It seemed like only yesterday Atlanta fans were cheering the names of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones, but those names have been replaced by a new crop of players from the Braves’ farm system.
Fans are now accustomed to hearing Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis, who all came through the ranks of the developmental process. After yesterday’s performance in the series finale against the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, we can add Julio Teheran to that list. Teheran (5-3), who made his major league debut this season at the age of 22, had a lights-out performance Sunday, pitching six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts on 94 pitches.
The Braves edged out San Francisco 3-0, pushing them to 13 games over .500 and Atlanta’s general manager Frank Wren attributes the team’s success to the young talent on the field.
“Unlike other organizations, we are not afraid to bring young players up into the big league and I think that is why we have been so successful,” Wren said. “If a player shows us talent we will bring him from AA right up to the majors.”
Age doesn’t define maturity and the 2013 Braves are a prime example. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Braves lead the National League with 11 players on the active roster that are 25 years old or younger.
“We are never going to have a high payroll like the Yankees, so we have to rely on our system to produce quality players,” Wren said. “We rely on our scouts to bring in the type of players we look for.”
Gattis was one of those players that the Braves’ scouts picked up seemingly out of the blue and the results have been shocking. Gattis has already been named the National League Rookie of the Month twice and leads all rookies in home runs, RBI and extra base hits.
The former janitor who spent a few months living in his pickup truck was drafted by the Braves on his grandfather’s birthday. After spending a year with the AA Mississippi Braves, Gattis was called up to the majors.
“This team is a testament to great scouting and I was happy [Atlanta] selected me, it’s my grandfathers favorite team and I’m just blessed and happy to be a part of this clubhouse,” Gattis said. “I can’t say enough about the organization.”
Simmons, another Braves’ prospect who was awarded a National League Rookie of the Month award in his first season, scored the game-winning run in Saturday’s victory and the first run of Sunday’s game, giving the Braves an early 1-0 lead.
“Sometimes I look around and feel I don’t deserve to be here but it is great being a part of this ball club it’s one of the best clubhouses ever,” Simmons said. “They really emphasis on discipline and the Braves are really good at developing players. I mean, look at how many good players they produce.”
With the Braves building a healthy 6.5 game lead in the N.L. East, it’s looking like this Atlanta team has the young talent to compete for years to come.
And who knows, maybe this core group of young athletes has a player in its midst that can hang their jersey in the rafters next to Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine or Jones.