Kiley McDaniel, the prospect guru over at ESPN, recently ranked all 30 farm systems, and the Braves were in an all too familiar spot — down near the very bottom at 29th.
It’s interesting (and maybe only interesting?) that the bottom three farm systems in baseball belong to Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos and his two former lieutenants who have moved on to run other clubs: Dana Brown in Houston and Perry Minasian with the Angels. It’s not by accident that all three teams are going for it this year, and the strategy is nothing new to the Braves and Astros.
The only team ranked behind the Braves was the Astros, which isn’t all too surprising after they traded two of their top prospects for Justin Verlander at the deadline. Like Atlanta, Houston has been in the thick of pennant chases for the better part of a decade, but unlike Atlanta, they aren’t even guaranteed to make the playoffs this season. The Braves, on the other hand, have the best record in baseball and are set up for sustained success.
Is it possible we are seeing a changing of the guard out west in the American League? The Rangers are currently in first place, and the surging Mariners are nipping at the heels of the Astros, just 0.5 games back with about six weeks to play. Both the Rangers and Mariners feature a ton of young talent with money to spend in free agency. A couple of World Series and four appearances in the Fall Classic is a ridiculous run in this sport, but things aren’t going to get any easier for the Astros moving forward. Former Braves Director of Scouting and current Astros GM, Dana Brown, is going to have to work some magic, but he’s proven to be one of the best at eyeing talent in every landscape.
The Braves being near the bottom of these farm system rankings is nothing new thanks to graduations and blockbuster trades, yet they seem to continuously pump out major-league level talent. A number of prospects have made their MLB debuts this season with varying levels of success. It’s also worth noting that the Braves have several young players on the farm that are not included in their prospect rankings but could make an impact in the future. Ian Anderson, Michael Soroka, and Vaughn Grissom — to name a few — have all lost their prospect status but are still young players with some potential.
The situation in Atlanta is far from dire. They are set up for success with their major-league club for the next decade, but while that is taking place, it’s important for Alex Anthopoulos to replenish the farm system to make sure there won’t be a rebuild in Atlanta for a very long time.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire