Atlanta Braves Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, and Busts
Discover a sleeper, breakout, and bust from the Atlanta Braves for dynasty fantasy baseball both on the MLB and prospect side.
With dynasty season ramping up, I figured it was time to talk about some sleepers, breakouts, and busts for each team. You can find my rankings and reports to see how I value players for your dynasty leagues, but I also feel like it’s helpful to truly identify whether I believe a player can be a breakout or not. Here is where I call my shots on players I think require a call to action in dynasty, whether it be to buy or sell that player.
Enough rambling, lets talk some players.
Atlanta Braves Dynasty Sleepers, Breakouts, Busts
MLB Sleeper: Sean Murphy, C
Murphy had two drastically different halves of the 2023 season, which largely represent his time healthy and injured. Murphy slashed .306/.400/.599 in the first half with 17 home runs across 270 plate appearances. But after dealing with a hamstring injury and even a concussion, Murphy's numbers fell to just .159/.310/.275 with four home runs in the second half.
The statcast data was elite across the board, and Murphy posted a 16.1 percent barrel rate while chasing at just 23 percent of pitches out of the zone. Murphy hits the ball at ideal angles and hits it hard, which is always a recipe for success.
Many are concerned about Murphy’s playing time split with Travis d’Arnuad, but even having just 438 plate appearances last year and playing through injury, Murphy still finished as C9 for 2023. In 2022, he played 148 games and accumulated 612 plate appearances. The Braves want Murphy’s glove behind the dish and signed him to a 6-year/$73 million extension for a reason.
If someone in your dynasty is willing to sell Murphy based on his down second half or concerned playing time, buy. Five hundred plate appearances seem like a reasonable expectation with the potential to be a top-five catcher.
MLB Breakout: Jarred Kelenic, OF
Kelenic was traded to the Braves this offseason with a chance for a fresh start. After being deemed the top prospect in baseball and the savior of the Mariners, Kelenic struggled in his debut in 2021 and dropped off even more in 2022. Between those two seasons, Kelenic posted a .168/.251/.338 slash with 21 home runs across 147 games.
Meanwhile, Kelenic’s 2022 Triple-A stint was legit, with 18 home runs and a .295/.365/.557 slash with 18 home runs in 86 games. The “Quad-A” label was thrown on the 22-year-old pretty quickly.
Then, in 2023, things seemed like they were coming together, as he had ten home runs and six stolen bases through his first 180 plate appearances with a slash of .297/.350/.564. It came with a 29 percent strikeout rate, but Kelenic had a 91.5 mph average exit velocity and a 50 percent hard-hit rate.
After some struggles in June, Kelenic fractured his foot kicking a water cooler in the dugout caused him to miss nearly two months.
The tools are there for success; Kelenic just has to keep his head on straight and has the opportunity to do so in an elite Braves lineup without the pressure of being the guy. The buying opportunity is there in dynasty leagues, and it is fully possible we will see the 24-year-old breakout and have a 20/20 season in 2024.
MLB Bust: Marcell Ozuna, UT
Ozuna’s career has been quite a rollercoaster, both on and off the field. 2023 felt like one of the peaks as Ozuna hit 40 home runs, the first time over 30 since 2017, and posted a .274/.346/.558 slash. It was also the first time he spent an entire season as a designated hitter, which likely benefited him in several ways.
Ozuna saw his average exit velocity jump over two mph to 91.8 mph, his highest mark since the shortened 2020 season. He also posted one of baseball's best barrel rates at 16.6 percent. Everything under the hood looks great, so what’s the issue?
Well, Ozuna is entering his age 33 season, which also happens to be a contract year. It seems highly unlikely we will see Ozuna reach 40 home runs, and hopefully, he can hit 30, something he has only done twice in his career. The batting batting average and OBP will likely take a dip closer to his career averages and it feels like a prime time to cash out if you can.
Ozuna may not be a bust per se, but in a stacked Atlanta lineup, he is the clear sell him in dynasty leagues.
Prospect Sleeper: Jhancarlos Lara, RHP
Lara was a major pop-up in the Braves system in 2023, and his stock skyrocketed, at least in my book. Over Lara’s final ten starts of the season between Single-A and High-A, he posted a 3.02 ERA over 47.2 innings with an insane 71 strikeouts.
Armed with an athletic 6’3” frame and fast arm speed, Lara pumps his fastball up in the zone, consistently sitting 95-98 mph with nice carry. His slider sits in the upper-80s but can get up to 91 mph with a ton of sweeping action. The changeup gets nice fading action and late bite, sitting 88-90.
The command and control seemingly improved throughout the year, and his walk rate trended in the right direction. Lara is likely to start next year in High-A, but the move to Double-A Mississippi will be telling about his future outlook.
It seems like many have not caught up to the hype of Lara, and it is a great time to buy in. He is one of my favorite prospects to acquire in dynasty leagues.
Prospect Breakout: Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP
Schwellenbach was a two-way player out of Nebraska who had Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss all of 2021 and 2022. The Braves decided they liked the stuff on the mound and decided to develop him there. With a highly athletic delivery, Schwellenbach can pump a fastball consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s, touching 99. The changeup shows a strong arm-side fade while sitting 85-87 mph. Schwellenbach also used a nice downer curve that showed very good vertical movement and will even mix in a few cutters.
Schwellenbach has strong command, which helps his case to be a starting pitcher long-term. He walked just six percent of hitters in 2023 while striking out 22 percent of batters faced. You would like to see the strikeouts tick up. But you can’t argue with the results this year after injury.
A healthy 2024 that sees Schwellenbach throw 100 or more innings could be the catalyst he needs to vault up the rankings in this system. The arsenal is there for more strikeouts, and the command is strong of all his pitches. Im investing in Schwellenbach in deeper dynasty leagues in 2024.
If you have not already, be sure to check out my Braves Top 30 Prospects for 2024, as well as my dynasty and prospect rankings.