The Rise of a "Barren Farm System," and a look into an Overlooked Player Development Juggernaut
Updated: Jan 17
It's no secret the Braves have one of the worst farm systems after two massive trades involving the Oakland athletic stars Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, but even with this depletion of big name prospects we continue to see the Braves churn out Major League talent as if it was a top farm system in MLB. Let's take a look into why the Braves are in this spot of having a "weaker farm system" than most clubs without the involvement of external trades.
In 2017 the Braves were met with a major scandal involving the signings of multiple International Prospects during the international signing period of Major League Baseball. Former Braves GM John Coppolella found himself a lifetime ban from Major league baseball. Five years latter both of these punishments have been lifted with the Braves finally being freed from sanctions on signing international talent and Coppolella has found himself reinstated by Major League Baseball. However, even with these sanctions the Braves have been able to find some bargain priced prospects with real value and upside in the future with Ambioris Tavarez, Diego Benitez, and Douglas Glod. While they are still a good ways away from reaching the Majors they could prove valuable as future trade chips or replacements to departing players.
So you might be asking yourself, if they cant maintain a stream of talent through the international signing periods, How can they maintain a strong flow of youth into their major league roster after players graduate and established major leaguers are acquired through trades? It's simple, They boast one of the strongest draft and development programs in not just baseball, but the entirety of major sports in America. For example we have Spencer Strider and Michael Harris the top two ROTY candidates last season. Neither of whom where taken in the first two rounds of the draft with Strider also coming off of tommy john surgery and limited playing time due to the 2020 pandemic season. Harris taken as an outfielder was seen more as a pitcher by most teams, before being a 3rd round pick of the Braves in 2019. Both taken around the same time, but with their full talent and potential looked over by 29 other clubs. Dana Brown is the key part in this machine the Braves have built to maintain a steady flow of young Major League talent and viable trade chips, while also keeping most of his prospects under the radar until they hit the High-A/ AA level of the minors before they really start to gain attention from the media and other clubs.
The analytical role of the Minor League coaches has been a major tool for the players to use with the help of a coach or on their own with Atlanta being partnered with Rapsodo since February of 2021. They have been on the leading edge of using this technology to better help their players, and identify where certain players could gain on edge on their competition by making a small mechanical adjustment or by not making one at all, using these tools to instill confidence into their players showing them that they're doing everything right other than hitting the ball where a fielder is not.
Combining all of these elements will lead you to having one of the most undervalued and overlooked farm systems in baseball, while also being able to continually churn out impressive major league talent on a consistent basis, and with the Braves finally being freed from previous international sanctions, be on the look out for that farm system to rise up again from the injection of foreign born players into our organization.