Ozuna is manning the DH spot for them in the lineup with his glove being a liability in the outfield. With only three spots in the outfield, what are they going to do going forward?
Braves No. 2 prospect Drew Waters with a home run as part of a 4-hit night!
The centerfielder is hitting .293 in Triple-A this season
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) June 8, 2022
The prospect status of Drew Waters has worn on the Atlanta fan base. Many are wondering whether they will even be able to see him don the home uniforms in Truist Park. With all that being said, Waters will get his chance to showcase his talent at the big-league level, and that could be as soon as this season. Will that be for Atlanta? Only Alex Anthopolus knows the answer to that question right now with the organization looking to sure up their roster for a chance to repeat this season. With all the cases of prospects flaming out, there are those stories of ones who have overcome the label and provided their teams with positive results.
"Welcome back, Drew Waters!"
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 3, 2022
Drew Waters is still only 23 years old. When he is given his opportunity, look for him to take full advantage and be an everyday contributor in this league for multiple seasons. It might not be the multiple-time All-Star hopeful but his ability to impact the baseball will translate over to the biggest stage soon enough.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire