The Braves have a wealth of pitching depth. Those pitchers don’t really have anywhere to go either as there is an incredibly talented log jam. The starting rotation in Atlanta features Foltynewicz (27), Newcomb (25), Gausman (27), Teheran (27), and Toussaint (22). Their top pitching prospects are Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Luis Gohara, Bryse Wilson, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, and finally Kyle Muller. That is the order from MLB Pipeline. John Sickels released his Braves Top 20 last week and gave Muller a B grade. All those other guys have B’s or better including 2 A’s and 5 B+’s. Basically, there is a lot of talent ahead of him on the way to the majors and not a lot of space for him. So the Royals should sweep in and try to find a way to give him a shot at his major league dream pitching in Royal blue. Actually, you could say this about several other pitchers as well, including Joey Wentz who is from the KC area.
Muller was a 2016 2nd round pick out of Dallas Jesuit Prep in Dallas. Muller set a national record his senior year with 24 straight strikeouts across two different starts. He also recorded 36 consecutive outs by strikeout during his senior year. Both those feats are absolutely amazing.
Muller is a 6’6″ lefty who can bring it. In the Arizona League Fall Stars Game he hit 97 and worked in the mid-90s. He will probably work more around 93 to 94 in his starts. There is a little bit of arm side run on the fastball. He throws a curve that has more of a slurve action moving from 11 to 5 from the CF view. When he throws it well, it has a big break that dives down and in on RHHs. It’ll start above the zone and end up at one of the bottom quadrants. There is good shape to it. He also throws a change up that is average.
Muller has a little bit more of a three-quarters slot. It’s not extremely low, but he is comfortable a little lower than a lot of guys. From the stretch he uses a leg lift and a knee-to-knee delivery. He mixes them up to limit the running game.
Muller has thrown 215.0 innings so far in his minor league career. He spent most of 2018 in High-A but finished in AA for Mississippi. So far in his career he has a 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.66 H/9, 3.18 BB/9, and 9.04 K/9. The Braves took their time with Muller having him make 20 starts over two seasons in rookie ball. This year, he flew up to AA and should start there next season as well. For the Royals, he would be a great addition to Northwest Arkansas and they could let him take his time to make sure he is ready because he won’t be Rule 5 eligible until after the 2020 season.
The Braves have a solid core of young players and veterans who have star power and leadership. They should be a consistent contender in the NL East for the next several years and can start using these blocked pitchers as trade pieces. Muller is the guy I would target from Atlanta because he is blocked by better talent, has that big frame, is left-handed, and with his high velocity has a fall back option of a high-leverage pen guy. I don’t think he is ready for the big leagues, but there is plenty of time to allow his development and make sure he can refine the change up, curve, and fastball control before sending him to the big leagues. He would fit right into the group of Singer, Kowar, and Lynch.
Image from MILB.com and taken by Danny Parker.