Here are the Braves Top 50 prospects entering the 2016 season
1. Dansby Swanson – SS – 22 years old – Last year’s top pick in the amateur draft from Vanderbilt has been compared to Derek Jeter. Swanson is a Marietta kid who will be playing in his own back yard at Sun Trust Park very soon. He might just be the face of the franchise.
2. Sean Newcomb – LHP – Turns 23 in June – Newcomb was the big piece from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons deal. Newcomb is a big, tall lefty who has been compared to Jon Lester. He needs work on his command, and he’ll start the season in Double-A. He could be a year away.
3. Ozzie Albies – SS – 19 years old – Last season in Rome, Albies hit .310 with a .368 OBP. That was impressive for an 18-year-old. He’s an exciting player who has everything except power. Both Albies and Swanson can play second and short, so both will get tryouts at each position this season.
4. Aaron Blair – RHP – Turns 24 next month – The ‘other’ prospect in the Shelby Miller trade from Arizona. The Diamondbacks did not want to part with Blair, who is close to being ready. He’s a big right-hander with some of the same attributes as Miller. Expect to see Blair in Atlanta this summer.
5. Austin Riley – 3B – 19 years old – Some teams scouted Riley as a pitcher, but the Braves loved his potential with the bat. Last season, Riley hit 12 home runs in rookie ball. He’s a got tremendous power and the Braves will likely test him in Rome this season. A great prospect.
6. Kolby Allard – LHP – 18 years old – Atlanta’s first round pick last June. Allard had a back procedure after last season, so he’s been slowed a bit this spring. The Braves think he has ace potential, and he’ll eventually be in Rome. Allard dominated in three starts in rookie ball last summer.
7. Touki Toussaint – RHP – Turns 20 in June – The Braves practically bought Toussaint from Arizona last summer. He was a first round pick in 2014. Toussaint has excellent stuff but is very raw and will not be rushed. He will start this season in High-A Carolina to work on his three plus pitches.
8. Mike Soroka – RHP – 18 years old – Last year’s second first-round pick in the draft out of Canada. Soroka is a very mature kid with excellent stuff. He was dominant at times this spring and the Braves’ pitching coaches love how the ball flies out of his hand. Likely headed to Rome.
9. John Gant – RHP – 23 years old – The surprise of camp, Gant made the Atlanta roster as a long reliever after an excellent spring. Gant came from the Mets in the Kelly Johnson trade last summer. He has a Vulcan split-finger pitcher that is very impressive. Will he eventually be a starter?
10. Lucas Sims – RHP – Turns 22 next month – Sims turned the corner last season and then did very well in the Arizona Fall League. The Braves love Sims’ potential and believe he could be ready next season. For now, Sims will go back to start the season in Double-A Mississippi. Potential #3 starter.
11. Mallex Smith – OF – Turns 23 next month – Smith stole 56 bases and hit .303 between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Then this spring Smith his .346 and made quite an impression. He’s close, and a good start to his season could make the Braves believe he’s ready to break into Atlanta’s lineup.
12. Max Fried – LHP – 22 years old – The Braves got Fried, a thin lefty starter, from the Padres in the Justin Upton trade right after he had Tommy John surgery. Healthy now, Fried did well in spring training and has regained his curveball. The Braves will likely start his comeback in Rome.
13. Ronald Acuna – OF – 18 years old – The Braves are heavy with pitching prospects, but the position players are coming. They believe Acuna is a five-tool prospect, with power potential to develop soon. He’s a great hitter now, with solid speed and great defensive ability. Acuna will start the season in Rome.
14. Tyrell Jenkins – RHP – 23 years old – Jenkins split 2015 between Double-A and Triple-A and did well (3.19 ERA in 25 starts). Jenkins doesn’t strike out many, so some wonder if he can be a starter. He’ll return to Triple-A Gwinnett and could be an option in Atlanta if he does well.
15. Braxton Davidson – OF – Turns 20 in June – The 2014 first round pick had a .381 on base percentage last season in Rome. Davidson has decent power, and the Braves would like to see him be more aggressive and show it this season. Davidson did well transitioning from first base to right field.
16. Ricardo Sanchez – LHP – Turns 19 next week – Nearly every minor league pitching coach mentioned Sanchez when talking about kids who impressed in March. Sanchez has great stuff, and the Braves have the luxury of not having to rush him. Sanchez will return to Rome to start this season.
17. Chris Ellis – RHP – 23 years old – The former Ole Miss Rebel came from the Angels in the Simmons trade. Ellis finished last season in Double-A and will return there this season for the Braves. The Braves believe Ellis has mid-rotation potential as he has three solid major league pitches.
18. Zach Bird – RHP – 21 years old – Atlanta got Bird from the Dodgers last summer in the Alex Wood trade. He throws hard, but Bird needs to work more on his secondary pitches and his consistency. The Braves will send him to High-A Carolina to start the season.
19. Rio Ruiz – 3B – Turns 22 next month – Ruiz came from the Astros a year ago in the Evan Gattis deal. He struggled last season at Double-A, but the Braves still have high hopes for him as a potential third baseman. He needs to pull the ball more and show more power as a corner infielder.
20. Dan Winkler – RHP – 26 years old – Winkler must stay on the Atlanta roster through Memorial Day or be offered back to Colorado as a Rule V player. Winkler went out and won a job this spring with no walks and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings. Could be a solid middle reliever.
21. Lucas Herbert – C
22. Andrew Thurman – RHP
23. Mauricio Cabrera – RHP
24. Kyle Kinman – LHP
25. Connor Lien – OF
26. Johan Camargo – INF
27. Steve Janas – RHP
28. Dustin Peterson – LF
29. David Peterson – RHP
30. Max Povse – RHP
31. A.J. Minter – LHP
32. Derian Cruz – INF
33. Chad Sobotka – RHP
34. Christian Pache – OF
35. Wes Parsons – RHP
36. Isranel Wilson – OF
37. Leudys Baez – OF
38. Chase Mullins-Johnson – LHP
39. Daniel Castro – INF
40. Carlos Franco – INF
41. Brady Feigl – LHP
42. Omar Obregon – INF
43. Ryan Clark – RHP
44. Patrick Weigel – RHP
45. Josh Graham – RHP
46. Alec Grosser – RHP
47. Juan Yepez – 1B
48. Justin Ellison – OF
49. Luis Mora - RHP
50. Jonathan Morales – C