The 2016 Atlanta Braves have the No. 1 farm system, according to ESPN’s Keith Law. When will the top farm system yield big league results for the Braves?
ESPN’s Keith Law had the Atlanta Braves ranked as his best farm system in all of baseball entering the 2016 MLB season. With the future looking so bright for the Braves, when will these promising Minor Leaguers help turn the big league club back into a winner?
Law has the Atlanta Braves up from the sixth-best farm system into the team in the top spot, with seven of the MiLB’s top 100 players. These players include shortstop Dansby Swanson, left-handed pitcher Sean Newcomb, shortstop Ozzie Albies, right-handed pitcher Aaron Blair, and left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard.
Swanson and Blair came to the Atlanta Braves along with center fielder Ender Inciarte in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handed starting pitcher Shelby Miller. Swanson has a realistic ETA of 2017, while Blair could end up making the Opening Day roster in 2016.
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Newcomb headlined the package that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent to the Atlanta Braves for platinum glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The minor league southpaw has an ETA of 2017.
Albies and Allard are relatively new pieces brought into the Atlanta Braves minor league system. Both are promising young prospects with ETAs of 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Braves general manager John Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart did the near unthinkable in turning a bottom five farm system into the very best in baseball in two seasons. Realistically the Atlanta Braves should have no problem contending in their first few years at SunTrust Park, but is that 2017, 2018, or even 2019?
The first thing that is going to prove that the rebuild is coming to a close is when the starting rotation begins to routinely pitch into sixth and seventh innings of ball games. That or improving the Atlanta bullpen will sure up the pitching staff, ultimately taking the pressure off the meager Atlanta offense, saying that the Braves bats won’t have to generate a ton of runs to win games.
I believe we will see some signs of that nation as early as this summer. Either the bullpen will improve the starting rotation or vice versa. From there, Coppolella might look to move some of the team’s many pitching assets for every day position players that can aid in raising the team’s limited offensive ceiling. I doubt we will see that in 2016, but maybe by Opening Day 2017.
Once the Atlanta Braves begin play in SunTrust Park in spring of 2017, it will be a few months before the club could start to resemble a contender, as it will need to next wave of young talent from the minor leagues to complement what is already on the 25-man roster mid-season.
The earliest I could see the Atlanta Braves being able to compete for a postseason berth is late June, early July of 2017. The team would have to outperform its expectations to do that, but it is possible.
What is positive in the mean with regards to having the top farm system in baseball is that other organizations with great farm systems in the last few years like the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals all made the postseason in 2015.
Another team that has a great farm system that was close in 2015 was the Minnesota Twins. Perhaps the Twins break through and get in to the AL Postseason under second-year manager Paul Molitor?
Just having what many consider as the best farm system in baseball aids in the Atlanta Braves’ ability to turnaround the team’s fortunes in the not-so-distant future. While 2016 isn’t going to bring postseason baseball to Atlanta, maybe 2017 isn’t an impossibility? Realistically, we should expect to see the Atlanta Braves contend by 2018 with the way the farm system is progressing.
2016 will be a crucial year in the rebuilding process for the Atlanta Braves. Any major setbacks like the club experienced post-All-Star Break in 2015 will only extend the biggest rebuilding process in Atlanta in 25 years. Go Braves!