Braves' top prospects climbing through system

Swanson, Albies each a step closer to Majors

Braves' top prospects climbing through system

CHICAGO -- After spending the past few weeks showing why they rank as two of baseball's top prospects, Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies will now take the next step toward potentially spending this season's second half together in Atlanta's lineup.

The Braves have promoted Swanson from Class A Advanced Carolina to Double-A Mississippi, and Albies from Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett. Both of these heralded prospects are expected to join their respective new teams on Saturday.

"Obviously, we have a lot of opportunity at the Major League level," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "It's great to be able to reward top prospects when they perform well with promotions. Our hope is they continue to perform well and we can continue to promote them." ranks Swanson as baseball's sixth-best prospect. Albies ranks 26th on this elite list. They rank first and third, respectively, among the Braves' top prospects.

These promotions position Albies and Swanson to fulfill the Braves' hope that both could reach the Major League level within the next few months and spend a significant part of this season's second half in Atlanta. The Braves want to get a feel for whether they truly should count on these two prospects serving as their middle infielders at the start of the 2017 season.

Initially, the Braves had planned for Swanson and Albies to both play approximately 40 games before being promoted for the first time this year. But both spent the past few weeks consistently proving they were ready for a greater challenge.

"I'm OK with pushing those guys," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Swanson is a college guy, and he's 22 [years old]. I know Albies is a little younger. But he's played some good ball at Double-A."

Top Prospects: Swanson, ATL

Swanson batted .333/.441/.526 in 21 games with Carolina. The slick-fielding shortstop was selected with the top overall pick in last year's Draft by the D-backs. He had played just 22 regular-season games as a pro before the Braves acquired him in the blockbuster trade that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona in December.

Albies batted .369/.442/.512 in 22 games with Mississippi. The 19-year-old shortstop has rocketed his way through the Braves' system since joining the professional ranks in 2014. He was the youngest player in the league while playing with Mississippi, and there is a good chance he will maintain that distinction while playing at the Triple-A level.

Top Prospects: Albies, ATL

When Albies exited Spring Training, he said his goal was to follow the same path as fellow Curacao native Andruw Jones, who made his Major League debut for the 1996 Braves at 19.

The Braves will continue to keep Swanson and Albies at different levels to allow both to play shortstop on a daily basis. Once they reach Atlanta, one of them will make the transition to second base.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.