The Atlanta Braves are going nowhere fast.
That’s the sentiment that was echoed across the fanbase all winter as the team’s front office made move after move to ship household names out of town. Names like Heyward, Upton (Justin) and Gattis, sent to teams that have a chance to contend in 2015, while the Braves struggle.
But under the surface, in making all those trades, the Braves were doing something they desperately needed to do.
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“(The Braves) were a bottom-5 system when the offseason started, but six trades later, they’ve built up a stash of prospects that makes up for five years of execrable drafts and very little production from their Latin American efforts,” said ESPN.com’s Keith Law in a recent report. “Ten of their top 12 prospects have appeared on at least one of my past three top-100 rankings, including six this year.”
The Braves’ farm system went from No. 22 to No. 6 in Law’s rankings in one year, AJC.com’s Mark Bradley reported. It’s a small consolation prize for fans who have possibly seen the last competitive Braves team at Turner Field (since they’ll be moving into a new stadium in 2017), but it was a necessary evil to rebuild a farm system that has been depleted for years.
There simply weren’t many quality prospects left in the minors for the Braves, and if they didn’t make trades to bolster their minor-league system, the franchise was setting itself up for a decade or more of talent-depleted major-league rosters. That’s a recipe for prolonged failure – something Braves fans haven’t seen in almost 30 years.
The last time the Braves had a loaded farm system, they went on a run that included five pennants and one World Series ring. If the franchise can get half that much success from the current crop of prospects, the next few years of mediocrity will be worthwhile.
Image: Flickr/Charles Atkeison