Best Player: One of the lone highlights of the Braves’ season occurred on Aug. 17 when shortstop Dansby Swanson became the first position player drafted No. 1 overall to debut the year after being selected since Darin Erstad achieved the feat with the 1996 Angels.
Acquired from the Diamondbacks last winter in the Shelby Miller trade, the 22-year-old Swanson opened the season at high Class A Carolina before receiving a promotion to Double-A Mississippi in late April. The Braves called him up after he hit a combined .275/.362/.426 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs in 105 minor league games.
In the early going, the Vanderbilt product looked every bit the part of starting shortstop.
“Dansby showed he was ready by his performance and maturity,” general manager John Coppolella said. “We entered the season saying he would get every opportunity to advance, dependent upon what our player-development people felt was appropriate.”
Best Pitcher: The Braves were impressed with righthander Mike Soroka during his spring visits to Florida with the Canadian junior national team. Atlanta has been even more enthralled with him since making him a first-round pick out of high school in 2015.
After encountering tough luck during the first half, Soroka helped lead the charge for low Class A Rome in the second half. He won seven straight decisions over an eight-start stretch, beginning on July 20, during which time he recorded a 2.39 ERA over 49 innings. Overall he went 9-9, 3.02 with 125 strikeouts and 32 walks in 143 innings.
The 19-year-old combines maturity and command with an excellent feel for pitching. He works both sides of the plate with his low-90s fastball. Soroka also has a tight spin on his breaking ball and a solid changeup.
Keep An Eye On: Righthander Max Povse emerged as one of the more interesting prospects in the organization.
After batting injuries in 2015, the 6-foot-8 Povse advanced from Carolina to Mississippi this season, going a combined 9-6, 3.36 in 26 starts with 139 strikeouts in 158 innings. His season highlight occurred on Aug. 20 when he threw eight shutout innings while allowing just two hits to Pensacola.
The Braves love Povse’s competitiveness and overall command. He throws a heavy, sinking fastball that sits in the low 90s and a hard mid-80s slider.