SportsTalkATL’s Preseason 2017 Braves Prospect List

Before the season, we ranked the Atlanta Braves’ 30 best prospects. The team has done so well in the MLB Draft, on the international free agent pool and the trade market that we had to expand it to the organization’s top 47. The future looks that bright. While the Braves may not have the sexiest high-end prospects, there is no denying they have the deepest farm system in baseball, particularly as far as pitching is concerned. Below is the updated prospect list as the winter begins. In parenthesis is where the played was ranked before the season began.

  1. Dansby Swanson (1)
  2. Kevin Maitan (NR-IFA)
  3. Sean Newcomb (2)
  4. Ozzie Albies (4)
  5. Kolby Allard (3)
  6. Ian Anderson (NR-1st Rd Pick)
  7. Mike Soroka (14)
  8. Kyle Muller (NR-2nd Rd Pick)
  9. Joey Wentz (NR-CBA Pick)
  10. Travis Demeritte (NR-Trade)
  11. Max Fried (8)
  12. Alex Jackson (NR-Trade)
  13. Austin Riley (10)
  14. Ronald Acuna (23)
  15. Patrick Weigel (NR)
  16. Touki Toussaint (12)
  17. Lucas Sims (11)
  18. Dustin Peterson (17)
  19. Bryse Wilson (NR-4th Rd Pick)
  20. Rio Ruiz (15)
  21. Cristian Pache (25)
  22. Michael Mader (NR-Trade)
  23. AJ Minter (30)
  24. Caleb Dirks (NR-Trade)
  25. Derian Cruz (18)
  26. Braxton Davidson (16)
  27. Anfernee Seymour (NR-Trade)
  28. Juan Yepez (22)
  29. Akeel Morris (NR-Trade)
  30. Kade Scivicque (NR-Trade)
  31. Luke Jackson (NR-Trade)
  32. Brett Cumberland (NR-Round CBB)
  33. Drew Harrington (NR-3rd Round Pick)
  34. Abrahan Gutierrez (NR-IFA)
  35. Ricardo Sanchez (21)
  36. Yunior Severino (NR-IFA)
  37. Daniel Winkler (26)
  38. Randy Ventura (NR)
  39. Jonathan Morales (NR)
  40. Jason Hursh (NR)
  41. Jesse Biddle (28)
  42. Armando Rivero (NR-Trade)
  43. Yenci Pena (NR-IFA)
  44. Juan Contreras (NR-IFA)
  45. Lucas Herbert (24)
  46. Corbin Clouse (NR-27th Rd Pick)
  47. Dylan Moore (NR-Trade)
  48. Tyler Pike (NR-Trade)
  49. Carlos Castro (NR)
  50. Ray-Patrick Didder (NR)

Players on the move:

The risers

There are definitely fewer risers than fallers, mostly due to the plethora of talent Coppy and Co. stockpiled. However, this did not stop many players from improving their stock in 2016. Mike Soroka moved his way up on the list, as his strong showing in low-A has made it clear that his ceiling is as high as any pitching prospect in the Braves system. He has been getting some love across the nation and is now a top 100 prospect in the MLB according to many lists. He probably has the best control of any pitcher in the system, as he was blessed with pinpoint precision. He was also very consistent throughout his first season of A-ball. Ronald Acuna dealt with injury problems in 2016, but his great play in limited action was certainly encouraging. He is a true five-tool prospect who may have one of the highest ceilings in the organization. He has been tearing the cover off the ball in winter league and has even drawn some Andruw Jones comparisons. It is hard to compare any prospect to a guy with Hall of Fame talent, but the sky is the limit for Acuna. A strong, full season in Rome (maybe he will even earn a promotion) will have Acuna flying up prospect lists. He is still just 18-years old. We did not have Patrick Weigel ranked as the beginning of last season, and boy did we screw up (though in our defense, we had not expanded the list to 50 at that time). The 22-year old righty has always had a nice arsenal of “stuff” but posted abysmal walk rates throughout college. However, he found his control and it appears to be here to stay, as he posted a 3.3 BB/9 this past season while earning a promotion to Mississippi. Any starter who can touch high 90’s is going to garner attention, and Weigel fits that description. He is looking like a steal as a 7th round pick. Dustin Peterson had a breakout season in AA, and he now looks like he could be a top hitter in the farm system. He certainly is one of the most powerful. He hit .282 with 12 homers and 88 RBI last season, surely well enough to earn him a promotion to AAA. Cristian Pache got off to a nice start to his young professional career, hitting .309 between Danville and the Gulf Coast League. The only thing the Braves would like to see out of Pache is more power, but he is still a baby at age 18. Next year will be a nice indication of where he stands in the system when he plays his first full season of pro ball. AJ Minter has seen his stock skyrocket, and he is one of the best relief prospects in baseball. Unfortunately, relievers do not get as much love on prospect lists as they should. In 31 appearances after coming off of Tommy John Surgery, Minter posted a 1.30 ERA. He can contribute to Atlanta’s bullpen in 2017.

The fallers

(Note: A lot of these guys fell down on the list due to adding prospects through trades and the draft. I will only include prospects whose stock have fallen due to their performance during the 2016 season.)

Lucas Sims finally looked like he was reaching his potential after getting off to a hot start with AA Mississippi. However, he got absolutely obliterated by AAA hitting when promoted. The potential is there, but Sims has been a disappointment since being drafted nearly half a decade ago. The control is simply not there and he may be destined for a bullpen role. The team should give him one more crack at AAA, but a Jason Hursh-esque transition to the ‘pen may be in store for the Brookwood High School product if he does not perform well. Derian Cruz still boasts the same amount of potential as he did last summer when the team signed him to what at the time was the highest international signing in team history at $2 million. Between the organization adding prospects and his pedestrian pro debut, Cruz slides down this list. Their is most definitely a learning curve, however, and with Cruz being one of the more unknown prospects, he could fly up this list with a solid showing in 2017. The good news? Braxton Davidson walks a lot. The bad news? He also strikes out a lot. Davidson will likely have to repeat A+ ball as he posted just a .224 average last season. This is most definitely worrisome. The raw talent is still there, but could it be time to question whether he will put it together? His .344 on-base percentage despite the average show how much potential Davidson could have if he finds the pieces to the puzzle, but for now he falls down the list. The trade that landed Ricardo Sanchez seems like forever ago, so it is easy to forget that he is still just 19. However, the southpaw just turned in his second mediocre campaign with Rome and could be destined for a third. With that being said, he did have a nice second half of the season, and is still younger than many of his teammates. Perhaps the third time is the charm, but this is a make or break year for Sanchez, who was one of the Angels’ top prospects when the Braves acquired him. Daniel Winkler and Jesse Biddle have both lost momentum as prospects after moves to the bullpen and significant injuries. However, Winkler looked nasty in his short stint with the Braves before getting hurt, and Biddle is a former first round pick. These guys could both be contributors to the MLB bullpen in 2017. The guy who fell down the list more than anyone is Lucas Herbert. Yes, he was coming off a significant injury, and sure, he has the ability behind the plate. The real question is whether he will be able to hit, and his .185 batting average does not bode well for his future. Perhaps he turns it around, but his 2016 showing was poor at the plate.

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