USA Today

Patience, patience, patience

Bill Shanks says this Braves team will test your patience, but the future remains bright.

The Braves have started slowly, and no one seems real surprised. It’s only a handful of games, so there’s no cause to panic. But it also may give us reason to prepare for what might be a long summer of Braves baseball.

It’s okay. Truthfully, it’s okay for Braves fans to be frustrated at what might happen if this team struggles. It’s okay to swear you’re done and you’ll never watch them again. It’s okay to say those things we might not mean when things aren’t going like we want.

That’s what fans do. But this fan base simply needs to grin and bear it. They need to know that no matter how bad it gets in the now, the future is still bright.

While the Braves were losing their first three in Atlanta, progress was being made on the farm – in the minor league system – where the prospects are growing and developing to make the mess in Atlanta go away sometime really soon.

You might grow tired of some who will preach a while longer about patience and making sure you know the names of the top Braves’ prospects, but it is the story of this organization right now.

So while A.J. Pierzynski was dropping balls in the first two games and the pitching staff was losing a 4-0 lead Friday, there were great starts to the season for players who will be important in time. Again, it’s early, so just like there should be no panic in Atlanta for the rough start, we shouldn’t call Cooperstown to reserve spots for minor leaguers who started well, either.

However, it was good to see that last year’s first round pick Mike Soroka strike out seven in his Rome debut. It was great to see Mississippi’s Lucas Sims strike out nine on Thursday and then Chris Ellis strike out eight as he pitched six shutout innings on Friday.

In fact, with three of the top pitching prospects (Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried) pitching Saturday night on the farm, there might have been just as much interest by some in those games than what was going on at Turner Field.

Back when this rebuilding stuff last happened for the Braves, almost 30 years ago, we didn’t have instant access to the minor leagues like we have now. You had to wait on the Sporting News to deliver the 10-day old minor league stats to know what was going on, or maybe an occasional article in the paper to read about a particular prospect.

Now, we can watch how the top prospects are doing with the games right on our smart phones. And don’t think many Braves’ fans aren’t watching the Atlanta Braves on television and the minor leaguers on an iPad or smart phone. That’s what this year is really all about – watching the big league Braves, but keeping one eye on the players who will make up the future we’re all waiting for to make a difference.

Let’s hope there is no pressure by the non-baseball people in the Braves’ front office to make this happen quicker than it should. Sure, a new park will open next season and they’ll want to win, but if this process takes two or three years into Sun Trust Park to get it right, that’s what should happen.

There will be support groups popping up all over the south, as we’ll need help watching the boys in Atlanta try to stay competitive while their replacements are developing in the minors. It’ll be a test of strength and loyalty to the team, but just hope the patience will be rewarded down the road.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

 


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