Baseball Prospectus: Braves have six of the top 82 prospects

Even the Braves' elders are awed by John Coppolella's latest move. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Three Johns, one vision. Or something like that. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

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.)

Reader Comments 0

31 comments
HotDawg
HotDawg

Too many prospects.

Not enough players.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@HotDawg  Not to mention that most prospects fail.  They should be called suspects cause you really have no idea what they are till they hit the show

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

The Braves have done a good job in some of their trades like that deal for Swanson but that deal for Hector Olivera was not a good deal imo. So they have 6 of the top100 prospects and my response is we should have more. Perhaps we will if we trade nick Markakis or Ender Inciatre. But it will be interesting to see this list next year though.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Jetiredo  Inciarte is one of the guys they should be building around -- a 25 yr old guy 4 WAR player who can do a bit of everything well.  We need that

Jay Barton
Jay Barton

So we now have a great minor league system, Wow , we can now hope one becomes a great player like Simmons and then we can trade him away. Newsflash Braves we want a great pro team with players that are proven. Your cheap payroll tactics are not fooling anyone. People are not going to pay pro prices for tickets to watch a minor league team.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

Although the Braves are moving to my county, there is no assurance ex season ticket holders like me will come back.

We may decide we like our improved diet of steak and lobster over a five year rebuild.

Imagine that: breaking one's sports' addiction and instead spending the money on yourself.

lowlow
lowlow

Trading Simmons was a mistake (so was Gattis) and lacked focus on the future.  Did we really have to totally gut the whole team? Simmons was young and relatively cheap - why would you dump him.  Maybe to get to $80MM payroll?

LIdawg
LIdawg

@lowlow I'll respectfully disagree with this statement. Gattis was never going to be any type of long term everyday player in the national league. Trading him was among the no brainer moves the Braves did.

Andrelton will be in his 30's and he has never hit worth a flip...a streaky spot here and there. Yes, he saves some runs, but in the scheme of things, it was the right time. He is not what can be considered "young" through his contract. And I say this as one that loved to see him with the good guys...I am obviously in the minority in that I like what has been going on. That old Braves organization was going no where and we had zero depth for any sustained period of excellence...we now have "something" to look forward to as well as the new ball park - this time two years ago, I was not interested at all after 45 years following this club...as far as payroll, I suggest we stand by. Liberty is a business...if they see an asset that can produce a profit and enhance the performance of the corporation as a whole, I do not see them backing down...I do think they will be prudent and not get into stupid 200M contracts for 8 years to a 34 YO pitcher...but I think we will get what we want soon...having said that, if things go as planned...then we will see what ownership's true colors are because there will be serious money to be paid with these guys in the future...I love where we are going. I do NOT want to be the old Expo's or the marlins and not keep our stars because of money...


ChessMaster
ChessMaster

With the players and salaries the Braves had with Wren, the changes are about as good as it could be. I didn't want to keep finishing second or third. I want to get to the playoffs with a chance of a World Series win. That wasn't going to happen with the old approach.


This entire approach focuses on numbers and quality prospects. The Atlanta market doesn't support the Braves the way New York does the Mets. The Braves need to take a financially conservative approach and focus on developing their base of players in the minors. If you live in Atlanta, you have to hope it works. Others have done this and succeeded while others have failed. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Not much change as old approach. Braves appear to be stockpiling pitchers. Never enough hitters.

Edgar
Edgar

It would be nice to have an owner with big pockets but that's gone. Anyway I like that of the 6 listed above three are pitchers and two of them are lefties.

ashman43
ashman43

Restocking a farm system is not a vision. It's a step in a direction that I have yet to grasp. What is their plan to become a perennial World Series contender? We know the importance of the farm. Equally important is a payroll that allows the team the right balance of veterans over time. The two big questions from where I sit is - (1) What are these owners willing to spend per year? and, (2) Why does MLB allow a corporate, non-local owner to own a team? How can that be good for the sport. 


Mark - You are my favorite sportswriter in the country. Please share your views with us on these questions. The true vision of this franchise requires an answer to both of these questions.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

I still do not think that San Diego gave up that much for Justin Upton -- the guys we got stink or in Fried's case is a TJ surgery case.  One yr of J Up is more than what we will see out of that pile of dog stuff

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

If Shelby become a 20 game winner and is in Arizona for the long haul they did not overpay for him -- might be a win win for both teams but we know the Braves will not keep anybody long term.  Its the Oakland A's of the southeast the way things are now

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Note that now the Braves are projected to be 26th in payroll with 83 million now -- congrats FO you now have us in the bottom five -- way 2 go Coppy.  I read that on one of the blogs yesterday. 

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Buschleaguer Part of the Bourn/Swisher salary was picked up by Cleveland who sent somewhewre between 10 and 15 mil to the Braves in the Chris Johnson trade.  They really wanted to rid themselves of CJ and his 17 salary commitment badly -- real badly.  I hope that Swish and bourn do well -- hey someone might give em a low rated prospect and pick up some of the money.  What they do with the money saved is anyone's guess

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@VeryDisgusted

Just imagine if they unload Swisher and Bourn $29Million of the $83Million 2016 payroll . Over one third of the payroll for two bench warmers.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Where is Lucas Sims now?  He is still a prospect, right. 

UGA75
UGA75

Appears you wrote another column in your sleep Mr. Badly. You deal with mostly facts, offer no really stupid opinions which are your hallmark, and only venture the Braves are not the worst rated minor league system any longer. Way to go out on a limb, the fact that the Braves are likely to lose 100 games this year doesn't appear anywhere from someone who loves to point out negative situations. I wonder why?

tneck
tneck

We should have more than this, look what we've given up for them.  What "Crappy"" trades these were.  What might have been.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@tneck What exactly would the Braves have now if they kept Heyward and JUpton in 2015? They may have won 15 more games or less if they waited to the trade deadline to try and trade them, If they both played the entire 2015 season,what would the Braves have, just two more 1st round picks in 2016.That would be the only compensation for losing Heyward and Upton as free agents.

At least by acquiring Miller and Jenkins from the Cards for J Heyward they were able to flip Miller for two 1st round picks of the Dbacks from 2013 and 2015 without having to pay their signing bonus and they should be MLB ready  before any player drafted in 2016.And Jenkins may be in the Braves rotation in 2016.

As far as J Upton ,the Braves have their #2 starter this year and a 2B Peterson.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

It was only the deal with the idiot DBack that got us in the top 30 with a player years away from the bigs after all that trading last year?

Copy is a fool and we are stuck with him in charge.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@FalconsDetective  Coppy is not just a plain old fool -- he is a squeaky voiced fool who talks like a 10 yr old sidekick from a Happy Days episode.  The Braves are done for a while

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Buschleaguer That is the one Coppy move I did like -- I see it as a win win for both teams.  If Shelby becomes a stud ace what they gave up may very well be worth it though I think we got a lot of potential and one proven good 4 WAR player in Inciarte

WSP
WSP

all these prospects will start costing us $$ in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Wonder if the team will pony up and sign anyone to long term deals

UGA75
UGA75

@WSP nope, there will be no one attending the games in Cobb. They'll have to sell the team to ever draw a crowd.

Mulk
Mulk

@UGA75 @WSP Like they were attending in that God forbidden slum fest?

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@WSP When Hart was GM of the Indians ,he was a proponent of Buying out the arbitration years of his young players.I am not sure whether the current ownership with give Coppy the same flexibility to sign the young talent long term.If not the Braves will just become a AAAA team providing talent for larger market MLB teams.Best hope would be a local ownership group for the Braves, but they are still hamstrung by a terrible local and regional broadcast deal, negotiated by McGuirk and Liberty Media.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@WSP  Well, other teams will pony up and sign em or Coppy will trade them for 18 yr olds coming off Tommy John surgery