The Braves are in a rebuilding period, and after a few trades their farm looks a lot different than it did at this time last year. Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcia, and Matt Wisler all surfaced in the majors with mixed results. In one of the more surprising moves, Atlanta took on Cuban import Hector Olivera from the Dodgers as part of a much larger deal that included Alex Wood and Jose Peraza. Peraza would have easily topped this year’s list, and while Olivera is a very good prospect in his own right, the initial reaction to the trade was confusion. 2016 will be a continuation of the rebuild, and the Braves can add another premium prospect with the third overall pick in the draft.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Ozzie Albies, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 439 PA, .310/.368/.404, 0 HR, 29 SB, 8% BB, 13% K
A fractured thumb cost Albies the final month of what was otherwise a fantastic season. A fair comp here is Francisco Lindor, since Albies is a slick-fielding switch-hitter with good on-base skills. He can set the table, and his plus speed should lead to 20+ stolen bases. Albies doesn’t have the same pop as Lindor, but remember that he’s 18 years old, and there’s still time for some to develop. Even if his power ceiling only ends up being 6-8 homers per year, this is a player who can help your middle infield in dynasty leagues. The Braves will likely continue to be aggressive with his development.
Hector Olivera, 3B | Age: 30 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A/AA/AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 135 PA, .272/.326/.376, 2 HR, 0 SB, 7% BB, 11% K
If you believe ageism is a thing in fantasy baseball, then it’s definitely a thing over here on the prospect side. If a player is over 25 they might as well be dead. That’s what makes Olivera intriguing. He’s going to be 31 in April, and when you pair that with the myriad of injuries he dealt with in 2015, some fantasy players will be scared away or, at the very least, cautious. Olivera is versatile on defense, though, and can play third, first, or second base. He’s also a talented hitter who could hit .300 with 15-20 homers.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Mallex Smith, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 548 PA, .306/.373/.386, 2 HR, 57 SB, 9% BB, 16% K
After hitting .340 with 23 steals in Double-A to start the year, Smith was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. There, he stole another 34 bags and held his own with a .280 average. It’s not hard to figure out how Smith is going to be valuable…he possesses elite speed. The question, like many of these guys, is whether he’ll hit enough in the bigs to have an everyday role, or flounder and become a fourth outfielder. We should find out at some point this season.
Connor Lien, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 504 PA, .285/.347/.415, 9 HR, 34 SB, 7% BB, 26% K
Outside of striking out too much, there’s a lot to like with Lien for fantasy. I don’t get a chance to read all of the other outlets, but I feel like he might be a bit under the radar. The 21-year-old has spent the last four years in the low minors, so that probably has something to do with it. Lien is 6′ 4″, with plus speed and the strength to tap into double-digit power. 2015 was obviously a breakout, but if he can continue that success with a jump to Double-A he’s going to get noticed.
Dustin Peterson, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 498 PA, .251/.317/.348, 8 HR, 6 SB, 9% BB, 18% K
D.J.’s younger brother was part of the Justin Upton deal, and he’s a converted corner infielder who the Braves are trying in left field. He was also one of the players involved in the Mudcats’ bus crash that landed several Braves prospects on the DL in May. Peterson’s tools are average across the board, but he showed improved plate discipline in 2015, dropping his strikeout percentage by 6% and upping his walks.
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 138.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 5.7 K/9
Jenkins was part of the Heyward/Miller deal with the Cardinals and he should see the majors this year. There’s a lot to like here with a plus fastball, an above-average curve, and his ability to induce ground balls. Since Jenkins missed time with a shoulder injury, he was probably still just catching up in 2015. His 138 innings pitched was an important step in the right direction. There’s a mid-rotation starter here with a relatively high floor if he proves durable.
Rio Ruiz, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 489 PA, .233/.333/.324, 5 HR, 2 SB, 13% BB, 19% K
Ruiz had a down year in 2015, but there’s still plenty of upside at 21 years old. The ceiling has always been about 20 homers with an average around .280 and good on-base skills. That hasn’t changed, but after succeeding in the lower levels Ruiz is showing us that he might need a little longer to adjust in the upper minors.
Lucas Sims, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 92.2 IP, 4.37 ERA, 5.2 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
Sims continued to put up good strikeout numbers in 2015, but his walk rate regressed. After splitting time between High-A and Double-A last year, he should reach Triple-A in 2016. At this point he looks more like a mid-rotation guy than an ace, but at 21 there’s still some time for him to figure things out. His fastball and curveball are good enough to build around.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Austin Riley, 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 252 PA, .304/.389/.544, 12 HR, 2 SB, 10% BB, 26% K
The Braves took Riley in the supplemental round of the 2015 draft. The third baseman should end up at one of the corners eventually, even if it’s not the hot one. There’s enough raw power to generate 30 homers in the bigs and scouts seem impressed by his feel for hitting. Like Allard (listed below), he’s just getting started.
Touki Toussaint, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 87.2 IP, 4.83 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
I usually don’t offer up my opinions on trades in the posts, but it sure seemed like the Braves got Toussaint for a bag of baseballs from Arizona. The 19-year-old has frontline starter potential and already has two plus pitches in his fastball and curve. That pairing could lead to some big strikeout numbers down the road, especially when paired with his above-average change. It’s a long ETA, but Toussaint is part of a pitching stock in Atlanta that will likely be worth the wait.
Kolby Allard, LHP | Age: 18| ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 6 IP (0 BB / 12 K)
Allard is another high-ceiling arm in this system. The 18-year-old southpaw was selected 14th overall in the 2015 draft and is already getting comped to Clayton Kershaw by people who like to make insane comps. He’s got a nasty sinker and a plus curve, but if you’re drafting Allard in dynasty leagues, you’re likely sitting on him for a while.
Braxton Davidson, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 494 PA, .242/.381/.374, 10 HR, 1 SB, 17% BB, 27% K
Here’s another slow burn with a lot of upside. Davidson projects as the classic middle-of-the-order hitter with an average hit tool and plus power. He’s being pushed aggressively by the Braves, so his stats may never be jaw dropping as he progresses through each minor league level. One thing to keep an eye on is that strikeout rate, which ballooned 5% last year in A-ball.
Max Fried, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A (2014)
2015 Stats: (did not pitch)
Fried still gets tagged with frontline starter potential, but it’s all projection at this point. He pitched just 10 innings in 2014 and didn’t pitch at all in 2015. That’s a lot of lost time and makes it hard to identify his fantasy potential.
Mike Soroka, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 34 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
The Braves really are loaded with pitching talent, especially down here in the Lolita tier. Soroka was a first round pick in 2015 (28th overall). He doesn’t have the electric stuff of Allard or Toussaint, but he commands his arsenal well, which may help him advance quickly.
Ricardo Sanchez, LHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 39.2 IP, 5.45 ERA, 4.8 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
Sanchez probably ends up in the middle of a rotation, but for now he’s working on controlling his stuff in the low minors. The 18-year-old builds off of a plus curve but also has an above-average fastball. The Braves seem to be taking it slow with him.