left-handed Justus Sheffield found a new organization, as the top lead previously signed a minor league deal with the Braves, according to the transaction tracker on his website MLB.com profile page.
Sheffield, who will celebrate his 27th birthday tomorrow, was the 31st overall pick in the 2014 draft, picked by Cleveland in the first round. Sheffield has long been one of the mainstays on the top 100 list of potential clients as he rose through the teen years, appearing on American Baseball’s top 100 list in early 2016. before climbing to 27th place on the pre-season 2019 standings. In addition to his promising pedigree, Sheffield was a leader in many important deals: the Yankees bought him in a deadline trade. 2016 sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland before sending him to Seattle in the bring-in deal James Paxton to the Bronx ahead of the 2019 campaign.
Unfortunately for both the Sheffield and the Mariners, the dream of Sheffield rotating to the next competitive team in Seattle never came to fruition. Sheffield has struggled badly in the 2019 season, posting a 5.50 ERA with a 4.71 FIP in his first 36 innings with the new club. Although he would have enjoyed much success in the 2020 season due to the shortened pandemic, with a solid 3.58 ERA and a stellar 3.17 FIP in ten starts, he was unable to continue his success. that progress to the 2021 season. In 92 innings between 2021 and 2022, Sheffield struggled to achieve a 6.46 ERA, 37% below the league average as measured by ERA+. .
Those struggles led the Mariners to right Sheffield into Triple-A during the season. Unfortunately, Sheffield’s struggles deepened even further in the early stages of the 2023 campaign. In 10 games against Seattle’s Triple-A branch in Tacoma, the left-hander surrendered. 17 runs in just 8 and a half innings while walking more hitters (11) than he hit (4). That resulted in the Mariners removing their former top lead at the end of April, release him to pursue opportunities in another organization.
Two weeks later, Sheffield found a home in the Braves. Atlanta has seen its rotation marred by injuries in recent days, with both lefties maximum frying and right-handed Kyle Wright is expected to miss significant time due to injury. That said, Sheffield numbers below Michael Soroka, Dylan DoddAnd Jared Shuster at least on the organizational depth chart, and has been active mostly outside of the bullpen in recent years.
While Sheffield can’t seem to provide the depth of rotation useful for the Braves to be able to solve their current conundrum at major league level, a minor league deal for a player has a huge impact. Sheffield’s prospects are rarely a bad decision, given the lack of risk involved in such a deal and the huge potential that Sheffield has shown at a young age. While it would be surprising to see Sheffield recover to the heights he was expected to reach as a prospect, it is certain that the change of context from the institution that Sheffield has Sticking around for the past four seasons will help him regain some of the talent that made him a tantalizing prospect earlier in his career.