The most recent trend of John Coppolella’s rebuild has been acquiring prospect bats. When the front office first blew up the roster, they went after prospect arms. The lack of potential impact bats in the system seemed to be its only flaw. Though they went pitching, pitching, pitching in this year’s draft, they addressed the lack of bats in international free agency, and in recent memory, the trade market. The Braves were inevitably going to have to move arms at some point, as there was surely going to be a surplus with such an emphasis on acquiring arms. This is what we are beginning in the team’s most recent deals for prospect bats. This is what the team did when they shipped off Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell midseason for power bat infield prospect Travis Demeritte.
The Braves just acquired another potential impact bat in Alex Jackson. This is a kid who was not only the 6th overall pick just two years ago, but the former top Mariners prospect. Injuries, performance, and rumored off the field issues all may have attributed to the Mariners moving Jackson. However, the potential is still great. The 20-year old hit for 11 homers and 55 RBI in just 92 games, but hit only .243 and posted a high strike out rate. If the Braves can work out some kinks, Jackson could be a potential star, but it is certainly still a lottery ticket.
This deal did not come without a cost, however, as the Mariners fared much better in this trade than the Rangers did when trading Demeritte back in July. The team acquired pitching prospects Max Povse and Rob Whalen.
Povse was one of the biggest risers in the system after a nice 2016 campaign, posting a 3.36 ERA in 26 starts across two levels. His huge 6’8″ frame makes him intimidating and certainly is a reason why he has emerged as a prospect as well. The righty, who has a plus fastball, certainly looked like a candidate to join the Braves rotation in the coming years, but there is no doubt that Jackson has far more potential than Povse.
Whalen had a terrific 2016 before being shut down by injuries, and even got his first crack at the big leagues. Many think that he is destined to be a back-of-rotation guy, but his breaking ball, which honestly looks more like a sinker, can take him as far as he wants to go.
I really liked Whalen, but I think Coppy made the right move here and perhaps sold high on these two arms. The team used depth to acquire assets that fill a need. Only time can tell, but for Jackson is likely a top 5 bat in the farm system, which makes him a huge get for Coppy. While the Braves are not yet in a position to deal prospects to acquire veteran pieces, this will not stop Coppy from trying to acquire young players with the assets he has, and this is a prime example of that. I know the rest of Braves Country cannot wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.