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Craig Kimbrel. Jonny Venters. Kris Medlen. Tommy Hanson. Brandon Beachy. Mike Minor. Julio Teheran.
Freddie Freeman. Jason Heyward. Martin Prado. Andrelton Simmons. Brian McCann.
What, did you really think I was just rambling names of Braves players? Of course not. All of these players have significance more than just being either top prospects or impact major leaguers. Each and every one of these players came from within the organization, whether drafted or signed as international free agents. Or even in the case of Beachy, signed as an undrafted free agent.
In recent years, the Braves have been commended for their extremely deep farm system. It's produced the likes of Kimbrel, Freeman and Heyward, who have all placed at least second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in either 2010 or 2011, and Venters came in eighth in 2010 as well. Hanson also placed third in 2009.
There are also a good crop of All-Stars in this bunch. Kimbrel already has two All-Star nods under his belt and has placed ninth and fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting over the last two years. Venters made Midsummer Classic in 2011 and McCann had made it for six straight years until an injury-riddled 2012 campaign. Heyward was even named an All-Star in 2010 during his unforgettable rookie season.
Many of these players have immense potential. Kimbrel could one day surpass Mariano Rivera as the best closer of all time if he continues the rest of his career at his current pace. Venters, when he's on, is as close to an elite set-up man as there is, and he's certainly among the best lefty bullpen pitchers in the game today. Medlen came back from Tommy John surgery and looks like he has ace potential.
Beachy was the same until Tommy John derailed his 2012 season, and Freeman, Simmons and Prado all look like they have great careers ahead of them.
But why should Phillies fans hate the Braves for this? To be concise, it's because the Braves have a successful farm system today and the Phillies don't. They've got 12 major leaguers or fringe major leaguers ready for action and all of them look to be very good at their respective positions.
They have chemistry because they came up through the same farm system together. The Phillies' current major league squad lacks the youth the Braves have, and while the chemistry is there, the players aren't nearly as capable as they once were.
The Braves haven't made many blockbuster trades in recent years and it's served them well. But they also know how to draft. Of all the listed players, only Heyward and Minor were first-round picks, as Kimbrel, McCann and Freeman were drafted in the second or third rounds.
All of the others were either signed or drafted in the later rounds: Medlen was taken in the 10th round, Hanson was selected in the 22nd round and Venters wasn't drafted until the 30th round. Heck, Beachy wasn't even drafted at all! The rest of their sleepers came from international spending. It's a great strategy, one that Phillies fans wished their team exemplified and hate the Braves for doing so well.
Am I suggesting that the Phillies' trades are bad? Not all of them. But you lose the youth and the potential when you trade away the farm system. It's left the Phillies' minor league organization in mediocre shape at best.
But those Braves are still at it. And if the Phillies want any success in the future, they'll have to keep their system intact and make sure that the only trades they make are sending players away for minor league prospects. They started that with Victorino, Pence and Blanton this season. Should any trades occur in the future for the Phillies, let them be of the selling variety.