Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus did his annual ranking of the top minor league systems in baseball, and Atlanta came in fourth, behind Oakland, Texas, and Tampa, and just ahead of the Marlins. Here is what KG had to say about the Braves minor league system:
Last Year's Ranking: 8
Why They Might Be Better Than This: Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson are the top hitting and pitching prospect pair in all of baseball; Jordan Schafer is looking nearly big-league ready this spring; the system has dozens of intriguing young arms.
Why They Might Be Worse: Gorkys Hernandez needs to rebound following a second-half slide and a hamstring injury; after Hanson and Schafer, the remaining prospects will require patience, so there's plenty of time for things to go wrong.
Outlook For 2010: Hanson and Schafer could be gone, but the Braves select seventh this June, their highest selection in the draft since 1991; they'll likely slip, but only a bit.
I kind of disagree with that last statement (and I rarely disagree with KG). The Braves have more prospects on the cusp of a breakout than any other organization. Guys that could enter the top-100 next year are Cole Rohrbough, Randall Delgado, Brandon Hicks, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel, Brett DeVall, and don't forget about some rehabbing arms like Steve Evarts (if he gets his head straight), Cory Rasmus (brother of super-prospect Colby), Eric Cordier, and then there's a whole other level of guys that could come out of nowhere like J.J. Hoover, Paul Clemens, Richard Sullivan, David Francis -- there is a whole lot of potential for a lot of prospects to tear it up next year. Not to mention that we'll still have Gorkys, Freeman, Locke, Medlen, maybe Johnson turns the corner. There is a heck of a lot of potential.
But, like Furman Bisher says, we are doing ourselves a disservice by depleting our minor leagues in trades.