The Braves underwent only one significant change to their coaching staff following the end of their season, with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez getting the red card. The replacement for Hernandez was announced on Monday night, as Rick Kranitz, most recently of the Phillies, was named the Atlanta pitching coach. Kranitz is like most position coaches in baseball in that his impact is difficult to quantify given his inability to make personnel decisions or pitching changes, but the reactions to his hiring were generally positive. He also carried a good reputation among those who covered him in Philadelphia, which is a good sign.
This coaching decision is especially vital for the Braves given their high volume of near-ready starting pitchers who will be in need of guidance at some point this season. Hopefully the next Aaron Nola, or even Zach Eflin, will emerge under Kranitz’ tutelage this season.
Baseball America released its Top 10 Braves prospects list on Monday, and surprised many with their selection at number one. Austin Riley tops the list, which seems odd given how effective Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, and Touki Toussaint were in Atlanta last season, but Riley did showcase elite power while mashing for Mississippi and Gwinnett. The list is behind a paywall, but our own Kris Willis has the rundown here.
JJ Cooper of Baseball America answers fan questions regarding the top prospects list, looking extensively at Austin Riley, Kolby Allard, and Ian Anderson.
Braves beat writer Mark Bowman of MLB.com looks at the potentially lethal top of the Atlanta order. He does, however, offer up the possibility of Ronald Acuna batting fourth, while Ender Inciarte or Ozzie Albies fill the leadoff spot ahead of Josh Donaldson in the two hole. The mention of Inciarte as a potential leadoff option further fuels my desire to see Atlanta sign either Michael Brantley or Andrew McCutchen to lengthen the lineup and remove all temptation to put hitters with poor pitch recognition at or near the top of the order. Aside from that, Bowman does raise good points about how quickly the Braves could become a power-packed lineup with immense power potential.
Well… alright then. The Mariners are having a fire sale and it appears two of the Braves’ biggest rivals found the deals first.