Because the Braves take pride in their farm system, Keith Law’s latest appraisal isn’t apt to get the save-print-and-frame treatment at 755 Hank Aaron Drive. Writing for ESPN Insiders, Law ranks the Braves’ minor-leaguers as baseball’s 16th-best.
Law’s take on the Braves (link requires registration):
They have reaped as little from the draft the past two years as anyone, taking low-ceiling college guys with early picks, staying at or under MLB’s bonus recommendations and having less luck on the international market. It’s telling that the major question on every position-player prospect in their top 10 is whether he’ll hit.
This represents a sharp falloff. Law had the Braves third in his organizational rankings last winter. In 2010, he placed them fifth. (That was the year he tabbed Jason Heyward as the No. 1 overall prospect.) That said …
Over the past two seasons, the Braves have produced one National League rookie of the year (Craig Kimbrel in 2011) and two runners-up (Heyward in 2010, Freddie Freeman last season). It would be difficult for any team — alliteration alert! — to sustain such a spree of sudden splashes.
Still, you’d think that the Braves’ glut of young pitching — Baseball America lists five pitchers among the organization’s top eight prospects — would leave the Braves higher than 16th, which is mathematically in the lower half of all MLB clubs. But Law’s point about hitting, or the lack thereof, is telling. Of the non-pitchers among Baseball America’s Braves top 10, none are outfielders. (Four infielders, one catcher.)
Oh, and one thing more: Law has been hammering on the Braves’ drafts for a while now. He hated it when they took Mike Minor with the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, and apparently he wasn’t enthused about the subsequent drafts, either. All of which makes me wonder what he’d have made of the Hawks under Billy Knight.
By Mark Bradley