23 Mar


The sorting process likely isn’t completed in Atlanta’s minor league camp, home to a batch of prospects generally regarded as the best in baseball. When the rosters are set and the players break camp, don’t expect many of the Braves’ Top 10 to head to Mississippi. Most of the highest rated players are either past Double-A or a year or two away. Dansby Swanson, still classified as a rookie and rated Atlanta’s No. 1 by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, is already established in Atlanta. No. 2 prospect Ozzie Albies, who did two stints in Pearl in 2016, figures to start in Triple-A. Six of the seven pitchers in the top 12 (as rated by MLB Pipeline) pitched in low-A ball or rookie ball last season. No. 6 Sean Newcomb was an M-Braves mainstay (8-7, 3.86 ERA) in 2016 who probably will pitch at Gwinnett this season. Kolby Allard (No. 4), Mike Soroka (5), Max Fried (9) and Touki Toussaint (12) were on the Rome staff that won the South Atlantic League pennant. The standard progression puts them at high-A Florida. No. 3 Kevin Maitan is a 17-year-old shortstop just getting started, and No. 8 Ronald Acuna, a 19-year-old outfielder, played at Rome in an injury-interrupted season. Unlikely to open in Mississippi, he could make Double-A at some point this year. Infielder Travis Demeritte, acquired from Texas in midseason, is No. 10 on the Braves’ list and looks like the one sure thing in that bunch to be in Trustmark Park on April 6. He hit 28 homers at the high-A level in 2016. Former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley, the No. 13 prospect, projects as the third baseman on the high-A club, at least to start the season. The M-Braves’ opening day roster won’t be thin on talent, however. Jacob Schrader, Carlos Franco, Joey Meneses, Connor Lien and Joe Odom were among the position players who helped last year’s club reach the Southern League Championship Series, and all could be back. Plus, top 30 prospects Braxton Davidson and Alex Jackson may land in Pearl next month. P.S. The M-Braves open on April 6, two weeks from today, at the TeePee against Jacksonville, a Miami affiliate that is now, unfortunately, nicknamed the Jumbo Shrimp.

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