The Atlanta Braves are coming off a much improved 2018 campaign, going 90-72 and winning the NL East before losing in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After four straight losing seasons, the Braves finally got back to their winning ways in 2018. It was their best season since going 96-66 in 2013, a season where they also fell in the NLDS to the Dodgers.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 22, 2018
Can the Braves build off this success from last season and possibly build a dynasty? The answer to this is yes. Here’s why.
The Farm System
One of the biggest strengths for Atlanta is the farm system. The Braves currently boast the second ranked farm system behind the San Diego Padres. This is a crucial part of the current success and for the future success of the organization. The farm system has and continues to produce exceptional talent, including the likes of 2018 Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr. Other future stars like Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo, Max Fried, Touki Toussaint, Mike Soroka, and Sean Newcomb have also debuted in recent season.
Albies and Acuña
Most people know the Braves farm system by their pitching prospects, but the system has produced some sensational position players. Everyone knows of the breakout season of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña’s Rookie of the Year campaign. These two exciting players have not just been good for the current success and the future of the Braves, but also for Major League Baseball.
These two players are going to be a vital part of the Braves franchise for years to come, but they will also play a big role in the future of baseball. Fans want to see the excitement these two play with on the field as well as their comical off-field fun. Might as well just give these two their own reality show.
The Pitching Prospects
Atlanta’s biggest asset in the farm system is the wealth of young talented arms. Already we have seen some of these youngsters come up and show their potential. Among these are Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Kolby Allard, Luiz Gohara, A.J. Minter, Bryse Wilson, and Sean Newcomb. And fans cannot forget about Mike Foltynewicz who was acquired from the Houston Astros in 2015. He was number 2 on the Braves top ten prospects list once acquired. He’s now become the Braves ace after putting up a 13-10 record, a 2.85 ERA, and 202 strikeouts in 183 innings pitched in 2018. Most of these young pitchers obviously have a lot to learn and a lot to work on, but with some more experience under their belt they have a chance to become one of the most dominant rotations in baseball.
Using the Farm as Trade Bait
Another big part of having one of the top farm systems in baseball is being able to acquire experienced and/or star players before the season or possibly before the trade deadline. This will be a vital part of the Braves future success. Obviously not every prospect is going to work out and not every prospect is going to play on the big league club. But with the Braves success of drafting and developing players, other rebuilding clubs would jump at the chance to acquire some those prospects in exchange for one of their star players.
Another big factor for the Braves success in the upcoming years is long-term contracts. They have many of their star players wrapped up for the years to come. That includes Freddie Freeman who will not be a free agent until 2022. This may not seem like a long time at first glance, but Freeman has become the face of the Braves franchise and Atlanta seems to have become home for the first baseman. So it seems likely he would re-sign with the Braves. Many of the Braves young talented stars will not be eligible for free agency until 2024. The most notable players on this list are Acuña, Albies, Camargo, Newcomb, Fried, Minter, and Soroka. But there are plenty of others.
2019 and Beyond
The Braves rebuild seems to have paid off at the moment after enduring four straight losing seasons. They have built a great farm system by making the right trades and drafting the right players. The Braves have also signed the right veteran players to mentor the young prospects and help the team win right away. A guy like Nick Markakis sticks out the most. He is a quiet guy, but a great mentor to the young players by showing them what it takes to win and how to play like a pro.
The 2019 Braves squad will be bringing back most of the same team from 2018. However, the team did add two veterans in catcher Brian McCann and third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson and McCann will also help with mentoring the young players as well as helping the Braves remain contenders in the NL East. 2019 looks to be a promising year for Braves baseball as the team will look to repeat as NL East champions and also introduce some more new faces from the farm.
As 2019 seems to be a promising year for the Braves, so do the years to come. The Braves will look to continue to draft and develop young talent, as well as making the appropriate trades and targeting the best free agents. Contending with the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and Washington Nationals in the NL East will not be easy, but if the Braves keep doing what they’re doing, there will be a lot of success coming out of Atlanta.
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