Alex Brandon/Associated Press
It's shocking to write that the Braves should consider trading away some of their starting pitching, but there it is—I just wrote it. After Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down this spring, and Mike Minor was delayed for a month, the Braves scrambled to find starting pitching.
They signed Ervin Santana for a lot of money. They signed Aaron Harang for a little money. They hoped that Gavin Floyd would return quickly from Tommy John rehab. They looked within the organization to young guns like Alex Wood and David Hale.
A month into the season, Santana and Harang are among the best starters in baseball. Wood and Hale have been solid in the rotation, and Floyd returned to the mound on Tuesday night with great success. The Braves rotation is exceeding capacity, and now they have to figure out what to do with seven quality starting pitchers.
Enter the Braves farm system—ranked 22nd among all 30 clubs by ESPN's Keith Law (subscription required). Baseball America ranked the Braves system 26th in its 2014 Prospect Handbook. The Braves system has thinned out considerably, thanks to promotions of prospects to the majors and some big trades in recent years (Justin Upton and Michael Bourn).
None of the four Braves farm teams currently have winning records—if that can be used as an indication of the quality and depth of prospects in the system.
Some of the best prospects in the Braves system are actually starting pitchers—check out the latest Bleacher Report Braves Prospect Stock Watch for more. The two guys the Braves just demoted from the bullpen—Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas—are going back to starting in the minors.
With all of this starting pitching depth in the majors and the minors, the Braves could safely trade away one of their starting pitchers with the knowledge that they would still be able to cover up for an injury in the rotation.
In return, the organization could look to acquire some top hitting prospects, especially power prospects. The Braves are severely lacking in power hitting prospects, and as strange as it sounds, they should use some of their surplus starting pitching to acquire one (or more).