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Introducing the Braves' Newest Prospects: Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson

The Braves farm system just got a little bit better today. The Braves got back significant pieces for Shelby Miller, and while the DBacks are signalling all in, Atlanta may have just come out on the better end of the deal

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Braves may have made the trade of the offseason with the acquisition of 2 Top 100 prospects, including top overall pick in the 2015 draft Dansby Swanson. When the initial reports that AJ Pollock was not involved in the deal moving Shelby Miller to Arizona, critics roared with ire towards John Coppolella, but that quickly turned to outright joy upon the revelation of just what the Braves did get back. We could argue 'til the cows come home that trading the best starter was a mistake, while the opposition would argue that the advanced metrics point to major regressions for Shelby Miller. Why waste our time doing that, when we could just admire the shiny new jewels Mr. GM has dropped on our prospect lists.

Dansby Swanson

6'0" 190 LBS
Throws: R Bats: R
Age: 21
Position-Shortstop
Highest Level-Short season A Ball
Projected Major League Ready: 2017
Projected Opening Team in 2016: Rome Braves (A)
Drafted: 2015, 1st Round, 1st Overall
College: Vanderbilt University

Who says you need to tank to get the top pick in the draft? The former Vanderbilt shortstop and Kennesaw native is coming back to Braves country in the most significant swap of the offseason so far. Swanson has a good all around that should allow him to quickly move through the farm system and potentially be Erick Aybar's replacement at shortstop in 2017. He has the ability to stick at the shortstop position long term, and should ease the minds of critics worried about Ozhaino Albies lack of size and his youth. He has plus speed and is a true top of the order hitter, with a swing and hand-eye coordination that hitting coaches dream about. He may stick at shortstop once Albies is ready, but he also had plenty of time at second base as an amateur if Albies proves the better defender. Either way, too many shortstops is a good problem to have, especially with a player as electric as Swanson.

Dansby had a very successful college career, winning a Championship and the award for Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series in 2014. He was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll twice. He hit .333 with 3 home runs as a sophomore, and then exploded as a junior to hit .335/.423/.623 with 15 home runs. It is definitely nice to see a college player show that type of improvement and he should continue to progress. With Arizona Swanson played short season A ball (a step behind what the Rome Braves are), and was pretty successful in his first professional action. He slashed .289/.394/.482 in 22 games with as many walks as strikeouts. He had 11 extra base hits in that time, 1 of which was a home run. He also did a good job of spraying the ball to all fields, though he did not steal a base in his first season. Swanson will move quickly through the system next year, likely starting at Rome and hopefully making it to AA where he will position himself to join the Braves in Atlanta at some point in 2017.

Also he can do this

Aaron Blair

6'5" 230 LBS
Throws: R Bats: R
Age: 23
Position-Pitcher
Highest Level-AAA
Projected Major League Ready: 2016
Projected Opening Team in 2016: Atlanta Braves (MLB(kinda))
Drafted: 2013, CBA, 36th Overall
College: Marshall University

Aaron Blair is a major league ready arm that should immediately slot into Shelby Miller's rotation spot. He is a big-bodied righty with a fastball that he can run up into the mid-90's though it typically sits in the lower 90's. He has a change up and a curveball, and unlike many young pitchers his changeup is the better of the two offspeed pitches. He is another solid pitcher to add to the arsenal for the Braves and should slot well in the middle of a rotation. With that changeup he has been effective against left handers as well, as his minor league splits aren't nearly as drastic as most players. His strikeout numbers were down from his 2014 season, so that will be something to keep an eye on. He has good control and does a good job of limiting walks and other extra base runners for the opposition.

Blair has been nothing but good in his minor league career with a 3.22 ERA in three years since being drafted in the first collective bargaining round out of Marshall in 2013. His 2015 season was his best by ERA. In 13 games with AA Mobile he went 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 games, and he didn't show much of a drop off with his move to AAA. In 13 games with the Reno Aces he went 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 games. He had a career high with 171 strikeouts in 154.1IP, though he showed major regression in 2015 with 120 strikeouts in 160.1 IP.  He was majorly victimized by home runs in the California League in 2014 especially with his elevated fly ball rate that season, but outside of that has done a good job of limiting home runs and forcing ground balls. His highest walk rate at any level in full season ball was 9.3 % in A ball to start the 2014 season, so it's fair to say he isn't going to give away runs to the other team.

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