Braves' Breakout Players, Most Disappointing to Start 2022 Season

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2022

Braves' Breakout Players, Most Disappointing to Start 2022 Season

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    The Atlanta Braves have not looked much like defending World Series champions this year, but as they continue to hover around the .500 mark, they are still more than capable of getting hot and playing their way into the NL East picture.

    Despite their less-than-stellar start, there have been a few notable breakout performers, specifically on the pitching side of things where Kyle Wright and Spencer Strider have emerged as key contributors in the starting rotation and bullpen, respectively.

    Meanwhile, the outfield remains in a state of flux even after Ronald Acuna Jr. returned from the injured list, and sorting out who will fill the other corner spot alongside Acuna and Adam Duvall stands as one of the biggest roster question marks.

    Ahead, we've taken a closer look at the biggest breakout players, as well as the most disappointing one, on the Braves roster through the first quarter of the 2022 season.

Under-the-Radar Breakout: RHP Spencer Strider

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    Armed with a 70-grade fastball that touches triple digits and a hard slider, Spencer Strider flew through the minor leagues last year to make his MLB debut down the stretch after going in the fourth round of the 2020 draft.

    Prior to his call-up, he posted a 3.64 ERA with an eye-popping 153 strikeouts in 94 innings over four minor league levels. He continued to turn heads and miss bats this spring and played his way onto the Opening Day roster as a multi-inning reliever.

    The 23-year-old made his presence felt immediately when he tossed two perfect innings on Opening Day, striking out five of the six batters he faced. In 10 appearances overall, he has a 2.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

    It remains to be seen if Strider will get a shot at the starting rotation at some point this year, but he's been an extremely valuable bullpen arm in the mold of what Michael Kopech was for the Chicago White Sox last season.

Biggest Disappointment: OF Eddie Rosario

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    Eddie Rosario was one of a handful of outfielders the Braves acquired at the deadline last year along with Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson, and he caught fire during the postseason to take home NLCS MVP honors.

    The Braves brought him back with a two-year, $18 million deal in free agency, hoping he could fill the void in right field until Ronald Acuna Jr. returned before sliding over to left field and splitting time with Marcell Ozuna when he's not DHing.

    Instead, the 30-year-old went a brutal 4-for-44 with 10 strikeouts to start the year before undergoing a procedure in late April to correct blurred vision that will sideline him for eight to 12 weeks.

    There's still plenty of time for Rosario to make good on his contract, especially if a vision issue was the root of his early struggles.

Biggest Breakout: RHP Kyle Wright

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    Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright was a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2017 draft before he was chosen with the No. 5 pick and given a massive $7 million signing bonus that eclipsed that of actual first pick Royce Lewis.

    Wright quickly developed into a top prospect, but he entered the 2022 season still trying to break through at the big league level after struggling to a 6.56 ERA in 70 innings scattered over the previous four years.

    Slotted in the No. 3 starter role to begin the year, the 26-year-old tossed six scoreless innings in his season debut, and he was looking very much like an NL Cy Young candidate through his first five starts with a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings of work.

    He was knocked around by the Boston Red Sox on May 10, allowing seven hits, four walks and six earned runs in 4.2 innings, but he has rebounded with two solid starts since and still sports a 2.49 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 47 innings on the year.

    Wright would be a prime candidate for Most Improved Player if that was an MLB award.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday's games.