Baseball Prospectus' 2016 Top Prospects list is here, and as expected it features more than a few Braves. The overhaul of the system is highlighted well by six players appearing in the top 82 of the list including four in the top 43. This rebuild has left the final years of Turner Field as somewhat of a barren collection of painful memories, but the future at SunTrust Park is looking bright. Given the state of some borderline prospects and the top picks in this year's draft, it seems likely that next year's list will feature even more players.
Here is the list of Braves players on the Top 101:
82. Kolby Allard LHP
With his back problems seemingly far in his rearview mirror, Allard has begun to receive a lot of love towards the tail end of many top prospect lists. There's a lot of helium to his positioning as well, as a strong early season performance could see the 1st rounder vault up lists as concerns related to his back simmer down. On Allard, BP says
"He was the best prep arm in the 2015 draft" and mentioning that he "will flash 3 plus pitches"
Allard was amongst the most highly regarded players in the draft this year, but surprisingly not the highest rated Braves draft pick this year. No, that honor goes to
79. Austin Riley 3B
Riley was a big risk for the Braves, and perhaps more so to convert him to a full time 3rd baseman, but no risk has paid out bigger thus far. He ranks 2 spots above the Braves top rated position player prospect from 2015, Jose Peraza, and has produced better power than any other prospect in the system. This is as highly regarded as he will likely be on any mainstream list this season, but the report clearly showed why they think so highly of Riley (heh, that rhymed).
"He generates plus-or-better power with an easy, country-strong swing" but they did hit a bit of a soft spot by mentioning "an Ugglan strikeout rate" that has BP concerned.
Generally, the Braves have struggled to develop top power prospects to their full potential, Freddie Freeman notwithstanding, but the new regime hopes to change those fortunes around.
43. Aaron Blair RHP
Here, the Braves get into what seems to be a consensus top 4 amongst most major rankings, though Talking Chop had Blair at (a possibly low) 7. Blair is the only one on the list for the Braves that seems likely to graduate from the list this season, but is also the one most likely to be a contributor at the major league level. Along those same lines BP called him "major league ready" and "mid rotation upside". I wouldn't call that breaking news to anybody with knowledge of the top prospects in the system, but it really continues to solidify the thinking surrounding the acquirement of Blair.
37. Ozhaino Albies SS
Albies is the only Top 101 holdover from the Frank Wren era, and it seems like a mighty solid find from his crew. Albies entered the offseason as the nearly consensus top prospect in the Braves system, and though 2 blockbuster trades have knocked him down a few spots he is still a worthy candidate for consideration in that spot. Albies "offers major league tools everywhere" except in the power department, which seems to be an industry consensus. As Albies slowly begins to break down the concerns surrounding his size he has flown up every ranking in the world. Albies rates as the 9th highest shortstop on the list, and for what it's worth would rank only behind super prospect Yoan Moncada on the second baseman list if that's where you see his future.
32. Sean Newcomb LHP
Newcomb has some of the highest potential from any player acquired by the Braves, and according to Baseball Prospectus is the fourth best left handed prospect in the minor leagues. Newcomb is a "rare commodity" with his "potential plus plus velocity" though again concerns for his control are expressed. Newcomb is the cream of the crop in a pitching heavy system, an achievement which cannot be understated. He should be a contributor to the major league team sometime during the opening season of Suntrust Park. A very good year in AA/AAA, or just further development of command, has the potential to turn Newcomb into a top 10 type pitching prospect with ace potential.
27. Dansby Swanson
Swanson is the next player on the shortstop list over Albies, and Prospectus seems a little bit more conservative in their ranking of him. While many evaluators see Swanson as a clear number 1 in the system, BP has the top 4 as a mosh pit of players that could presumably be interchangeable. They express that Swanson "should move quickly through the minors and be a solid regular" but lacks "loud tools and overall ceiling". While I hate to agree with a somewhat more pessimistic viewpoint, there is reason to concern yourself with his top end potential in comparison to other in the system, but not nearly enough to make him less than what he is-the best prospect in the Braves system.