2017 Atlanta Braves Top 10 Insider

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Talent Infusion: Draft Report Card

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SEASON IN A SENTENCE: Atlanta wasn't supposed to contend this year and didn't, but after firing manager Fredi Gonzalez (9-28) and trading for Matt Kemp, the Braves became respectable, going 59-65 under longtime organizational soldier Brian Snitker.

HIGH POINT: The Braves played spoiler in their final series at Turner Field as they move out of the 20-year-old park in favor of new SunTrust Park next year. Detroit needed to win, but the Braves beat the Tigers in the last two games of the year, with Julio Teheran striking out 12 in seven innings to out-duel Justin Verlander in a 1-0 victory on the season’s final day. Freddie Freeman had the lone RBI to cap a .304/.400/.569 season that included a 30-game hit streak and 34 homers.

LOW POINT: It was a brutal April as Atlanta lost its first nine games to open the season, and heralded Cuban import Hector Olivera was arrested for assaulting a woman in the same month. He was suspended and eventually traded to the Padres in a salary-dump deal that brought Kemp to Atlanta. The Padres immediately released Olivera, 31, who still had yet to find a new home as November arrived.

NOTABLE ROOKIES: Outfielder Mallex Smith tied for the team lead with 16 stolen bases in just 72 games and looks like at least a fourth outfielder going forward. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, who'll remain rookie-eligible in 2017, provided a glimpse into the future with a strong September. Atlanta's rookie pitchers almost uniformly struggled, particularly righthander Aaron Blair (2-7, 7.59), with hard-throwing reliever Mauricio Cabrera the notable exception.

KEY TRANSACTIONS: Trading for Kemp helped revitalize the offense as he provided needed power and protection for Freeman. The Shelby Miller trade in the offseason brought Swanson and Ender Inciarte, two key up-the-middle pieces for the future, as well as Blair, who showed flashes despite his struggles. Swanson came up after veteran Erick Aybar was traded to the Tigers.

DOWN ON THE FARM: A system burgeoning with talent showed up most at low Class A Rome, with a loaded pitching staff leading to a South Atlantic League title. Despite a 65-78 season, Gwinnett made the Triple-A International League playoffs and lost in the finals. The Braves went old-school in the draft, taking prep pitchers with each of their three selections in the top 44 picks.

OPENING DAY PAYROLL: $69,005,791 (29th)

BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Ozzie Albies
Best Power Hitter Austin Riley
Best Strike Zone Discipline Ronald Acuna
Fastest Baserunner Anfernee Seymour
Best Athlete Derian Cruz
Best Fastball Lucas Sims
Best Curveball Max Fried
Best Slider A.J. Minter
Best Changeup Kolby Allard
Best Control Mike Soroka
Best Defensive Catcher Lucas Herbert
Best Defensive Infielder Dansby Swanson
Best Infield Arm Ozzie Albies
Best Defensive Outfielder Cristian Pache
Best Outfield Arm Ray-Patrick Didder
PROJECTED 2020 LINEUP
Catcher Tyler Flowers
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Ozzie Albies
Third Base Austin Riley
Shortstop Dansby Swanson
Left Field Dustin Peterson
Center Field Ender Inciarte
Right Field Ronald Acuna
No. 1 Starter Julio Teheran
No. 2 Starter Kolby Allard
No. 3 Starter Mike Soroka
No. 4 Starter Ian Anderson
No. 5 Starter Sean Newcomb
Closer Patrick Weigel
TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Tigers
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Dodgers
2009 Tommy Hanson, rhp Deceased
2010 Jason Heyward, of Cubs
2011 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
2012 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
2013 Julio Teheran, rhp Braves
2014 Lucas Sims, rhp Braves
2015 Jose Peraza, 2b Reds
2016 Dansby Swanson, ss Braves
TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Jason Heyward, of Cubs
2008 Brett DeVall (1st round supp.) Did not play
2009 Mike Minor, lhp Royals
2010 Matt Lipka, ss (1st round supp.) Braves
2011 Sean Gilmartin, lhp Mets
2012 Lucas Sims, rhp Braves
2013 Jason Hursh, rhp Braves
2014 Braxton Davidson, of Braves
2015 Kolby Allard, lhp Braves
2016 Ian Anderson, rhp Braves
LARGEST BONUSES IN CLUB HISTORY
Ian Anderson, 2016 $4,000,000
Kevin Maitan, 2016 $4,000,000
Abrahan Gutierrez, 2016 $3,500,000
Joey Wentz, 2016 $3,050,000
Kolby Allard, 2015 $3,042,400

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