Young Braves Lean on Veterans, Coaches as Rebuild Continues
By Brian Danuff 3/5/2018
KISSIMMEE, Fla — For a 14-year-stretch that started in the early 1990’s., the Atlanta Braves were the undisputed kings of the National League.
Led by five Hall of Famers – manager Bobby Cox, pitchers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and third baseman Chipper Jones – the Braves won five N.L. Pennants and the 1995 World Series. Those days of dominance are long gone.
The 90-plus win seasons are now replaced with 90-plus loss seasons. After three straight dismal years, the Braves are in the midst of an extensive rebuild and focused on developing talent for the future.
This year, the Braves have seven players on MLB.com’s annual Top 100 Prospects list, and the hope is they’ll soon help win games and fill seats at SunTrust Park.
That being said, an integral part to developing these prospects is providing them with veteran leadership, which is part of the reason why the Braves acquired pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir over the offseason.
“The young players are remiss if they don’t watch how these guys go about it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They’re true pros.”
Outfielder Preston Tucker is in his first season with the Braves after spending time with the defending champion Houston Astros, and the 27-year-old has seen firsthand the importance of building a roster with varying levels of experience.
“You always want a mix of guys in the clubhouse,” Tucker said. “Those guys who are still producing tremendously at this level is great to have.”
As far as coaching is concerned, Snitker says he and his staff are more “hands on” with their players and understand there’s still a lot they have to teach them. But if all goes according to plan, the Braves feel they can take a big step towards contention in 2018.
“We handle the fundamentals, we handle the execution, and we just go out there and play and believe in each other,” Braves third base coach Ron Washington said “And with that formula, things will come together.”
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