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The arrival of the offseason means that it's time to rank stuff. Already this winter, we've sized up the 60 best free agents, both on an overall and positional basis. There's no law that prevents us from ranking minor-league players in addition to their big-league counterparts. As such, we're going to spend the winter evaluating every team's farm system. 

The lack of a minor-league season makes that more of a challenge this year. It doesn't help that some teams opted against sharing video and data from their alternate-site camps with the rest of the league. As such, we've opted against overthinking this. Our rankings will essentially be the same as they were last winter with a few changes. First, we'll exclude anyone who graduated by exhausting their rookie eligibility; second, we'll replace them with draftees or other worthy prospects; and third, and lastly, we'll present the information in a new format.

In every article in this series, you'll find a team's top five prospects as well as five others we felt like including, either because of their promise or some other reason. For those top five prospects, you'll find a quick summation of their pros (their saving grace, if one will) and their cons (their fault line), as well as beefier report and our attempt to peg their "likeliest outcome."

These rankings were compiled by talking to industry folks -- scouts, analysts, and other evaluators -- and include a touch of our own evaluative biases. Remember, that this is more of an art than a science, and that the write-ups matter more than the rankings themselves.

Now, let's get on to the top five prospects in the Atlanta Braves system.

1. Cristian Pache, OF

Age (as of 4/1/2021): 22

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Acquired: International amateur free-agent signing (Dominican Republic)

Highest level: MLB

Saving grace: Defense

Fault line: Bat

Scouting report: Pache is a dynamic center fielder who should be making highlight reels and best-of lists with his wheels and his arm for the next half-decade, at minimum. He could grow into a good baserunner, too, provided he becomes more efficient as a thief. That combination ought to grant him a wide berth at the plate -- he might need it, too. Pache has a pull-happy approach and swings and misses a lot, to the extent that it could limit his batting average. To his credit, he has improved his walk rate, and he's had stretches where he's been able to tap into his raw power. Any kind of sustained offensive improvements would make him a star-caliber player. Shy of that, he's probably going to grow into the new Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Kiermaier.

Likeliest outcome: Gold Glove-winning center fielder

2. Ian Anderson, RHP

Age (as of 4/1/2021): 22

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 170 pounds

Acquired: Third pick in the 2016 draft (Shenendehowa High School, New York)

Highest level: MLB

Saving grace: Good stuff

Fault line: Control

Scouting report: Anderson has already achieved big-league success. In six starts, he averaged more than five innings while posting a 1.95 ERA and a 2.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Anderson seldom allowed hard contact, and he instead missed a lot of bats with a three-pitch mix: mid-90s fastball; high-grade change; and a low-spin curve. Anderson did throw fewer strikes than you'd like, but his ability to limit contact negates some of the ill effects of his walk rate. He should remain a key member of the Braves rotation, and ought to settle as a No. 2 or 3 starter.

Likeliest outcome: No. 2 or 3 starter

3. Drew Waters, OF

Age (as of 4/1/2021): 22

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds

Acquired: Second-round pick in the 2017 draft (Etowah High School, Georgia)

Highest level: Triple-A

Saving grace: Athleticism 

Fault line: K rate

Scouting report: As if the Braves needed another young outfielder …. Waters is a switch-hitter with a ton of physical gifts: he runs and throws well, and he has above-average power potential. Waters has seen his strikeout rate shoot up since reaching the upper minors, to the extent that he fanned in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances in 26 Triple-A games. That's too small a sample to get overly worked up about, but it is something worth monitoring -- especially since it could prevent him from reaching his upside as a well-rounded regular.

Likeliest outcome: Regular outfielder

4. Jared Shuster, LHP

Age (as of 4/1/2021): 22

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds

Acquired: No. 25 pick in the 2020 draft (Wake Forest)

Highest level: NCAA

Saving grace: Stuff

Fault line: Track record

Scouting report: Shuster improved his stock about as much as anyone over the year leading into the draft. He improved his control and velocity, permitting him to locate and to touch into the upper-90s. That's a big deal for a left-hander with a durable frame and a pair of solid to good secondary offerings, including a high-grade changeup. Provided Shuster's improvements sustain, he could be a quick-moving mid-rotation arm.

Likeliest outcome: Mid-rotation starter

5. Shea Langeliers, C

Age (as of 4/1/2021): 23

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 205 pounds

Acquired: Ninth pick in the 2019 draft (Baylor)

Highest level: A-ball

Saving grace: Defense

Fault line: Bat, probably

Scouting report: Langeliers' defensive skills all but guarantee him a big-league future. He profiles as a good receiver and he has a big-time arm that should help curb the running game. Langeliers has the chance to be more than a catch-and-throw guy, too. He has above-average raw strength and could well be an average hitter overall at maturation. Even if his bat fall shorts of that projection, his defense ought to allow him to carve out a role as a backup. 

Likeliest outcome: Regular backstop

Five others to know

The Braves had two first-round picks in 2019. They used the first one on Langeliers and then returned to the Texas college scene to pick Shewmake with the second. Shewmake is a tall, lefty-hitting infielder who might have average or better tools across the board and be starter-quality. At minimum, he should make for a useful utility type who can play all over.

  • Michael Harris, OF

Harris is a local product, having attended Stockbridge High School before being selected in the third round of the 2019 draft. (Stockbridge is about a 45-minute drive from Truist Park.) He's a switch-hitter with power and a strong arm who has an outside chance at sticking in center. There's a real chance Harris proves to be the Braves' latest draft-day steal.

Muller is a big lefty with a big fastball and big control issues. He walked more than five batters per nine innings in Double-A during the 2019 season. The upcoming season figures to be a pivotal one if he wants to avoid being moved to the bullpen. 

  • Bryce Elder, RHP

Atlanta went college-pitching-heavy in the 2020 draft, selecting three with the team's four picks. Elder was the final of those. He's a physical right-hander with just enough stuff and control to envision him pitching at the back of a rotation.

The Braves popped Ball in the 24th round of the 2019 draft. He rewarded them by hitting .329/.395/.628 with 17 homers in his first 62 professional games. It's to be seen if his hit tool will allow him to maintain a respectable average; his ability to walk and bop should give him a chance at a big-league future, and perhaps a notable one at that.