ESPN’s Law: Braves have No. 1 farm system

All the young dudes: Matt Wisler and Dansby Swanson. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Dansby Swanson (right): He’s No. 13. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Keith Law of ESPN Insider has ranked the Atlanta Braves’ farm system as baseball’s best. This seconds the emotion — Smokey Robinson reference — expressed by David Rawnsley in the Sporting News 2016 Baseball Yearbook. For comparison purposes, we note that Law rated the Braves’ chain 22nd-best two years ago.

In 2014, Law’s top seven farm systems were Houston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs, Boston, New York Mets and Kansas City. The only one of those teams to finish with a losing big-league record in 2015 was Boston, and that wasn’t from a lack of young talent. (That was mostly from Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval being big-ticket duds.) The Royals won the World Series. The Mets reached the World Series by beating the Cubs, who beat the Pirates in the wild-card game. The Astros, who broke above .500 for the first time since 2008, were six outs from eliminating champion-to-be KC in Game 4 of the ALDS.

Having the No. 1 farm system doesn’t guarantee anything. (Here, from January 2015, is Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus on the topic.) But if you’re the Braves and you’ve staked your future on prospects, having assembled the best collection of them in 16 1/2 months’ time would seem a flying start.

Oh, one thing more: Law’s list of top 100 prospects includes seven Braves: No. 13 Dansby Swanson, No. 20 Ozhaino Albies, No. 30 Sean Newcomb, No. 39 Aaron Blair, No. 43 Kolby Allard, No. 80 Touki Toussaint and No. 96 Max Fried. Imagine how the Arizona Diamondbacks must feel, seeing as how their three most recent Round 1 draftees — Swanson, Toussaint and Blair — are highly regarded but no longer Snakes.

Full disclosure: I contributed to the Braves’ preview for the 2016 Baseball Prospectus Almanac, a book fat enough to stop a door. (My copy arrived Wednesday.) I also served as guest — discussing the Braves, duh — on BP’s Effectively Wild podcast hosted by the aforementioned Mr. Miller and Ben Lindbergh of FiveThirtyEight. I believe that episode will be available today. Fair warning, then.

Reader Comments 0

46 comments
TOJacket
TOJacket

Good lord!.........does anyone write any articles at the AJC anymore?.......damn?

TOJacket
TOJacket

Atlanta sports fans for the most part are a pack of whiners.......don't watch the team and please stop the cry-baby posts........damn.

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

Being a Jacket fan, maybe you have come to accept annual losing teams.

Some of us haven't.

Reed Waid
Reed Waid

Braves will also be the worst team in baseball this year.

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

The negativity on here is unbelievable. I've lived in Atlanta a long time, seen a lot of Braves teams good and bad, and thanks to the Hart/Cap rebuild, we're about to enter a new golden era. It's an exciting time to be a fan. Good grief, if you want to be negative there are plenty of better targets- the Falcons or Hawks, GT basketball or UGA baseball to name a few. And as for Mark Bradley- thanks for the good work you've done for countless years at the AJC.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@NorwegianBlue Sure there is.  You question people expressing themselves about the horrendous product put on the field last season disguised as an MLB team.  "It's an exciting time to be a fan."  Really?


You've been a Braves fan a long time.  You've seen good and bad Braves teams.  Not sure how you missed the bad one last year.  It was historically bad.


They accomplished something no other Braves team from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta had ever done in more than 100 seasons.  They set the Braves franchise record for consecutive home losses.  YAY!

DrTruth
DrTruth

@NorwegianBlue Yeah, a 95-loss MLB team full of players nobody even knows is so much more fun to watch than any of the other teams you mentioned.

BigDJohnston
BigDJohnston

@DrTruth @NorwegianBlue It'd be one thing if they had a few bad seasons and did nothing, but that isn't the case. Frank Wren really put a hurting on the franchise. I feel fairly certain that we'd be looking at some pretty average years had we kept going in the same direction. Toxic contracts would have hindered positive momentum and player development. I'm not happy with this past season either, but I'm patient. I feel good about where things are headed, as we slowly unwind old salary commitments and revitalize the farm. If you're not happy, maybe you should jump off the wagon now before things turn around. Snark welcome.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@BigDJohnston  Likewise, if you're happy being on the wagon you should go ahead and buy season tickets for this year and the next.


Frank Wren was not the problem with this franchise.  Booby Cox and Fredi Gonzalez are the problems.  Frank Wren wanted to fire Fredi and instead got fired himself.


It doesn't matter who the players are on the field if a complete moron is managing them.  Until this franchise ponies up and gets a real MLB manager, they aren't going anywhere near the top again.


They were at the top with Wren, despite Fredi's incompetence.

Joemac48
Joemac48

If the Braves truly have the #1 farm system in MLB, which I doubt, they did not get it through the draft. Through trades, they now have many high prospects from several other teams, with no guarantee on how many eventually make in in the majors. What I really want to know is how many of the prospects drafted by the Braves will make it? The Braves ability to scout prospects must be really bad.

Crapwheelie
Crapwheelie

The problem is that other teams in the National League that are already good and have deep pockets like the Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals also have great prospects. The Braves have no chance of being competitive again unless some of these prospects gel and management is willing to spend money on proven hitters. We're also likely to have substandard infield defense going forward as Law points out that neither Swanson or Albies have arms capable of throwing out fast runners from deep short. 

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

At least they have a direction, which cant be said of Falcons who seem to be destined to continue their front office errors.. The Braves will be awful this year but you have to respect the approach and what has been accomplished with farm system. If you are going to do something do it 100%. The cupboard is fairly bare at the moment but a truckload of groceries is coming to restock.

GaLatino
GaLatino

@Falcons2013 Unless some of those groceries are true major league hitters, it won't mean a  d a m n  thing. 

Bart Kimbrell
Bart Kimbrell

Lets build a new stadium where it can be empty and put minor leaguers in major league uniforms,trade all the veterns away

Jeff Heika
Jeff Heika

Not that owners haven't been sticking it to fans for generations, but this current crop of MLB owners and GMs are a sorry sack of elitists who continue to alienate the fan base and ruin the sport for the average "Joe Fan" I will spend my hard earned money elsewhere. I can't afford $120+ to take my family of four to a game. $8 for a beer? $6 for a hot dog? Better check yourself, before you wreck yourself!

GaLatino
GaLatino

The saddest part is baseball is the only sport of the "big 3" that's unmistakably better in person.

pride
pride

Getting paid for writing the obvious and with a negative slant. Bradley probably deserves a Pulitzer.

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

The very foundation of any successful baseball team is it's scouting and minor league talent base. Braves have addressed both along with their front office changes - Hart and Coppollela.


I understand that most fans are upset, and they should be, as we were all spoiled by the 90's. Rebuilding has been a foreign concept reserved for other organizations, until now.


Be patient people, the future of a great baseball team is just around the corner in 2017.

GaLatino
GaLatino

@HUDDYS1FAN Sorry, but you just don't get it.  Most fans I know aren't upset with the rebuild, they're upset with the lack of communication and general attitude from the front office.  Frankly, the fact that Schuerholz and Cox are still prominently involved - and don't kid yourself that they're not - means they deserve no benefit of the doubt from me.   


Nothing that's happening now means anything unless they back it up with results and actually spending GOOD money in free agency.  The lack of budget card is pathetic when 2 teams with lower payrolls than Atlanta made the postseason last year.


I love having all this young 'talent', but it's incredibly pitching-heavy, and unless those pitchers turn into young MLB-ready power bats(Olivera is both too old and too garbage to qualify), this will just be a big gamble that elevates us to "almost good enough" status again like we were before.

Moses Lee Gipson
Moses Lee Gipson

True fans ride with their team i'm a brave for life ,before 91 My grandfather was a brave fan and so will my son's and grandsons I love the BRAVES

GaLatino
GaLatino

Riding with your team does not mean blindly accepting every stupid decision the front office makes.  We have a right as fans to expect better from the people making money off our fandom.

John Edwards
John Edwards

We've had the best farm system, but we trade them all off.

Jason Miller
Jason Miller

What does it matter when you always trade off every great talent your farm system produces???

Quint Bush
Quint Bush

It's about time. Now, can they do anything with it?

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

Is the payroll so low that a 100 loss team can turn a profit?

Some fans (me for example) may find other things to do with their money than spend it on mediocre college and pro teams.

The Braves will contend in 2017?

If it takes them as long as it took KC to win a WS, good luck with that.

Bradley does not have to pay to watch.

He might sound different if he did.

John Skubina
John Skubina

@FalconsDetective payroll isn't the only way a team can spend money


I would much rather watch young and exciting prospects than a team who lost players to free agency, wins 80 games, and has no future

JTMoyni33
JTMoyni33

Only Bradley could take shedding millions off the payroll and turning one of the worst farm systems in baseball into one of the best in 18 months and write a negative article.

Jm73
Jm73

@JTMoyni33 Huh??  How was that a negative article?  Yes - Bradley is usually negative, but this one isn't.

DrTruth
DrTruth

If a team trades practically all of its starting Major League position players and pitchers for Minor Leaguers and prospects, then shouldn't that team end up with the "best ranked" Minor Leaguers and prospects in the league?  As I've said before, where's the achievement in that?  A complete idiot could trade away an MLB team for a bunch of prospects and rehabs....And he did.


Recent teams that made the postseason with highly-ranked farm systems didn't fire sale their everyday starters.  That's what Bradley still misses in this scam.  When you pick 1 of the 3 Braves cups and look under it, there's nothing there.  Then you look under the 2nd cup and nothing there.  When you look under the 3rd cup and it's also nothingness, that's when you realize you've been scammed.


Bradley has been so blinded by his uncontrolled bro-mance with Coppy that he's still months, if not years, away from looking under the 3rd cup.


Having the best prospects is great if you're paying to watch a Minor League team play.  When paying MLB ticket prices, most fans expect more....

BigDJohnston
BigDJohnston

@DrTruth 


Of course talent needs to be developed. Of course it will take some time. We've had a pretty good run and gotten spoiled along the way. Surely you can understand the necessary evil of the trades that stocked our system... and enabled the disposition of some historically awful, Wren authored, contracts? Surely you can understand that cash was being tied up in all the wrong places? Surely you can see the long term potential success in creating superior value on the farm. Of course you can, because you're not an idiot. And, I'm sure you could have fleeced the Diamond Backs just the same.

John Skubina
John Skubina

@DrTruth I feel like you grossly overestimate the major league talent we traded.


Young and exciting players > 80 win team with no future

Mr_Snarky
Mr_Snarky

Most of the teams he listed had sucked for years. It was only by having many years of high draft picks that they build up their farm system. The Braves on the other hand decided on a rebuild before all their talent was gone and hopefully there by expedited the process and won't have many years of terrible-ness

TheBystander
TheBystander

Nice to have prospects but The Braves are still looking a 100 + loss season in the face. The "farewell to the Ted" tour will put some butts in seats but the team as a whole will be pretty abysmal.  

TOJacket
TOJacket

As Rocky used to say............."Well thank you Mr. Know it All!"

goldwreck
goldwreck

If they just had a manager that knew what to do with them.