Every year, talent evaluators for each of the 30 teams retreat to their separate conference calls to dissect the international talent market, then figure out the best ways to skirt a set of rules more codified than they once were, but still subject to dodging and manipulation. The Braves just got the worst of it this time around, with an MLB investigation resulting in the ouster of General Manager John Coppolella last month.
Former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is the new head man in Atlanta, and he’s got some promising pieces at his disposal, thanks to the efforts of Coppolella and his scouting and player development staff. Dansby Swanson stumbled in his first long look at big league playing time, but he and 20-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies could be a fun double-play pairing for years to come. Ender Inciarte’s the Gold Glove-caliber center fielder heisted from the Diamondbacks in the same deal that netted Swanson. And Freddie Freeman’s the franchise player, a beast of a hitter who the Braves hope doesn’t get Votto’d due to lack of support.
The development of young arms like Sean Newcomb, Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka, and others will tell us a lot. Most exciting of all, Ronald Acuna is a five-tool terror with massive potential who’ll hopefully draw fans to Cobb County’s traffic-infested, parking-and-public-transit-deprived, taxpayer-funded boondoggle of a new park.