Eight of the top 10 teams could comfortably be called rebuilders, teams that traded away major-league talent in 2016 to add prospects. Even the Yankees, whether or not they used the term, were in rebuild mode last season, landing three top-100 prospects in their two big deadline deals. And yet there’s also one team here that nearly reached the World Series last season, but is this high in the organization rankings because of the money it spent on Cubans in 2015 and because of some shrewd drafting that predates the current front office.
Atlanta has been hoarding prospects, especially pitching prospects, for two years now, and the result is a system that is primed to produce good young players just as the team moves into its new stadium.
Their High-A rotation in 2017 could include four first-round picks and a major international signing, only one of whom will be 21 on opening day. It’s as if someone told Coppolella the axiom that you can never have too much pitching, and he just said, “hold my beer.”
They do have position players, primarily guys up the middle, including three high-end shortstop prospects, multiple center fielders, and the best prospect from last year’s July 2 class, Kevin Maitan, who might not stay at shortstop but has earned comparisons at the plate to a young Miguel Cabrera.
They do lack power bats in the system, primarily at the upper levels, but there is just so much pitching here that it overwhelms that concern — and if they just have a normal attrition rate among that pitching depth, they’ll have plenty of young arms left over to fill a major-league need via trade.
Coppolella has stayed opportunistic this winter, adding prospects who had fallen out of favor with their organizations, including two of Seattle’s top six prospects. You can make an argument for the Yankees deserving the top slot; I won’t dispute that they have more position-player talent. My vote is for the deluge of arms and up-the-middle players heading for Atlanta, giving them the best farm system in baseball.