Over the course of the season, any organization will see a significant change in personnel. Trades, signings, injuries, releases, etc. will happen as the season moves along. Today, I want to take a look at how the organization looks in total, not just the major league team. We rolled out our Top 25 Prospects and Sleeper Picks last week, so I thought now would be a good time to take a look.
(click to enlarge)
The chart might look a little weird at first, but I think it’s pretty intuitive once you get used to it. For now, we’re just concerned with position players, and the field obviously represents where each of these players play. The players that are in bold are on the 40-man roster, and as a part of that roster, they deserve at least some mention, even if no one expects them to be significant contributors.
The color scheme is to help differentiate service time without going too much into detail. Red - a color of warning - indicates players in the last year of their contract or arbitration. Arbitration eligible players are bolded in purple because yellow and orange can be a bit difficult to see. Green is used for players who are signed to contracts for a period of time and are not in the last year of that contract - these can be free agent contracts or extensions. And black means the player is on the 40-man roster but does fit any of the other criteria, meaning they are still in the years of team control before arbitration.
The players below the bolded players are prospects, the league they are playing in, and their ranking in the most recent prospect list should that apply - if they have a star next to their name, they are a sleeper to watch. How did I choose the non-prospect list prospects? Mostly subjective means, and if you have a player you really think should be mentioned, we can talk about adding them to the list. But I tried to stick to players who could have a decent role on the team - solid bench player or better.
Moving on to the actual players, we can talk about catchers first. Brian McCann’s contract has been oft-discussed, but Evan Gattis’ emergence this year will make parting with McCann a little easier. Gerald Laird is signed for an extra season to back up Gattis, so the catching situation seems somewhat resolved, though the details have yet to be finalized.
The farm is a little light on catchers at the higher levels, but there are some intriguing guys at the lower levels. Christian Bethancourt is bouncing back a bit, but we’ll wait to see if this is more than just a hot streak to make too many adjustments to our expectations.
The infield is pretty stable for the moment. None of the current starters are in the final year of their contracts, and Uggla is the closest to free agency with two years remaining on his contract. Chris Johnson is a Super Two, so he’s here for 3 more years should the team choose to keep him.
The farm system, as you might expect, is also a bit thin in the infield, but third base has a few guys to watch. None of the players with the ceiling of a solid regular is beyond AA yet, however, and most of them are still in A-ball or lower. Considering the infield is set for a bit, this isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Everyone knows the outfield is set for at least the next two seasons after this. The Upton, Upton, Heyward outfield likely won’t change until one of them reaches free agency, and with Jordan Schafer seeming to resurrect his career, the Braves have a solid 4th outfielder to go along with the starting core. Reed Johnson technically has an option for next year, but like a double play, you can't assume the option.
The outfield is also a place with a few prospects, but most of the talent remains at the lower levels. Todd Cunningham, Joe Terdoslavich, and Robby Hefflinger are the only prospects in the upper levels. The other six are still a long way away, but there are some definite sleepers there.
I like the idea of a visual to help see the entire organization, and this lets you see where players are and what positions have some depth. But as this is the first try, it could probably use some improvements. Feel free to discuss players I missed, players I shouldn’t have added, information to add, etc. For example, I’m considering adding the players’ ages as of [insert date], but I don’t want it to get too crazy. A visual isn’t helpful if it overwhelms. I may do another one similar to this that adds the players’ age, salary, and service time, but again, that’s a lot of information.