Braves Top Prospect Has Shot At 5th Starter After Incumbents Demoted

Despite a very impressive nine-start trial in the big leagues last season, including a complete-game shutout in September, a very rough spring has forced youngster Bryce Elder to start his 2023 season back in Triple-A. 

And this leaves the Braves' top prospect, Jared Shuster, unexpectedly battling for the 5the starter's role to open the season. The other favored candidate coming to camp, Ian Anderson, was also demoted. 

Shuster will still have to battle another top-10 prospect Dylan Dodd for the open rotation spot, as both have had superb showings in camp thus far. 

The 24-year-old Shuster posted a 3.29 ERA last year across Double-A and Triple-A, with a 145:38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. This spring, he's tossed 8 2/3 innings, surrendering just one run while striking out nine. 

Dodd, the Braves' No. 10 prospect, has recorded 11 strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings, allowing just five hits. Also 24, Dodd spent most of his year at High-A in 2022, but progressed quickly to AA and AAA. His progression to this point is unexpected, as Braves manager Brian Snitker actually had no idea who he was at the beginning of camp. 

“I saw him on the backfield and I was like, ‘Who is this Dodd guy?’” Snitker said.

It's worth noting, however, that as the season progresses, any of these four pitchers, plus former top prospect Michael Soroka, returning from years of injuries, could easily emerge as the 5th starter. 

 Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports