The Braves farm system isn’t quite the juggernaut it used to be, but it’s still pretty good. And the reason for the thinning out of talent is a pretty good one: three National League East titles in a row and advancement to the NL Championship Series last year.
Yes, there’ve been graduations -- Kyle Wright is the most recent top five prospect to say goodbye to prospects lists forever -- but there is still some elite-level talent at the top of the new Top 30. The top two, outfielder Cristian Pache and right-hander Ian Anderson, not only contributed to the run to the playoffs in 2020, but were on postseason rosters, with Anderson filling a pivotal role. Both should have the chance to make more of a long-term impact starting in 2021.
They’re not alone. Several of the Braves’ top prospects beyond those ranked in the Top 100 could very well be called upon to help, perhaps as a backup catcher, perhaps as a bullpen piece. All of them should allow the Braves to contend for a fourth straight division title. The mass of graduations that could occur, especially at the top of the list, could mean the farm system could fall further in the rankings, but it’s awfully hard to continue to win and have a deep system simultaneously.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2020 preseason list to the 2021 preseason list.
Jump: Bryce Ball, 1B (2020: 21 | 2021: 15)/Alex Jackson, C (2020: 22 | 2021: 16) -- Ball jumped on the map by hitting .329 with 17 homers while reaching full-season ball in his debut, then showed the power would play against older competition at the Braves’ alternate training site in 2020. Jackson has morphed from a huge bat in his Draft days to a defense-first catcher who has a very high floor as a backup with a power bat and power arm.
Fall: CJ Alexander, 3B (2020: 19 | 2021: 23) -- More than anything, Alexander needs to get out and play. After a strong pro debut in 2018, his 2019 was rough and marred by elbow surgery and 2020 was wiped out by the pandemic.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 -- Cristian Pache (Drew Waters, Braden Shewmake)
Power: 60 -- Bryce Ball
Run: 70 -- Justin Dean (Cristian Pache)
Arm: 70 -- Shea Langeliers (Cristian Pache)
Defense: 80 -- Cristian Pache
Fastball: 65 -- Kyle Muller (Jasseel De La Cruz, Daysbel Hernandez, Spencer Strider)
Curveball: 55 -- Kyle Muller (Ian Anderson, Bryce Elder)
Slider: 60 -- Thomas Burrows (Bryce Elder)
Changeup: 60 -- Ian Anderson (Jared Shuster)
Control: 50 -- Bryce Elder (Ian Anderson, Jared Shuster, Tucker Davison)
How they were built
Draft: 23 | International: 4 | Trade: 3
Breakdown by ETA
2021: 11 | 2022: 8 | 2023: 10 | 2024: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 4 | 1B: 1 | 3B: 1 | SS: 2 | OF: 7 | RHP: 11 | LHP: 4