Atlanta Braves

Ian Fraser, Staff Writer

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The Atlanta Braves are one of Atlanta’s oldest professional sports teams. Since 1966, the Braves have been a significant part of Atlanta culture along with the Falcons, Hawks, United, and the late great Atlanta Thrashers. The 2018 Braves have a lot of news surrounding them, some good and some bad. The future of the Braves is bright with their upcoming prospects and brand new stadium. The Braves could be Atlanta’s team of the future.

In previous years the Braves have been a pretty average team in baseball; they are always either in the playoffs or the hunt when it comes down to the end of the season. But it’s been four years since the Braves have been a .500 team, and this year is poised to be more of the same. With that said, there is nothing to worry about for Braves’ fans. During the off-season, the Braves signed a few role players to the teams. According to MLB.com, the Braves have the best minor league system in all of baseball. Former first overall pick Dansby Swanson spent his first real season with the major league club and showed a lot of potential. According to MLB Pipeline, the Braves have the first ranked farm system in the major leagues and the second overall prospect in Ronald Acuna. With eight players listed in the top 100 prospects, the Braves look to be the team of the future. The Braves also have a couple of difference makers in the majors right now. The Braves still have their star, Freddie Freeman, and veteran presence Nick Markakis. Last year, Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte made the All-star team for the first time in his young career, which is another bright spot in the lineup. While the Braves still have Freeman and Markakis, they did lose a substantial part of their line up in a trade involving Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With Freeman and Tehran being the cornerstones of the Braves from years to come, young stars like Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson, and Sean Newcomb should pave the way for a much stronger Braves team in the future. Recently the Braves made a splash by signing former Toronto Blue Jay outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista became known for his power during his tenure north of the border, but struggles last year left the star unsigned coming into the 2018 season and left many questioning if his career was nearing its end. The Braves took a risk on Bautista with hopes that he could return to his former self while manning the third base position in Atlanta. In late April of 2018 Braves’ top prospect, Ronald Acuna made his long-awaited debut. In a win over the Cincinnati Reds, Acuna started in left field, and went 1-5 and scored a run in the win.

This season has started off better than expected as the Braves have a record of 13-9 and are currently sitting in 3rd in the NL East. The Braves are playing well with new additions Ryan Flaherty, Preston Tucker, and Brandon McCarthy rebranding themselves in Atlanta. For Tucker, it came from a trade with the Houston Astros to bring him to Atlanta. Since that trade, he has become a favorite in Atlanta and is leading the team in runs batted in (RBI). The story is similar for third baseman Ryan Flaherty. After being a platoon player in Baltimore for a few seasons, Flaherty is batting .313, which is good for the third best batting average on the team. Brandon McCarthy is another success story this season for the Braves. The Braves acquired McCarthy in the trade that sent Matt Kemp to Los Angeles. For the Dodgers last season he went 6-4 but was not very consistent. This season for the Braves, McCarthy is 3-0 and has been one of the more consistent pitchers this season. Along with these new additions, long-awaited second base prospect Ozzie Albies is showing off his skills this season as well. Albies is off to a stellar start as he is batting for average while leading the team in home runs with 7. The NL East is beginning to look like one of the more competitive divisions in Major League Baseball as the Braves are off to a hot start as well as the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. Of these three teams, none are expected to win the division however due to the strength of this season’s Washington Nationals team. While the Nationals are off to a slow start to begin the season, the ‘Nats are expected to come away with the division come September. This season’s hot start should come as great news for Braves fans because it shows improvement over last years team and proves that the Braves won’t be trending towards the bottom of the league for much longer.

Braves’ country has a lot to look forward to shortly. Second-year manager Brian Snitker and company look to turn the tide in Atlanta and welcome a winning culture back into the hearts of Braves fans. With time and patience, the Braves’ can become one of the best teams in baseball, and could potentially bring another World Series Championship back home for the first time since 1995.

Jargonnaut

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