Given the June draft’s haul of high school arms and July’s crop of international signings, the Atlanta Braves were fairly confident they’d hold their designation as baseball’s best farm system for a second consecutive year. They knew the Yankees and Padres had made some deft young-for-old trades themselves, but the Braves had a head start at this rebuilding stuff. And here they are, per ESPN’s much-read Keith Law …
(Yankees No. 2, Padres No. 3.)
Law on the Braves: “General manager John Coppolella has been trading for young pitching at every opportunity, and scouting director Brian Bridges has crushed pitching in his two drafts at the helm. There are players in this system with viable cases to be in the global top 100, but struggle to crack Atlanta’s top 10. They just took Ian Anderson third overall in the draft, and he couldn’t even crack their top six. Their high-A rotation in 2017 could include four first-round picks and a major international signing, only one of whom will be 21 on opening day.”
Law’s quibble: The absence of a power bat. But, as he writes: “There is just so much pitching here that it overwhelms that concern.”
There’s also this: Laws ranks the farm system that Coppolella raided for 2013 first-rounder Aaron Blair, 2014 first-rounder Touki Toussaint and Dansby Swanson, the 2015 1-1, last among 30 MLB clubs. Largely because of the Braves, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a whole new front office.
Oh, and one last thing: Brian Bridges really is good at his job. The Braves fired Frank Wren as GM on Sept. 22, 2014. The new regime of John Hart and Coppolella promoted Bridges to scouting director on Oct. 7. Of all the slick moves the New Braves have made, that’s in the top three.
Still further: The Braves in 2017: Not a .500 team, but close.
Further still: The remade Braves have become a place to be.