Max Povse had just finished pitching for Staunton over the summer. His performance was a little unsteady, but ultimately he showed bat-missing stuff, as he went 2-2, 3.33, with 12 walks and 60 strikeouts in 54 innings pitched for the Braves. Probably the most important thing came after the season, when Baseball America named Max the top prospect in the entire league.
The 6-foot-7 righty returned to UNC Greensboro for his junior year this spring, and went 6-4, 4.99 in 79 1/3 innings, but he still struck out 81 batters.
When the June draft rolled around, Max’s name was called by the Atlanta Braves in the 3rd round, the 102nd overall pick. And then Max found himself a little bit better off financially, too, as he signed for a $425,000 bonus. He was assigned to the Danville of the Appalachian League.
Max made his debut on June 29th, in relief. Then the Braves used him as a starter, but Max struggled in his 2nd and 3rd starts. His ERA at that point stood 8.64 after 8 1/3 pro innings.
Then things turned around. I would love to know what changed- did the Braves change something in Max’s delivery? Did he just gain some confidence? Did he get LASIK surgery? (That’s a joke- it seems that every year someone in the major leagues gets the surgery in the offseason, and then that player goes into Spring Training with higher expectations…) Actually, Max said this about his success in an article on milb.com written by Robert Emrich: “Just trusting my stuff. Not doing too much, just sit back in the lower half of the zone. I’m getting ground balls and the defense has been making the plays behind me.”
Whatever the reason, Max has been dominating opposing hitters since that 3rd start. In his last 27 innings, he’s allowed 17 hits, 5 walks, 4 earned runs, and struck out 23. His last start, just last night, was his best so far, as he allowed only 1 hit and 1 walk in 7 shutout innings.
Overall, in his first pro season, Max is now 3-2, 3.06, with 29 hits, 7 walks, and 30 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings pitched. Whatever he’s changed, it’s definitely working. I would not be surprised if Max made the Braves’ top prospect lists this offseason!