What to do with the Atlanta Braves prospects?

The Atlanta Braves certainly have their hands full over these next two weeks. Being in the thick of the Wild Card hunt, they now look poised to trade for a starting pitcher. But should they?

July is one of my favorite months of the year, simply because of the trade chatter circulating throughout Major League Baseball regarding the MLB trade deadline. But as an Atlanta Braves fan, I’m a bit more reluctant to see certain moves get made.

The big question at hand is, will the Braves trade for a controllable front end starter? As Herm Edwards once said, you play to win the game. Obviously you want to contend, but do you pull the trigger on certain deals?

Taking inventory

The Atlanta Braves currently have nine prospects ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects, which was just updated on July 7th.

Of these nine, I see five as virtually untouchable: Ozzie Albies, Kevin Maitan, Ronald Acuna, Kolby Allard, and Mike Soroka… the Braves top five.

Albies has long been our answer at second base. He’s slashing .289/.334/.447 this year at Triple-A Gwinnett. Ozzie has 21 steals on the season and is batting .364 over his last 10 games.

Acuna has plowed his way through two minor league levels this year. The secret is out on him after the Future’s Game. He slashed .326/.374/.520 in Double-A alone this season with 9 home runs and 19 stolen bases. By the way, he’s 19 and in Triple-A now.

While still only 17 years old, Maitan just got promoted to the Danville Braves. He’s often been compared to Miguel Cabrera, a comparison I’ll take eight days a week. Through nine games in the Gulf Coast League, he was slashing .314/.351/.400.

That leaves Allard and Soroka, both of whom were first round draft picks back in 2015. At just 19 years old, they’re both wreaking havoc in the Southern League for Double-A Mississippi.

Allard is 5-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 96.2 innings this season. Soroka has been slightly better at 10-5 with a 2.37 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 98.2 innings this season.

MIAMI, FL – JULY 09: Mike Soroka #45 of the Atlanta Braves and the World Team delivers the pitch against the U.S. Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Marlins Park on July 9, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I realize not all top prospects live up to the hype surrounding them. For every Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado, it seems like there’s an equal counterpart in Jurickson ProfarByron Buxton, and Jesus Montero. You have to evaluate them in the bigs at some point though.

Method to the madness

John Coppolella drafted and traded for all of these pitching prospects for two reasons: to build a contender and to use some as trade bait. After all, you can never have enough pitching.

While Atlanta is full well competing, I don’t see them contending for a World Series this season. Light is being seen at the end of the tunnel, so now isn’t the time to unload several of these prospects for a starter who’s going to be a free agent following the 2019 season, like Sonny Gray.

Some of the prospects Atlanta houses will be used as trade bait, no doubt. But I think the front office should at least wait another season to gauge where the Braves sit.

Sure, the Braves might only be six games back of a Wild Card, but the National League currently only has seven teams with a .500 or better record.

I’m thrilled the Cubs nabbed Jose Quintana and not Atlanta. Sure, he might be controllable. I just think they paid a king’s ransom.

Moving forward

Brandon Phillips and Jaime Garcia are both free agents after this season. Matt Adams, Nick Markakis, and R.A. Dickey are all free agents after next season.

All of these players have done pretty well this season, but how long until they falter? Whether they are traded or not, that leaves room to promote from within the Braves organization.

Not all the prospects are ready by any means, but you have to give them a chance when their time comes.

The rebuild is nearing its end. By this time next year I expect to see some of our top prospects getting a shot. Don’t blow it all open by trading for someone who the Braves really might not need.