Remember when the Atlanta Braves farm system pumped out names such as, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Craig Kimbrel. All of those names came up in the mid 2000’s and early 2010’s. Now can you name a recent Braves prospect that has reached the level of success that the players named above have? Most people would not blame you if you can not, because the Braves farm system used to be a powerhouse that produced names such as the ones listed above. Fast forward to around 2011-2014, the farm system that once was a powerhouse became dormant. With President of Baseball Operations, John Hart, and General Manager, John Coppolella, at the helm, the Braves have returned to the top in terms of owning the best farm system.
Since the 2013 and 2014 seasons the third base position has been in a state of flux for the Braves. Also, with the state of third base being in a golden age with names such as, Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, and Todd Frazier manning the hot corner, the Braves felt it important to draft Austin Riley with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
The 6’3 and 220 pound Riley hails from DeSoto Central High School, in South Haven,MS. As stated earlier, Riley was selected by the Braves with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. After the draft, Riley was assigned to the Rookie GCL Braves. While with the GCL Braves, Riley posted a .255/.331/.500 stat line. He also added seven homers and 21 RBI to that line (stats according to milb.com). After playing 30 games with the GCL Braves, Riley was called up to play with the Danville Braves. Riley also played 30 games with Danville, all the while posting a .351/.443/.586 line, with five home runs, and 19 RBI.
After Spring Training, the younger third baseman, was assigned to the High Single-A team, the Rome Braves. Through games, Riley has posted a .262/.305/.407 line, with five homers, and a career high 33 RBI. Riley has been prone to errors, as he has 14 on the year to go along with an average .922 fielding percentage.
Riley posses a fast but long swing. The longer swing helps him make up for pitches he has been fooled on. With his swing, when Riley makes contact with the baseball, it explodes off the bat. Fielding can be an issue for the young third sacker, but he was also a high touted pitcher, so there should be so growing pains with playing the hot corner everyday. Do not expect Riley to be up anytime soon, as he is only 19 years old, and the Braves would not dare to stunt the young slugger’s growth. Once Riley gets called up to the majors, expect him to solidify a third base spot, that has not been solidified since the glory days of Chipper Jones.