It’s that time of the decade, where we look back on all the wonderful memories from the past ten years. For the Braves, there has been far more heartbreak than celebration, but that does not mean Atlanta fans have not been blessed with their share of stars over the past decade.
Recently, MLB.com ranked the top ten farm systems of the decade, and though it might surprise some people, the Braves finished #1.
“At the beginning of the decade, Atlanta spawned Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel,” Jim Callis of MLB.com writes. “At the end, the Braves unveiled Acuña, Ozzie Albies, and Mike Soroka, who appear destined to star throughout the 2020s. They also developed several longtime starting pitchers in Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood and more intriguing youngsters such as Dansby Swanson and Max Fried.”
An even better case can be made for the Braves when you consider the young talent on the cusp of stardom that Callis didn’t mention. Atlanta still has high hopes for likes of Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, and Sean Newcomb in their starting rotation. We saw what Austin Riley is capable of over his first six weeks of major league ball. Now, he just needs to find some consistency. Dansby Swanson is also an intriguing homegrown piece, and the likes of Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, and Ian Anderson could all make their MLB debuts in 2020.
Developing talent from within is why the Braves have been able to stay relevant consistently for nearly 30 seasons. They’ve only had to undergo one substantial rebuild over that stretch, which was a few years ago, and they have come out infinitely better because of it. It’s a fantastic thing too, because, without their ability to develop their own talent, it would be nearly impossible for them to maintain relevance, given their unwillingness to spend big money.
The Braves will always be a team that does their best work internally, and this list compliments them in that area. However, it also exemplifies some of their flaws. When you look at the top ten farm systems of the decade, nearly all of them have won or competed for a World Series title. The Braves did not even win a playoff series, which points towards their poor success in free agency.
At the beginning of the decade, it was the horrendous contracts Atlanta dealt out, like the one they handed B.J. Upton, that prevented them from competing for championships. At the end of the decade, it’s been Liberty Media’s unwillingness to pony up the money necessary to make a splash that would change the outlook of this team for years to come.
Things have been a little better this offseason, however, as the Braves have already spent close to $100 million in free agency, and it looks like they are planning to spend more. Let’s hope that is a sign of things to come as we turn the calendar towards a new decade.