The opening of brand-new SunTrust Stadium isn’t the only thing that Atlanta Braves fans have to look forward to in 2017. Although Atlanta has maintained a losing record for three consecutive seasons, the future is bright for this team on the rise thanks to General Manager John Coppolella and his front office. Ever since he took over as the Braves GM in 2015, Coppolella has stocked the Braves’ minor league system with a multitude of talent. Through trades, the rookie draft, and international free agency, Coppolella and his front office have resurrected the organization’s lower levels, which will soon replenish the Braves’ roster.
MLB Pipeline’s recent release of the top 100 prospects in baseball affirms this influx of talent, ranking the Braves’ system as having the third most Prospect Points in all of the majors at 363 (behind the Chicago White Sox at 379 and New York Yankees at 414). Some of the highlights of the Braves system include:
Dansby Swanson (#4 by MLB Pipeline):
Acquired from the Diamondbacks in last offseason’s Shelby Miller deal, the 22-year-old shortstop from Georgia hit the ground running in his first 129 at bats in the majors. Dansby’s strong play in the Majors last season – including three home runs and a .302 batting average – proves that he is ready to be the starting shortstop for the Braves on Opening Day 2017.
Ozzie Albies (#11 by MLB Pipeline):
This shortstop-turned-second baseman hailing from Curacao was quite a find for the Braves. Signed for $350,000 in 2013, Albies has done nothing but hit in the minors. Even though he is only 20 years old, he reached AAA last season due to his blazing speed, great hit tool, and phenomenal defense. Albies should be leading off for the Braves by the end of the season.
Kevin Maitan (#32 by MLB Pipeline):
The Braves surpassed their budget in this past international free agency to land arguably the best international free agent in Kevin Maitan. Only 16 years old, Maitan has garnered multiple comparisons to fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera and Braves legend Chipper Jones for his hitting ability. Although many believe he will have to switch from shortstop to third base, he is a star in the making.
Sean Newcomb (#80 by MLB Pipeline)
Newcomb was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for Andrelton Simmons in November of 2015. He struck out over a batter per inning in AA ball last season and limited his opponents to only four home runs in 140 innings. However, Newcomb’s walk rate proved to be a problem last season, and his control will need to improve for him to be able to contribute at the major league level.
Ian Anderson (#86 by MLB Pipeline):
Last year’s number three overall selection in the MLB rookie draft has started his professional career with a boom. He threw 18 scoreless innings in the Gulf Coast League, earning a promotion to the Appalachian League, where he is on average three years younger than his competition. While he might have been selected No. 3 by the Braves to save money, he truly has ace potential.
These five players provide only a glimpse of the young talent that abounds in the Braves system. Combining these prospects with homegrown major league stars Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran in the coming years will provide the Braves with a core to match any other team in baseball. The cavalry is coming and, along with it, a resurgence in Braves baseball.
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