I don’t blame teams for tanking. It’s what I would do as a GM. The thought process, trying to become really bad for a bit so that you can maximize the amount of assets necessary to become a contender, is smart. And it's becoming trendy. Sports are copycat leagues after all, so when the Cubs and Astros both tank and then both win the World Series, other teams will follow suit. There are still teams out there like the Baltimore Orioles, trying to get just a little better by signing Alex Cobb. Overall though tanking became a real problem this winter when teams just straight up weren't signing free agents.
Regardless of what you think about tanking, one thing we can all agree on is that the Braves are loaded with young talent. This is an organization that has been more or less tanking for a few years now, and luckily for Atlanta fans their time is coming. Both Baseball America and ESPN ranked the Braves as having the best farm system in the sport this year. In addition to Ozzie Albies (discussed below) Atlanta has 7 of the top 65 prospects according to Baseball America.
Because of all this young talent I’ve been hyping the Braves this year. The Baby Braves as I call them. The one reason for caution I will mention is that a lot of these guys are pitchers, and you just never know how it's going to go with pitching prospects.
There are two Baby Braves that I’m particularly fond of however, and it's Albies and Ronald Acuna. Each is excellent and each deserves their own blog. Unfortunately for Baseball fans the Braves are using the service time loophole and keeping Acuna in the minors for now in order to get an extra year of club control. So I’ll save his appreciation blog for when he gets called up.
So let’s focus on Albies, who isn't considered a prospect anymore. The 21-year-old stud/future star already spent time in the bigs last year, and he impressed. In 57 games Albies hit .286/.354/.456 to go along with 8 homers and 6 stolen bases. Pretty, pretty good. He has also shown real growth and development during his time in pro ball. Similar to the power development of Mookie Betts, this is a kid who has blossomed "late". When he was in Single-A three years ago he didn't hit a single homer. Last season he hit 15.
As Albies matures it's reasonable to expect more power on the way. He's still only 21! He has a unique swing for someone his size. It features a leg kick where he's really trying to hit the ball hard. I think Jose Ramirez is a good comparison here. Another little guy who has sneaky power. The good news is anything Albies provides from a power standpoint is a bonus. His best traits are his speed and his ability to hit for average. There is certainly potential for Ozzie to one day hit .300 with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases. Those numbers don't scream MVP candidate, but they scream All-Star when you combine them with his defense.
This should be exciting as hell for Braves fans, and Albies is just the start. Acuna is on his way soon and he will be followed by all those pitchers. Giddy up, Atlanta.