Beginning with the more complete list, we go to Baseball America and their top 100 prospects, which includes eight Braves. For the first time since Jason Heyward earned the distinction in 2010, the Braves have the number one prospect in all of baseball in Ronald Acuna. Beyond Acuna, there were multiple prospects who made big leaps in the rankings, with Luiz Gohara and Austin Riley making notably large rises.
The Braves that are on the list consist of Ronald Acuna (1), Luiz Gohara (23), Mike Soroka (27), Kyle Wright (34), Ian Anderson (42), Austin Riley (54), Kolby Allard (65), and Max Fried(72).
The biggest risers on this list are Austin Riley and Luiz Gohara with Gohara making a big leap into the top 25 and Austin Riley going from not even being on the top 100 list at all to being right in the middle of it. Max Fried also joined the list after being previously unranked.
As noted above, Ronald Acuna sits atop the Baseball America prospect rankings, which is remarkable considering how hesitant evaluators were a year when ranking him. The hesitancy was understandable given the small sample size prior, but a ridiculously productive season across three levels plus the Arizona Fall League was enough to convince BA to move him all the way to number one.
Keith Law also released a prospect list on Monday, though his was only part one, which named prospects 51-100. In that segment, the Braves placed six prospects, two of which were among those in the BA top 100. That could mean that Law is either very high on some of the others or he sees them as outside the top 100 altogether. We will find out today which is the case, but regardless, the Braves were well represented on this list by one of the most highly-recognized prospect evaluators in baseball.
Unsurprisingly, the Braves made the cut in this particular list, which names the top five teams that could be surprise contenders in 2018. The Braves have a young but talented rotation along with an offense that seems primed to improve from last season with a healthy Freddie Freeman and the emergence of some top prospects and second-year players.
There’s so much talent on the Major League roster and in the Minor League pipeline that a huge turnaround is inevitable. Whether that happens in 2018 or ‘19 is the question. Progress this season could depend on three factors: the timetable for 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, a franchise-changing player; the development of infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies; and the emergence of all that young pitching in the Minors. Hiring Alex Anthopoulos to run baseball operations was a brilliant move. In short, this is a great time to be a Braves fan.
Grant McAuley takes a look at the catching situation for Atlanta as they enter the 2018 season. The return of two solid contributors from a year ago gives hope that this will be a position of strength yet again, with Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers being counted on to handle the staff and provide some semblance of the offensive output from last season.
With Suzuki in tandem with Flowers, the Braves catching duo provided a steady offensive force in the lineup. As mentioned in the open of this article, they combined to provide the single most productive position for the Braves in terms of wins above replacement. In fact, both catchers were also high on the list of individual leaders in that category. Only Freddie Freeman (4.5) and Ender Inciarte (3.0) were ahead of Suzuki (2.7) and Flowers (2.5) in FanGraphs’ version of WAR among the 2017 Braves. Those individual WAR totals also ranked among the top 10 for all major league catchers – Suzuki ranked sixth highest and Flowers checked in at No. 10.
With the results of the 2018 Hall of Fame balloting set to be released on Wednesday, MLB.com writers share their own votes. Chipper Jones tied for the most, receiving 13/13, while Andruw Jones was left out entirely.