Peraza leads 6 Braves prospects in ESPN's Top 100

Keith Law has not spoken highly of the Braves’ farm system in recent years, but the baseball writer/scouting analyst gives the organization plenty of credit after a series of offseason trades that brought a bevy of prospects to buttress its foundation of young talent.

Law had the Braves’ farm sixth out of 30 major league organizations in his rankings that came out Wednesday, and on Thursday he placed six Braves prospects in his annual Top 100 list, tied for the most prospects from any team and the most the organization has had in a long time.

Jose Peraza, projected as the Braves' leadoff hitter and second baseman in the not-too-distant future, is their top prospect and one of six Braves prospects in Keith Law's Top 100 on (AP photo)

This comes less than two weeks after Baseball America’s editor-in-chief John Manuel told me the Braves raised their farm system from 29th in BA’s view at the beginning of the offseason to a possible top-10 position in the publication’s upcoming rankings.

Manuel gave me his revised top-20 Braves prospect rankings, and five of his top 10 and 11 of 20 were players acquired in offseason trades, including all seven total prospects the Braves got from San Diego and Houston in the respective trades for Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

Both Manuel and Law still have shortstop-turned-second baseman Jose Peraza, a homegrown Brave, as the team’s No. 1 prospect. Peraza could be leading off for the Braves at some point in 2015, or at least by 2016. Law has him as the 24th-ranked prospect in baseball.

Manuel and Law also agree on the Braves’ No. 2 prospect: Mike Foltynewicz, the big, 100-mph-throwing righty who was among four prospects the Braves got from the Astros in the Gattis deal. He comes in at No. 47 on Law’s Top 100.

After that there’s plenty of disagreement as to the order of subsequent Braves prospects, with Law ranking young shortstop Ozhaino Albies at No. 3 and Manuel putting lefty Max Fried in the third spot. Law ranks Fried -- who’ll miss the 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery – as the Braves’ No. 6 prospect and baseball’s No. 100.

Between No. 3 Albies, whom Law has at 66th overall, and No. 6 Fried, Law ranks righty Tyrell Jenkins as the Braves’ No. 4 (82nd in the Top 100), third baseman Rio Ruiz as the the team’s fifth-best prospect  (93rd in the Top 100).

Four of six Braves prospects in Law’s Top 100 came in offseason trades – Foltynewicz (from Houston in the Gattis trade), Jenkins (from St. Louis in the Jason Heyward trade), Ruiz (also in the Gattis trade) and Fried (from San Diego in the Upton trade).

The Cubs ranked first in Law’s farm-system rankings, followed by the Twins, Astros, Mets, Red Sox and Braves. After the Braves, his top 10 was rounded out by the Pirates, Rockies, Nationals and Dodgers.

Here’s what Law had to say about the Braves:

“They were a bottom-5 system when the offseason started, but six trades later, they've built up a stash of prospects that makes up for five years of execrable drafts and very little production from their Latin American efforts. Ten of their top 12 prospects have appeared on at least one of my past three top-100 rankings.”

Here is a link to his complete rankings (you must have an ESPN Insider subscription to read them in full):

• But you don’t have to be an insider to listen and enjoy this tune from the splendid -- and spectacularly underrated -- Otis Gibbs, off his album Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth, which should've been in my top 50 for the year, but wasn't because I didn't have the album at the time.


Otis Gibbs

As we pulled into Milwaukee

I could feel my head and back begin to sway.

After ridin’ 13 hours I was ready

To get my feet off of the train.

Reminded of what happened in Wichita, St. Paul and Abeline,

Somewhere in the distance I was followed by the darker side of me.

I stumbled through the city, looking for a place that I could lay my head

But first I needed work because it’d been a couple days since I’d been fed.

On the shores of lake Michigan,

I found a spot where I could finally breathe,

I slept next to the water and I dreamt about the darker side of me.

When I woke I found a fishing boat loading up its nets to meet the day,

The captain walked up to me and offered me a job and a place to stay,

He promised he’d feed me and I could sleep inside the boat when the day was done,

I could feel the darkness fading as we sailed off in the early morning sun,

The next two months were filled with the longest days that I had ever seen,

The work was never ending and I barely had the time to eat or sleep.

We all hauled 400 pounds of salmon from the cold and frigid water every day,

After all my days of toiling I forgot about the darker side of me.

When the season finally ended I went and asked the captain for my pay,

When I walked into his office he claimed he didn’t have a dime for me,

He said I owed him money for sleeping inside his boat every night,

When I heard the bogus charges I could feel the darkness churning deep inside,

I closed the door behind me and I offered him a chance to come clean,

I’m here for all my money and I’m not the type of man that walks away.

He laughed and spit at me said ain’t no way in hell I’m getting paid,

But his laughter fell to silence as I introduced him to the darker side of me.

As I pulled out of Milwaukee

I could feel my head and back begin to sway.

I’ll be ridin’ 13 hours and I’m ready

To get my feet off of the train.

Reminded of what happened in Galesburg, Flagstaff and Milwaukee

Somewhere in the distance I keep running from the darker side of me.

If we meet inside a boxcar may you never see the darker side of me.

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About the Author

David O'Brien
David O'Brien
David O'Brien covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than a decade.