27 Jan

familiar faces

A Mississippi Braves fan who should happen to stumble into the Atlanta Braves’ spring training complex in Kissimmee, Fla., next month would get the feeling of old home week. Nineteen of the 40 players on Atlanta’s big league roster have passed through Trustmark Park the last four years, and seven of the 16 non-roster invitees also have played in Pearl. That’s an indication that the Braves’ build-from-within philosophy is still alive and well, or at least alive. And that’s how an organization stays competitive from year to year, which the Braves have done since the remarkable worst-to-first campaign in 1991. Yes, the Braves have missed the postseason the past three years. But they’ve been competitive, even last year when disaster struck the pitching staff. The Braves’ farm system is still strong, still among the top 10 or so in the game even after trading away the likes of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus and Tyler Flowers. The Double-A M-Braves won a championship, and the high Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans set all kinds of offensive records and made the playoffs in 2008. There’s a wave of young talent beneath those groups. The big Braves will be OK. They should be in the playoff hunt this season and certainly will be in 2010. And there may be a day soon when every Atlanta starter will be an M-Braves alumnus. And the manager might be, as well. That’s something to look forward to. Really.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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