Image credit: Shea Langeliers and Braden Shewmake (Photo by Tom Priddy)
Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.
Also of note:
2019 RECORD: 97-65
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: The Braves have maintained one of baseball’s best farm systems even after graduating Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka, Dansby Swanson, Max Fried and Sean Newcomb in recent years. They have an impressive group of both pitchers and position players in the upper levels of the minors, but the talent is significantly thinner in the lower levels.
BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: Andrelton Simmons (second round, 2010). Simmons raced to the majors in two years after being drafted from Western Oklahoma JC. He’s become arguably the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith and has won four Gold Glove awards in eight seasons with the Braves and Angels.
WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: OF/1B Braxton Davidson (first round, 2014). Expected to be a mashing lefthanded slugger, Davidson has instead hit .213 with a 35 percent strikeout rate in five seasons and has yet to reach Double-A. He missed the entire 2019 season after he injured his foot celebrating a walk-off home run in the Arizona Fall League championship game the previous fall.
DEEPEST POSITION(S): Outfield, catcher and righthander. Cristian Pache and Drew Waters are two of baseball’s best outfield prospects and are nearly ready to join Acuña in the Braves outfield. Shea Langeliers and William Contreras similarly give the Braves two of baseball’s top catching prospects. Half of the Braves’ top 16 prospects are righthanded pitchers, many of whom are close to joining Soroka and Touki Toussaint as recent graduates in the majors.
WEAKEST POSITION(S): Third base. Recently graduated top prospect Austin Riley struggled badly in his major league debut after a hot start, while Johan Camargo took a big step back in 2019. The Braves have virtually zero options coming behind them in the minors, so it’s imperative they get back on track.
DRAFT TRENDS: The Braves drafted a high school pitcher with five of their seven first or supplemental first-round picks from 2015-18. They reversed course in their first draft under new scouting director Dana Brown last year, taking two college position players in the first round and another with their second-round pick.