No, not every touted prospect becomes a big-time player. You know that. I know that. The Atlanta Braves know, too. But some prospects do pan out — ask the Cubs and the Mets — and when they do, the effect can spectacular. So Braves fans should take some amount of heart from Baseball Prospectus’ just-revealed list of the sport’s top 101 prospects.
The Braves have six of the 101. (Six of the top 82, actually.) Only Colorado, with seven, commands more spots. The Braves’ six are:
- Dansby Swanson, SS, No. 27
- Sean Newcomb, LHP, No. 32
- Ozhaino Albies, SS, No. 37
- Aaron Blair, RHP, No. 43
- Austin Riley, 3B, No. 79
- Kolby Allard, LHP, No. 82
Of those six, five weren’t with the organization as of Memorial Day 2015. Allard and Riley were first-round draftees. Newcomb arrived from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade. Swanson and Blair came from Arizona in the Shelby Miller deal. That’s how fast John Coppolella and John Hart have restocked the farm system. They’ve given away a lot in major-league talent, but they’ve gotten what they wanted — younger, cheaper talent, and lots of it.
Just for fun, here’s how BP regarded previous manifestations of the Braves’ farm system. In 2015, the organization had two (No. 54 Lucas Sims and No. 92 Jose Peraza) of the top 101. In 2014, it had two (No. 40 Sims and No. 87 Christian Bethancourt) in the top 101. In 2013, it had three (No. 52 Julio Teheran, No. 63 J.R. Graham and No. 93 Bethancourt).
You mightn’t like what the Two Johns have done. You mightn’t be willing to sit still and wait for this young talent to coalesce, assuming it does. But say this for Messrs. Coppolella and Hart: They’ve done exactly as they said — they’ve rebuilt a minor-league chain they considered one of the five worst in baseball when they took hold of it. It’s not one of the five worst anymore. It’s among the best.
(Full disclosure: I contributed to the Braves’ preview — the BP folks call my submission an “essay” — for the 2016 Baseball Prospectus Almanac.)