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Talking Chop Community Braves Prospect List: Our Thoughts

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We promised that once the community reached a good stopping point with the community prospect list, that we would share our thoughts. Ask and you shall receive

Let no one say that the Talking Chop community isn't the best in all the internet-land. Since the end of the season, the community here at Talking Chop has been using Fanposts to form their own list of the top Braves minor league prospects. Before Garrett and I share our specific thoughts, we wanted to say that the community did an outstanding job and we loved following the debates in the comments as well as seeing how players were nominated, voted on, and campaigned for. Obviously with risks such as vote splitting and name recognition always being a concern, we honestly did not know how this endeavour was going to turn out. While we don't agree with all the picks, we can certainly respect the thought and the process that went in to creating the list. Great work guys!

The way we decided to do this was to have both Garrett and I respond to the list separately. This way the community gets more input and shows that even amongst the TC hivemind there are varying viewpoints that we have to work through. Thanks again to the community for their participation and special thanks to rlwhite who spearheaded the community prospect list. You're the man.

First Tier (1-5)

  • Ozzie Albies
  • Kolby Allard
  • Mallex Smith
  • Lucas Sims
  • Max Fried

Garrett: This is a pretty solid start to the list. Obviously many people (just not Eric and I ;)) jumped off the Sims bandwagon early in the season, and it's nice to see people warming back up to him now that the performance is matching the stuff. I'm the biggest Ozzie Albies fanboy of them all, so you know I love that ranking. Unfortunately The exclusion of Sean Newcomb is laughable, I mean how could you possibly skip that guy....j/k! Allard is a stud pitcher very deserving of his ranking, the same both Eric and I had for him on our lists once you factor in Newcomb's appearance. Fried obviously has a lot to prove coming off of Tommy John, but is clearly as talented as any player and could easily top the list if he can come back healthy. I will say that I have a bit of a beef with Mallex at 3, otherwise this list would be A1. I got caught up in the hype and numbers early on in the season, but a closer look in person showed some serious red flags for me. I believe Mallex is a sure bet as a solid bench player, and a 50-50 estimate would put him as a fringe average outfielder. Of the players on the list, he is the most likely for me to completely miss on, however a guy with relatively little upside and polish concerns me a bit. He's just so rough around the edges in many phases of the game.

Eric: My only wish was that that this process had started after the Andrelton trade so we could see what the community thought about the value of the prospects that came back. We would probably see Sean Newcomb at or near the top of the list here. The only issue I have with the list here is with ranking Mallex so highly. I went back and looked at the voting for that slot and it looks like Mallex ran away with the vote and that speaks to his popularity. My concern with Mallex has everything to do with the ceiling of his skillset as, ultimately, there are VERY few players with his skills that are very good players for very long. He is an unfinished product defensively in centerfield and will have to make harder contact at the plate before I'm completely on the Mallex train. That doesn't mean I don't think he will be a useful player in the majors, but I don't think he will save the offense either.

Second Tier (6-10)

  • Austin Riley
  • Touki Toussaint
  • Tyrell Jenkins
  • Braxton Davidson
  • Rio Ruiz

Garrett: Another great ranking here. There seems to be a clear separation between the Top 10 or so prospects and the rest of the list, and y'all nailed it with this one. I would like to see Jenkins a bit higher, but the ugly peripherals give reason to skepticism. There is a lot of talent here, especially at the 6 spot with the big bat of Austin Riley, who definitely deserves the ranking. Touki is another talented pick at 7, and one who on many lists would be top 5. The Braves are just a deep system. 9/10 is a pair of talented players, one of which has underacheived his entire (young) career and another who just had a down season. With Olivera potentially moving to LF Ruiz is the 3rd baseman of the future, at least until Riley is ready. One could argue Braxton has top 3 talent in the system, and I'm glad to see y'all take a flyer on a talented guy who could quickly improve,

Eric: Again, no real problems for me with this section, although I do think Rio and Braxton are a bit overranked. Both players seem to long on promise, but until they figure things out more at the plate I can't put them as a top 10 talent in this suddenly very good Braves farm system. Rio in particular was so incredibly bad for most of the season that a poor start this year could drop him way down on my rankings as his swing has now gotten so out of whack twice in his minor league career that it requires complete retooling. He did show glimpses of promise, especially in the second half so I will reserve judgment for now....but Rio has to figure things out soon.

Third Tier (11-15)

  • Ronald Acuna
  • Mike Soroka
  • Ricardo Sanchez
  • Zack Bird
  • John Gant

Garrett: This is the first head scratcher for me. 12-15 is a great order, but Acuna at 11 still is just too high for me. Don't get me wrong, I love the talent, but I don't think he's worthy of such a high ranking in this system quite yet. Soroka is the helium prospect of this group, and I believe in my heart that he will be a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball by the end of the year. My head is the more realistic one, so you should probably listen to it when I tell you that it thinks he'll be in more like the 150-200 range. The next 3 are interesting cases, and much in the same boat. Sanchez was the youngest player in full season ball this year, but injuries and inconsistent command made a rough year for the young man. I still remain a firm believer in the talent. Bird has one of the livest arms of the group, and has approached 100mph on occasion. He still hasn't shown any significant performance, and will be in danger of dropping to a relief role if he does not. Of the 5 Gant has the least raw talent, but may be the most intriguing of the group. A recent mechanical change has done wonders, and his wicked change up and improved velocity has Gant popping up on radars. A potential steal from the Mets.

Eric: The Acuna ranking certainly stands out as a very high ranking and my initial thought was that some vote splitting happened, but again it looks like Acuna ran away with the voting. Acuna did get some publicity after the rookie ball season when Baseball America, Kiley, and others mentioned him specifically so its possible that had an influence on the voting. I do love Acuna though, so this ranking may just end up being correct....I just don't have enough information to get there yet. Ricardo Sanchez is an interesting case in that I have always viewed him as a very long term prospect, but the question becomes how do you rank a kid who is going to need a LOT of time and development despite the fact he is very talented? I haven't come up with a good answer yet, but for me that probably means he won't be in the top 15. I could feasibly have Soroka a couple spots higher as his approach and pitch mix gives me high hopes for him. I would not be surprised if he ends up in the top 5 in the Braves system by season's end.

Fourth Tier (16-20)

  • Isranel Wilson
  • Juan Yepez
  • Dustin Peterson
  • Andrew Thurman
  • Connor Lien

Garrett: Now we get to the guys who are just a bit annoying. Isranel has the talent to be a top 10 guy in the system, but hasn't performed any better than a career minor leaguer would. I would hesitate to rank him highly but I understand the reasoning. I like the attention Yepez is getting, and he's already the clear best 1st baseman in the system. Not much of an achievement, but he deserves attention. Peterson was arguably the best player in the system in the first half, and then the bus crash claimed him victim. He fell back into the numbers he showed in his early career, and one can only hope that he can get back on track. I'm as willing to exclude Thurman from this list as I am to put him top 12. Sometimes he's brilliant, others he is a ticking time bomb. Will the real Andrew Thurman please stand up? I love Lien, I really do. I wanna argue top 15 because he's so athletic and good defensively. I can't however, as his strikeout rate is just too high. Buh-bye Connor.

Eric: The ranking on Isranel is extremely aggressive, but I think that speaks to the realities of the big league club and the state of the minor league system. There is certainly a lack of power hitting position player prospects so I wonder if those with that potential are getting some extra love. Isranel is extremely talented, but his contact rates and lack of translation of his speed makes me hesitant to rank him. I would also be very curious to see how the community would rank Thurman after the AFL he had. Not saying the ranking is wrong, just curious as to how the voting would go. Dustin and Connor need to make strides this next year, as there are a bunch of talented players coming up to Rome and the DSL that could easily overtake them if they don't.

Fifth Tier (21-25)

  • Lucas Herbert
  • Derian Cruz
  • Randy Ventura
  • Christian Pache
  • Rob Whalen

Garrett: This is clearly the range where "high-risk, high reward" won out. Oh and Rob Whalen. I love, love, love Christian Pache, and truly believe he has the talent to be the biggest star on this list. He's just too young to rate too highly, but I still think he's a bit low. Ventura is fast, that we know. I know pretty much nothing else, so I hope he hits when he gets called up next year. Herbert would be higher on this list were it not for a meniscus tear. A catcher that young already having knee injuries is cause for pause, but Herbert is a very good player and deserves the ranking. Derian Cruz is super athletic and it helps that he should have some versatility in a system stacked with athletes. Rob Whalen couldn't ever really get on the field for the Mudcats, but was good in his time in High A ball this year. He doesn't have the best stuff but hopefully his performance will continue.

Eric: These are players to dream on. I actually think that Herbert is a little bit under-ranked here, but with the knee injury and a small sample size in rookie ball, I certainly can respect it. I love the IDEA of Randy Ventura as this basestealing and OBP terror, but I am just skeptical until he participates in rookie ball. His numbers were great and I don't have any reason to believe the car crash he was in will have any lasting effects, but his numbers did come in the DSL where I doubt the pitchers and catchers were equipped to deal with his speed. I'm very lukewarm on Rob Whalen, but since he missed a good bit of time once he became a Brave, I'm certainly willing to see more of him before I make too many conclusions one way or the other. As for Derian, there just isn't a lot of good, recent information on him or Pache for that matter, but this ranking seems fine for them.

Sixth Tier

  • Jonathan Morales
  • Leudys Baez
  • Luke Dykstra
  • Josh Graham
  • Mauricio Cabrera

Garrett: These guys are the "who the hell is that" part of the list. Most fans are unaware of these players, but all could be important names in the future. All are interesting players, especially Morales, and more than deserving of high rankings. Mauricio is the big name of the group but until he can throw more strikes than he gives up runs I think this is the spot for him. I pretty much don't know anything on Graham, but John Sickels seems to love him so I guess I'm on board until proven otherwise. I'm a huge fan of Dykstra for what he is-a player with good bloodlines who should carve out a solid bench role in the majors. I'm not quite sold on his ability to start, but I can be convinced. Baez has a lot of projection in his body, and could be a solid player. He needs to either improve from the right side of the plate or switch to batting left handed full time, but could be a sleeper prospect. Morales had one of the best hot streaks I've seen from a guy drafted that low. Clearly the Braves did their homework on the Puerto Rican catcher, though it may be a bit early to call him a serious prospect. He's a bit old for the level, and had too many passed balls. His arm was phenomenal though, and hopefully his size never limits him.

Eric: I love that Jonathan Morales is getting some attention here and I would have him even higher. The passed balls were concerning, but I doubt that he and the new pitchers in rookie ball were on the same page super often. The bat and arm seem real, so hopefully he continues to progress. I'm not a fan of Mauricio, but I can't argue with 30th when he throws 100+ mph. Leudys' struggles once he went to Rome were a little concerning, but he is just 19 and was playing his first season so he could easily turn in to the player we saw in Danville. I don't see as much to love with Josh Graham as others and would like to see Steve Janas or Matthew Custred in this area.

Hope you guys enjoyed this half as much as we enjoyed watching the community prospect list unfold. While we can always find areas of disagreement on something as subjective as prospect rankings, it was thoroughly enjoyable to see the community put together something like this. As always, thanks again for all of your support as a community and we should have some more minor league content coming your way soon!