Swanson, Weigel named Braves Prospects of the Year
Atlanta's top prospect hits .302 in first big league stint; No. 28 posts 2.47 ERA across two levels
By Mark Bowman
ATLANTA -- Unlike Dansby Swanson, Patrick Weigel remains a relatively obscure figure in the baseball world. But as Weigel spent this year progressing through his first full professional season, many Braves fans took notice and began to recognize him as one of the most intriguing pitchers in a farm system loaded with talented young arms.
Weigel will now be an even more recognizable figure as he was named pitcher of the year when MLBPipeline.com revealed the Braves' Prospects of the Year. Likely to nobody's surprise, Swanson was named the player of the year.
Swanson has been recognized as a special talent dating back to when the D-backs took him with the first overall selection in the 2015 Draft. The suburban Atlanta native was acquired by the Braves via a blockbuster trade in December 2015 and then progressed through his first full professional season enough to earn the thrill of making his Major League debut for his hometown team on Aug. 17.
"I can't wait to get to the ballpark to be around that kid (Swanson)," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. "It reminds me of how I felt with Rafael Furcal. These are talented guys who just bring so much passion and energy to the park every day. That's special."
Swanson earned a late-April promotion after he hit .333 with a .967 OPS in 21 games with Class A Advanced Carolina. As the 22-year-old shortstop batted .261 with a .745 OPS in 84 games for Double-A Mississippi, there were some concerns that he might be fatigued while experiencing the daily grind of pro ball for the first time.
But an energized Swanson endeared himself to Braves fans as he batted .302 with three home runs and a .803 OPS in 38 games with Atlanta. A few of his stellar defensive contributions conjured memories of Andrelton Simmons' time with the Braves. Because he finished this season with 129 at-bats, Swanson will enter 2017 with rookie status.
The Braves have been impressed with what they've seen from Weigel, whose hard-breaking curveball complements a fastball that sits at 94-95 mph and has been clocked as high as 99 mph.
Weigel posted a 4.53 ERA in the 14 starts he made for Rookie-level Danville after the Braves selected him in the seventh round of the 2015 Draft. Consequently, he did not enter this season with much hype. But the 22-year-old right-hander garnered attention as he produced a 2.51 ERA and recorded 135 strikeouts in 129 innings for Class A Rome.
After receiving a late season promotion to Double-A Mississippi, Weigel posted a 2.18 ERA and notched 17 strikeouts while issuing eight walks in 20 2/3 innings (three starts).
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.