LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has overseen the massive rebuilding efforts the club has made since he assumed this role at the end of the 2014 season.
Teaming with his top aide, general manager John Coppolella, Hart has guided the Braves through the oft-frustrating period of rebuild, and he has reshaped both the big league roster and farm system with the intent to provide Atlanta fans a chance to experience the sustained success they became accustomed to during the 1990s and early part of this century.
With Presidents Day here, Hart provided MLB.com these three messages to Braves fans regarding the Major League roster, farm system and new SunTrust Park.
"I think our season this year began last year when we brought up Dansby Swanson and made the Matt Kemp trade. Those are two pieces we thought would help us, and obviously we were excited about what happened. This winter, we looked to support the Major League club without affecting what is going on down below [in the farm system]. We added three starting pitchers we feel really good about, combined with an outstanding bullpen that pitched well for us at the end of the year. There's going to be a lot of competition in that bullpen, and I think we'll have an everyday [lineup] that I think is going to score a lot of runs. We're probably not going to be picked as a favorite, but I think this is going to be a fun club. There's a makeup and an energy around this club that I think fans are going to be excited about.
"We had a lot of people interested in some of the best and brightest of our youngsters in the farm system. We just decided we weren't going to trade them, because we're not at that point yet. We feel really good about the talent we've accumulated. Some of it's young. Some of it's getting closer, and some of it will be here this year. We probably have more depth in young starting pitching, but we've also got some good young position players, some good kids we got out of the Latin countries, out of our international program. I think our Minor Leagues, in a short period of time, has become everything we hoped it would be.
"I've had a chance to open some new parks -- Camden Yards and Progressive Field, which at one time was Jacobs Field in Cleveland. I know what a new park can do. I think our new park is going to be spectacular. It's going to be a great experience for the fans. It's going to be a fun place to see a game. There's not a bad seat in the house. There's going to be a lot of energy and excitement around this ballclub, and a lot of it will come from what we have in SunTrust Park. It's a real game-changer for this franchise."
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.