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.