June 15, 2008

Future Bright for Young Braves

At the start of this season, the Braves were a trendy pick to win the NL East, and possibly even get back to the World Series. While I'm not ready to write them off quite yet, the injuries to 3 of the top 5 starters, 2 of the 3 outfielders, and the top two relievers make things look pretty bleak. However, these injuries have allowed the Braves to test out their farm system and things look pretty good. Here's what the Braves could look like in a couple years, ages and stats as of this year with Atlanta unless noted otherwise.

Morton still looks young, but was strong in his 1st career start.

Starting Pitching:

Tim Hudson (32, 2.76 ERA)
Jair Jurrjens (22, 3.77 ERA)
JoJo Reyes (23, 4.42 ERA)
Charlie Morton (24, 4.50 ERA)
Jorge Campillo (29, 2.15 ERA)

With Hudson as the established ace, Jurrjens, Reyes, and Morton all appear ready (or very close to it) for the majors, and will probably be the next generation of starters for the Braves for a decade. Campillo, Carlyle, and others can fill in as very effective 4th and 5th starters as needed. The last 4 listed have already started 28 games this year because of all the injuries, and all have performed quite well.

Relief Pitching:
Peter Moylan (29, 1.80 ERA last year in 80 games)
Rafael Soriano (28, 3.00 ERA last year in 71 games)
Mike Gonzalez (30)
Blaine Boyer (26, 3.99 ERA)
Combination of Campillo, Carlyle, and Bennett in long relief

Gonzalez is coming off Tommy John, returning to the club soon, while Moylan just underwent that operation. Soriano's also been on the DL a lot this year. In the future, if they come back 100%, they will be an outstanding back-end of the bullpen.

Brian McCann (24, 2-time All Star, .304, 12 HR)

Jones is hitting .500 after his first couple starts, with a HR.


Gregor Blanco (24, .266 BA)
Jeff Francoeur (24, .256 BA)
Brandon Jones (24, .500 BA)
Josh Anderson (25)
Jordan Schafer (21)

Frenchie is well established in RF, but the rest are all fast and talented. Jones has had a wonderful start with the club, while Blanco and Anderson have looked good too. There will be a fierce competition for the starting jobs in center and left next year.

SS Yunel Escobar (25, .299 BA)
2B Kelly Johnson (26, .283 BA)
2B/3B Martin Prado (24, .282 BA)

I think Teixeira (28) will be traded, but if the Braves can resign him, he will obviously anchor 1B for years to come. Either Prado can take over for Chipper, or Chipper will play for 5+ more years, or the Braves can trade one of those great outfield prospects for a third baseman.

So look at all of that young talent. The numbers are decent this year, but should only improve as the players develop and gain experience. This year might be a disappointment, but the future might be quite bright in Atlanta.

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