Our third installment takes us to the spoiled riches of the Atlanta Braves farm system. Similar to the previous two featured organizations, Cincinnati and San Diego, the Braves have multiple potential centerpieces, plus incredibly enticing secondary options. Miami’s market for J.T. Realmuto is flooded with ultra-talented teams looking to make a significant purchase.
As for our neighbors to the north of us, there is no doubt that they are one of the best suited teams for the Marlins to engage with.
3B Austin Riley (Baseball America’s #22 Prospect)
I personally do not believe that the Braves have any prospects who are “entirely off the table.” Their untouchables are already at the Major League level, fully graduated from prospect status (i.e. Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuña Jr., and so on). Every farmhand should be on the table as a potential headliner, with Austin Riley leading the charge.
A premium talent at third base with an estimated MLB debut of early 2019, Riley would bring an elite combo of power and defensive ability to the hot corner. His hit tool is not far behind.
From the beginning of the “Realmuto to Atlanta” rumors I have identified Riley as the ideal centerpiece for this deal. Surprise: my opinion hasn’t changed.
RHP Ian Anderson (Baseball America’s #24 Prospect)
Do the Marlins prefer the bat (i.e. Riley) or one of the system’s premier arms? If they choose the latter, then Anderson is an obvious target. Anderson brings a 70-grade fastball, 60-grade curveball, and a slightly above average changeup, which has shown effective at keeping hitters off-balance, regardless of the count in which it is thrown.
When you dive into the film and see his easily repeatable mechanics, which go along with his ability to command his pitches, his label as a premier pitching prospect is solidified.
RHP Mike Soroka (Baseball America’s #25 Prospect)
Although Anderson is likely the first arm to be discussed, I should add that it would not surprise me if Soroka is the name instead. In Soroka, Atlanta has a slightly more advanced and MLB-ready prospect than Anderson.
Working with a short yet fluid delivery, Soroka has shown an ability to rise through the minor league levels at relative ease. Although these two elements—short and fluid delivery—are usually not within the same prospect profile, this 21-year-old is the exception. His ability to repeat his mechanics have led to most scouts assigning Soroka a relatively high command-grade that should translate to the Major League level. I have him at 60 FV.
OF Christian Pache (Baseball America’s #85 Prospect)
Few players have seen their stock rise at the rate that Pache’s has over his last pro year. Originally considered a glove-first prospect, Pache’s bat development took scouts by surprise. He has now developed into a five-tool prospect, with the ceiling of becoming a 25/25 center fielder with Gold Glove capacity. These types of prospect profiles do not grow on trees and should not be taken lightly.
Continuing on this trajectory, Pache could very well be a consensus Top 15 prospect by the end of the year. There is risk involved with Pache being a centerpiece, but the reward here is the definition of over-the-top enticing.
Note: There are a handful of additional pitching prospects who fit the criteria for this list (i.e. #39 Kyle Wright, #53 Touki Toussaint, and #84 Bryse Wilson), but I will abstain from writing their profiles.
The Braves have reportedly stated that Toussaint is unavailable, and the same may go for the MLB-ready Wilson. I can surmise that the Braves pitching runs deep in three to five potential centerpieces, and they’re all varying forms of very good to great. If Miami wants pitching, this is the team to trade with to take advantage of the surplus.
Secondary pieces to consider: Luiz Gohara, Drew Waters, William Contreras, Tristan Beck, Drew Lugbauer, Huascar Ynoa.
The Braves have the prospects and potential packages to make the best offer in the Realmuto market. This is an opinion I have stood by for a good while, and will continue to reiterate.
If the Braves want an All-Star catcher, they will get him. It is now about how far they want to go in order to beat the market.