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Projecting the Short Term Impact for MLB-Ready Prospects

Braves fans want to win now, but the wins are clearly staked in the minor leagues. Here, we take a historical glance at what we should see from our close to ready MLB prospects.

Dansby Swanson Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Over the past 2 seasons, attention for the Braves fan base has been firmly planted on the minor league system as the organization rebuilds and the major league team frequently frustrates the fans that remain to watch. We’ve seen a handful of prospects make their way to Atlanta already, namely Dansby Swanson and Mike Foltynewicz, but the bigger waves are still yet to come. It’s not a huge secret that much of Atlanta’s top flight talent is in the lower minor leagues, but the Braves also have their fair share of future contributors ready to contribute in the near future.

What I’ve done is chosen the 7 most major-league-ready prospects (those who still maintain MLB rookie status, so yes at the time of writing this includes Dansby Swanson) and compared them categorically to past prospects from various organizations to give a glimpse of what might be to come. This won’t be a projection of what a player can do 10 years from now, because I doubt many of us care. What we’re here to do is find out what the Braves have coming in the next year or two, and how they’ll able to contribute to the resurgence of this team over the coming few years. In the write ups, I will explain the category I placed the player in, what his past comps could mean for the future, and will discuss one or two notable players on the list of comps. These are purely situational or statistical comps, and there will be many clear cases in which a player on the list is a terrible comp for the Braves prospect.

Before we jump into these players it’s important to note a few things about what the charts below mean. “Years to MLB” is not until the debut, but until a player received his first regular or semi-regular MLB playing time. Sometimes this is a judgement call.

“Starter” indicates a player who started consistently throughout this career. Yes, a guy may have had one season as a starter but I don’t care. We’re talking about over the first 3 seasons.

“Best Season” is the year a player had his best season by WAR, with 1 being, like above, his first full season not just the first time he played on a major league squad

“All Star” Unlike the others indicates a player who just made an all star game in his career. It’s not really as relevant to this discussion but is a nice note to make.

“NA” indicates a player who never made the major leagues or received a regular chance to play. Again, in a few cases this was a judgement call.

All averages and percentages at the bottom of the chart are as a percentage of the players who received regular playing time. The NA’s don’t count in those. Now, let’s jump into the players.

Sean Newcomb

Sean Newcomb has been extremely frustrating since he was acquired from the Angels, and saw himself drop precipitously down major prospect Top 100 lists. Because of this, I chose a list of left handed pitchers who had been in the Top 50 on Baseball America’s list the season before, and then dropped more than 20 spots but remained within the top 100. The list was short, but had a fairly wide range in terms of major league future.

Sean Newcomb

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star Best BA Rank
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star Best BA Rank
Jake McGee 0 No -0.1 1.9 0.2 2 4 No 15
Gio Gonzalez 0 Yes -0.3 4 4.3 8 4 Yes 26
Greg Miller NA No NA NA NA NA NA No 8
Adam Loewen 0 Yes 0.4 0.8 -0.5 0.7 2 No 13
Martin Perez 0 Yes 1.6 0.5 0.3 2.4 4 No 17
Cole Hamels 1 Yes 2.3 4.1 4.3 10.7 6 Yes 17
Sean Burnett 4 No 0.1 0.5 0.6 1.2 4 No 25
Doug Million NA No NA NA NA NA NA No 19
Jeff Granger 1 No -0.2 -0.5 NA -0.7 1 No 19
Terrell Wade 1 No 1.4 -0.7 0.1 0.8 1 No 29
Tyrone Hill NA No NA NA NA NA NA No 10
Narciso Elvira 0 No 0 NA NA 0 1 No 23
Wilson Alvarez 2 Yes 4.9 3.7 2.1 10.7 1 Yes 26
10 0.9000 50.00% 1.01 1.59 1.43 4.02 3 30.00%
3 5 3

A lot of people are down on Newcomb, but it’s important to remember that he’s still a top 100 prospect and still has the stuff that made him top 30. I know 4 wins over 3 seasons doesn’t seem good, but as prospects go that’s a fairly solid average and equates to roughly a 4.40 ERA and 170 IP per season. As with any group of pitchers, some of these guys were very good (Martin Perez) but couldn’t stay healthy, and many of those that remained starters continued to improve after his third MLB season. Newcomb is probably a full season away, roughly average among this group, but unlike many starters who don’t pan out there are no questions about whether Newcomb’s changeup will play at the next level. There’s a lot of really bad on this list, but the few good pieces should give you reason to keep at least some ember of hope alive that Newcomb can be a top of the line starter.

I compared Sean Newcomb to Gio Gonzalez back in October, and this list further solidifies that comparison. Both are hard-throwing lefties with some control problems in the minor leagues and a very strong curveball. Cole Hamels is clearly the best name on this list, but if we can get performance like Gonzalez out of Newcomb the Braves would be ecstatic.

Max Fried

For Fried, I went through the history of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects (you’ll find this to be a theme) and picked out the players on the list who had Tommy John surgery before being ranked. I recognize that Fried is not Top 100, but he’s very close and probably will be by the end of the season.

Max Fried

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Kyle Gibson 1 Yes 2 3.2 0.6 5.8 2 No
Wily Peralta 1 Yes -1.1 2.7 0.1 1.7 2 No
Michael Ynoa NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Dan Opperman NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Drake Britton 2 No 0.2 0.3 NA 0.5 2 No
Jake McGee 0 No -0.1 1.9 0.2 2 4 No
Nick Hagadone 2 No -0.4 -0.5 0.6 -0.3 3 No
Casey Crosby 2 Yes -0.4 NA NA -0.4 1 No
Andrew BRackman 2 No 0.1 NA NA 0.1 1 No
Kyle Drabek 1 Yes -0.4 0.2 0 -0.2 2 No
Nathan Eovaldi 0 Yes 1.4 2.2 0.2 3.8 2 No
Tyler Chatwood 0 Yes -0.4 0.4 3.4 3.4 3 No
Dustin McGowan 0 Yes -0.9 2.3 0.5 1.9 2 No
Pedro Beato 4 No -0.8 -0.5 0 -1.3 3 No
Hyun Jin Ryu 0 Yes 3.3 1.9 0 5.2 1 No
Dustin Nippert 1 No -0.2 -0.6 1.5 0.7 3 No
Anibal Sanchez 0 Yes 3.7 0.3 -0.2 3.8 8 No
Francisco Rosario 2 No -0.3 -0.1 NA -0.4 2 No
Chris Narveson 7 Yes 0.4 -0.3 0.6 0.7 3 No
Jose Capellan 0 No 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.7 2 No
John Patterson 0 Yes -0.2 0.1 4.8 4.7 3 No
Colby Lewis 1 Yes -1.4 0.4 0 -1 8 No
Eric Gagne 0 No 0.4 0.3 2.9 3.6 4 Yes
Billy Koch 0 No 1.7 2.5 0.1 4.3 2 No
Dewon Brazelton 1 Yes -1.4 0.7 -1.7 -2.4 2 No
23 1.174 56.52% 0.24 0.84 0.72 1.80 2 4.35%
2 13 1
Note: Nick Adenhart would have qualified for this list, but given the tragic situation was left off by the author

This is a really depressing list of players. Of the 28 top prospect lists that BA has done, Gagne is the only ranked player I could find with a prior Tommy John to ever make an all star game. The jury is still out on a handful of players, but the general sign is that guys with Tommy John just don’t pan out that often. With the exception of Sanchez and Lewis, most of these guys end up flaming out very early as well, with that median best season being only season 2. Now, Fried is a bit of a different situation than most of these in that he’s far more recent than these players. The success rate for Tommy John recipients has continued to climb, and given his increase in velocity Fried seems to face no ill effects, but you still can’t ignore the problems these guys have faced.

Anibal Sanchez is clearly the biggest success on this list. He has never made an all star game, but he has led the league in ERA and been a reliable albeit unexciting pitcher for a decade. It may be a bit disappointing if one of your top prospects becomes nothing more than “reliable”, but it beats the rest of this list by a long shot.

AJ Minter

I tried to find top relief prospects to compare Minter to, but it was no easy task. No one really makes “top relief prospects” lists and when we discuss guys we usually do it in hindsight and talk about the guys that pan out. This is the group that I could find, and I still feel it does represent a solid range of possibilities.

AJ Minter

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star Reliever Guide
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star Reliever Guide
Arodys Vizcaino 2 No 0 1.2 -0.5 0.7 2 No .7 WAR
Addison Reed 0 No 0 1.2 -0.5 0.7 6 No 65 IP
Kelvin Herrera 0 No 2.5 -0.2 2.8 5.1 3 Yes 3.25 ERA
Heath Hembree 2 No 0 0.4 0.4 0.8 3 No 1.1 WAR
Aroldis Chapman 0 No 0.4 3.6 2 6 2 Yes 70 IP
Kenley Jansen 0 No 0.8 1.9 2.6 5.3 3 Yes 3.00 ERA
Tanner Scheppers 1 No 0.2 2.2 -1 1.4 2 No 1.7 WAR
Craig Kimbrel 0 No 2.4 3.3 3.3 9 2 Yes 70 IP
Drew Storen 0 No 0.4 1.6 0.8 2.8 2.50 ERA
9 0.56 0.00% 0.74 1.69 1.10 3.53 2.5 44.44%
0 0 4
1.6 WAR ~ 65 IP @ 2.50 ERA

3.5 WAR is really good guys. Over the last 3 seasons only 17 relief pitchers have posted a total WAR >/= 3.5. There is some clear variation among the players listed, and as you would expect with a reliever most never got much better than their early careers, but that is a really nice list of outcomes for Minter. If the worst players on the list were net positive and had some solid seasons in the bigs with of course still a few seasons left for these guys in their careers. Relievers are pretty easy to spot-throw hard and have a good breaking pitch, and Minter fits that bill perfectly. Assuming he gets an opportunity this season, the Braves seem to have a top half of the league guy to throw into the late innings and pair with Vizcaino.

Beyond 2 of the 9 being Braves, it’s interesting that only one name on this list is left handed and that’s only because he throws 105 mph. Minter is not Chapman good. The most accurate player comp is probably Vizcaino. Both are smaller guys who have undergone TJ, and while Vizzy has had issues staying healthy he has been very good when he is on the field. Minter faces many of the same issues as Vizzy, except Minter’s breaking pitch is better if that means anything to you.

Ozzie Albies

For Ozzie Albies I chose to select from a list of players that posted an OPS > .800 in AA before turning 20. Unfortunately, Ozzie is a very hard player to comp due to his somewhat unique skill set among top prospects and his being a second baseman. Few second baseman are really top prospects, and it’s not a really pretty list of players especially given that he ranked higher than everyone save for Rickie Weeks on that list.

Ozzie Albies

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Jason Heyward 1 Yes 6.4 2.5 5.8 14.7 6 Yes
Jurickson Profar 1 No 0.1 0 0 0.1 1 No
Mike Trout 0 Yes 10.8 9.3 7.9 28 1 Yes
Jesus Montero 3 No -0.1 -0.3 -0.1 -0.5 1 No
Justin Upton 1 Yes 0.8 4 1.5 6.3 4 Yes
Delmon Young 2 Yes 0.9 0.3 -0.6 0.6 4 No
Joel Guzman 2 No -0.2 -0.2 NA -0.4 2 No
Adam Jones 3 Yes 2 2.6 2.5 7.1 7 Yes
Daric Barton 3 No 0.7 0.9 5.5 7.1 3 No
Wilson Betemit 4 Yes 1.5 0.2 0.4 2.1 1 No
Dioner Navarro 2 Yes 0.7 0 0.3 1 10 Yes
Chad Hermansen 2 No -0.3 -1.6 -0.8 -2.7 4 No
Andruw Jones 1 Yes 3.3 7.4 7.1 17.8 4 Yes
Adrian Beltre 1 Yes 3.9 3.3 0.8 8 6 Yes
Juan Gonzalez 2 Yes 2.1 2.9 6.5 11.5 3 Yes
15 1.867 66.67% 2.17 2.09 2.63 6.89 4 53.33%
0 10 8

There is a lot of really good baseball players on this list. Profar would be the closest to Albies on skillset, but has unfortunately lost a lot of time for injury and doesn’t really look that promising. Names like Andruw Jones and Mike Trout pull these numbers up a bit given that he lacks the power potential those two have shown, but he also provides a lower risk than most of the prospects given his defensive ability and already developed approach. I’ve told you Ozzie Albies was going to be good and he was going to be good very fast, and this list supports that statement. Over half made an All Star game, and a >2 WAR average for each of the three individual seasons is ridiculous. He also aligns in one important place. Most of these guys were still 2 years from getting consistent major league playing time, which for Albies would be next season. Ozzie is by no means a sure bet, but the numbers show that guys who succeed at a high level as a young player turn out quite well in the major leagues much of the time. Also important, the Braves should have a really solid piece from day 1 to throw into the lineup.

There’s a lot of power on this list and it makes it really hard to judge what to expect from Albies. The last teenager to post a > .800 OPS in the Southern League was Jason Heyward, and from the list he may be the closest to the value that Albies will provide. Both are great defenders at a young age, despite not playing a premium position, and should provide roughly the same offensive value though in different ways. Albies will provide a higher OBP but less power than Heyward, which given some of the disappointment surrounding the outcome of Heyward’s power probably evens itself out to them being roughly equal with the bat. Again, a very hard player to comp.

Rio Ruiz

I posed the same comparison as Albies with a slight variation, taking corner infielders around the same age as Ruiz with an OPS +/- .75 points of Ruiz. I feel that Ruiz performed much around his true self last season, and it would also be unfair to compare him to other positions which wouldn’t carry the same sort of offensive and defensive expectations.

Rio Ruiz

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Nick Castellanos 1 Yes -1.4 0.5 1.6 0.7 3 No
Lonnie Chisenhall 2 Yes 1.3 1.4 2.3 5 3 No
Chris Marrero 0 No -0.7 0 -0.3 -1 3 No
Wes Bankston NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Andy Marte 0 No 0.9 -0.2 -0.3 0.4 1 No
Drew Henson NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Wilson Betemit 4 Yes 1.5 0.2 0.4 2.1 1 No
Corey Hart 2 Yes -0.4 4.7 1.3 5.6 2 Yes
Jorge Cantu 1 Yes 1.2 -1.4 -0.5 -0.7 4 No
Cole Liniak NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Kevin Barker 1 No -0.3 0.1 0 -0.2 2 No
Wes Helms 3 Yes -0.4 0 0.8 0.4 6 No
Kevin Witt NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Tom Evans NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Scott Rolen 1 Yes 4.5 6.7 4.6 15.8 8 Yes
Shane Andrews 1 Yes -0.6 1.4 0.1 0.9 4 No
Howard Battle NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
David Bell 2 Yes 0 -0.9 -0.1 -1 6 No
Jose Oliva 1 No 0.7 -1.6 NA -0.9 1 No
Travis Fryman 1 Yes 3.2 4.8 5.2 13.2 3 Yes
Scott Cooper 2 Yes 0.6 1.3 3 4.9 3 Yes
Ed Sprague 3 Yes 1.4 -0.5 0.9 1.8 4 Yes
16 1.5625 75.00% 0.72 1.03 1.27 3.02 3 31.25%
6 12 5

There are a handful of very interesting names on this list, but the general pattern is most of these guys flame out or struggle for the first few major league seasons. The YTMLB has him as a 50/50 shot to get significant playing time in 2017, and I lean towards believing he will due to the work he put in this offseason and the fact that Adonis is not very good. The guys that did pan out from this list had multiple 20+ home run seasons, and I’m not sure I see that from Ruiz. The Braves unfortunately do not look to have found their 3B of the future, though with the improvement Ruiz has made this offseason to his body and his approach vs LHP (he leaned out his upper half last season but hasn’t so far this spring) we really don’t know what type of player we’re going to see this year. Still, 1 win a year would make for a solid stopgap or platoon player, and he’s still extremely young.

Lonnie Chisenhall is not a great baseball player, and he struggled to get playing time in his early career, but he is a better third baseman than anything the Braves have seen since Chipper Jones retired. He’s had some relative successes despite having less power (career high 13 home runs) and a less patient approach (BB% < 10% in every season of his career) than Rio Ruiz. He’s no better if not worse on defense, and though much of his better production has been in the outfield he’s probably about what you should expect from Rio-and he’s been worth 2 WAR/ 150 games in his career. If Rio’s power can take a nice leap forward, you could see Travis Fryman as a ceiling comp. That’s a big if, and Fry was probably a better defender than anything you’ll see from Rio, but if Suntrust Park plays as hitter friendly in right field as early indications show, some of those balls Rio sends bounding off the walls and falling to the warning track at Coolray Field might just sneak over.

Dansby Swanson

This was the easiest choice of all, as I just chose college players who were top 10 overall prospects by Baseball America’s top 100.

Dansby Swanson

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Buster Posey 0 Yes 3.9 1.4 7.3 12.6 3 Yes
Pedro Alvarez 0 Yes 0.5 -2 2.5 1 4 Yes
Matt Wieters 0 Yes 1.4 2.6 4.9 8.9 3 Yes
Evan Longoria 0 Yes 4.8 7 8.1 19.9 3 Yes
Alex Gordon 0 Yes 2 2.8 0.3 5.1 5 Yes
Stephen Drew 1 Yes 0 3 2.9 5.9 4 No
Rickie Weeks 0 Yes 0.1 0.8 2.2 3.1 6 Yes
Mark Texeira 0 Yes 2.7 4.6 7.2 14.5 3 Yes
Carlos Pena 0 Yes 1.1 1.3 2.8 5.2 6 Yes
Pat Burrell 0 Yes 0.5 1 4.5 6 3 No
JD Drew 0 Yes 2.7 3.6 5.5 11.8 6 Yes
Travis Lee 0 Yes 1 -0.5 0.4 0.9 6 No
Todd Walker 1 Yes 1.9 0.3 0.4 2.6 5 No
Darin Erstad 1 Yes 3.3 2.6 2.4 8.3 4 Yes
Charles Johnson 0 Yes 3 1.1 4.4 8.5 3 Yes
Tim Salmon 0 Yes 5.2 2.6 6.6 14.4 3 No
Mo Vaughn 1 Yes -0.2 3.2 2.7 5.7 5 Yes
John Olerud 0 Yes 1.7 1.8 3.3 6.8 4 Yes
Todd Zeile 0 Yes 2 2.2 1.6 5.8 2 No
Greg Vaughn 0 Yes 0.2 2.8 1.8 4.8 4 Yes
Jose Offerman 2 Yes -0.1 1.9 -1.4 0.4 7 Yes
21 0.2857142857 100.00% 1.80 2.10 3.35 7.25 4 71.43%
0 21 15

I have to admit, as I was doing my research and typing in these names I got a little bit giddy. Look at that list, and just admire the sheer number of even minor successes on it. Every single player on that list had at least one season in his career with a WAR over 2. Every single player was a consistent starter for at least a few seasons during his career, and almost 34 of the players made an all star game. We all want Swanson to turn into a franchise cornerstone and there’s a serious chance he will. Many of these players were not only good early on due to their major league readiness, they also continued to have good seasons long after their first 3 with a team. That average third season of 3.35 WAR would make him roughly the 4th to 8th best SS in baseball, and only 8 shortstops over the last 3 seasons have posted a cumulative WAR above 7.25. Dansby’s Baseball America grades have him pegged to be even better, as shortstops with seasons similar to his profile were worth roughly 3.5 WAR on average. We may not know how good Dansby is gonna be just yet, but let’s all sleep soundly tonight knowing that he will be good. And the combined 14.2 Expected WAR for Albies & Swanson?

The only shortstop on this list is (I had vomit a couple times before typing this) Stephen Drew. Look, Drew had some good seasons I won’t deny that, but ultimately he flamed out after a few good years and if that is the production we get from Swanson the Braves will be in trouble long term. Fortunately Swanson is a better hitter than Drew ever was, and most importantly lacks the question marks Drew had surrounding his makeup. So good defender, good hitter, and good power? Oh my word it’s the shortstop version of Darin Erstad. I know that’s not an exciting, legendary name but Erstad produced 25 WAR over 6 years of team control, won a Gold Glove, made 2 All Star games, and doesn’t have the advantage of playing shortstop and having legendary flow.

Dustin Peterson

It’s the same category as Rio Ruiz, except for outfielders instead of corner infielders. Peterson played well all season and didn’t give any particular indication that his performance was fluky one way or the other, so I consider that a true self performance and think a statistical evaluation is warranted.

Dustin Peterson

Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Name Years To MLB Starter WAR Year 1 WAR Year 2 WAR Year 3 WAR Total Best Season All Star
Billy Hamilton 2 Yes 2.5 1 2.8 6.3 3 No
Junior Lake 1 No 0.9 -1.4 -0.8 -1.3 1 No
Caleb Gindl NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Michael Brantley 2 Yes -1.2 1.9 3.2 3.9 5 Yes
Gerardo Parra 1 Yes 0.2 0.5 3 3.7 5 No
Tyler Colvin 3 No 0.9 -1 2.2 2.1 3 No
Carlos Gonzalez 0 Yes 1.1 1.8 5.9 8.8 3 Yes
Jai Miller NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Xavier Paul 3 No -0.4 0.1 0.3 0 3 No
Brandon Jones NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Gregor Blanco 2 Yes 0.9 -0.1 1 1.8 6 No
Jeff Francouer 1 Yes 0.6 3.3 -1.7 2.2 2 No
Brian Anderson NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Jonny Gomes 2 Yes 2.2 -0.2 0.5 2.5 1 No
Ray Sadler NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Ryan Langerhans 3 No 2.5 1 -1.5 2 1 No
Matt Holliday 2 Yes 0.4 2.8 3.4 6.6 4 Yes
Luke Allen NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Austin Kearns 1 Yes 4.1 1.4 0.4 5.9 1 No
Jody Gerut 3 No 2.8 0.6 0 3.4 6 No
Aaron Rowand 1 Yes 1.4 1.2 0.8 3.4 4 Yes
Juan Pierre 1 Yes 3.1 0.7 3.4 7.2 4 No
Mike Darr 0 No 0.5 0.8 1.2 2.5 3 No
Jeff Inglin NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
Adam Johnson NA No NA NA NA NA NA No
17 1.65 64.71% 1.32 0.85 1.42 3.59 3 23.53%
8 11 4

Peterson is definitely 2 years away, which is about what you would expect given this group, and I have to say I’m relatively enthused by this group. The Braves are certainly shallow in the outfield, and beyond Peterson you have a bunch of question marks and role players until you reach Acuna (who was on this list originally but I couldn’t find comps). Those numbers are a likely upgrade over what you’ll see from Markakis, for far less money, and when paired with a seemingly ever-improving approach and performance may be a low-end estimate of Peterson’s future. There are effectively 2 superstars on this list, a bunch of solid starters, and then a bunch of role players. If we can hit that range of “solid starter” then the Braves are really cooking in the outfield with Peterson/Inciarte/Acuna.

I like the comparison around Michael Brantley though Peterson will strike out more and hit for less average (but has shown more pop in the minor leagues than Brantley). It’s not a sexy name (barring that one freakish season) but it’s another solid contributor who hit some and played arguably worse defense than Peterson can play. Outside of the 6 WAR aberration for Brantley, he’s been a roughly average player and fits nicely in a lineup that outside of him already has good pieces (for the Braves, Inciarte, Freeman, Swanson, Albies, Acuna).

Let’s skip 2017 for a moment, and talk about who these players both replace and how much better they would perform. Unfortunately, 2018 is probably going to be a struggle for the Braves as they will lose at least Jaime Garcia, probably RA Dickey, and maybe Bartolo Colon, and replacing them with Newcomb and Fried who will both likely have ups and downs their first season. However, with the step forward you should expect from Mike Foltynewicz it may be a net-neutral with this rotation in 2018. Having Ozzie in there full time over Phillips should be worth roughly a win, plus the improvement of Swanson and the addition of Ruiz and Peterson will be 2 to 3 extra wins. Throw in a the 1.5 wins from Minter (assuming that’s his second season), which could jump to as high as 2 if he replaces a sub replacement level reliever (of which the Braves tout many) and we could see a legitimate 4 WAR jump just from a handful of positions based on a somewhat reserved projection.

Then we move to 2019, which is when it seems to be prime for the Braves to improve. Newcomb should be taking anywhere from half a win to 2 wins forward, Fried should be moving half a win to a win forward, and at least comparing the better relievers season 3 should be roughly equal to season 2 for Minter. That’s a 1-3 wins just from those players, not to mention other members of the bullpen and the rotation that will make a mark. Season 3 is when most college players see that huge jump in production, leaving Swanson 1-3 wins excess. A slight slump may be expected for Peterson, but the addition of Acuna and Ruiz’s step forward mask that easily. Just among the projections for these 7 we could see a 6-10 win jump over the next 2 seasons, and with the surrounding cast of players and inevitable free agent signings this is the point in which the Braves start seeing the fruits of their labors and start making a run for a playoff spot.

So clearly the future of the Braves is still just the future, and with the talent up top being a bit hit-or-miss historically it could be 5 years before the Braves see legitimate playoff opportunity. Still, even among a small sample of prospects you can see light at the end of the tunnel, with reinforcements coming that could improve aging and underwhelming positions. It’s no overnight process but the front office has left much to be confident about going into the coming seasons.

You can view A Sortable and Editable Version of All 7 Spreadsheets Here

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