The Atlanta Braves appear primed for a much-improved season in 2017. The Braves finished 2016 with a record of 68-93, but the team that finished the season was remarkably different from the Opening Day roster. Freddie Freeman posted MVP-esque numbers all season, Ender Inciarte played like an All-Star in the second half, and Dansby Swanson showed flashes of top-notch potential over the final two months. 2017 should be the start of a big step forward for Atlanta. The front office has already improved a young rotation with the signings of veteran pitchers Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. The Braves should also expect a boost from the first wave of young talent in the farm system. Here is a list of prospects that may see time with the big league club next season.
Four Atlanta Braves Prospects to Debut in 2017
Albies was all set to be a late-September call up following the conclusion of the AA playoffs. Unfortunately, a broken elbow ended his season and put his immediate future into question. Abies did play in 138 games this season split between AA and AAA. His best work came at AA Mississippi where he won the Southern League batting title at just 19 years of age.
The elbow injury must be worrisome for Braves fans, but he should be healthy either in Spring Training or soon after. Albies may not start the season in Atlanta but he will see time there next season. Expect to see Albies manning second base opposite of Swanson at some point in 2017.
Lefty Newcomb spent all of 2016 at the AA level. He made 27 starts for the Mississippi Braves going 8-7 with a 3.86 ERA and a 152 strikeouts over 140 innings pitched. Newcomb has not made a start above AA. A quick rise to the majors, however, is not out of the question.
Atlanta is still searching for starting pitchers. Mike Foltynewicz showed signs of growth in 2016, but Matt Wisler demonstrated signs of regression. Dickey and Colon are great placeholders without being a true answer at the position. The Braves also lack a single southpaw in the starting rotation. Newcomb is clearly part of the solution and the future at Suntrust Park. Expect to see him in the middle of the season.
Weigel has put himself in a fantastic position after a strong 2016. He was named the Braves organizational pitcher of the year for the season, and posted a 2.47 ERA over 24 starts between Rome and Mississippi. Weigel recorded 152 strikeouts to just 55 walks en route to a fantastic 1.04 WHIP. The hard-throwing righty is poised for a big breakthrough in the near future.
The one concern for Weigel is the fact that just three of his starts came at the AA level. Weigel, however, possesses a potent fastball that should translate well at any level. The concerns with Atlanta’s rotation have already been mentioned, and Weigel is in position to take advantage of that. Weigel will make appearances for the Braves in Suntrust Park next season. The only question then will be if Weigel is better suited for a late-innings role in the bullpen or a spot in the rotation.
Minter is another pitcher that could make an immediate impact in Atlanta, but Minter’s role will be in the bullpen. He made 31 appearances out of the bullpen over three different minor league levels. Minter did not allow a single earned run in 16 innings split between A and A-Advanced before transitioning to AA. He remained effective at AA Mississippi while appearing in 18 games and logging 31 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched.
Atlanta’s bullpen remains full of question marks heading into 2017. Jim Johnson, Arodys Vizcaino, Mauricio Cabrera, and Ian Krol were all effective at times in 2016 and will be back in Atlanta next season. Either way, the Braves will need more talent and depth in the bullpen. A strong spring could vault Minter onto the Opening Day roster, but it seems certain that he will be in the majors at some point next season.