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Braves Select AJ Smith-Shawver, Designate Lucas Luetge


The Braves announced that they have selected the contract of pitching prospect AJ Smith-Shawver and designated left-hander Lucas Luetge for assignment in a corresponding move.

Atlanta has shown in recent years that it the most aggressive club in the league when it comes to promoting prospects to the majors and this continues that trend. Smith-Shawver is only 20 years old and was just drafted in 2021, getting selected in the seventh round. He made his professional debut with four Complex League appearances that year and then jumped onto Baseball America’s list of the top 30 prospect in the organization, getting the #18 spot going into 2022.

He would get a lengthier exposure in 2022, making 17 starts in Single-A, posting a 5.11 ERA in 68 2/3 innings. While that earned run figure wasn’t especially impressive, there was some bad luck in there. His .338 batting average on balls in play and 59.5% strand rate were both on the unlucky side of normal, leading to a 3.53 FIP that was much kinder. He jumped to #1 on BA’s list of top prospects in the system, as they highlighted his four-seam fastball, which averaged 95 mph and had good movement. They also praised his slider and mentioned a work-in-progress changeup.

This year, he began the year in High-A but the club has shown little hesitation about bumping him up the ladder. He made just three starts at that level before getting bumped to Double-A for two and then Triple-A for two more. In those seven starts, he has a combined 1.09 ERA over 33 innings, striking out 35.2% of batters while walking 9.4%. He’s getting good luck this time around, with his BABIP down to .257 on the year and his strand rate up to 91.2%. However, his 2.43 FIP still points to excellent work even when taking that into account.

That performance this year has pushed up his prospect stock. Though he wasn’t really considered a top 100 guy coming into the year, he’s now up to #98 at Baseball America and JJ Cooper of BA tweets that he will likely be moving up even higher in their next update. He didn’t open the year in the top 100 at FanGraphs either but it now up to #86 there. Now he’ll get to make his big league debut at a very young age and with a very quick blast through the minors.

More to come.

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