Arizona Braves 2022 Fall League Preview
In 2019, Justyn-Henry Malloy was part of the Vanderbilt’s College World Series championship team. The freshman played sparingly, collecting just 15 at bats. Aged just 24 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he had a choice to make. He loved the Vandy community and the program, but he wanted the chance to play regularly.
Georgia Tech gave Malloy that opportunity, and his .994 OPS after his transfer led the Braves to take him to the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Although it wasn’t easy, it was the right choice. to do for him.
“It was so tough,” said Malloy, who plays for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. “The relationships I created at Vanderbilt that I still have today…I see Stephen Scott [A Red Sox catcher who also went to Vandy] there and we can get together.
“But it was so difficult, especially after winning a national championship in 2019. But having this conversation with [Vandy coach Tim Corbin], it made it very comfortable for me. He said, “Make it a business decision.” And that kind of helped the process, emotionally too. And it ended up working really well. »
So did Malloy’s first full season of pro ball. The Braves prospect No. 11 started the year with High-A Rome, went to Double-A Mississippi and ended in Triple-A Gwinnett, ending the year with a slant line of .289/.408/.454 to accompany 17 circuits and 97 steps. Malloy is confident in his abilities, but he’d be lying if he thought he was playing three tiers so soon.
“I feel like it would be doing me a bit of a disservice to say I was surprised. But at the same time, I was,” Malloy said. “I really wanted to be where my feet were, start the season in Rome and play there. I was so excited that I could just go to Mississippi and play Double-A. And then I learned that Triple-A was the next step. I try not to having a lot of stock in there; it’s just baseball at the end of the day. But I was really surprised. But a lot of preparation and work went into it.
As Malloy continues to work on his offensive game in the Fall League – he takes great pride in his exceptional discipline at the plate but admits he can be a little too patient at times – he is also focusing on defensive conversion to the outfield. which started when he came to Mississippi. It’s a change that takes time to adapt to, but just like his move from Vanderbilt to Georgia Tech, he embraces it.
“I learned in High-A just before I left for Double-A that we were going to move and I was going to go to the grass,” Malloy said. “And to be completely honest, I was so excited about it. It just took a lot of weight off my shoulders. [so I could] really only care about the stick and hits.
“It’s still a learning curve…but I’m enjoying the learning curve. Especially going up Triple-A, learning from the guys up there – even the Double-A guys, everyone – just learning and trying to be as much of a sponge as possible.
Brave Hitters in the Fall League
Cal Conley, SS (No. 12): Conley is a player who has surprising pop and excellent speed that allowed him to hit 16 home runs and steal 36 bases through Single-A and High-A in his first full season in 2022. He was kinda happy at first also trying hard to achieve that power, and is working this fall to get back to his game of driving the ball into spaces and using his speed.
Cade Bunnell, INF: The Braves got Bunnell in round 40, the final round of the 2019 draft. He made his way from High-A to Double-A and actually swung the bat a level much better. He profiles himself as a utility type, one who has played every position on the pitch.
Braves Pitchers in the Fall League
William Woods, RHP (No. 25): Woods is back in the Fall League for the second year in a row. He has again missed a lot of time this season, this time with an ankle injury, although he made his league debut as he continues to get used to working as a full-time reliever.
Alex Segal, LHP: A 22nd-round pick in the 2019 Draft from Wichita State, Segal is in Arizona to make up for lost innings after missing the first two months of the Minor League season. He may miss bats with his fastball-slider combination, but he needs to keep working on his command, which has eluded him in the first two weeks of the AFL.
Austin Smith, RHP: The Braves knocked Smith out of Arizona in Round 18 of the 2021 draft and he spent his entire first full season with High-A Rome, where he saved 13 games and struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings. It’s a fastball-slider lifter that can run its radiator up to 98 mph.
Allan Winans, RHP: Originally a 17th round Mets, the Braves nabbed Winans in last year’s Minor League stage Rule 5 Project. He reached Triple-A but missed two months of the season with injury, so he’s making up for lost innings.
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