Rome Braves named baseball’s top minor league team in 2016


Strengthening their farm system was a top priority for the Braves in a rebuilding project they began two years ago, and further proof they’ve succeeded in that area just arrived in the form of a prestigious award for the Rome Braves.

The low Single-A affiliate was named by Baseball America as its Minor League Team of the Year, the first time a Braves farm team has won the annual award since BA created it in 1993.

“The Rome Braves and their success, in many ways, are a microcosm of the commitment we as an organization made to building around young, upside, impact talent,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “We are so proud of what the players and staff at Rome accomplished, and so excited for what the future holds for them and our entire organization.”

Making the honor even more impressive: Rome’s roster was the youngest in all of full-season minor league baseball in 2016 and the youngest in the South Atlantic League in more than a decade, according to Baseball America.

After limping to the All-Star break with a 27-42 record, the Rome Braves went 43-27 in the second half, after standout center-field prospect Ronald Acuna got healthy and power-hitting third-base prospect Austin Riley got hot. But it was a terrific pitching staff that was the biggest key for the South Atlantic League champions.

Rome had seven players on Baseball America’s top 20 prospects list including five starting pitchers: left-handers Kolby Allard (No. 4) and Max Fried (No. 6) and right-handers Mike Soroka (No. 7), PatrickWeigel (No. 10) and Touki Toussaint (No. 15).

Acuna and Riley came in at 12th and 13th on the list, respectively.

Baseball America managing editor J.J. Cooper wrote that years from now the 2016 Rome squad “might be remembered as one of the better minor league teams of the early 21st century. The rotation featured prospects in all six spots; that’s because it had too many prospects to settle for a five-man rotation.”

Braves infield prospect Dylan Moore, traded from the Rangers in late August, said during the recent Arizona Fall League that the talent level in the Braves’ minor league system had him and others in it fired up about the future.

“It’ll be exciting to see in the next few years what we can do as an organization; I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Moore, who was particularly impressed with Rome’s pitchers after facing them frequently in 2016 when he played 101 games for the Rangers’ Hickory affiliate in the South Atlantic League.

“Facing those guys, like Weigel and them — very good,” Moore said, then repeated: “Very good. It is exciting.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves blanked until 9th inning of 3-2 loss to Mets
Braves blanked until 9th inning of 3-2 loss to Mets

NEW YORK – Braves rookie Max Fried worked out of several tight spots and pitched well enough to win on plenty of nights, just not Monday night against the Mets and a pitcher who’s becoming a bit of an unlikely Atlanta nemesis. Seth Lugo, he of the 5.03 ERA before Monday, pitched six innings of two-hit ball in a 3-2 win against the Braves...
Sims sharp, Albies and Flowers homer in Braves’ 9-2 win over Mets
Sims sharp, Albies and Flowers homer in Braves’ 9-2 win over Mets

NEW YORK – It took Lucas Sims a little longer than anticipated to get to the majors, but the former Brookwood High School star is starting to pitch like he belongs and like he intends to be a strong contender for a spot in next year’s rotation. Sims took a four-hit shutout into the seventh inning Monday and got plenty of late offensive...
Adjustments, instincts have Inciarte on verge of 200-hit season
Adjustments, instincts have Inciarte on verge of 200-hit season

Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has played alongside or coached hundreds of hitters during 21 seasons as a major league player or coach. Yet he can’t think of one that reminds him much of Ender Inciarte, the All-Star center fielder who entered Monday’s doubleheader against the Mets needing three hits to record the seventh 200-hit season...
Q&A with Touki Toussaint: Braves are ‘fun environment’ for prospects
Q&A with Touki Toussaint: Braves are ‘fun environment’ for prospects

In Touki Toussaint, the Braves truly bought a lottery ticket. The Braves acquired pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Toussaint from Arizona on June 20, 2015. Toussaint was the 16th overall pick in the 2014 draft. The Diamondbacks wanted to clear Arroyo’s salary and the Braves absorbed it. Toussaint was the prize. In a farm stocked with pitching, Toussaint...
Camargo’s two-run double in 8th lifts Braves past Phillies
Camargo’s two-run double in 8th lifts Braves past Phillies

Johan Camargo’s stock soared earlier this season and he provided a reminder why on a Saturday night when Braves rookies came up big, none more than he. Camargo’s two-out, two-run pinch-hit double in the eighth inning lifted the Braves to a 4-2 win against the Phillies in the penultimate home game of the season at SunTrust Park. Julio Teheran...
More Stories