It’s been a while, but the Braves finally have a top 100 prospect again according to Baseball America. They recently just updated their list, and 20-year-old AJ Smith-Shawver has joined the group, going from unranked to the top 50, slotting in at number 49.
After once having the best farm system in baseball, it’s been hard to find Braves farmhands on top 100 prospect lists, but it’s not because they haven’t produced some talented players. It’s because Alex Anthopoulos and company usually get them to the majors before the prospect evaluators can catch up. We saw it with Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider, and now we are seeing it with AJ Smith-Shawver.
The 20-year-old has already made his major-league debut and is now set to make his first start this weekend. If that goes well, it’s fair to expect him to remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future, and before long, he’ll no longer be an eligible prospect, despite being much younger than many of the prospects ahead of him on the top 100 list.
That may make the Braves farm system look worse, but who needs a farm system when you have a bevy of young stars already making an impact at the major-league level? The Braves have shown no problem thrusting their youth into prominent roles quickly. It’s worked for them so far, and hopefully, we’ll be saying the same thing in a couple of months about AJ Smith-Shawver.
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