After he posted an impressive season in Rome last season, MLB Pipeline is expecting big things from Braves left-hander Max Fried in 2017. Evaluators have been slow to acknowledge Fried as a top prospect since his Tommy John Surgery in 2014, but after he finished with a 3.26 ERA and 52 Ks in 38.2 innings in season’s second-half, many publications are once again praising the California native as a potential impact major league starter.
The Braves have a lot to look forward to in 2017: a new ballpark, a stocked farm system, and a returning roster that finished the 2016 season on a tear. The lineup made significant strides in the second-half last season, and with their ascension to respectability down the stretch the team should be proud of the heart they showed. As Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes, the Braves had a lot of positive developments in the second-half and there were a number of storylines that contributed to a wild ride in 2016:
The Braves won 50 of their final 97 games to finish at 68-93. Freeman finished sixth in the National League MVP balloting, Julio Teheran bounced back from a rough 2015 to earn his first All-Star selection and Ender Inciarte won a Gold Glove Award.
With all the talent-infusion going on in Atlanta recently, the Braves have a lot to be excited about when going through the roster position-by-position. However, one position that may give some pause when evaluating the current situation at both the major league and minor league levels is behind the plate. As our own Demetrius Bell writes, the Braves have a catching conundrum to solve as they continue to plug holes around the diamond:
The position’s been in flux ever since Evan Gattis got shipped to Houston, and even then you could argue that it was still in flux since there were rumors back in 2014 that the Braves wanted to stick Gattis in left field. The Braves thought they had a long term solution in the form of Christian Bethancourt, but things never went right for C-Beth and now he’s in San Diego learning how to become a catching/outfielding/pitching hybrid monster. A.J. Pierzynski was a surprisingly-solid short-term solution in 2015, but whatever he had left in the gas tank completely evaporated by the time 2016 rolled around.
What were some of the most amazing games for each NL team in 2016? MLB.com recalls some of the most exciting games of the season, and their choice for the Braves is a tough one to argue. I’ll give you a hint: a certain $30 million man caught a baseball that most people wouldn’t catch, then a certain Braves announcer yelled like a buffoon for a good 30 seconds afterward...
This is an interesting piece from MLB.com columnist Mike Petriello concerning the number of Hall of Famers that we could see play in the 2017 season. Could we see a current Brave in the Hall of Fame 20 years from now? As Petriello writes there are an average of 31 future Hall of Fame players that are active per season:
As we showed last year, we've historically seen an average of roughly 31 future Hall of Famers per season, and that held true even if we did "percentage of Hall of Famers per active player," although, of course, that number is much less over the last two decades. Part of that is the obvious fact that many of the most recent stars, like Derek Jeter, simply aren't eligible yet, but there's also evidence that voting gridlock has caused stars of the 1980s and '90s to be underrepresented -- only 18 players have been inducted in the last 10 elections, an average of fewer than two per year.