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MLB's 'Most Impressive Prospect" of Spring for the Braves is a Surprising Choice

The Atlanta Braves have a pitching-heavy farm system, but MLB went a different way in a recent article

The Atlanta Braves have made quite the investment in pitching prospects over the last few drafts. 

One of the largest investments, in fact - they've devoted the highest percentage of the MLB Draft bonus pool to pitching of any team in baseball since 2018. And it makes sense, given that Max Fried and Charlie Morton are both free agents after this season...unless Fried signs an extension this spring. 

But despite that league-leading investment in pitching prospects over the last few years, Atlanta's "most impressive prospect" this spring has been...infielder Nacho Alvarez

That's according to reporter Brent Macguire, with an assist from Braves beat writer Mark Bowman.  

Writing a rundown of the 30 most impressive prospects in spring training, one for each team, Macguire and Bowman single out the Braves infielder for his work in Grapefruit League. 

Alvarez might not physically look like a middle infielder, but he has proven his big frame possesses sufficient mobility and flexibility. The Braves took him in the fifth round of the 2022 MLB Draft knowing he had great offensive potential.

Through Saturday's games, Alvarez is 4-15 with four runs, two RBIs, and four walks to seven strikeouts. He has one extra-base hit, a double, good for a slashline of .267/.421/.333. 

We put Alvarez 7th in our spring 2024 prospect rankings for the organization, mainly because of lingering defensive questions. He was a third baseman at Riverside City College prior to being selected in 2022, and players don't usually move to more challenging defensive positions in professional baseball, but rather less challenging ones. 

But the ability of Alvarez and/or 2023 3rd rounder Sabin Ceballos to show that they can stick at shortstop would bode well for the future of the position in Atlanta. Incumbent Orlando Arcia is signed through the 2025 season, with a club option for his age 31 season in 2026. Outside of Arcia, the only other shortstop of note in the system is international free agent Jose Perdomo, who signed this January at the age of 17 and won't even come stateside until the 2025 season.   

Adding to the need for one of the duo of Alvarez or Ceballos to stick at shortstop is that not only is incumbent Austin Riley signed through 2032 (with a club option for 2033), neither player profiles as a prototypical third baseman from a power perspective.