Here's a look at the Braves' farm system

March 21st, 2019

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ronald Acuna has at least plus tools across the board and knows how to translate them into production. As a 20-year-old last year, he hit 26 homers and stole 16 bases in 111 games en route to the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Thankfully for the rest of the NL East, Acuna is a generational talent. The Braves don't have more Acunas headed to Atlanta -- though they do have more five-tool outfielders rising through their system.

With the exception of the Nationals' Victor Robles, Cristian Pache has the best all-around tools on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. The consensus best defensive outfielder in the Minors, he possesses well-above-average speed and arm strength to match.

Pache's offensive game is more of a work in progress, as he hit .279/.307/.410 with nine homers and seven steals in 122 games between high Class A and Double-A last year at age 19. He has the bat-to-ball skills, raw power and quickness to hit .280 with 20 homers and 30-plus steals per season, though he'll need to develop more patience to get the most out of his offensive potential.

Pache has given glimpses of what he can become during Grapefruit League play, where he has been the Braves' best hitter. He has batted .375/.412/.719 with two homers and a steal in 34 plate appearance, leading the club in slugging, OPS (1.131), hits (12) and doubles (five).

"We're not trying to get him to hit home runs but we are trying to get him to drive the ball," Atlanta farm director Dom Chiti said. "Our coaches are helping him make some swing adjustments. He's just growing up on the offensive side of the game.

"The Major League staff has been really excited about him. He's an exciting player to watch with the way he runs, the way he tracks balls in the outfield, the way he throws."

The Braves eventually could field an entire outfield of five-tool guys because Drew Waters is coming up behind Acuna and Pache. A second-round pick in 2017, he batted .293/.343/.476 with nine homers and 23 steals in his first full pro season while reaching high Class A at age 19. More advanced at the plate than Pache, Waters is a switch-hitter with plus speed, arm strength and center-field ability.

"He's still really young but he's ahead of the curve," Chiti said. "At this point he just needs to see more pitchers and get more at-bats. There's a couple of tweaks maybe with his swing. He runs well and has plus tools defensively."

Pitchers usually dominate discussion about Atlanta's farm system. Right-handers Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson claim the first three spots on the Braves' Top 30; righties Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson join them on the Top 100; and left-handers Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller aren't far behind.

But don't sleep on Atlanta's position players, even after the recent graduations of Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. In addition to Pache and Waters, Austin Riley is one of baseball's top third-base prospects and William Contreras is one of the better catching prospects.

Camp standouts

As spectacular as Pache has been at the plate in big league camp, Wright has been just as impressive on the mound and may already have locked up a spot in the Opening Day rotation. The No. 5 overall choice in the 2017 Draft, he has compiled a 3.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just two walks in 12 innings through four outings.

Wright made his big league debut just 15 months after he turned pro, becoming the first player from the 2017 Draft to get there. Chiti said Wright's rapid development is a tribute as much to his aptitude as it is to his stuff.

"He has a great head on his shoulders," Chiti said. "He picks things up quickly, which is why he has been able to move the way he has. He has three pluses in his fastball, slider and changeup. His slider acts like two different breaking balls, so if you want, you can call it four pluses."

Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Jackson State (Tenn.) CC in 2012, right-hander Wes Parsons climbed his way to Atlanta for a single appearance last summer. He's making a case for a longer look this season, throwing 11 scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action while striking out 10 and permitting just four baserunners. Parsons has average stuff, but he locates it well and generates weak contact.