ATLANTA -- A little more than two years after beginning a massive rebuilding process aimed toward reviving what had become a barren farm system, the Braves now find themselves with seven players listed among MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson headlines this list of Braves representatives, as he ranks as the game's fourth-best prospect. Second baseman Ozzie Albies, who might join Swanson in Atlanta this year, ranks 11th on the 2017 preseason version of this elite list, which was announced on Saturday night.
Kevin Maitan hasn't yet played a game at the professional level, but he checks in at No. 32, up 57 spots from where he ranked on MLBPipeline's 2016 midseason list. The 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop was widely regarded as the international market's top available player when the Braves secured him with a $4.25 million signing bonus in July.
Rounding out the ranked Braves are left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard (No. 53), right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka (No. 78), left-handed pitcher Sean Newcomb (No. 80) and right-handed pitcher Ian Anderson (No. 86).
After being acquired in the November 2015 trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, Newcomb entered 2016 ranked as MLBPipeline's 21st-best prospect. He slipped to No. 47 when the midseason list was revealed. His command improved as last season evolved, but the inconsistency he has had in this department has led him to now be ranked as the third-best pitching prospect within an Atlanta system that is loaded with talented young arms.
The Yankees matched the Braves for the most players on the Top 100 list. The Braves (Swanson and Albies), Pirates (Tyler Glasnow and suburban Atlanta native Austin Meadows) and White Sox (Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito) are the only clubs to have two players listed among the top 15 players.
Albies is the only player on the list who was in the Braves organization before the club began its rebuilding process after the 2014 season. Swanson and Newcomb were acquired via a trade. Allard, Soroka and Anderson were acquired via the Draft, and Maitan was a product of the organization's enhanced commitment to the international market.
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Swanson fast-tracked from the Class A Advanced level to the Majors last year. The highly-regarded shortstop batted .302 with a .803 OPS in 145 plate appearances for the Braves. He was taken by the D-backs with the first overall pick in the 2015 Draft before being traded to Atlanta in the blockbuster deal that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona.
Albies might have had a chance to begin the upcoming season in the Majors had he not fractured his right elbow during the Southern League playoffs last year. But the 19-year-old infielder still has plenty of time to develop and live up to some of the potential he displayed while producing an .858 OPS for Double-A Mississippi last year.
Allard, taken by the Braves with the 14th overall selection in 2015, quieted concerns about his back as he totaled 95 strikeouts over the 87 2/3 innings he combined to complete with Rookie-level Danville and Class A Rome last year.
After being taken with the third overall selection last year, Anderson breezed through 18 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and then allowed two runs or fewer in four of five starts for Danville.
Soroka has established himself as one of Atlanta's most intriguing prospects, as he has produced 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.9 walks per nine innings through his 177 innings as a pro. The polished Canadian righty's consistent command has differentiated him from other prospects at a similar career stage.
Newcomb issued 4.6 walks per nine innings with Mississippi last year, but the big southpaw showed some improvement as he registered 51 strikeouts and issued 14 walks while producing a 2.04 ERA over his final 39 2/3 innings (seven starts).
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.