Braves shouldn’t worry about MLB.com’s latest farm rankings

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Ranked the no. 8 farm system in baseball back in March, the Braves entered a new season applauded for their incredible talent and depth in the minor leagues. However, that reputation has taken a big hit over the last month or so as Wednesday MLB.com published its mid-season farm rankings.

With a no. 15 ranking on the most recent list, the Braves are no longer considered an elite organization when it comes to prospect talent. Although some of that is undoubtedly due to the continued struggles of right-handed pitcher Kyle Wright (who currently owns a 7.20 ERA through his first four starts in 2020). But what could’ve possibly caused the system to decline so quickly?

Most likely, though it may seem a bit unfair, the Braves’ low ranking is due to the lack of a 2020 minor league season. 

Think about it. Last season, players like Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, Ian Anderson, and many more — including much lower-ranked prospects — were putting up crazy numbers out on the farm, giving folks plenty of evidence as to just how talented they were. Pache and Anderson have both impressed so far this season (even in the majors for Anderson), but Waters hasn’t had the opportunity to show off his skills, and neither have several other up-and-coming prospects from 2019 (including lefty Tucker Davidson and outfielder Trey Harris, as well as catcher Shea Langeliers). So far, of the five top-100 Braves prospects from MLB.com’s prospect rankings back in March, two have yet to even play this season (Waters & Langeliers), and one has played poorly (Wright), resulting in what evidently is perceived by many as a downward-trending system. 

In fact, Wright is no longer even ranked within the top-100, and the current four Braves that are have all fallen as well:

 

PLAYER MARCH RANK CURRENT RANK
Cristian Pache 13 14
Drew Waters 26 27
Ian Anderson 37 41
Shea Langeliers 70 74
Kyle Wright 52 NR

Obviously, it’s impossible to construct a list with 100% percent legitimacy when most prospects aren’t even playing games right now. Still, it’s unfortunate that several of the top Braves are getting docked simply due to being idle. I can almost guarantee that if Pache were playing every day in Gwinnett, his ranking wouldn’t be trending in the wrong direction, and the same goes for Waters as well. But sadly, that’s just the way it is. 

However, with the way these top-tier guys are falling in recent rankings, it does make you wonder whether or not GM Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves should perhaps adjust their outlook when it comes to potential trades. 

As our own Chase Irle reported this past weekend, just a day prior to the trade deadline, the Indians were apparently willing to move starting pitcher Mike Clevinger in exchange for a package headlined by Waters. But obviously, Anthopoulos balked at the idea given no deal was done, and without knowing the other players potentially involved, it’s tough to determine whether it was the right choice or not. As we now know, the Padres were able to land the righty, using quantity over quality in a deal that featured nine players overall (six going to Cleveland and three to San Diego).

It’s difficult to say with any certainty whether or not the Indians would’ve instead taken a Waters-led package from the Braves. I’m also not sure if such a deal would’ve even been fair. However, having the luxury of inserting Clevinger into the starting rotation for the second half of the regular season AND during the playoffs (for the next two years) sure would’ve been nice. 

So it’ll be interesting to see where the Braves are in the prospect rankings at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Either way, Minor League Baseball isn’t coming back this year, so prospects that aren’t part of the Braves big league plans won’t be able to do much in terms of improving their stock. Whether or not that continues to hurt the Braves as a system… we’ll have to wait and see. 

But as mentioned above, considering the Braves fall in the rankings seems to come primarily from a lack of playing time, I wouldn’t put too much stock in such lists for at least the remainder of the 2020 season… and perhaps even next year’s pre-season editions. Even though they haven’t had the opportunity to do so, Pache and Anderson are still plenty capable of dominating at the Triple-A level (hell, the latter has shown he can already do so at times in the majors). Let’s at least wait until next season before we start to panic about the Braves’ farm system.

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  1. Pingback: Braves shouldn't worry about MLB.com's latest farm rankings - sportstalkatl.com - Fiji Online News

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