The Braves’ turnaround from last-place team to contender has been well-documented. Three straight seasons of 90 or more losses (2015-17) has been followed up by three straight National League East titles and a run to the NL Championship Series in 2020.
The farm system has been the key, both in homegrown draftees or international signees making large contributions to the winning at the big league level and in prospects who were acquired doing the same. Ian Anderson was the latest arm to step up and provide a huge lift, in many ways filling in for injured homegrown right-hander Mike Soroka. Kyle Wright started to settle in and graduated from prospects lists and top prospect Cristian Pache landed on postseason rosters.
It’s a difficult thing to keep winning and maintain a deep system. With graduations and some trades to help the big league club out, it has gotten a bit thinner. The Braves dropped to No. 15 on our midseason farm system rankings this year. That broke a streak of nine straight appearances in the Top 10 that included being in the top three six times. Even so, there is elite talent at the top of the list, much of which will help out in 2021 and beyond.
FARM SYSTEM RANKINGS
2020 Midseason: 15 | Preseason: 8
2019 Midseason: 7 | Preseason: 3
2018 Midseason: 2 | Preseason: 2
2017 Midseason: 2 | Preseason: 1
2016 Midseason: 9 | Preseason: 2
2015 Midseason: NR | Preseason: 9
Only the top 10 systems were ranked from 2015 to 2019 preseason; the top 15 systems were ranked 2019 midseason.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
The Braves didn’t have a second-round pick because they signed lefty Will Smith as a free agent, and they took four college players with their selections. All of them are in the Top 30, led by first-rounder Jared Shuster, who landed in the top 10.
2021 IMPACT PROSPECT
Ian Anderson, RHP: This is a tough call between Anderson and Pache, but we will give Anderson the nod based on what he did during his six-start regular-season debut (1.3 bWAR), followed by his dominance in the postseason.
2022 TOP PROSPECT
Drew Waters, OF: It’s quite possible Waters will have gotten to the big leagues and worked his way off the list, but there’s some outfield depth in this organization, and it’s just as probable that Waters will have to wait long enough where he’ll still be eligible for prospect lists prior to the start of the 2022 season.
Hit: Cristian Pache
Power: Bryce Ball
Run: Justin Dean
Arm: Shea Langeliers
Field: Cristian Pache
Best athlete: Cristian Pache
Fastball: Kyle Muller
Curveball: Tucker Davidson
Slider: Jeremy Walker
Changeup: Jared Shuster
Control: Nolan Kingham
HOW THE TOP 30 WAS BUILT
The Braves are tied with the Brewers for the most Draft-heavy Top 30 list in baseball, with seven draftees in the top 10. While there are only four international signees on the list, three are in the top 10, starting of course with Pache. All three of the traded prospects on the list come in the bottom third, led by Alex Jackson (No. 21).
TOP 30 BY POSITION
Graduations have thinned out the pitching list some, but Anderson still leads a robust group of right-handers and the Braves have three lefties in their top 10. Pache and Waters still form one of the best outfield prospect tandems in all of baseball, trailing perhaps only Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners.