ATLANTA -- It will take some time before the Braves know how successful they have been with their rebuild. But it's safe to say they have already achieved their goal of transforming their farm system from one of baseball's worst to one of its best.Further indication of this turnaround was
ATLANTA -- It will take some time before the Braves know how successful they have been with their rebuild. But it's safe to say they have already achieved their goal of transforming their farm system from one of baseball's worst to one of its best.
Further indication of this turnaround was displayed on Friday night, when MLB.com unveiled its latest Top 100 Prospects list. The Braves have five representatives, including four in the top 56. This Atlanta crop was enriched by this offseason's acquisitions of shortstop Dansby Swanson and left-handed pitcher Sean Newcomb.
Complete Top 100 Prospects coverage
Swanson, who was acquired in the December trade that sent Shelby Miller to the D-backs, ranks as the game's No. 8 overall prospect and the fourth-best shortstop prospect. Newcomb, who was acquired in the November trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, ranks 21st on the overall prospect list and fourth among all left-handed pitching prospects.
Shortstop Ozzie Albies (29th overall), right-handed pitcher Aaron Blair (56th) and Kolby Allard (89th) are the three other Braves players included on this updated Top 100 Prospects list.
• MLB Pipeline's 2016 Top 100 Prospects list
If a numeric value was placed on every prospect within the top 100, with the No. 1 prospect drawing 100 points and No. 100 drawing one point, the Braves would have the game's fifth-highest point total. The Rangers, Rockies, Dodgers and Red Sox are the clubs that would rank better in this category.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Since being selected with the top overall selection in last summer's Draft, Swanson has had a chance to briefly introduce himself to pro ball at the Class A level. He has played just 27 regular-season games, but the former College World Series MVP gained valuable experience when he competed in the Northwest League playoffs with the Hillsboro Hops in September. The suburban Atlanta native could reach the Major League level at some point during the 2017 season.
Newcomb's stock has risen as he ranked 68th on this list entering the 2015 season. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound lefty possesses a fastball that has sat between 92-95 mph and an offspeed repertoire that includes a changeup that seemed to improve last season. The 22-year-old has drawn some comparisons to Jon Lester. But Newcomb will need to improve his command for the possibility to become a part of Atlanta's rotation at some point this year.
Albies is the only Braves representative on this Top 100 list who was a part of Atlanta's organization at this time last year. The exciting Curacao product ranks as MLB.com's 10th-best shortstop, but he might eventually transition to second base to allow for him and Swanson to form a double-play combo.
Blair was grouped with Swanson and Ender Inciarte to form the blockbuster package the Braves received in compensation for Miller. The 23-year-old right-hander is a polished hurler who could reach the Majors before Newcomb. Blair posted a 2.97 ERA over the 25 starts he combined to make at the Double-A and Triple-A levels last year.
Allard was considered one of the top pitching prospects in last year's Draft. A back injury lowered his stock and provided the Braves a chance to feel like they got a steal by taking him with the 14th overall selection. The 18-year-old southpaw struck out 12 of the 20 batters he faced for the Gulf Coast League Braves. Allard made just three appearances before undergoing what has been described as a minor back surgery. He is expected to enter Spring Training with no limitations.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.